I served my sentence—a bitter pill Some fellows should take who never will; And then I decided to go "out West," Concludin' 'twould suit my health the best; Where, how I prospered, I never could tell, But Fortune seemed to like me well, An' somehow every vein I struck Was always bubbling over with luck. An' better than that, I was steady an' true, An' put my good resolutions through. But I wrote to a trusty old neighbour, an' said, "You tell 'em, old fellow, that I am dead, An' died a Christian; 'twill please 'em more, Than if I had lived the same as before."
But when this neighbour he wrote to me, "Your mother's in the poor house," says he, I had a resurrection straightway, An' started for her that very day. And when I arrived where I was grown, I took good care that I shouldn't be known; But I bought the old cottage, through and through, Off some one Charley had sold it to; And held back neither work nor gold, To fix it up as it was of old. The same big fire-place, wide and high, Flung up its cinders toward the sky; The old clock ticked on the corner-shelf— I wound it an' set it agoin' myself; And if everything wasn't just the same, Neither I nor money was to blame; Then—over the hill to the poor-house!
One blowin', blusterin', winter's day, With a team an' cutter I started away; My fiery nags was as black as coal; (They some'at resembled the horse I stole); I hitched, an' entered the poor-house door— A poor old woman was scrubbin' the floor; She rose to her feet in great surprise, And looked, quite startled, into my eyes; I saw the whole of her trouble's trace In the lines that marred her dear old face; "Mother!" I shouted, "your sorrows is done! You're adopted along o' your horse-thief son, Come over the hill from the poor-house!"
She didn't faint; she knelt by my side, An' thanked the Lord, till I fairly cried. An' maybe our ride wasn't pleasant an' gay, An' maybe she wasn't wrapped up that day; An' maybe our cottage wasn't warm an' bright, An' maybe it wasn't a pleasant sight, To see her a-gettin' the evenin's tea, An' frequently stoppin' an' kissin' me; An' maybe we didn't live happy for years, In spite of my brothers and sisters' sneers, Who often said, as I have heard, That they wouldn't own a prison-bird; (Though they're gettin' over that, I guess, For all of them owe me more or less;) But I've learned one thing; an' it cheers a man In always a-doin' the best he can; That whether on the big book, a blot Gets over a fellow's name or not, Whenever he does a deed that's white, It's credited to him fair and right. An' when you hear the great bugle's notes, An' the Lord divides his sheep and goats; However they may settle my case, Wherever they may fix my place, My good old Christian mother, you'll see, Will be sure to stand right up for me, With over the hill from the poor-house.
* * * * *
THE WORLD FROM THE SIDEWALK.
Did you ever stand in the crowded street, In the glare of a city lamp, And list to the tread of the millions feet In their quaintly musical tramp? As the surging crowd go to and fro, 'Tis a pleasant sight, I ween, To mark the figures that come and go In the ever-changing scene.
Here the publican walks with the sinner proud, And the priest in his gloomy cowl, And Dives walks in the motley crowd With Lazarus, cheek by jowl; And the daughter of toil with her fresh young heart As pure as her spotless fame, Keeps step with the woman who makes her mart In the haunts of sin and shame.
How lightly trips the country lass In the midst of the city's ills, As freshly pure as the daisied grass That grows on her native hills; And the beggar, too, with his hungry eye, And his lean, wan face and crutch, Gives a blessing the same to the passer-by As they give him little or much.
Ah me! when the hours go joyfully by, How little we stop to heed Our brothers' and sisters' despairing cry In their woe and their bitter need! Yet such a world as the angels sought This world of ours we'd call, If the brotherly love that the Father taught; Was felt by each for all.
Yet a few short years and this motley throng Will all have passed away, And the rich and the poor and the old and the young Will be undistinguished clay. And lips that laugh and lips that moan, Shall in silence alike be sealed, And some will lie under stately stone, And some in the Potter's Field.
But the sun will be shining just as bright, And so will the silver moon, And just such a crowd will be here at night, And just such a crowd at noon; And men will be wicked and women will sin, As ever since Adam's fall, With the same old world to labour in, And the same God over all.
* * * * *
Ye banks, and braes, and streams around The castle o' Montgomery, Green be your woods, and fair your flowers, Your waters never drumlie! There simmer first unfauld her robes, And there the langest tarry! For there I took the last farewell O' my sweet Highland Mary.
How sweetly bloomed the gay green birk! How rich the hawthorn's blossom! As, underneath their fragrant shade, I clasped her to my bosom! The golden hours, on angel wings, Flew o'er me and my dearie; For dear to me as light and life Was my sweet Highland Mary.
Wi' monie a vow, and locked embrace Our parting was fu' tender'; And, pledging aft to meet again, We tore ourselves asunder; But oh! fell death's untimely frost, That nipt my flower sae early! Now green's the sod and cauld's the clay, That wraps my Highland Mary!
O pale, pale now, those rosy lips I aft hae kissed sae fondly! And closed for aye the sparkling glance That dwelt on me sae kindly! And mouldering now, in silent dust That heart that lo'ed me dearly! But still, within my bosom's core, Shall live my Highland Mary.
* * * * *
CALLING A BOY IN THE MORNING.
Calling a boy up in the morning can hardly be classed under the head of "pastimes," especially if the boy is fond of exercise the day before. And it is a little singular that the next hardest thing to getting a boy out of bed is getting him into it. There is rarely a mother who is a success at rousing a boy. All mothers know this; so do their boys. And yet the mother seems to go at it in the right way. She opens the stair door and insinuatingly observes, "Johnny.", There is no response. "Johnny." Still no response. Then there is a short, sharp, "John," followed a moment later by a long and emphatic "John Henry." A grunt from the upper regions signifies that an impression has been made; and the mother is encouraged to add, "You'd better be getting down here to your breakfast, young man, before I come up there, an' give you something you'll feel." This so startles the young man that he immediately goes to sleep again; and the operation has to be repeated several times. A father knows nothing about this trouble. He merely opens his mouth as a soda-water bottle ejects its cork, and the "JOHN HENRY" that cleaves the air of that stairway goes into that boy like electricity, and pierces the deepest recesses of his nature, and he pops out of that bed, and into his clothes, and down the stairs, with a promptness that is commendable. It is rarely a boy allows himself to disregard the paternal summons. About once a year is believed to be as often as is consistent with the rules of health. He saves his father a great many steps by his thoughtfulness.
* * * * *
AN ORDER FOR A PICTURE.
O good painter, tell me true, Has your hand the cunning to draw Shapes of things that you never saw? Aye? Well, here is an order for you.
Woods and cornfields a little brown,— The picture must not be over bright,— Yet all in the golden and gracious light Of a cloud when the summer sun is down.
Alway and alway, night and morn, Woods upon woods, with fields of corn Lying between them, not quite sere, And not in the full, thick, leafy bloom, When the wind can hardly find breathing room Under their tassels,—cattle near, Biting shorter the short green grass, And a hedge of sumach and sassafras, With bluebirds twittering all around,— Ah, good painter, you can't paint sound!
These and the little house where I was born, Low, and little, and black, and old, With children, many as it can hold, All at the windows, open wide,— Heads and shoulders clear outside, And fair young faces all ablush; Perhaps you may have seen, some day, Roses crowding the self-same way, Out of a wilding, way-side bush.
Listen closer. When you have done With woods and cornfields and grazing herds; A lady, the loveliest ever the sun Looked down upon, you must paint for me; Oh, if I only could make you see The clear blue eyes, the tender smile, The sovereign sweetness, the gentle grace, The woman's soul and the angel's face That are beaming on me all the while! I need not speak these foolish words; Yet one word tells you all I would say,— She is my mother: you will agree That all the rest may be thrown away.
Two little urchins at her knee You must paint, sir; one like me,— The other with a clearer brow, And the light of his adventurous eyes Flashing with boldest enterprise; At ten years old he went to sea,— God knoweth if he be living now,— He sailed in the good ship "Commodore," Nobody ever crossed her track To bring us news, and she never came back. Ah, 'tis twenty long years and more Since that old ship went out of the bay With my great-hearted brother on her deck; I watched him till he shrank to a speck, And his face was toward me all the way. Bright his hair was, a golden brown, The time we stood at our mother's knee; That beauteous head, if it did go down, Carried sunshine into the sea!
Out in the fields one summer night We were together, half afraid, Of the corn leaves' rustling, and of the shade Of the high hills, stretching so still and far,— Loitering till after the low little light Of the candle shone through the open door, And, over the hay-stack's pointed top, All of a tremble and ready to drop The first half hour the great yellow star That we, with staring, ignorant eyes, Had often and often watched to see Propped and held in its place in the skies By the fork of a tall, red mulberry tree, Which close in the edge of our flax field grew, Dead at the top,—just one branch full Of leaves, notched round, and lined with wool, From which it tenderly shook the dew Over our heads, when we came to play In its handbreath of shadow, day after day,— Afraid to go home, sir; for one of us bore A nest full of speckled and thin-shelled eggs,— The other, a bird, held fast by the legs, Not so big as a straw of wheat: The berries we gave her she wouldn't eat, But cried and cried, till we held her bill, So slim and shining, to keep her still.
