A STORY IN VERSE
BY REV. ROBERT E..FORD.
The New Pastor * Parrc 7
Crossing of Paths " 15
The Parish *' 24
The Struggle .• '* 24
The Hawkins Family ; " 44
The Church Conference " 58
The Thunder Storm " 66
The Morning After " 89
The Rumor " 103
Quarterly Meeting ,..,....,,, " 118
The Twilight Search
The Vision "
The Camp Meeting
A Strange Story -
Mame's Story •
The Winter Night Visitor
Winter Morning Confession
Christmas Eve Surprise Party
In coming into the literary world with the following poem,
1 cannot help being conscious of the seriousness of the venture.
I am aware that there are many faulty lines, and many
verses that might best be left out. Yet, feeling that there may
be some merit in the poem, as a whole, and unable, myself, to
judge what is the best and what is the worst of that, the whole
of which I love, I come with it into the world of letters, await-
ing, as many have before me, my fate, at the hands of the
If the people of Brown Chapel, with their pastor, will help
to steal away the duller hours of the reader, I shall deem the
task I have attempted well done.
Brown Chapel, its people and scenes are all, with a few ex-
ceptions on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, w^here I served
as pa'stor in the ministry of the A. M. E. connection for five
years. And these five years, despite their being the beginning
of my active work, and filled with peculiar hardships, too well-
known to preachers on the Eastern Shore, I shall alw^ays treas-
ure in memory with the fondest joy.
For the people of the Eastern Shore I have only words of
praise. There, among them of both races I found a hearty co-
operation in my efforts to extend the Redeemer's Kingdom,
and should it please God to have my lot once more cast among
them, I should be only too, glad to serve them.
Hoping that the people among whom I first labored may
find time to peruse these pages, and that such may be of pleas-
ure to them, I bid my friends farewell, till I shall again tune
my harp to better and nobler songs.
Baltimore, Aug. 27, 1903.
To mother who first taught these lips
To Hsp the measured notes of rhyme,
And bade my fancy take its flight
To fairy tales of olden time,
The offering of her only boy,
This song I sing. May she enjoy
THE NEW PASTOR.
This Sabbath morn the sun came up,
And looked from out a cloudless sky;
The dew besprinkled butter cup,
The gentle bluets growing nigh,
Smiled to behold the day and hear
The lark's glad song which filled the air ;
And, some how, there was quiet cheer
On hill and meadow everywhere;
Some unseen spirit seemed to say
"Behold, it is the Holy Day."
The little chapel in the lane.
Not far from off the public road.
Had all her blinds thrown back again,
And opened windows plainly showed
The good old sexton's busy form.
The first to see that all was right, —
That nothing from last Friday's storm
Had damaged been. The morning light
Streamed thro' the windows; each recess
Beamed back a hallowed blessedness.
8 Mown chapel.
The simple color of the wall
Did throw a halo o'er the place;
Its gentle stillness might appall
The worldly, he with heart of grace,
As had the sexton, moved about,
In spirit of calm peace and joy,
With such a faith which knows no doubt.
That never a danger can destroy;
Ay, just to see this sacred spot;
Enough : the world was all forgot.
Here all alone the chapel stood
With not a cottage within sight ;
Northwestward sheltered by a wood,
Southeastward open to the light.
The blessed sun each morning brought
And poured upon it all alone :
It seemed as if an angel sought
Its sacred doors when night was gone.
His bright glow throwing all around,
Soft whispered, "This is holy ground."
No wonder then the simple folk
Did Sabbath after Sabbath seek
Its portals. Who would say to talk
O'er what transpired thro' the week?
Perhaps, perhaps, but deeper still;
No light-fraught gossip was their quest :
They came that they their souls might fill
With fat things of eternal rest;
They came to sing, they came to pray —
But something else brought them to-day.
The new pastor.
But something else brought them to-day;
They came the Word of God to hear —
Not that they would forget to pray,
(The meanest there believed in prayer,)
And yet another motive brought
These goodly people to this spot.
If 'twere a lower end they sought —
If such their wrong condemn them not;
They came, to be more plain in speech,
To hear their new sent pastor preach.
And so both old and young w^ere glad
To see the sky so bright to-day,
And maidens were as gayly clad
As would be well the ''first of May."
The lads put on their Sunday clothes,
And vied with each to look their best;
And spinsters tied on extra bows
To be not wanting with the rest ;
While all the elder men agreed
To show themselves of gentle breed.
So when the young divine who had
The night before with Bro. Nooks
Sojourned, came down the road, neat, clad
Clerically, his very looks
Impressed them who about the door
In groups were standing all the while;
And if some liked him not before.
No sooner than they caught his smile
The most in doubt liked the divine,
And every maid pronounced him "fine."
And so with Deacon Nooks, he went
Straight to the pulpit. There he knelt,
And must have prayed : the moments spent,
Themselves betrayed in what was felt.
The simple choir, voices sweet,
Was there. The lovely organist
An anthem played the while. Each ?eat
Within the church was filled. If missed
Had many been the days before.
Here they were seen to-day for sure.
The hymn was sung, the prayer was prayed.
The choir never had before,
(This was what Bro. Simpson said),
Sung half so well ; they seemed to soar.
That is their voices, on the wings
Of heavenly mission on that day,
As if their minds to worldly things
Had never a moment chanced to stray;
Yet sly Rosetta missed a line,
In looking at the young divine.
The prayer was prayed; it rose aloft
In adoration to the Throne.
At times the voice was low and soft,
And next it had a thundering tone.
Which caused old Bro. Simon Snout
To raise his head that he might see
If 'twere the same voice, then to shout,
And let his feelings full and free
Have all the range they wanted ; then.
At every word he cried "Amen !"
And now the Scripture simply read ;
The Decalogue responded to;
The choir well its strength displayed
In bringing in a hymn or two.
The way is cleared, he rose to speak :
''To spend and to be spent for you."
Such was the theme. He came to seek
Not his own good, but 'twas to do
All that was in his power to bring
Them to their God, their rightful King.
He came to tell them nothing new,
The old, old story would be told;
The Holy City brought to view,
Of jasper walls and streets of gold;
The same old chart to reach the place;
The same old Truths on which to stand;
The promise of sufficient grace
To lead one safely through this land ;
And from the spirit of each text.
To lead him safely to the next.
He came to make no difference.
The meanest of the flock he sought;
The Scripture was his evidence
That grace was for the vilest wrought;
He came to seek, he came to save.
