Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE BEST JUDGMENT, by ALICE CARY

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THE BEST JUDGMENT, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Get up, my little handmaid
Last Line: Is he who judges best.
Subject(s): Judgments

GET up, my little handmaid,
And see what you will see;
The stubble-fields and all the fields
Are white as they can be.

Put on your crimson cashmere,
And hood so soft and warm,
With all its woolen linings,
And never heed the storm.

For you must find the miller
In the west of Wertburg-town,
And bring me meal to feed my cows,
Before the sun is down.

Then woke the little handmaid,
From sleeping on her arm,
And took her crimson cashmere,
And hood with woolen warm;

And bridle, with its buckles
Of silver, from the wall,
And rode until the golden sun
Was sloping to his fall.

Then on the miller's door-stone,
In the west of Wertburg-town,
She dropt the bridle from her hands,
And quietly slid down.

And when to her sweet face her beast
Turned round, as if he said,
"How cold I am!" she took her hood
And put it on his head.

Soft spoke she to the miller,
"Nine cows are stalled at home,
And hither for three bags of meal,
To feed them, I am come."

Now when the miller saw the price
She brought was not by half
Enough to buy three bags of meal,
He filled up two with chaff.

The night was wild and windy,
The moon was thin and old,
As home the little handmaid rode
All shivering with the cold,

Beside the river, black with ice,
And through the lonesome wood;
The snow upon her hair the while
A-gathering like a hood.

And when beside the roof-tree
Her good beast neighed aloud,
Her pretty crimson cashmere
Was whiter than a shroud.

"Get down, you silly handmaid,"
The old dame cried, "get down, --
You've been a long time riding
From the west of Wertburg-town!"

And from her oaken settle
Forth hobbled she amain, --
Alas! the slender little hands
Were frozen to the rein.

Then came the neighbors, one and all,
With melancholy brows,
Mourning because the dame had lost
The keeper of her cows.

And cursing the rich miller,
In blind, misguided zeal,
Because he sent two bags of chaff
And only one of meal.

Dear Lord, how little man's award
The right or wrong attest,
And he who judges least, I think,
Is he who judges best.

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