At last we stood at our mother's knee. Do you think, sir, if you try, You can paint the look of a lie? If you can, pray have the grace To put it solely in the face Of the urchin that is likest me; I think 'twas solely mine indeed; But that's no matter,—paint it so; The eyes of our mother—(take good heed)— Looking not on the nest-full of eggs, Nor the fluttering bird held so fast by the legs, But straight through our faces, down to our lies. And, oh, with such injured, reproachful surprise, I felt my heart bleed where that glance went, as though A sharp blade struck through it. You, sir, know That you on the canvas are to repeat Things that are fairest, things most sweet,— Woods, and cornfields, and mulberry tree,— The mother,—the lads with their birds at her knee; But, oh, the look of reproachful woe! High as the heavens your name I'll shout, If you paint me the picture, and leave that out.
* * * * *
"CHRIST TURNED AND LOOKED UPON PETER."
I think that look of Christ might seem to say— "Thou, Peter! art thou then a common stone, Which I at last must break my heart upon, For all God's charge to His high angels may Guard my foot better? Did I yesterday Wash thy feet, my beloved, that they should run Quick to deny me, 'neath the morning sun? And do thy kisses, like the rest, betray? The cock crows coldly. Go and manifest A late contrition, but no bootless fear! For when thy deadly need is bitterest, Thou shall not be denied as I am here; My voice, to God and angels, shall attest— Because I knew this man let him be clear!"
Elizabeth B. Browning.
* * * * *
THE JESTER'S CHOICE.
One of the kings of Scanderoon, A royal jester, Had in his train, a gross buffoon, Who used to pester The Court with tricks inopportune, Venting on the highest of folks his Scurvy pleasantries and hoaxes. It needs some sense to play the fool, Which wholesome rule Occurred not to our jackanapes, Who consequently found his freaks Lead to innumerable scrapes, And quite as many kicks and tweaks, Which only seemed to make him faster Try the patience of his master.
Some sin, at last, beyond all measure, Incurred the desperate displeasure Of his serene and raging highness: Whether he twitched his most revered And sacred beard, Or had intruded on the shyness Of the seraglio, or let fly An epigram at royalty, None knows: his sin was an occult one, But records tell us that the Sultan, Meaning to terrify he knave, Exclaimed, "'Tis time to stop that breath: Thy doom is sealed, presumptuous slave! Thou stand'st condemned to certain death: Silence, base rebel! no replying! But such is my indulgence still, That, of my own free grace and will, I leave to thee the mode of dying." "Thy royal will be done—'tis just," Replied the wretch, and kissed the dust; "Since my last moments to assuage, Your majesty's humane decree Has deigned to leave the choice to me, I'll die, so please you, of old age!"
* * * * *
THE OPENING OF THE PIANO.
In the little southern parlour of the house you may have seen With the gambrel-roof, and the gable looking westward to the green, At the side toward the sunset, with the window on its right, Stood the London-made piano I am dreaming of to-night.
Ah me! how I remember the evening when it came! What a cry of eager voices, what a group of cheeks in flame, When the wondrous box was opened that had come from over seas, With its smell of mastic-varnish and its flash of ivory keys!
Then the children all grew fretful in the restlessness of joy, For the boy would push his sister, and the sister crowd the boy, Till the father asked for quiet in his grave paternal way, But the mother hushed the tumult with the words, "Now, Mary, play."
For the dear soul knew that music was a very sovereign balm; She had sprinkled it over sorrow and seen its brow grow calm, In the days of slender harpsichords with tapping tinkling quills Or carolling to her spinet with its thin metallic trills.
So Mary, the household minstrel, who always loved to please, Sat down to the new "Clementi," and struck the glittering keys. Hushed were the children's voices, and every eye grew dim, As, floating from lip and finger, arose the "Vesper Hymn."
—Catherine, child of a neighbour, curly and rosy-red, (Wedded since, and a widow,—something like ten years dead,) Hearing a gush of music such as none before, Steals from her mother's chamber and peeps at the open door.
Just as the "Jubilate" in threaded whisper dies, —"Open it, open it, lady!" the little maiden cries, (For she thought 'twas a singing creature caged in a box she heard,) "Open it, open it, lady! and let me see the bird!"
Oliver Wendell Holmes.
* * * * *
THE HIRED SQUIRREL.
(A RUSSIAN FABLE.)
A Lion to the Squirrel said: "Work faithfully for me, And when your task is done, my friend, Rewarded you shall be With barrel-full of finest nuts, Fresh from my own nut-tree." "My Lion King," the Squirrel said, "To this I do agree."
The Squirrel toiled both day and night, Quite faithful to his hire; So hungry and so faint sometimes He thought he should expire. But still he kept his courage up, And tugged with might and main. "How nice the nuts will taste," he thought, "When I my barrel gain."
At last, when he was nearly dead, And thin and old and grey, Quoth Lion: "There's no more hard work You're fit to do. I'll pay." A barrel-full of nuts he gave— Ripe, rich, and big; but oh! The Squirrel's tears ran down his cheeks. He'd lost his teeth, you know!
* * * * *
We watched her breathing through the night, Her breathing soft and low, As in her breast the wave of life Kept heaving to and fro.
So silently we seemed to speak, So slowly moved about, As we had lent her half our powers To eke her living out.
Our very hopes belied our fears, Our fears our hopes belied— We thought her dying when she slept, And sleeping when she died.
For when the morn came, dim and sad, And chill with early showers, Her quiet eyelids closed—she had Another morn than ours.
* * * * *
LANDING OF COLUMBUS.
The sails were furl'd; with many a melting close, Solemn and slow the evening anthem rose,— Rose to the Virgin. 'Twas the hour of day When setting suns o'er summer seas display A path of glory, opening in the west To golden climes and islands of the blest; And human voices on the silent air Went o'er the waves in songs of gladness there! Chosen of men! 'Twas thine at noon of night First from the prow to hail the glimmering light? (Emblem of Truth divine, whose secret ray Enters the soul and makes the darkness day!) "Pedro! Rodrigo! there methought it shone! There—in the west! and now, alas, 'tis gone!— 'Twas all a dream! we gaze and gaze in vain! But mark and speak not, there it comes again! It moves!—what form unseen, what being there With torch-like lustre fires the murky air? His instincts, passions, say, how like our own! Oh, when will day reveal a world unknown?" Long on the deep the mists of morning lay; Then rose, revealing as they rolled away Half-circling hills, whose everlasting woods Sweep with their sable skirts the shadowy floods: And say, when all, to holy transport given, Embraced and wept as at the gates of heaven,— When one and all of us, repentant, ran, And, on our faces, bless'd the wondrous man,— Say, was I then deceived, or from the skies Burst on my ear seraphic harmonies? "Glory to God!" unnumber'd voices sung,— "Glory to God!" the vales and mountains rung, Voices that hail'd creation's primal morn, And to the shepherds sung a Saviour born. Slowly, bareheaded, through the surf we bore The sacred cross, and kneeling kiss'd the shore.
* * * * *
THREE WORDS OF STRENGTH.
There are three lessons I would write— Three words as with a burning pen, In tracings of eternal light Upon the hearts of men.
Have Hope. Though clouds environ round And gladness hides her face in scorn, Put off the shadow from thy brow— No night but hath its morn.
Have Faith. Where'er thy bark is driven— The calm's disport, the tempest's mirth— Know this; God rules the hosts of heaven— The inhabitants of the earth.
Have Love. Not love alone for one, But man, as man, thy brother call; And scatter like the circling sun, Thy charities on all.
Thus grave these lessons on thy soul— Hope, Faith, and Love—and thou shalt find Strength, when life's surges rudest roll, Light, when thou else wert blind.
* * * * *
BRUTUS ON THE DEATH OF CAESAR.
Romans, countrymen, and lovers! Hear me for my cause; and be silent, that you may hear. Believe me for mine honour; and have respect to mine honour, that you may believe. Censure me in your wisdom; and awake your senses, that you may the better judge. If there be any in this assembly—any dear friend of Caesar's—to him I say, that Brutus' love to Caesar was no less than his. If, then, that friend demand why Brutus rose against Caesar, this is my answer:—Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more. Had you rather Caesar were living, and die all slaves, than that Caesar were dead, to live all freemen? As Caesar loved me, I weep for him; as he was fortunate, I rejoice at it; as he was valiant, I honour him; but, as he was ambitious, I slew him. There are tears, for his love; joy, for his fortune; honour, for his valour; and death for his ambition! Who is here so base, that would be a bondman? If any, speak; for him have I offended. Who is here so rude that would not be a Roman? If any, speak; for him have I offended. Who is here so vile that will not love his country? If any, speak; for him have I offended. I pause for a reply.
None? Then none have I offended. I have done no more to Caesar than you shall do to Brutus. The question of his death is enrolled in the Capitol; his glory not extenuated, wherein he was worthy; nor his offences enforced, for which he suffered death.
Here comes his body, mourned by Mark Antony; who, though he had no hand in his death, shall receive the benefit of his dying, a place in the commonwealth: as which of you shall not? With this I depart:—that, as I slew my best lover for the good of Rome, I have the same dagger for myself, when it shall please my country to need my death.
* * * * *
A youth went out to serenade The lady whom he loved the best, And passed beneath the mansion's shade, Where erst his charmer used to rest.
He warbled till the morning light Came dancing o'er the hill-tops' rim, But no fair maiden blessed his sight, And all seemed dark and drear to him.
With heart aglow and eyes ablaze, He drew much nearer than before, When, to his horror and amaze, He saw "To Let" upon the door.