He came to lift men's longings to
What Christ to every sinner gave, —
Ay, not himself but Christ to view —
If 'twere to stand there in Christ's stead,
It were to be Christ-like indeed.
No wonder, then, the people said,
When that short half an hour was o'er,
Commenting on the prayer prayed,
The sermon preached, never before
Had they enjoyed a better treat;
No wonder Sis. Lizzie Green
Who ne'er before had gone to meet,
To-day was at the altar seen;
And such a shaking hands, 'twas free
To think she'd have him home to tea.
And Bro. Peter Scroggins said,
(He was the local preacher there,)
He thought that Deacon Nooks had prayed,
But Nooks wa'n't in it in that prayer.*
And, well, the choir sat, and sat,
And hung upon his eloquence.
Rosetta whispered, ''Now, hear that,
I bet you that he has some sense."
And spell-bound sat the organist,
Nor single word was by her missed.
For her the morning service had
Far more than for the others there;
She saw in that tall figure clad
Clerically, another. Clear
It was his form, his very face ;
His deep, rich voice of other days,
His clear delivery of grace,
Which years ago had won him praise;
And yet that once all reckless youth.
To-day expounder of God's Truth !
THE NEW PASTOR. 13
What wondrous miracle was this?
''We are his workmanship," the thought
Came home that morn to her. The bhss
Which she now feh had not been wrought
By what he said, but what he was.
Did not she feel at first surprise
When he had entered? — when to pass
He turned and placed on her those eyes?
One look suffice, it was to say
He was her once fond lover, Ray.
And had he recognized her ? No :
At least it didn't seem he had.
The gaze spoke not of long ago
On his part. Some how she was sad
But played that morn as ne'er before.
And twice she thought she felt his gaze ;
And as she played her hands ran o'er
The keys as in the other days.
When he had at the organ stood.
And sung with her, as well he could.
"How one's paths cross," she sat and thought
While he with fiery eloquence
That little congregation .wrought
To highest pitch of zeal. Perchance
Her mind was too much occupied
With other thoughts, she might lose sight
Of the main points which he now tried -
To simplify in figures bright.
She felt reproved when he was through ,
To think she had not "felt" him too,
"And you enjoyed the sermon?" said
Her husband to her, going home
*1 did ? O yes," as she betrayed
Her deep abstraction. "He will come,*'
Her husband still continued to
Remark, "on Thursday night to tea —
I had not time to speak with you,
So many rushed ahead of me,
I then and there made with him date
For fear that I should be too late."
"Of course," she bit her lips and said.
And tried to act as unconcerned :
And yet she felt that she betrayed
The fire that within her burned.
But Charles, an unsuspecting man,
Walked on with here and there a word
On general topics, or some plan,
The half of which she never heard,
Till to their cottage came at last,
Where they soon broke their mid-day fast.
CROSSING OF PATHS. 1 5
CROSSING OF PATHS.
The Rev. Raymond Aldrich Stone
Was very tall and spare in size ;
A clean kept face of lightish brown,
A massive brow and large black eyes,
A sharp curved nose, a well shaped mouth,
And chin that argued firmness, too;
Large, generous ears, the marks of truth;
Straight, wavy hair of blackest hue;
A face of strong intelligence,
A man of clean cut common sense.
He was yet young, the thread of Time
Around him measured thirty-three;
He thus had not yet reached his prime,
And still had many years to see,
And yet he older looked : perchance,
His love for learning was the cause;
Yes, there was every evidence;
Here he dared much on nature's laws,
'Twas common that they termed him such
"A man that studied far too much."
He was not married. Somehow, he,
Up to this time, had led a Hfe
Of bachelorhood, yet seemed to be
Just as content without a wife.
Some eight years as a pastor, now.
With some experience, he went
Among his flock, nor would allow
A minute o'er his time be spent
In any visit, so exact
Was he in each pastoral act.
His elder brethren watched his course,
And wondered at his sturdy gait,
Seemed not to realize the force
That gave to him such powerful weight.
He all unconscious of his power.
Pursued his path day after day;
Stood at his post the darkest hour,
Nor in it all forgot to pray;
And yet, the Rev. Stone was human:
Once in his life he loved a woman !
Once in his life, his early life,
He loved a woman only as
A boy could love, make her his wiie
His only hope, but Fate, alas,
(Or better still, wise Providence,)
Saw fit to have it different;
A bitter blow, and yet the sense
0(f it he saw, knew what it meant,
His worldly longings sacrificed
Upon the altar of his Christ,
And that was o'er ten years ago ;
Since then all life had different been ;
And, women, he had come to know
In many ways. Ah, he had seen
Through different glasses, learnt to smile
When not a single joy he felt;
And with his brain hard learnt to toil, —
Deep in life's mysteries had dealt;
Had learnt ere life had half begun
The loss was less than what was won.
The loss was less than what was won;
Alone within the world, he strove
Not in the world to live alone.
But love the world in that one love —
That love, which, crushed, had never died.
Ay, though the heart had wounded been.
It still lived on, now sanctified,
It burned, now flaming pure and clean,
And having all its fullness known.
He lived that he might serve alone.
Then with a perfect solid sense
Of all that God would have him do,
Blessed with the conscious evidence
Of his conversion, to pursue
The chosen path of duty, he
Found not too hard, despite the rough;
He went his way diligently ,
In the firm steps of faith : enough,
Though he must travel on alone.
To know t^he Master led hjm on. ' ,
This was the secret of it all ;
A simple boy whose only trust
Was God. Then if he did not fall,
Despite that others said he ''must,"
Is not there reason? 'Twas that grace.
Of which St. Paul, so hampered, spoke:
This kept our hero ''in his place,"
And by it every band he broke.
Wrought to entrap him. All may be
Sustained by it as well as he.
And that was o'er ten years ago,
A college man, a reckless lad.
He met her, and he loved her so.
And she was lovely, but she- had
A horror for his reckless ways;
And if she loved him, would not own.
Refused to see him. Rumor says.
Went home; got married; and poor Stone,
Though staggering beneath the stroke.
From it to better things awoke.
An orphan, he had made his way
By his own hands into the world ;
Learnt by sheer force with fate to play.
Learnt to escape the darts she hurled.
He joined the church of his own choice.
And forthwith to her conference;
'Twas soon the elders heard his voice
And recognized his eloquence.
