“Oh, what a ball it will be!” they said,
dusting the cushions gold and red,
opening shutters, windows, doors,
down on their knees polishing floors.
Maids of the scullery, mops in hand -
what an industrious, eager band,
cleaning the hall with might and main
for the long lost gentry to come again.
Tables shuddered on damask white
as they worked far into the murky night;
then a wind from over the dark bay came
shaking the dripping candles´flame,
and waters turned with a quick sea-change
to a curdling color of evening … strange.
Out of the beech grove, crunch of wheels,
creak of harness, and clop of heels!
How could the scullery maids but stare
as skeletons robed in gorgeous wear
left their carriages, swept within
to the music of harp and violin,
lilting them through a marble hall,
greeting a host not there at all -
greeting a host who waved them on
with a pomp and circumstance long since gone.
Then flinging their mops and pails aside,
they scuttled like rabbits, terrified -
these scullery maids in blue and gray,
themselves a part of another day.
And no one was left to see or tell
how the castle crumbled, the towers fell,
when all that was known of that gala night
vanished in air like a blown-out light.