* * * * *
If thou shouldst ever come, by choice or chance, To Modena, where still religiously Among her ancient trophies is preserved Bologna's bucket (in its chain it hangs Within that reverend tower, the Guirlandine), Stop at a Palace near the Reggio-gate. Dwelt in of old by one of the Orsini. Its noble gardens, terrace above terrace, Its sparkling fountains, statues, cypresses, Will long detain thee; through their arched walks, Dim at noonday, discovering many a glimpse Of knights and dames, such as in old romance, And lovers, such as in heroic song, Perhaps the two, for groves were their delight, That in the spring-time, as alone they sat, Venturing together on a tale of love, Read only part that day. A summer sun Sets ere one-half is seen; but, ere thou go, Enter the house—prithee, forget it not— And look awhile upon a picture there. 'Tis of a lady in her earliest youth, The very last of that illustrious race, Done by Zampieri—but by whom I care not. He who observes it—ere he passes on, Gazes his fill, and comes and comes again, That he may call it up, when far away. She sits, inclining forward as to speak, Her lips half open, and her finger up, As though she said, "Beware!" Her vest of gold Broidered with flowers, and clasped from head to foot, An emerald stone in every golden clasp; And on her brow, fairer than alabaster, A coronet of pearls. But then her face, So lovely, yet so arch, so full of mirth, The overflowings of an innocent heart— It haunts me still, though many a year has fled, Like some wild melody! Alone it hangs Over a mouldering heirloom, its companion, An oaken chest, half-eaten by the worm, But richly carved by Antony of Trent With Scripture stories from the Life of Christ, A chest that came from Venice, and had held The ducal robes of some old ancestor. That by the way—it may be true or false— But don't forget the picture: and thou wilt not, When thou hast heard the tale they told me there. She was an only child; from infancy The joy, the pride of an indulgent sire. Her mother dying of the gift she gave, That precious gift, what else remained to him? The young Ginevra was his all in life, Still as she grew, for ever in his sight; And in her fifteenth year became a bride, Marrying an only son, Francesco Doria, Her playmate from her birth, and her first love. Just as she looks there in her bridal dress, She was all gentleness, all gaiety; Her pranks the favourite theme of every tongue. But now the day was come, the day, the hour; Now frowning, smiling, for the hundredth time, The nurse, that ancient lady, preached decorum; And, in the lustre of her youth, she gave Her hand, with her heart in it, to Francesco. Great was the joy; but at the bridal feast, When all sat down, the bride was wanting there, Nor was she to be found! Her father cried, "'Tis but to make a trial of our love!" And filled his glass to all; but his hand shook, And soon from guest to guest the panic spread. 'Twas but that instant she had left Francesco, Laughing and looking back and flying still, Her ivory-tooth imprinted on his finger, But now, alas! she was not to be found; Nor from that hour could anything be guessed, But that she was not! Weary of his life, Francesco flew to Venice, and forthwith Flung it away in battle with the Turk. Orsini lived; and long mightst thou have seen An old man wandering as in quest of something, Something he could not find—he knew not what. When he was gone, the house remained awhile Silent and tenantless—then went to strangers. Full fifty years were past, and all forgot, When on an idle day, a day of search 'Mid the old lumber in the gallery, That mouldering chest was noticed; and 'twas said By one as young, as thoughtless as Ginevra, "Why not remove it from its lurking place?" 'Twas done as soon as said; but on the way It burst, it fell; and lo, a skeleton, With here and there a pearl, an emerald-stone, A golden clasp, clasping a shred of gold. All else had perished—save a nuptial ring, And a small seal, her mother's legacy, Engraven with a name, the name of both, "GINEVRA."
There, then, had she found a grave! Within that chest had she concealed herself, Fluttering with joy the happiest of the happy; When a spring lock that lay in ambush there, Fastened her down for ever!
* * * * *
THE LAST STATION.
He had been sick at one of the hotels for three or four weeks, and the boys on the road had dropped in daily to see how he got along, and to learn if they could render him any kindness. The brakeman was a good fellow, and one and all encouraged him in the hope that he would pull through. The doctor didn't regard the case as dangerous; but the other day the patient began sinking, and it was seen that he could not live the night out. A dozen of his friends sat in the room when night came, but his mind wandered and he did not recognize them.
It was near one of the depots, and after the great trucks and noisy drays had ceased rolling by, the bells and the short, sharp whistles of the yard- engines sounded painfully loud. The patient had been very quiet for half an hour, when he suddenly unclosed his eyes and shouted:
One of the men brushed the hair back from the cold forehead, and the brakeman closed his eyes and was quiet for a time. Then the wind whirled around the depot and banged the blinds on the window of his room, and he lifted his hand and cried out:
"Jack-son! Passengers going north by the Saginaw Road change cars!"
The men understood. The brakeman thought he was coming east on the Michigan Central. The effort seemed to have greatly exhausted him, for he lay like one dead for the next five minutes, and a watcher felt for his pulse to see if life had not gone out. A tug going down the river sounded her whistle loud and long, and the dying brakeman opened his eyes and called out:
He had been over the road a thousand times, but had made his last trip. Death was drawing a spectral train over the old track, and he was brakeman, engineer, and conductor.
One of the yard-engines uttered a shrill whistle of warning, as if the glare of the headlight had shown to the engineer some stranger in peril, and the brakeman called out:
"Yp-silanti! Change cars here for the Eel River Road!"
"He's coming in fast," whispered one of the men.
"And the end of his 'run' will be the end of his life," said a second.
The dampness of death began to collect on the patient's forehead, and there was that ghastly look on the face that death always brings. The slamming of a door down the hall startled him again, and he moved his head and faintly said:
"Grand Trunk Junction! Passengers going east by the Grand Trunk change cars!"
He was so quiet after that, that all the men gathered around the bed, believing that he was dead. His eyes closed, and the brakeman lifted his hand, moved his head, and whispered:
Not "Detroit," but Death! He died with the half-uttered whisper on his lips. And the headlight on death's engine shone full in his face, and covered it with such pallor as naught but death can bring.
Detroit Free Press.
* * * * *
ST. PHILIP NERI AND THE YOUTH.
St. Philip Neri, as old readings say, Met a young stranger in Rome's streets one day; And being ever courteously inclined To give young folks a sober turn of mind, He fell into discourse with him; and thus The dialogue they held comes down to us.
ST. Tell me what brings you, gentle youth, to Rome? Y. To make myself a scholar, sir, I come. ST. And when you are one, what do you intend? Y. To be a priest, I hope, sir, in the end ST. Suppose it so,—what have you next in view? Y. That I may get to be a canon, too. ST. Well; and how then? Y. Why, then, for aught I know I may be made a bishop. ST. Be it so— What then? Y. Why, cardinal's a high degree— And yet my lot it possibly may be. ST. Suppose it was, what then? Y. Why, who can say But I've a chance of being pope one day? ST. Well, having worn the mitre and red hat, And triple crown, what follows after that? Y. Nay, there is nothing further, to be sure, Upon this earth that wishing can procure; When I've enjoyed a dignity so high, As long as God shall please, then I must die. ST. What! must you die? fond youth! and at the best But wish, and hope, and maybe all the rest! Take my advice—whatever may betide, For that which must be, first of all provide; Then think of that which may be, and indeed, When well prepared, who knows what may succeed? But you may be, as you are pleased to hope, Priest, canon, bishop, cardinal, and pope.
* * * * *
"Kiss me, Will," sang Marguerite, To a pretty little tune, Holding up her dainty mouth, Sweet as roses born in June. Will was ten years old that day, And he pulled her golden curls Teasingly, and answer made— "I'm too old—I don't kiss girls."
Ten years pass, and Marguerite Smiles as Will kneels at her feet, Gazing fondly in her eyes, Praying, "Won't you kiss me, sweet?" 'Rite is seventeen to-day, With her birthday ring she toys For a moment, then replies: "I'm too old—I don't kiss boys."
* * * * *
Long ago in the old Granada, when the Moors were forced to flee, Each man locked his home behind him, taking in his flight the key.
Hopefully they watched and waited for the time to come when they Should return from their long exile to those homes so far away.
But the mansions in Granada they had left in all their prime Vanished, as the years rolled onward, 'neath the crumbling touch of time.
Like the Moors, we all have dwellings where we vainly long to be, And through all life's changing phases ever fast we hold the key.
Our fair country lies behind us; we are exiles, too, in truth, For no more shall we behold her. Our Granada's name is Youth.
We have our delusive day-dreams, and rejoice when, now and then, Some old heartstring stirs within us and we feel our youth again.
"We are young," we cry triumphant, thrilled with old-time joy and glee, Then the dream fades slowly, softly, leaving nothing but the key!
* * * * *
My soul to-day is far away Sailing the Vesuvian Bay; My winged boat, a bird afloat, Skims round the purple peaks remote.
Round purple peaks it sails and seeks Blue inlets and their crystal creeks, Where high rocks throw, through deeps below, A duplicated golden glow.
Far, vague, and dim the mountains swim; While on Vesuvius' misty brim, With outstretched hands, the gray smoke stands O'erlooking the volcanic lands.
Here Ischia smiles o'er liquid miles, And yonder, bluest of the isles, Calm Capri waits, her sapphire gates Beguiling to her bright estates.
I heed not, if my rippling skiff Float swift or slow from cliff to cliff: With dreamful eyes my spirit lies Under the walls of Paradise.
Under the walls where swells and falls The Bay's deep breast at intervals, At peace I lie, blown softly by A cloud upon this liquid sky.