He at the Seminary spent
Two years, degreed, thus out he went,
CROSSING OF PATHS. 1 9
And yet, the Rev. Raymond Stone
Saw nothing m himself; a sense
Of lowHness there was alone,
Which seemed to fill him with intense
Desire to improve, to grow
In grace and knowledge ; ever bent
To learn those things he did not know,
Each moment in the day was spent
In diligence, and when the sun
Went down, it left that day's work done.
At night, the church was packed, the fame
Of the new pastor went abroad ;
And those who by misfortune came
Too late, stood patient in the road.
'Tor me to live is Christ." His theme
Was lofty, and his audience
Sat wrought up like a mighty stream
That rages from the swells intense
Of recent storms augmenting sway,
Might any moment burst away !
This was the pinnacle, he said.
Of Christian excellence, the place
Of all, who by the Spirit led,
Would live beneath the smile of Grace.
He lived in vain who would not crave
To reach that summit. Selfishness
Of such a man had made a slave.
That in this world would aim at less.
''Life's not mere meat and drink alone,"
The speaker said in solemn tone,
Again the service closed, the day
Had thus been spent; another week
Before the people came that way
Again to hear their pastor speak.
Around the altar now to-night
They crowd and firmly press his hand.
They speak of spiritual delight
In ways he could but understand.
He spoke just as the Spirit led,
Explaining, that was what he said.
The choir, too, deserved some praise,
It had assisted him so much
Within the human way. He stays
To see the singers. It was such
As he had always done before.
He said, he thought they should be "one."
• The leader stood down at the door.
Yes, they had all splendidly done.
And then her hand he might have missed.
But there she stood, the organist.
"Ah, thank you for your work," and he
Took her long slender hand, her eyes
Met his. 'Tt did so much for me;
I do love music." She replies
Some little nothing ; but the sound
Of that clear voice caused him to look
Again at her. Somehow he found
Himself recalling — then he took
Her hand again with "You-you-you-
Remind me niuch of one I knew !"
CROSSING OF PATHS. 21
"Ah, Rev., don't forget our tea
On Thursday night." Her husband came
That moment. Thus awakened he
Controlled himself. ''Regard your claim
Brother-r-r — " ''Melville," he helped out with a smile.
"Yes, yes, that's so ; you see I can't
Just now hold names, but wait awhile
And I shall know you all. I want
To visit all your section then ;
And SO I'll see you soon again."
May Melville heard, smiled, bowed and went
In company with her husband home.
. And Stone, alone with Nooks, intent
Upon this voice, he thought that some
Where he had heard it — "Bro. Nooks,
Who- was the organist before
She married?" "Mary-Mary Brooks,"
The old man said, "Tho' I'm not sure,
But Betsy knows ; you see she's not
Just all together of our lot."
No, that did not suggest at all
Who she might be. "What do you mean —
Is this her home?" Just then a call
From one ahead, "Is that you, Jean ?"
'Twas Sis. Nooks who'd gone ahead
With other sisters, waiting stood
Now all alone, since not afraid
Had parted at the crossing road.
"Yes, hit's me, Betsy." Then he said,
"What was that gal's name Melville wed?"
i± BROWN CHAPEL.
" 'Twas Mary, Mary Brookins ; yes,
That was her name; she's from the North,
And too a hkely gal. I guess
She's certainly a lot of worth
Now to our church. She made the choir.
And bought the organ, taught the school,
And raised it up just two grades higher.
Then spoiled it all by turning fool
To marry Melville, may be though
For our own good 'twas better so."
That night, the Rev. Raymond Stone
Sat in the room assigned to him.
Half dressed. The house to sleep had js:one.
His lamp was burning rather dim.
And in his hand a photograph
Which he had always carried near
His beating heart. A low soft laugfh.
And gazing on it, thus : "My dear,
'Thy sins,' 'tis said, 'shall find thee out,'
And here 'tis proved beyond a doubt.
'T might have known those eyes at once,
And yet, how she has changed since then.
Ah, well, 'twas then I played the dunce.
Yes, sowed wild oats like other men ;
And now when many years have rolled
Around, Mame Brookins, you and I
Must meet — no, neither as of old —
Yet gladly, I must not deny.
And now yotir husband asking me
On Thursday evening to tea.
Crossing of paths. 2J
*'God give me strength to meet you here,
Yes, may He richly send that grace
Of which I preach, for it is clear,
I well may need it in this place.
These simple people all too much
Have fallen in love with me, so short
A time. I do not like it, such
Forbodes me ill. Let me resort
To God lest I be found undone."
So musing, prayed the Rev. Stone.
For, on his knees that night, he put
Those thoughts in 'Avords. Experience
Had taught him when he placed his foot
Upon some grounds. He felt the sense
Of greatest need just now. He poured
His soul in supplication out.
He pleaded on the promised Word,
He begged deliverance from all doubt :
He gave himself to God to keep.
Then like a child, he fell asleep.
Brown Chapel had no parsonage,
Though well it could afford to have.
Its people in a healthy stage
Of thriftness could easily save
From off their crops enough to build
A small neat cottage near the church.
However, they must be instilled
With the great need. And then to search
For men to do it, see it done, —
And this not long, concluded Stone.
'His eight .years' preaching taught him that
A pastor was the best off. when
Left to himself, no matter what
The good intents of other men
Might be, 'twere few could understand
A preacher's place. Therefore, to be
Housed in with others when there's land
Just waiting to be built on, he
Had no intentions, even though,
Among them it might start a row-
THE PARISH. ^5
And so^ he brought this up at board,
These five men heard, two kicked, of course,
But all would get the people's word,
And this would let them know their force.
"A parsonage," said Bro. Brown,
He always thought the 'Very thing."
He didn't care, but he was "down"
O'n keeping the pastor in a "ring."
He thought the man was handicapped —
'Twas true, he cared not whom he "slapped."
And Bro. Azariah Jones
Considered it was, after all,
The only thing. He'd furnish stones,
And even give a team to haul,
If all the people would agree.
He was full certain that he could
Also obtain for them a tree
From "outen" Mr. Atkins' wood.
He, too, declared the pastor ought
Be where 'twas quiet for one's thought.
And Bro. Johnson cleared his throat.
Then said "Yer know I tol' yer so.
Not one ob ye would gimme note
When I sed dis a yeah ago.
An' now hit's come ter pass, yer see,
And I se glad hit has, I say,
Right heah, afore yer, es fer me,
I'll wuk fum fus' till de las' day
Ter buir a fittin' house, so dah !
I'll tak wid any man mah shah."
"An' now I reckon I mus' speak,"
Said Bro. Smith, as he arose.
*'0b co'se, my voice is one an' weak,
But what we aih, now ye all knows.
While I don' jes' say not ter staht,
I reckon hit would betteh be,
Foh any ob us gits so puht,
Ter fin' out whetheh de folks '11 'gree :
'Tis cheap ter talk, and' we knows dat,
But doin' of de t'ings is w'at."
And Bro. Zechariah Sands
Agreed with Bro. Smith, he thought,
Before they got too deep their hands
Into the thing, of course, they ought
Consult the people's wishes. He,
If 'twas in order now, would move
That it be put to popular vote;
And if the people would approve,
Why, he had no objections to it,
And having spoken he sat down,
Exchanging looks with Bro. Brown.
The move was put and carried. Then,
The pastor spoke; his words were clear.
Assured he had to deal with men.
Whose hearts and minds were just and fair,
He had no doubt their influence
Would all be used toward the plan.
He knew them men of solid sense.
And thus was sure that to a man,
Would urge the people of the need ;
By this no doubt it would succeed.
The people of Brown Chapel were,
Upon the whole, a goodly set ;
And pastored by a minister
Of sense, it was not hard to get
Them to do any reasonable thing,
According if they could afford.
They practiced what they tried to sing —
"Help us to help each other, Lord,"
Tho' in prayer meetings they might do
Things funny to a stranger's view.
One hundred strong, their membership,
This plus a goodly following.
With those who now and then would slip.
Fall back, come forward, shout and sing,
In big revivals cry aloud
For mercy, feel their sins forgiven,
Go on rejoicing with the crowd.
Declare themselves brand new from heaven,
Then when the heat of battle's o'er.
Go back into the world once more.
They were African Methodist,
Ah ! came of sainted Allen's clan.
Perhaps, they knew he did exist.
But very little of the man.
Except a few, the gifted ones.
Who boasted of a book or two,
Alluding to themselves as "sons
Of Allen," what they ought to do;
And in class meeting oft referred
To him, desiring to be heard.
Indeed, could one condemn the zeal?
For every one should love his line.
To hear one boast doth make us feel
Proud of the man, though coarse or fine
His manners be. A drunkard e'en
Will win respect when he declares
His loyalty to king or queen.
Or president, although he swears ;
And so with Allen's followers,
Tho' they may seem his worshippers.
They had six classes. Two there were
Which met on Sunday, one at nine,
The other three. Now it was clear
That these the young folks wished to join.
When asked, as custom was, the class
Desired, one would likely say,
Especiallv if 'twere a lass,
'The one that's led by Bro. Gray."
And Bro. Gray would smiling come,
"Yes, honey, I will lead you home."
Gray's was the class that met at three,
And that which met at nine was led
By Melville. Quite a leader he,
A man of good parts, somewhat read.
True African Methodist, a heart
In which there could be found no guile ;
Determined e'er to do his part.
And for his church and wife to toil.
A few cleared acres, also some
On which was wood, he called his home.
He was not old, some thirty-five,
Tall, dark, with looks intelligent,
A disposition that could live
On anything and be content.
A man who loved not passionate
And yet who firmly loved; whose trust
Was perfect ; whom to aggravate,
Was hard; who deemed all men were just;
Would treat them so until the light
Revealed them different to his sight.
This man, had Mary Brookins seen,
And learned his noble character;
Learnt, too, he loved her ; had it been
Aught else, he had not married her.
She could not love, but high respect,
She thought she well could substitute;
And being strong, she could subject
Herself, and yielded to his suit.
He, who could no conclusions draw,
Saw this, and thought 'twas love he saw.
His class was twenty, old and young.
Both male and female who enjoyed
His exhortations. Well he sung.
And when by worldly matters cloyed.
They sought their class ; and when he spoke,
As oft with fiery eloquence,
It was not long the bands were broke.
And they were brought unto the sense
Of joy and peace, which none could know,
Except they to class meeting §^0.
Who contradicts? be his poor joy,
Let him, who will, emotion curse,
And stop his ears if we annoy;
He will do well, who does no worse.
My feeling may not well be his,
Yet the same Spirit makes us feel ;
Should he be silent in his bliss.
He must some other way reveal. •
What then is all this cant about.
If he shed tears and I should shout?
The personnel of Melville's class,
To man and woman, all were strong,
And every character would *'pass,"
Examined upon moral wrong-;
And yet mischievous, there were some,
Rosetta Hawkins them among,
Who whether at her church or home
Did seldom e'er control her tongue.
By such the neighborhood was e'er
Kept in a most amusing stir.
If there was anything to know,
Why Rosie Hawkins knew it first ;
Could she not say, "I told you so,"
'Twas certain that her pride would burst.
And when the young folks wanted news.
They hung or sat on Rosie's bars.
Some thought she could express her views
On all of earth and half the stars.
'Twas certainly when Rosie said,
"The thing is," then the thing was made.
So Rosie said that Rev. Stone
Was quite a preacher, and unwed,
No body else heard this, not one
Would contradict what Rosie said.
More, she was certain that he had
No one in mind; and this was heard,
As gossip, for it would be bad
To doubt one moment Rosie' s word.
Then Rosie said he looked at her,
Despite he was their minister.
Now, had not Rosie been away
To some repute academy,
They'd not believed the half she'd say;
But, now, being held in some degree.
These girls who had not had her chance,
Were sure to listen much to her.
And had he really given the glance,
Why, Rosie was in all his peer.
And, though they heard with jealous sighs,
They thought that she could win the prize.
Lord, take us from designing maids.
We who are wed, we who are not.
What can withstand their cruel raids
When they are fixed to take the spot ?
He must be fire-proof indeed ;
He must have eyes to pierce them through.
If he in battle doth succeed,
Despite the things resorted to ;
Yet one thing holds him in his place,
And that is God Almighty's grace.
Ah, they may tempt, but never draw
A man imwilHng in their net.
Ah, they may learn to meet with awe
The man on whom 'twas first they set
Their cunning wiles. And he may be
The means of lifting them above
The depths of sensuality,
The dangers of a carnal love ;
And, then, they will appreciate
In him alone the good and great.
And he who stands this awful test,
Himself by it is nobler made.