The day so mild is heaven's own child, With earth and ocean reconciled: The airs I feel around me steal Are murmuring to the murmuring keel.
Over the rail my hand I trail, Within the shadow of the sail; A joy intense, the cooling sense, Glides down my drowsy indolence.
With dreamful eyes my spirit flies Where summer sings and never dies— O'erveiled with vines, she glows and shines Among her future oils and wines.
Her children, hid the cliffs amid, Are gamboling with the gamboling kid; Or down the walls, with tipsy calls, Laugh on the rock like waterfalls.
The fisher's child, with tresses wild, Unto the smooth, bright sand beguiled, With glowing lips sings as she skips, Or gazes at the far-off ships.
Yon deep bark goes where traffic blows, From lands of sun to lands of snows; This happier one its course has run, From lands of snow to lands of sun.
Oh! happy ship, to rise and dip, With the blue crystal at your lip! Oh! happy crew, my heart with you Sails, and sails, and sings anew!
No more, no more the worldly shore Upbraids me with its loud uproar! With dreamful eyes my spirit lies Under the walls of Paradise!
T. Buchanan Read.
* * * * *
Now was the winter gone, and the snow; and Robin the Red-breast Boasted on bush and tree it was he, it was he and no other That had covered with leaves the Babes in the Wood, and blithely All the birds sang with him, and little cared for his boasting, Or for his Babes in the Wood, or the Cruel Uncle, and only Sang for the mates they had chosen, and cared for the nests they were building. With them, but more sedately and meekly, Elizabeth Hadden Sang in her inmost heart, but her lips were silent and songless. Thus came the lovely spring, with a rush of blossoms and music, Flooding the earth with flowers, and the air with melodies vernal. Then it came to pass, one pleasant morning, that slowly Up the road there came a cavalcade, as of pilgrims, Men and women, wending their way to the Quarterly Meeting In the neighbouring town; and with them came riding, John Estaugh. At Elizabeth's door they stopped to rest, and alighting Tasted the currant wine, and the bread of rye, and the honey Brought from the hives, that stood by the sunny wall of the garden, Then re-mounted their horses, refreshed, and continued their journey, And Elizabeth with them, and Joseph, and Hannah the housemaid. But, as they started, Elizabeth lingered a little, and leaning Over her horse's neck, in a whisper said to John Estaugh: "Tarry awhile behind, for I have something to tell thee, Not to be spoken lightly, nor in the presence of others; Them it concerneth not, only thee and me it concerneth." And they rode slowly along through the woods, conversing together. It was a pleasure to breathe the fragrant air of the forest; It was a pleasure to live on that bright and happy May morning Then Elizabeth said, though still with a certain reluctance, As if impelled to reveal a secret she fain would have guarded: "I will no longer conceal what is laid upon me to tell thee; I have received from the Lord a charge to love thee, John Estaugh." And John Estaugh made answer, surprised by the words she had spoken: "Pleasant to me are thy converse, thy ways, thy meekness of spirit; Pleasant thy frankness of speech, and thy soul's immaculate whiteness, Love without dissimulation, a holy and inward adorning, But I have yet no light to lead me, no voice to direct me. When the Lord's work is done, and the toil and the labour completed He hath appointed to me, I will gather into the stillness Of my own heart awhile, and listen and wait for His guidance."
Then Elizabeth said, not troubled nor wounded in spirit, "So is it best, John Estaugh, we will not speak of it further, It hath been laid on me to tell thee this, for to-morrow Thou art going away, across the sea, and I know not When I shall see thee more; but if the Lord hath decreed it, Thou wilt return again to seek me here, and to find me." And they rode onward in silence, and entered the town with the others.
A bachelor squire of no great possession, long come to what should have been years of discretion, determined to change his old habits of life, and comfort his days by taking a wife. He had long been the sport of the girls in the place,—they liked his good, simple, quiet, cheery, fat face; and whenever he went to a tea-drinking party, the flirts were in raptures—our friend was so hearty! They'd fasten a cord near the foot of the door, and bring down the jolly old chap on the floor; they'd pull off his wig while he floundered about, and hide it, and laugh till he hunted it out; they would tie his coat-tails to the back of his seat, and scream with delight when he rose to his feet; they would send him at Christmas a box full of bricks, and play on his temper all manner of tricks. One evening they pressed him to play on the flute, and he blew in his eyes a rare scatter of soot! He took it so calmly, and laughed while he spoke, that they hugged him to pardon their nasty "black joke." One really appeared so sincere in her sorrow, that he vowed to himself he would ASK her tomorrow,—and not one of the girls but would envy her lot, if this jolly old bachelor's offer she got; for they never had dreamed of his playing the beau, or doubtless they would not have treated him so. However, next day to fair Fanny's amazement, she saw him approach as she stood at the casement; and he very soon gave her to know his desire, that she should become the dear wife of the squire. "La! now, Mr. Friendly, what would they all say?" but she thought that not one of them all would say nay: she was flustered with pleasure, and coyness, and pride to be thus unexpectedly sued for a bride. She did not refuse him, but yet did not like, to say "Yes," all at once— the hot iron to strike; so to give the proposal the greater eclat, she said, "Dear Mr. Friendly,—you'd best, ask mamma!" Good morning, then, Fanny, I'll do what you say; as she's out, I shall call in the course of the day. Fanny blushed as she gave him her hand for good-bye, and she did not know which to do first—laugh or cry; to wed such a dear darling man, nothing loth; for variety's sake in her joy, she did both! "O, what will mamma say, and all the young girls?" she thought as she played with her beautiful curls. "I wish I had said Yes at once,—'twas too bad—not to ease his dear mind—O, I wish that I had! I wish he had asked me to give him a kiss,—but he can't be in doubt of my feeling—that's bliss! O, I wish that mamma would come for the news; such a good dear kind soul, she will never refuse! There's the bell—here she is.... O, mamma!"—"Child, preserve us! What ails you dear Fanny? What makes you so nervous?" "I really can't tell you just now,—bye and bye Mr. Friendly will call—and he'll tell you—not I." "Mr. Friendly, my child what about him, pray?" "O, mamma,—he's to call—in the course of the day. He was here just this minute,—and shortly you'll see he'll make you as happy as he has made me. I declare he has seen you come home—that's his ring; I will leave you and him, now to settle the thing" Fanny left in a flutter: her mother—the gipsy—she'd made her as giddy as though she'd been tipsy! Mr. Friendly came in, and the widow and he, were soon as delighted as Fanny could be; he asked the dear widow to change her estate;—she consented at once, and a kiss sealed her fate. Fanny came trembling in—overloaded with pleasure—but soon she was puzzled in as great a measure. "Dear Fanny," said Friendly, "I've done what you said," but what he had done, never entered her head—"I've asked your mamma, and she's given her consent;" Fanny flew to his arms to express her content. He kissed her and said,—as he kissed her mamma,—"I'm so glad, my dear Fan, that you like your papa!" Poor Fanny now found out the state of the case, and she blubbered outright with a pitiful face; it was all she could do, under heavy constraint, to preserve herself conscious, and keep off a faint! She determined, next time she'd a chance, you may guess, not to say, "Ask mamma," but at once to say "Yes!"
A. M. Bell.
* * * * *
GUILTY OR NOT GUILTY.
She stood at the bar of justice, A creature wan and wild, In form too small for a woman, In features too old for a child, For a look so worn and pathetic Was stamped on her pale young face, It seemed long years of suffering Must have left that silent trace.
"Your name," said the judge, as he eyed her With kindly look yet keen, "Is Mary McGuire, if you please, sir," "And your age?"—"I am turned fifteen." "Well, Mary," and then from a paper He slowly and gravely read, "You are charged here—I'm sorry to say it— With stealing three loaves of bread."
"You look not like an offender, And I hope that you can show The charge to be false. Now, tell me, Are you guilty of this, or no?" A passionate burst of weeping Was at first her sole reply, But she dried her tears in a moment, And looked in the judge's eye.
"I will tell you just how it was, sir, My father and mother are dead, And my little brother and sisters Were hungry and asked me for bread. At first I earned it for them By working hard all day, But somehow times were bad, sir, And the work all fell away.
"I could get no more employment; The weather was bitter cold, The young ones cried and shivered— (Little Johnny's but four years old;)— So, what was I to do, sir? I am guilty, but do not condemn, I took—oh, was it stealing?— The bread to give to them."
Every man in the court-room— Grey-beard and thoughtless youth— Knew, as he looked upon her, That the prisoner spoke the truth, Out from their pockets came kerchiefs. Out from their eyes sprung tears, And out from old faded wallets Treasures hoarded for years.
The judge's face was a study— The strangest you ever saw, As he cleared his throat and murmured Something about the law. For one so learned in such matters, So wise in dealing with men, He seemed, on a simple question, Sorely puzzled just then.
But no one blamed him or wondered When at last these words they heard, "The sentence of this young prisoner Is, for the present, deferred." And no one blamed him or wondered When he went to her and smiled, And tenderly led from the court-room, Himself the "guilty" child.
* * * * *
Among the beautiful pictures That hang on Memory's wall, Is one of a dim old forest, That seemeth best of all; Not for its gnarled oaks olden, Dark with the mistletoe; Not for the violets golden That sprinkle the vale below; Not for the milk-white lilies That lean from the fragrant ledge, Coquetting all day with the sunbeams, And stealing their golden edge; Not for the vines on the upland, Where the bright red berries rest; Nor the pinks, nor the pale, sweet cowslips, It seemeth to me the best.