That which is easiest is not best :
Gold's the result of pick and Spade;
The soldier stands the rough affray ;
The vessel rides the storm-tossed sea ;
And nothing comes except we pay
Its price: the price of purity
Is suffering and self sacrifice —
To bring forth fruit, the seed first dies !
'Twas Thursday night, a crescent moon
Stood in the sky, and every star
Beamed forth, the frogs in Hvely tune
Kept up their serenade afar ;
The pine trees lumed up against the sky ;
A balmy breeze came from the south;
The maple leaves with pensive sigh,
Bowed to the moon in tender youth ;
An owl was heard to hoot somewhere
And winged bats skimmed thro' the air.
The Rev. Stone along the way
Was going home from Melville's tea.
Yes, that had been a busy day
In making calls, and, tired, he
Walked slowly now. He had howe'er,
Refused to have Melville to drive ;
He knew the way, the night was clear.
And he could walk. Perhaps 'twould give
Him food for thought to walk that night
Beneath th^ mpon and stars, so bright.
He thought he saw ahnost a smile
On Mrs. Melville's face, at this,
Who standing held his hat the while,
It was an old-time phrase of his —
This "food for thought" in early days,
When he was but a careless lad
And asked the world for neither praise,
Nor censure be he good or bad.
But well she was aware he sought
A lonely walk as food for thought.
As food for thought, especially
When he and she had angry been ;
And once it was he knew that she
Upon these very walks, had* seen
Him sauntering sadly, and had called
Him to her as he passed her gate.
And there he was again installed
In her sweet favor, lost of late.
He thought he saw her at this smile
There as she held his hat the while.
Enough to stand there at the side
Of some one else, another's wife;
Not, too, with mocking looks deride
Him for his very lonely life.
He took the hat she held, he heard
The gracious voice of Melville say,
As quick he made his way toward
The gate, "Now come and spend the day,
We'll make it pleasant for you." Then
He found himself alone again,
He went there just about sunset.
Melville had not come from the field.
Then he and Mary Brookins met.
If aught there were 'twas not revealed
In Mary Brookin's face. She took
His hat and sweetly placed it on
The rack, there in the hall. Her look
Was such a welcome due to one
She slightly knew. She led him now
Into the parlor. With a bow,
She flitted out, and left him there.
"She does not recognize me," so
He thought; and in an easy chair
He glanced about the room. The show
Of culture met him everywhere.
The papered walls of polished green,
Threw over him a peaceful air.
On these, well hung about, were seen
Some pretty pictures, richly cased
In frames that marked artistic taste.
The furniture was rich. The rugs.
The large square one, the Japanese
Screen near the mantel and the jugs
Of clay burned, painted, all of these
With many other bric-a-brac.
Spoke of a gentle taste refined ;
Showed, too, that some one did not lack
Love for the beautiful. A mind
Filled with new ideas that might be
Sought even by Society.
A table in the centre -^ood,
Which held a bronze lamp; underneath,
A photo album. The hot blood
Rushed to Stone's face. Quick came his breath
The moment that he saw it there.
She had his "photo," had she put
It also with her others where
She oft could see it ? Ah, 'twas but
To take it up and look it through :
And this he soon decided to.
Ah, there was Jackson, handsome youth,
On the first page. He knew him well ;
And quite a lad he was, forsooth,
He used to sing Poe's "Anabelle."
Then, there was Dodson, faultless clad.
He almost spoke to him, Stone thought.
His eyes were large, deep set, and sad.
Stone passed him; 'twas his own he sought.
Still turning nervously, and lo !
He saw himself of years ago.
Yes, that was what he looked like then,
But that was now ten years or more.
He sat, looked long, and often, when
Unseen, unheard, 'twas through the door
She came and took a rocker near.
"It's been a lovely day," she said.
He turned, surprised, to see her there,
In a soft muslin arrayed,
Her hair but loosely rolled. 'Twas tru^
That she was beautiful to view,
He felt it. "Did not know you were
So near me, madam," and aside
He laid the album. "Did not hear?"
"It seems so," smiling, he replied.
And she smiled too. "How have you spent
The day ? You have not walked too much ?"
"Not over much, although I went
To many. One to be in touch
With all his flock, it means to be
A member of each family." ;
"And risk his life in doing it?
I'm sure it would not do for me.
My ! I prefer such days to sit
And idly dream," soft murmured she.
"But pardon me, your words I doubt.
You're 'made of sterner stuff,' " he said.
"^Were it your life you would be out
Like to myself to-day, and made '
As many calls ; you know it not,
Unless it came to be your lot."
"Which lot I would not have," she said.
So promptly that he started quite.
A pretty picture now she made,
Within that gown, so soft and light
That e'en the corset waist beneath,
And petticoat were plainly seen.
A moment 'twas he caught his breath,
And wild thoughts crowded in between.
"Perhaps you love your present life?"
"Indeed, an honest farmer's wife."
''Then blessed you are, if such be true;
For the content are always blest."
''Contented did I say to you ?" .
She quickly asked. 'T make the best
Of life, that's all. I shape my course,,
I watch my chances, make my move
For better; if I get the worse,
I make the best of it, and prove
That life is only what we make it;
None but ourselves can really break it."
"True/' he assented, as he thought
That Mary Brookins was the same
Cold philosophic girl he sought
In former days burned by the -flame
Of boyish love. He thought he saw
A burnt out heart, a semblance but
Of that which years ago could draw
His heart from him. Words like these DUt
A bar between them. Fool, he knew
Not what such words were leading to.
He would have spoken more, but now,
Her husband in the kitchen door.
Called to her. With a gracious bow,
She rose and left him to muse o'er
Her words, to ask himself just what
She meant, *T make the best of life."
Ah, whether, after all, 'twas that.
Although she was another's wife,
A vision of the past came up
To bitter make her sweetest cup?
THE STRUGGLE. 39
. 'Twas in this frame that Melville found
Him when into the room he came.
He didn't hear, despite the sound,
Until the latter spoke his name.
And as awakened from a sleep,
He rose to meet his gracious host. ,
"Now pardon, if I've had to keep
You waiting long. You see we've lost
So much time since the spring begun
We generally work long after sun."
Thus Melville, in explaining, said.
"Indeed there's no excuse to make,
The hours made are so much bread ; i
And in these days \\t must not take :
The time that we should be afield ;
To spend in entertaining guest. j
Your place in general has revealed :
The fact you take but little rest ;
Go on, 'tis well," said Stone, "to toil
To bring the best out of your soil.'* *
"I thank you. I was so inspired
Last Sunday by your words. To go
On and upward. I have desired
The Truth of God to plainly know.