I once had a little brother With eyes that were dark and deep; In the lap of that old dim forest He lieth in peace asleep; Light as the down of the thistle, Free as the winds that blow, We roved there the beautiful summers, The summers of long ago; But his feet on the hills grew weary, And one of the autumn eves I made for my little brother A bed of the yellow leaves. Sweetly his pale arms folded My neck in a meek embrace, As the light of immortal beauty Silently covered his face; And when the arrows of sunset Lodged in the tree-tops bright, He fell, in his saint-like beauty, Asleep, by the gates of light. Therefore, of all the pictures That hang on Memory's wall, The one of the dim old forest Seemeth the best of all.
* * * * *
PAPA CAN'T FIND ME.
No little step do I hear in the hall, Only a sweet little laugh, that is all. No dimpled arms round my neck hold me tight, I've but a glimpse of two eyes very bright, Two little hands a wee face try to screen, Baby is hiding, that's plain to be seen. "Where is my precious I've missed So all day'" "Papa can't find me!" the pretty lips say.
"Dear me, I wonder where baby can be!" Then I go by, and pretend not to see. "Not in the parlour, and not on the stairs' Then I must peep under sofas and chairs." The dear little rogue is now laughing outright, Two little arms round my neck clasp me tight. Home will indeed be sad, weary and lone, When papa can't find you, my darling, my own.
* * * * *
THE PAINTER OF SEVILLE.
Sebastian Gomez, better known by the name of the Mulatto of Murillo, was one of the most celebrated painters of Spain. There may yet be seen in the churches of Seville the celebrated picture which he was found painting, by his master, a St. Anne, and a holy Joseph, which are extremely beautiful, and others of the highest merit. The incident related occurred about the year 1630:
'Twas morning in Seville; and brightly beamed The early sunlight in one chamber there; Showing where'er its glowing radiance gleamed, Rich, varied beauty. 'Twas the study where Murillo, the famed painter, came to share With young aspirants his long-cherished art, To prove how vain must be the teacher's care, Who strives his unbought knowledge to impart The language of the soul, the feeling of the heart.
The pupils came and glancing round, Mendez upon his canvas found, Not his own work of yesterday, But glowing in the morning ray, A sketch, so rich, so pure, so bright, It almost seemed that there were given To glow before his dazzled sight, Tints and expression warm from heaven.
'Twas but a sketch—the Virgin's head— Yet was unearthly beauty shed Upon the mildly beaming face; The lip, the eye, the flowing hair, Had separate, yet blended grace— A poet's brightest dream was there!!
Murillo entered, and amazed, On the mysterious painting gazed; "Whose work is this?—speak, tell me!—he Who to his aid such power can call," Exclaimed the teacher eagerly, "Will yet be master of us all; Would I had done it!—Ferdinand! Isturitz! Mendez!—say, whose hand Among ye all?"—With half-breathed sigh, Each pupil answered,—"'Twas not I!"
"How came it then?" impatiently Murillo cried; "but we shall see, Ere long into this mystery. Sebastian!" At the summons came A bright-eyed slave, Who trembled at the stern rebuke His master gave. For ordered in that room to sleep, And faithful guard o'er all to keep, Murillo bade him now declare What rash intruder had been there, And threatened—if he did not tell The truth at once—the dungeon-cell. "Thou answerest not," Murillo said; (The boy had stood in speechless fear.) "Speak on!"—At last he raised his head And murmured, "No one has been here." "'Tis false!" Sebastian bent his knee, And clasped his hands imploringly, And said. "I swear it, none but me!"
"List!" said his master. "I would know Who enters here—there have been found Before, rough sketches strewn around, By whose bold hand, 'tis yours to show; Nor dare to close your eyes in sleep. If on to-morrow morn you fail To answer what I ask, The lash shall force you—do you hear? Hence! to your daily task."
* * * * *
'Twas midnight in Seville, and faintly shone From one small lamp, a dim uncertain ray Within Murillo's study—all were gone Who there, in pleasant tasks or converse gay, Passed cheerfully the morning hours away. 'Twas shadowy gloom, and breathless silence, save, That to sad thoughts and torturing fear a prey, One bright eyed boy was there—Murillo's little slave.
Almost a child—that boy had seen Not thrice five summers yet, But genius marked the lotty brow, O'er which his locks of jet Profusely curled; his cheek's dark hue Proclaimed the warm blood flowing through Each throbbing vein, a mingled tide, To Africa and Spain allied.
"Alas! what fate is mine!" he said "The lash, if I refuse to tell Who sketched those figures—if I do, Perhaps e'en more—the dungeon-cell!" He breathed a prayer to Heaven for aid; It came—for soon in slumber laid, He slept, until the dawning day Shed on his humble couch its ray.
"I'll sleep no more!" he cried; "and now Three hours of freedom I may gain, Before my master comes, for then I shall be but a slave again. Three blessed hours of freedom! how Shall I employ them?—ah! e'en now The figure on that canvas traced Must be—yes, it must be effaced."
He seized a brush—the morning light Gave to the head a softened glow; Gazing enraptured on the sight, He cried, "Shall I efface it?—No! That breathing lip! that beaming eye Efface them?—I would rather die!"
The terror of the humble slave Gave place to the o'erpowering flow Of the high feelings Nature gave- Which only gifted spirits know.
He touched the brow—the lip—it seemed His pencil had some magic power; The eye with deeper feeling beamed— Sebastian then forgot the hour! Forgot his master, and the threat Of punishment still hanging o'er him; For, with each touch, new beauties met And mingled in the face before him.
At length 'twas finished; rapturously He gazed—could aught more beauteous be' Awhile absorbed, entranced he stood, Then started—horror chilled his blood! His master and the pupils all Were there e'en at his side! The terror-stricken slave was mute— Mercy would be denied, E'en could he ask it—so he deemed, And the poor boy half lifeless seemed. Speechless, bewildered—for a space They gazed upon that perfect face, Each with an artist's joy; At length Murillo silence broke, And with affected sternness spoke— "Who is your master, boy?" "You, Senor," said the trembling slave. "Nay, who, I mean, instruction gave, Before that Virgin's head you drew?" Again he answered, "Only you." "I gave you none," Murillo cried! "But I have heard," the boy replied, "What you to others said." "And more than heard," in kinder tone, The painter said; "'tis plainly shown That you have profited."
"What (to his pupils) is his meed? Reward or punishment?" "Reward, reward!" they warmly cried, (Sebastian's ear was bent To catch the sounds he scarce believed, But with imploring look received.) "What shall it be?" They spoke of gold And of a splendid dress; But still unmoved Sebastian stood, Silent and motionless. "Speak!" said Murillo kindly; "choose Your own reward—what shall it be? Name what you wish, I'll not refuse: Then speak at once and fearlessly." "Oh! if I dared!"—Sebastian knelt And feelings he could not control, (But feared to utter even then) With strong emotion, shook his soul.
"Courage!" his master said, and each Essayed, in kind, half-whispered speech, To soothe his overpow'ring dread. He scarcely heard, till some one said, "Sebastian—ask—you have your choice, Ask for your freedom!"—At the word, The suppliant strove to raise his voice: At first but stifled sobs were heard, And then his prayer—breathed fervently— "Oh! master, make my father free!" "Him and thyself, my noble boy!" Warmly the painter cried; Raising Sebastian from his feet, He pressed him to his side. "Thy talents rare, and filial love, E'en more have fairly won; Still be thou mine by other bonds— My pupil and my son."
Murillo knew, e'en when the words Of generous feeling passed his lips, Sebastian's talents soon must lead To fame that would his own eclipse; And, constant to his purpose still, He joyed to see his pupil gain, As made his name the pride of Spain.
* * * * *
Only sixteen, so the papers say, Yet there, on the cold, stony ground he lay; 'Tis the same sad story, we hear every day— He came to his death in the public highway. Full of promise, talent and pride; Yet the rum fiend conquered him—so he died. Did not the angels weep over the scene? For he died a drunkard—and only sixteen,— Only sixteen.
Oh! it were sad he must die all alone; That of all his friends, not even one Was there to list to his last faint moan, Or point the suffering soul to the throne Of grace. If, perchance, God's only Son Would say, "Whosoever will may come—" But we hasten to draw a veil over the scene, With his God we leave him—only sixteen,— Only sixteen.
Rumseller, come view the work you have wrought!! Witness the suffering and pain you have brought To the poor boy's friends. They loved him well, And yet you dared the vile beverage to sell That beclouded his brain, did his reason dethrone, And left him to die out there all alone. What, if 'twere your son, instead of another? What if your wife were that poor boy's mother,— And he only sixteen?
Ye freeholders, who signed the petition to grant The license to sell, do you think you will want That record to meet in that last great day, When heaven and earth shall have passed away. When the elements, melting with fervent heat, Shall proclaim the triumph of RIGHT complete? Will you wish to have his blood on your hand. When before the great throne you each shall stand,— And he only sixteen?
Christian men! rouse ye to stand for the right, To action and duty; into the light Come with your banners, inscribed, "Death to rum!" Let your conscience speak. Listen, then, come; Strike killing blows; hew to the line; Make it a felony even to sign A petition to license, you would do it, I ween, If that were your son, and he only sixteen, Only sixteen.