So many, Reverend, there are, ]
That do not make the Scriptures plain : \
To me they leap from star to star.
When here on earth they might remain.
And teach us who desire to know i
Just what our duty is below."
" 'Tis true we make mistakes," said Stone,
"We don't always the Word divide
That it without mistakes be known,
Tho' I'm not sure but w^hat we've tried ;
Some of us weak enough might be
To show our learning, others zeal.
Some men will not sit down till they
In some way make their hearers feel,
And while I must not all condemn,
I do not follow most of them.
'The simple story should be told,
Told so a child might understand ;
Told not in formal heads and cold,
But simplest figures at command.
The doctrine, duty plainly given,
Till every soul might know his worth ;
Not all the bliss we'll find in heaven.
But how to bring this bliss to earth ;
Just how to live in love below
Till we in love might heaven know."
And thus they sat and talked till tea.
Announced by Madame Melville, they
Entered the dining room. To see,
As in the parlor, rich display
Of furniture antique and grand,
Stone was on entering not long.
Nor blind to signs of dainty hand
Whose simple touch corrected wrong.
But above all, the table spread
A very pretty picture made;
A very pretty picture made,
With her the hostess standing there,
In that light muslin arrayed.
Displaying form of beauty rare.
Stone gulped a jealous sigh and bit
His lips just as his gracious host
Bade him to ask the blessing. It
Was very low, in fact, almost
Inaudible. And as they took
Their seats his hand for seconds shook.
They chatted for an hour around
A sumptuous feast. And then they rose
And soon were in the parlor found.
May at the organ sat. She chose
A sacred anthem, first of all,
Where she her talent well displayed.
And then, as if she would recall
The past, aside the anthem laid —
"This is a favorite of mine,"
She said, and rendered "Auld Lang Syne."
Oh, songs there are which constant preach !
And songs there are which can recall
The past, tho' dark or bright, can reach
Back to the grave and bring- up all.
If this be true, the case with Stone
But emphasized the fact. He felt
A moment, it is true, but one.
Again 'twas in the past he dwelt.
A tell-tale tear stole in the eye
As closed the music with a sigh.
So passed the evening away
Till Stone concluded he would go.
He now decided not to say
A word about the past, no, no,
If she did not design to speak,
He would not. Let it buried be.
He blamed himself for being weak,
And wished that he were strong as she.
Since she was happy, he w^as glad ;
What was the passion of a lad?
All this, as walking home that night,
Came to his mind. The stars above,
That filled the w^ood with silvery light,
Witnessed the burial of his love.
Ay, he was messenger of God !
The Master went the lonely road,
And should he shun the path He trod,
Or shrink to shoulder up his load ?
No, he would not : the stars beheld
Him crush the heart that had rebelled.
He walked on slow now through the wood.
Disturbing here and there a snake.
As he his lonely way pursued ;
Or trod on twigs that sharp would break.
And now and then a rustling sound
Of something skurrying through the leaves ;
Or treading on the springy ground,
The earth beneath his footstep gives,
A^muddy pool along the way,
Scarce lighted by the moon's pale ray.
Now through a large strawberry patch
His pathway leads, and on the air
The odor of the fruit to catch,
He lingers for a moment there.
The crescent moon looks from above;
A !^right star, which begins to set
Behind yon dark and sombre grove,
Is sending forth its streamers yet ;
And here and there across the sky
White flaky clouds are floating by.
At such a time, in such a place,
One's mind doth oft transcend this sod ;
And one doth find him face to face,
In blest communion with his God,
Like him of old who stood alone,
Then wrestled till the break of day
With God Himself. Thus 'twas with Stone
Here standing was constrained to pray.
There on his knees he wrestled long.
Arose and felt that he was strong.
THE HAWKINS FAMILY.
To call a meeting now, of course,
That was the only thing to do.
Stone saw the logic, felt its force,
And thought this path well to pursue.
His stewards to a man agreed.
Class leaders thought it quite-a plan,
'Twas every thing there to succeed,
'Twas e'en begun, the gossip ran.
Rosetta Hawkins first of all
To Willing Workers issued call.
'Twas the next Sabbath at the close
Of meeting, with good confidence.
The pastor in the "stand" arose
And called for a church conference.
There was a smile on every face,
Just as if all the secret knew^
And one could in each countenance trace
Just what those followers would do.
Gossip in fact was all the rage
About the chapel's parsonage.
So he appointed Friday night,
And brought the service to a close.
With face all beaming with delight,
Now at the altar met him, Rose.
"Now, Reverend," she smiling said,
I have been delegated to
Invite you to our house ; and spread,
The table now awaits for you.
There, don't refuse, of course you can't,
Because, in fact, because you shan't."
''He shall!" said Sister Jenkins, who
That moment came to press his hand.
"He b'longs as much to me as you,
Now, Miss, I'll have you understand.
Now, pastor," speaking soft to Stone,
"And won't you come to dine with me?"
The pastor stood and looked from one
Unto the other. "Well," said he,
"Since this young lady came ahead,
I am her guest, I am afraid."
"Thanks," said sly Rosie with a glance
At Mrs. Jenkins all undone.
Stone did not understand, perchance,
What had been seen by everv one
O'f that small crowd of lassies, who
Sang with Rosetta in the choir..
"And, Maggie, I dO' feel for you ; • ?
It is no use, you can't get by her,"
Said one to Maggie Jenkins when
They from the church walked down the lan^
Rosetta who had gone ahead,
In company with the minister,
Had never a thought of what was said
This moment by these folks of her.
"She thinks that she is very fine !"
Snapped Maggie as she let her gaze
Follow the handsome young divine
With Rosie at his side. ''Her ways
No sooner known to him than he
Will let her drop, now you will see !"
"Wrong, Maggie, wrong; there's nothing bad
In Rosie," said another maid.
"You must acknowledge you are mad
Simply because she got ahead.
And more than this, I think you ought
Remember just one year ago —
Before you give another thought —
You in the church-yard buried Joe."
"And what of that?" one tossed her head.
"Folks can't be living by the dead — "
"When there's the living," said a sly
Young woman with a pretty face,
"And he a preacher ; goodness, why
I'll take my chances in the race !"
"You, girls, be careful !" said a dame
Of forty, coming up behind.
"I think you all should have some shame
To have such trash upon the mind
After the sermon you heard preached,
Surely some of your hearts was reachedf"
Most of the houses there about,
Were very rudely built affairs ;
And as a general thing without
A room of any size upstairs.
A story and a-half could boast.
Not more than three rooms at the best ;
Two down, one up, the last almost
A simple hole in which to rest
One's body when the day was done — -
A hole in which to sleep alone.
Nor thrown aside the fire place,
The old Dutch oven hanging high
Where ''sweetenin' " pone was baked to grace
The table, never hard and dry;
And ''Jo^''^'^y~ki^^s" still on the hearth
Browned as they browned long years ago ;
Hot coals and ashes still drawn forth
To heat the oven of biscuit dough ;
In large pots hanging from their hooks
The chicken pot-pie slowly cooks.
Some of the houses, early made,
One story, high pitched, gabled ends,
The great house, then the colonade,
From which the kitchen then extends.
And all of this facing the road.
These oft moss covered, silent stand.
Reminders of the early mode
When rough-heeled Thraldom ruled the land,
But here and there a cottage, white,
Yellow or green, would greet the sight,
These often had six rooms or more,
El-shapecl with porches front and side,
Great shading trees, too, stood before,
Them from the pubHc road would hide..
A graded terrace, level sward.
With here and there a flowered mound,
C Folks will have flowers in their yard,)
Where stood these cottages, were found.
Tho' white folks owned most of these kind,
A Negro's now and then you'd find.
And one of these was Hawkins' home.
He was the preacher's steward, strong,
With the best people, though by some
He was disliked. His only wrong
Was that a very thrifty man.
He saved his money, owned his place,
And mixed not with the idle clan.
And had some color in his face ;
But deep at heart, search all around
A better man could not be found.
He'd raised a good, large family.
His baby, nine years, little Nell.
A man who had reached fifty-three,
And for these years was looking well ;
For, to look at him, one would say —
His clean cut face, his hair so black —
He was but forty, if a day;
And when one saw him jump and crack
His heels together, would declare
Him thirty, not another year.
Now Mrs. Hawkins was sedate,
One of the gentle kind whose way
Kept in an even tenor ; late
Or early, she went thro' the day
Without a worry. Having seen
Some fifty summers in her life,
And given birth to just thirteen,
She might be called a model wife.
Of lightish brown, height moderate,
One hundred and sixty pounds her weight.
Of thirteen children there were ten.
Three girls, one married, doing well.
The boys but one all full grown men
And this one stood twix Rose and Nell,
Some twelve years old. The family
•Made up of Hawkins and his wife :
And this most interesting three
Had in that home a happy life.
The six young men, two were away;
Four married, settled, with a start;
To own theirs. Took one another's part,
To own theirs. Took cne another's part
Nor one the other e'er let fall ;
But all united, watched their chance,
Now ''all for each and each for all."
And they were blessed by Providence
Till it was a proverbial song —
"The Hawkins' are very strong."
This is the family that Stone
Takes dinner with this Sabbath day.
He saw all things in neatness shone
About the house, yet the display
Was simple. And his steward, he
Found out the man that we have seen,
Which soon, he saw that few could see.
For Bro. Nooks that day had been.
Now, speaking not the very best
Concerning Hawkins and the rest.
But Stone knew well that 'twas unwise
To listen to such talk. He knew
'Twas natural to criticise.
And often he had found it -true.
Those criticised the most severe —
W^hen everything had been found out—
Those very dispised persons were
The ones he had least cause to doubt.
While they who made the criticism
Were head and heels of every schism.
Now, as he at the table sat
With this one happy family,
He well enjoyed the pleasant chat,
And felt himself with them most free.
Something about it all appealed
To his deep sense of home, although
He never had a home. To yield
To Mrs. Hawkins' request to
Rest him in the hammock there,
And catch the cool refreshing air
It was not hard. And so when he
Arose from that enjoyable meal,
'Twas as one of the family,
Which this good woman made him feel,
He forthwith in the hammock swung.
While madam and her husband sat,
(And Rosie in the kitchen sung,)
And talked of first this thing and that :
Betwixt the pleasant talk and song.
The afternoon did not seem long.
They struck upon the parsonage.
Yes, what would really be the cost,
With lumber cheap just at this stage,
'Twere not eight hundred at the most,
One thousand dollars not too' much ;
Tw^o hundred from his family.
He knew would come : the boys w^ere such,
Tho' not all members, they would see
That nothing should be done without
Themselves and means somewhere about.
He felt the cottage would improve
The chapel, and it would inspire.
The preachers sent them more to love
The place, which certainly would tire
The best of men, accustomed to
A place of study, all alone.
Himself not learned, yet he knew
What should indeed agree with one ;
He'd do his level best to make
The plan a success for it^ sake
Meanwhile as they sat talking, Rose
With Nellie had the table cleared.
It was not that she always chose
To do this ; for she seldom cared,
But since he was their company
She thought 'twas well to act her best.
She did not wish that there should be
Qne little flaw seen by their guest.
Her mamma was surprised to hear,
"We'll wash the dishes, mamma, dear."
This wild, wild Rose of seventeen
Took her beyond her wits that day ;
She could not tell when she had seen
Her such a cheerfulness display.
She stopped to gaze at her before
She left the dining room to join
Her guest, and thought, ''What has come o'er
This little daughter, now, of mine?"
But seeing nought in Rose's face,
Out on the porch she took her place.
So passed the time away until
Stone saw it was the hour to start
For Sabbath School. 'T think they will,"
Now Hawkins said, ''all do their part."
In reference to the young folks' guild,
Of which they also spoke that day.
"Yes," said Rosetta, "we shall build
The house ourselves should they give way—
That is the churcli — but I am sure
Tliey'll all consent, if nothing more,
Now Mrs. Hawkins, little Nell,
Rosetta and the Rev. Stone
Went off to church. It was not well
To leave the cottage all alone,
So Mr. Hawkins thought it best
To stay about the place. Of late
Some prowling tramps, no doubt in quest
Of f oodj were seen about the gate ;
So it was best to stay on guard,
Despite the watch dog in the yard.
The Elder walked along with Rose,
And Mrs. Hawkins took the lead,
And whether it was what she choose
To do or not, she did succeed
With little Nell to walk quite fast.