* * * * *
Old Birch, who taught the village school, Wedded a maid of homespun habit; He was stubborn as a mule, And she was playful as a rabbit. Poor Kate had scarce become a wife Before her husband sought to make her The pink of country polished life, And prim and formal—as a Quaker.
One day the tutor went abroad, And simple Katie sadly missed him; When he returned, behind her lord She slyly stole, and fondly kissed him. The husband's anger rose, and red And white his face alternate grew: "Less freedom, ma'am!" Kate sighed and said "O, dear, I didn't know 'twas you."
* * * * *
A CHRISTMAS STORY.
I had told him, Christmas morning, As he sat upon my knee, Holding fast his little stockings, Stuffed as full as full can be, And attentive listening to me With a face demure and mild, That old Santa Claus, who filled them, Did not love a naughty child.
"But we'll be good, won't we, moder," And from off my lap he slid, Digging deep among the goodies In his crimson stockings hid. While I turned me to my table, Where a tempting goblet stood Brimming high with dainty custard Sent me by a neighbour good.
But the kitten, there before me, With his white paw, nothing both, Sat, by way of entertainment, Lapping off the shining froth; And, in not the gentlest humour At the loss of such a treat, I confess, I rather rudely Thrust him out into the street.
Then, how Bennie's blue eyes kindled; Gathering up the precious store He had busily been pouring In his tiny pinafore, With a generous look that shamed me Sprang he from the carpet bright, Showing by his mien indignant, All a baby's sense of right.
"Come back, Harney," called he loudly, As he held his apron white, "You shall have my candy wabbit," But the door was fastened tight, So he stood abashed and silent, In the centre of the floor, With defeated look alternate Bent on me and on the door.
Then, as by some sudden impulse, Quickly ran he to the fire, And while eagerly his bright eyes Watched the flames grow higher and higher, In a brave, clear key, he shouted, Like some lordly little elf, "Santa Kaus, come down the chimney, Make my Mudder 'have herself."
"I will be a good girl, Bennie," Said I, feeling the reproof; And straightway recalled poor Harney, Mewing on the gallery roof. Soon the anger was forgotten, Laughter chased away the frown, And they gamboled round the fireside, Till the dusky night came down.
In my dim, fire-lighted chamber, Harney purred beneath my chair, And my playworn boy beside me Knelt to say his evening prayer; "God bess Fader, God bess Moder, God bess Sister," then a pause, And the sweet young lips devoutly Murmured, "God bess Santa Kaus."
He is sleeping; brown and silken Lie the lashes, long and meek, Like caressing, clinging shadows, On his plump and peachy cheek, And I bend above him, weeping Thankful tears, O defiled! For a woman's crown of glory, For the blessing of a child.
Annie C. Ketchum.
* * * * *
'Twas but a breath— And yet a woman's fair fame wilted, And friends once fond, grew cold and stilted; And life was worse than death.
One venomed word, That struck its coward, poisoned blow, In craven whispers, hushed and low,— And yet the wide world heard.
Twas but one whisper—one— That muttered low, for very shame, That thing the slanderer dare not name,— And yet its work was done.
A hint so slight, And yet so mighty in its power,— A human soul in one short hour, Lies crushed beneath its blight.
* * * * *
Good morning, Doctor; how do you do? I haint quite so well as I have been; but I think I'm some better than I was. I don't think that last medicine you gin me did me much good. I had a terrible time with the ear-ache last night; my wife got up and drapt a few draps of walnut sap into it, and that relieved it some; but I didn't get a wink of sleep till nearly daylight. For nearly a week, Doctor, I have had the worst kind of a narvous head- ache; it has been so bad sometimes that I thought my head would bust open. Oh, dear! I sometimes think that I'm the most afflictedest human that ever lived.
Since this cold weather sot in, that troublesome cough, that I have had every winter for the last fifteen year, has began to pester me agin. (Coughs.) Doctor, do you think you can give me anything that will relieve this desprit pain I have in my side?
Then I have a crick, at times, in the back of my neck, so that I can't turn my head without turning the hull of my body. (Coughs.)
Oh, dear! What shall I do! I have consulted almost every doctor in the country, but they don't any of them seem to understand my case. I have tried everything that I could think of; but I can't find anything that does me the leastest good. (Coughs.)
Oh, this cough—it will be the death of me yet! You know I had my right hip put out last fall at the rising of Deacon Jones' saw mill; its getting to be very troublesome just before we have a change of weather. Then I've got the sciatica in my right knee, and sometimes I'm so crippled up that I can hardly crawl round in any fashion.
What do you think that old white mare of ours did while I was out ploughing last week? Why, the weacked old critter, she kept backing and backing on, till she back'd me right up agin the coulter, and knocked a piece of skin off my shin nearly so big. (Coughs.)
But I had a worse misfortune than that the other day, Doctor. You see it was washing-day—and my wife wanted me to go out and bring in a little stove-wood—you know we lost our help lately, and my wife has to wash and tend to everything about the house herself.
I knew it wouldn't be safe for me to go out—as it was a raining at the time—but I thought I'd risk it any how. So I went out, pick'd up a few chunks of stove-wood, and was a coming up the steps into the house, when my feet slipp'd from under me, and I fell down as sudden as if I'd been shot. Some of the wood lit upon my face, broke down the bridge of my nose, cut my upper lip, and knocked out three of my front teeth. I suffered dreadfully on account of it, as you may suppose, and my face aint well enough yet to make me fit to be seen, specially by—the women folks. (Coughs.) Oh, dear! but that aint all, Doctor, I've got fifteen corns on my toes—and I'm feared I'm going to have the "yallar janders." (Coughs.)
* * * * *
If you cannot on the ocean Sail among the swiftest fleet, Rocking on the highest billows, Laughing at the storms you meet. You can stand among the sailors, Anchor'd yet within the bay, You can lend a hand to help them, As they launch their boats away
If you are too weak to journey, Up the mountain steep and high, You can stand within the valley, While the multitudes go by You can chant in happy measure, As they slowly pass along; Though they may forget the singer, They will not forget the song.
If you have not gold and silver Ever ready to command, If you cannot towards the needy Reach an ever open hand, You can visit the afflicted, O'er the erring you can weep, You can be a true disciple, Sitting at the Saviour's feet
If you cannot in the conflict, Prove yourself a soldier true If where fire and smoke are thickest There's no work for you to do, When the battle-field is silent, You can go with careful tread. You can bear away the wounded, You can cover up the dead.
Do not, then, stand idly waiting For some greater work to do, Fortune is a lazy goddess, She will never come to you. Go and toil in any vineyard, Do not fear to do or dare, If you want a field of labour, You can find it anywhere.
* * * * *
They sent him round the circle fair, To bow before the prettiest there; I'm bound to say the choice he made A creditable taste displayed; Although I can't see what it meant, The little maid looked ill-content.
His task was then anew begun, To kneel before the wittiest one. Once more the little maid sought he And bent him down upon his knee; She turned her eyes upon the floor; I think she thought the game a bore
He circled then his sweet behest To kiss the one he loved the best; For all she frowned, for all she chid, He kissed that little maid—he did. And then—though why I can't decide— The little maid looked satisfied.
* * * * *
MY TRUNDLE BED.
As I rummaged through the attic, List'ning to the falling rain, As it pattered on the shingles And against the window pane, Peeping over chests and boxes, Which with dust were thickly spread, Saw I in the farthest corner What was once my trundle bed.
So I drew it from the recess, Where it had remained so long, Hearing all the while the music Of my mother's voice in song, As she sung in sweetest accents, What I since have often read— "Hush, my babe, lie still and slumber, Holy angels guard thy bed"
As I listened, recollections, That I thought had been forgot, Came with all the gush of memory, Rushing, thronging to the spot; And I wandered back to childhood, To those merry days of yore, When I knelt beside my mother, By this bed upon the floor.
Then it was with hands so gently Placed upon my infant head, That she taught my lips to utter Carefully the words she said; Never can they be forgotten, Deep are they in mem'ry riven— "Hallowed be thy name, O Father! Father! thou who art in heaven."
Years have passed, and that dear mother Long has mouldered 'neath the sod, And I trust her sainted spirit Rests within the home of God: But that scene at summer twilight Never has from memory fled, And it comes in all its freshness When I see my trundle bed.
This she taught me, then she told me Of its import great and deep— After which I learned to utter "Now I lay me down to sleep." Then it was with hands uplifted, And in accents soft and mild, That my mother asked—"Our Father! Father! do thou bless my child!"
* * * * *
THE RIFT OF THE ROCK.
In the rift of the rock He has covered my head, When the tempest was wild in the desolate land Through a pathway uncertain my steps He has led, And I felt in the darkness the touch of His hand Leading on, leading over the slippery steep, Where came but the echoing sound of the shock, And, clear through the sorrowful moan of the deep, The singing of birds in the rift of the rock.
In the rift of the rock He has sheltered my soul When at noonday the toilers grew faint in the heat, Where the desert rolled far like a limitless scroll Cool waters leaped up at the touch of His feet And the flowers that lay with pale lips to the sod Bloom softly and fair from a holier stock; Winged home by the winds to the mountains of God, They bloom evermore in the rift of the rock.
In the rift of the rock Thou wilt cover me still, When the glow of the sunset is low in the sky, When the forms of the reapers are dim on the hill, And the song dies away, and the end draweth nigh; It will be but a dream of the ladder of light, And heaven drawing near without terror or shock, For the angels, descending by day and by night, Will open a door through the rift of the rock.
* * * * *
THE SIOUX CHIEF'S DAUGHTER
Two gray hawks ride the rising blast; Dark cloven clouds drive to and fro By peaks pre-eminent in snow; A sounding river rushes past, So wild, so vortex-like, and vast.
A lone lodge tops the windy hill; A tawny maiden, mute and still, Stands waiting at the river's brink, As weird and wild as you can think.
A mighty chief is at her feet; She does not heed him wooing so— She hears the dark, wild waters flow; She waits her lover, tall and fleet, From far gold fields of Idaho, Beyond the beaming hills of snow.
He comes! The grim chief springs in air— His brawny arm, his blade is bare. She turns; she lifts her round, dark hand; She looks him fairly in the face; She moves her foot a little pace And says, with coldness and command, "There's blood enough in this lorn land. But see! a test of strength and skill, Of courage and fierce fortitude, To breast and wrestle with the rude And storm-born waters, now I will Bestow you both.... Stand either side! Take you my left, tall Idaho; And you, my burly chief, I know Would choose my right. Now peer you low Across the waters wild and wide. See! leaning so this morn, I spied Red berries dip yon farther side. See, dipping, dripping in the stream, Twin boughs of autumn berries gleam!
"Now this, brave men, shall be the test. Plunge in the stream, bear knife in teeth To cut yon bough for bridal wreath. Plunge in! and he who bears him best, And brings yon ruddy fruit to land The first, shall have both heart and hand."
Then one threw robes with sullen air, And wound red fox tails in his hair. But one with face of proud delight Entwined a crest of snowy white.
She sudden gave The sign, and each impatient brave Shot sudden in the sounding wave; The startled waters gurgled round, Their stubborn strokes kept sullen sound.
O then awoke the love that slept! O then her heart beat loud and strong! O then the proud love pent up long Broke forth in wail upon the air; And leaning there she sobbed and wept, With dark face mantled in her hair.
Now side by side the rivals plied, Yet no man wasted word or breath; All was as still as stream of death. Now side by side their strength was tried, And now they breathless paused and lay Like brawny wrestlers well at bay.
And now they dived, dived long, and now The black heads lifted from the foam, And shook aback the dripping brow, Then shouldered sudden glances home. And then with burly front the brow And bull-like neck shot sharp and blind, And left a track of foam behind.... They near the shore at last; and now The foam flies spouting from a face That laughing lifts from out the race.
The race is won, the work is done! She sees the climbing crest of snow; She knows her tall, brown Idaho.
She cries aloud, she laughing cries, And tears are streaming from her eyes: "O splendid, kingly Idaho, I kiss his lifted crest of snow; I see him clutch the bended bough! 'Tis cleft—he turns! is coming now!
"My tall and tawny king, come back! Come swift, O sweet; why falter so? Come! Come! What thing has crossed your track I kneel to all the gods I know. O come, my manly Idaho! Great Spirit, what is this I dread? Why there is blood! the wave is red! That wrinkled Chief, outstripped in race, Dives down, and hiding from my face, Strikes underneath!... He rises now! Now plucks my hero's berry bough, And lifts aloft his red fox head, And signals he has won for me.... Hist softly! Let him come and see.
"O come! my white-crowned hero, come! O come! and I will be your bride, Despite yon chieftain's craft and might. Come back to me! my lips are dumb, My hands are helpless with despair; The hair you kissed, my long, strong hair, Is reaching to the ruddy tide, That you may clutch it when you come.
"How slow he buffets back the wave! O God, he sinks! O heaven! save My brave, brave boy. He rises! See! Hold fast, my boy! Strike! strike for me. Strike straight this way! Strike firm and strong! Hold fast your strength. It is not long— O God, he sinks! He sinks! Is gone! His face has perished from my sight.
"And did I dream, and do I wake? Or did I wake and now but dream? And what is this crawls from the stream? O here is some mad, mad, mistake! What you! The red fox at my feet? You first and failing from a race? What! you have brought me berries red? What! You have brought your bride a wreath? You sly red fox with wrinkled face— That blade has blood, between your teeth!
"Lie still! lie still! till I lean o'er And clutch your red blade to the shore.... Ha! Ha! Take that! and that! and that! Ha! Ha! So through your coward throat The full day shines!... Two fox tails float And drift and drive adown the stream.
"But what is this? What snowy crest Climbs out the willows of the west, All weary, wounded, bent, and slow, And dripping from his streaming hair? It is! it is my Idaho! His feet are on the land, and fair His face is lifting to my face, For who shall now dispute the race?
"The gray hawks pass, O love! two doves O'er yonder lodge shall coo their loves. My love shall heal your wounded breast, And in yon tall lodge two shall rest."
* * * * *
I'LL TAKE WHAT FATHER TAKES.
'Twas in the flow'ry month of June, The sun was in the west, When a merry, blithesome company Met at a public feast.
Around the room rich banners spread, And garlands fresh and gay; Friend greeted friend right joyously Upon that festal day.
The board was filled with choicest fare; The guests sat down to dine; Some called for "bitter," some for "stout," And some for rosy wine.
Among this joyful company, A modest youth appeared; Scarce sixteen summers had he seen, No specious snare he feared.
An empty glass before the youth Soon drew the waiter near; "What will you take, sir?" he inquired, "Stout, bitter, mild, or clear?
"We've rich supplies of foreign port, We've first-class wine and cakes." The youth with guileless look replied, "I'll take what father takes."
Swift as an arrow went the words Into his father's ears, And soon a conflict deep and strong Awoke terrific fears.
The father looked upon his son, Then gazed upon the wine, Oh, God! he thought, were he to taste, Who could the end divine?
Have I not seen the strongest fall, The fairest led astray? And shall I on my only son Bestow a curse this day?
No; heaven forbid! "Here, waiter, bring Bright water unto me; My son will take what father takes, My drink shall water be."
* * * * *
THE LITTLE HERO.
From Liverpool 'cross the Atlantic, The good ship floating o'er the deep, The skies bright with sunshine above us, The waters beneath us asleep; Not a bad-temper'd mariner 'mongst us, A jollier crew never sail'd, 'Cept the first mate, a bit of a savage, But good seaman as ever was hail'd. One day he comes up from below deck, A-graspin' a lad by the arm, A poor little ragged young urchin, As ought to bin home with his marm. An' the mate asks the boy pretty roughly How he dared for to be stow'd away? A-cheating the owners and captain, Sailin', eatin', and all without pay.
The lad had a face bright and sunny, An' a pair of blue eyes like a girl's, An' looks up at the scowling first mate, boys, An' shakes back his long shining curls. An' says he in a voice clear and pretty, "My stepfather brought me a-board, And hid me away down the stairs there, For to keep me he could not afford. And he told me the big ship would take me To Halifax town, oh, so far; An' he said, 'Now the Lord is your Father, Who lives where the good angels are!'" "It's a lie," says the mate,—"Not your father, But some o' these big skulkers here, Some milk-hearted, soft-headed sailor, Speak up! tell the truth! d'ye hear?"
Then that pair o' blue eyes bright and winn'n', Clear and shining with innocent youth, Looks up at the mate's bushy eyebrows, An' says he, "Sir, I've told you the truth!" Then the mate pull'd his watch from his pocket, Just as if he'd bin drawing his knife, "If in ten minutes more you don't tell, lad, There's the rope! and good-bye to dear life!" Eight minutes went by all in silence, Says the mate then, "Speak, lad, say your say!" His eyes slowly filling with tear-drops, He falteringly says, "May I pray?" An' the little chap kneels on the deck there, An' his hands he clasps o'er his breast, As he must ha' done often at home, lads, At night time when going to rest.
And soft came the first words, "Our Father," Low and clear from that dear baby-lip, But low as they were, heard like trumpet By each true man aboard o' the ship. Every bit o' that pray'r then he goes through, To "for ever and ever. A-men!" An' for all the bright gold in the Indies, I wouldn't ha' heard him agen! Off his feet was the lad sudden lifted, And clasp'd to the mate's rugged breast, An' his husky voice muttered, "God bless you," As his lips to his forehead he press'd. "You believe me now?" then said the youngster, "Believe you!" he kissed him once more, "You'd have laid down your life for the truth, lad; I believe you! from now, ever-more."
* * * * *
The world wants men—light-hearted, manly men— Men who shall join its chorus and prolong The psalm of labour and the song of love.
The times wants scholars—scholars who shall shape The doubtful destinies of dubious years, And land the ark that bears our country's good, Safe on some peaceful Ararat at last.
The age wants heroes—heroes who shall dare To struggle in the solid ranks of truth; To clutch the monster error by the throat; To bear opinion to a loftier seat; To blot the era of oppression out, And lead a universal freedom in.
And heaven wants souls—fresh and capacious souls, To taste its raptures, and expand like flowers Beneath the glory of its central sun. It wants fresh souls—not lean and shrivelled ones; It wants fresh souls, my brother—give it thine!
If thou, indeed, wilt act as man should act; If thou, indeed, wilt be what scholars should; If thou wilt be a hero, and wilt strive To help thy fellow and exalt thyself, Thy feet at last shall stand on jasper floors, Thy heart at last shall seem a thousand hearts, Each single heart with myriad raptures filled— While thou shalt sit with princes and with kings, Rich in the jewel of a ransomed soul.
* * * * *
GOD, THE TRUE SOURCE OF CONSOLATION.
O Thou, who driest the mourner's tear, How dark the world would be, If, when deceived and wounded here, We could not fly to Thee! The friends who in our sunshine live, When winter comes, are flown; And he who has but tears to give, Must weep those tears alone. But Thou wilt heal the broken heart, Which, like the plants that throw Their fragrance from the wounded part, Breathes sweetness out of woe.
When joy no longer soothes or cheers, And e'en the hope that threw A moment's sparkle o'er our tears, Is dimmed and vanished, too! Oh! who would bear life's stormy doom, Did not Thy wing of love Come brightly wafting through the gloom Our peace-branch from above! Then, sorrow, touched by Thee, grows bright With more than rapture's ray, As darkness shews us worlds of light, We never saw by day.
* * * * *
SANTA CLAUS IN THE MINES.
In a small cabin in a Californian mining town, away up amid the snow-clad, rock-bound peaks of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, sat a woman, in widow's weeds, holding upon her knee a bright-eyed, sunny-faced little girl, about five years old, while a little cherub of a boy lay upon a bear-skin before the open fireplace. It was Christmas Eve, and the woman sat gazing abstractedly into the fireplace. She was yet young, and as the glowing flames lit up her sad face they invested it with a wierd beauty.
Mary Stewart was the widow of Aleck Stewart, and but two years before they had lived comfortably and happy, in a camp on the American River. Aleck was a brawny miner; but the premature explosion of a blast in an exploring tunnel had blotted out his life in an instant, leaving his family without a protector, and in straitened circumstances. His daily wages had been their sole support, and now that he was gone, what could they do?
With her little family Mrs. Stewart had emigrated to the camp in which we find them, and there she earned a precarious livelihood by washing clothes for the miners. Hers was a hard lot; but the brave little woman toiled on, cheered by the thought that her daily labours stood between her darling little ones and the gaunt wolf of starvation.
Jack Dawson, a strong, honest miner, was passing the cabin this Christmas Eve, when the voice of the little girl within attracted his attention. Jack possessed an inordinate love for children, and although his manly spirit would abhor the sneaking practice of eavesdropping, he could not resist the temptation to steal up to the window just a moment to listen to the sweet, prattling voice. The first words he caught were:
"Before papa died we always had Christmas, didn't we, mamma?"
"Yes, Totty, darling; but papa earned money enough to afford to make his little pets happy at least once a year. You must remember, Totty, that we are very poor, and although mamma works very, very hard, she can scarcely earn enough to supply us with food and clothes."
Jack Dawson still lingered upon the outside. He could not leave, although he felt ashamed of himself for listening.
"We hung up our stockings last Christmas, didn't we, mamma?" continued the little girl.
"Yes, Totty; but we were poor then, and Santa Claus never notices real poor people. He gave you a little candy then, just because you were such good children."
"Is we any poorer now, mamma?"
"Oh! yes, much poorer. He would never notice us at all now."
Jack Dawson detected a tremor of sadness in the widow's voice as she uttered the last words, and he wiped a suspicious dampness from his eyes.
"Where's our clean stockings, mamma? I'm going to hang mine up anyhow; maybe he will come like he did before, just because we try to be good children," said Totty.
"It will be no use, my darling, I am sure he will not come," and tears gathered in the mother's eyes as she thought of her empty purse.
"I don't care, I'm going to try, anyhow. Please get one of my stockings, mamma."
Jack Dawson's generous heart swelled until it seemed bursting from his bosom. He heard the patter of little bare feet upon the cabin floor as Totty ran about hunting hers and Benny's stockings, and after she had hung them up, heard her sweet voice again as she wondered over and over if Santa really would forget them. He heard the mother, in a choking voice; tell her treasures to get ready for bed; heard them lisp their childish prayers, the little girl concluding: "And, O, Lord! please tell good Santa Claus that we are very poor; but that we love him as much as rich children do, for dear Jesus' sake—Amen!"
After they were in bed, through a small rent in the plain white curtain he saw the widow sitting before the fire, her face buried in her hands, and weeping bitterly.
On a peg, just over the fire-place, hung two little patched and faded stockings, and then he could stand it no longer. He softly moved away from the window to the rear of the cabin, where some objects fluttering in the wind met his eye. Among these he searched until he found a little blue stocking which he removed from the line, folded tenderly, and placed in his overcoat pocket, and then set out for the main street of the camp. He entered Harry Hawk's gambling hall, the largest in the place, where a host of miners and gamblers were at play. Jack was well known in the camp, and when he got up on a chair and called for attention, the hum of voices and clicking of ivory checks suddenly ceased. Then in an earnest voice he told what he had seen and heard, repeating every word of the conversation between the mother and her children. In conclusion he said:
"Boys, I think I know you, every one of you, an' I know jist what kind o' metal yer made of. I've an idee that Santy Claus knows jist whar thet cabin's sitiwated, an' I've an idee he'll find it afore mornin'. Hyar's one of the little gal's stock'n's thet I hooked off'n the line. The daddy o' them little ones was a good, hard-working miner, an' he crossed the range in the line o' duty, jist as any one of us is liable to do in our dangerous business. Hyar goes a twenty-dollar piece right down in the toe, and hyar I lay the stockin' on this card table—now chip in much or little, as ye kin afford."
Brocky Clark, a gambler, left the table, picked the little stocking up carefully, looked at it tenderly, and when he laid it down another twenty had gone into the toe to keep company with the one placed there by Dawson.
Another and another came up until the foot of the stocking was well filled, and then came the cry from the gambling table:
"Pass her around, Jack."
At the word he lifted it from the table and started around the hall. Before he had circulated it at half a dozen tables it showed signs of bursting beneath the weight of gold and silver coin, and a strong coin bag, such as is used for sending treasure by express, was procured, and the stocking placed inside of it. The round of the large hall was made, and in the meantime the story had spread all over the camp. From the various saloons came messages saying:
"Send the stockin' 'round the camp; boys are a-waitin' for it!"
With a party at his heels, Jack went from saloon to saloon. Games ceased and tipplers left the bars as they entered each place, and miners, gamblers, speculators, everybody, crowded up to tender their Christmas gift to the miner's widow and orphans. Any one who has lived in the far Western camps and is acquainted with the generosity of Western men, will feel no surprise or doubt my truthfulness, when I say that after the round had been made, the little blue stocking and the heavy canvas bag contained over eight thousand dollars in gold and silver coin.
Horses were procured, and a party despatched to the larger town down on the Consumnes, from which they returned near daybreak with toys, clothing, provisions, etc., in almost endless variety. Arranging their gifts in proper shape, and securely tying the mouth of the bag of coin, the party noiselessly repaired to the widow's humble cabin. The bag was first laid on the steps, and other articles piled up in a heap over it. On the top was laid the lid of a large pasteboard box, on which was written with a piece of charcoal:
"Santy Clause doesn't allways Giv poor Folks The Cold Shoulder in This camp."
Christmas day dawned bright and beautiful.
Mrs. Stewart arose, and a shade of pain crossed her handsome face as the empty little stockings caught her maternal eye. She cast a hurried glance toward the bed where her darlings lay sleeping, and whispered:
"O God! how dreadful is poverty!"
She built a glowing fire, set about preparing the frugal breakfast, and when it was almost ready she approached the bed, kissed the little ones until they were wide awake, and lifted them to the floor. With eager haste Totty ran to the stockings, only to turn away sobbing as though her heart would break. Tears blinded the mother, and clasping her little girl to her heart, she said in a choking voice:
"Never mind, my darling; next Christmas I am sure mamma will be richer, and then Santa Claus will bring us lots of nice things."
The exclamation came from little Benny, who had opened the door and was standing gazing in amazement upon the wealth of gifts there displayed.
Mrs. Stewart sprang to his side and looked in speechless astonishment. She read the card, and then, causing her little ones to kneel down with her in the open doorway, she poured out her soul in a torrent of praise and thanksgiving to God.
Jack Dawson's burly form moved from behind a tree a short distance away, and sneaked off up the gulch, great crystal tears chasing each other down his face.
The family arose from their knees, and began to move the stores into the room. There were several sacks of flour, hams, canned fruit, pounds and pounds of coffee, tea and sugar, new dress goods, and a handsome, warm woollen shawl for the widow, shoes, stockings, hats, mittens, and clothing for the children, a great big wax doll that could cry and move its eyes for Totty, and a beautiful red sled for Benny. All were carried inside amidst alternate laughs and tears.
"Bring in the sack of salt, Totty, and that is all," said the mother. "Is not God good to us?"
"I can't lift it, mamma, it's frozen to the step!"
The mother stooped and took hold of it, and lifted harder and harder, until she raised it from the step. Her cheek blanched as she noted its great weight, and breathlessly she carried it in and laid it upon the breakfast table. With trembling fingers she loosened the string and emptied the contents upon the table. Gold and silver—more than she had ever thought of in her wildest dreams of comfort, and almost buried in the pile of treasure lay Totty's little blue stocking.
We will not intrude longer upon such happiness; but leave the joyful family sounding praises to Heaven and Santa Claus.
* * * * *
A LEGEND OF BREGENZ.
Girt round with rugged mountains The fair Lake Constance lies; In her blue heart reflected Shine back the starry skies; And, watching each white cloudlet Float silently and slow, You think a piece of Heaven Lies on our earth below!
Midnight is there: and Silence, Enthroned in Heaven, looks down Upon her own calm mirror, Upon a sleeping town: For Bregenz, that quaint city Upon the Tyrol shore, Has stood above Lake Constance A thousand years and more.