Or Stone and Rose to walk quite slow,
Ere half the distance had been passed
Was out of hearing distance. Low
In softest tones and all interest.
Spoke Rose to Stone with throbbing breast.
Was he not very lonely? was
Not it very hard to go
From place to place and just to pass
With different folks a year or two.
Then when, just when he knew them well
To leave them for some other charge ?
And was it possible to dwell
A longer time if it was large ?
Thus talking, never ceased before
They stood right at the chapel door.
He did not see the cunning looks
On every maiden's face that day,
Half hid behind the singing books.
Nor did he hear Rosetta say,
''I told you so," to Amy Wright,
Who whispered, ''Bully, girl, for you !"
No, no, 'twas hidden from his sight.
And little of those girls he knew.
Thus watched, tho' all unwatchful, he
Tho' full well seen, could nothing see.
Rosetta Hawkins was not tall,
Despite her stature's supple grace ;
Of medium height and not so small,
Blessed with a most bewitching face.
Yes, she was beautiful -And fair.
' Dark eyes and chubby nose, and mouth
That roguish was, and glossy h.iir
That sometimes stra3^ed o'er brow, forsooth,
And chin and cheeks where dimples lay,
Saying the things lips dared not say.
Yes, eyes that often opened wide.
And then would also hide behind
Fringed lashes, there their beauty hide.
But leave her beauty more defined.
Her color, there is not a term
Where with that it might here be told.
We call it yellow, but that warm
Rich color shading into gold.
Then heightened by the flush of youth,
A skin all velvety and smooth.
Just all she was, may not be known,
When we behold her in her way.
Which was decidedly her own :
One could not learn her in a day.
The roguish light within those eyes,
Might vanish for a pensive gaze,
From laughing lips came also sighs.
The half-formed smile for frowning stays.
The saucy look that glowered the face
Could oft to seriousness give place.
Some said that she was wild, but here
The term they used was never meant.
If fleet of foot as any deer.
And always on some mischief bent,
A purer soul there never was.
As innocent as any child.
And though folks pointed at the lass
And said full often ''My ! how wild !"
An angel from the realm above
Could, all things reckoned, purer prove.
True, she was loved by many a lad,
Could Rosie help the love they bore?
What could she do if 'twas she had
Admirers numbering to the score ?
Could she be slandered if she sought
To please all with some word? and yet
If they went wild why was it thought
That she was but a wild coquette?
No, if broken hearts there were
No blame should e'er be put to her.
How many for her license bought,
How many hcenses returned,
And still new comers came and sought, .
And Rosie laughed and they still yearned.
If moonlight w'alks might prompt her to
Say ''yes," when she had closed the gate.
Her laughing eyes, tlje truth to know
They had but the next day to wait.
''Last night?" she doubting asked, "that so?"
To-day, well I am sorry; no."
"Rose," said her mother oft, "desist,
Such does not well become you, child."
"O mamma," she would cry, "you missed
So much because you were iK)t wild.
Now there is Tom, and there is Jack,
Each bought for me a pretty ring;
Of course I'm going to give them back.
Pa says I must not have a thing,
Except he buys it for me, yet
Just see how much that I can get."
The mother slow would shake her head,
"You are too young to act that way.
And folks will talk I am afraid !"
"O fiddle-sticks on what they say?
My heart is just as pure as theirs;
And God knows that." The mother smiled.
"They always say we put on airs ;
What care I if they call me wild,
My Heavenly Father knows I'm pure.
In thought and will ; I ask no more.
This was the girl with whom Stone walked
This Sunday afternoon. And he
Unconscious how the people talked
Found pleasure in her company.
He loved the frankness in her speech.
The open eyes that met his gaze.
Between those looks there seemed to reach
A slender hand of other days.
Some how, he told himself, some how,
His work grew dearer to him now.
THE CHURCH CONFERENCE.
It was a conference where all
Came out to see the thing well done.
Once started, scarce an interval
Of silence, since it seemed each one
Had much to say. And as they spoke
There was peculiar common sense
Displayed, which now and then awoke
Applause, that stirred up eloquence,
Till he who had the least to say.
Tried hard to make the most display.
There was but one dissenting voice.
And that was Bro. Smith, of course.
He reckoned the' with little choice,
Against him there was too much force.
Then Bro. Sands arose and said,
He had a notion to oppose.
But having there been fully made
Cognizant of its good, now rose
To say it now had won his vote
If there were not another to 't.
A move was made by Melville ; he
Some said had never made before
So fine a speech. Ability,
He said no man could dare ignore ;
And where a church w^as blessed with such
Within her pulpit, she should try
(No matter what or say how much
'Twould cost,) her best to satisfy.
He moved if it were proper stage
Of time, to build the parsonage.
And there were several seconds. When
The pastor rose the move to put
The women's voices 'bove the men
Replied their readiness to vote.
And when the vote was called ,en masse
They rose and Bro. Smith also.
No use, he said, 'twas bound to pass,
'Twas better he should with them go.
He never cared to stand alone
When anything like this was done.
And when the meeting was dismissed
Stone was surrounded by a host
Of members. And his organist
Pressed firm his hand. Rosetta lost
No time in saying that the guild
Already met, had plans on hand
The moment they began to build
To see to grading of the land.
And Bro. Smith came, laughing, said
He, too, was willing to be led.
Thus Stone, well pleased, smiled here and there
On all who came to take his hand.
He thanked them for their vote. 'Twas clear
They one and all would henceforth stand
By that night's work. He asked no more
Than when he set his rally, come
In answer valiantly, was sure
They'd build for him as nice a home
As some of them themselves possessed,
At any rate he'd make the test.
'Twas Mary Melville's hand that pressed
His own while at the altar there.
Her eyes sought his, he looked and guessed
The words that neither seemed fo dare
Give voice to. At that moment, Rose
Came forward reaching for his hand.
"Ah, Reverend, now I suppose
The guild may clear and grade the land,"
And losing sight of Mame, he said,
"Of course, and will you help them grade?''
"I help them grade? now really, sir,
You laugh at me within your sleeve.
Jokes ill become a minister.
Especially the way you give."
And she withdrew her dainty hand,
"As if these hands could use a spade.
No, no, we girls do but command,
And boys there are, dear sir, to grade."
"Those hands are meant for better things,
He laughed, "perhaps for wearing rings."
"How cute of you, how very cute."
She laughed and turned as if to go,
Then stopped, looked back. ''Now would it suit
For you to go the way I do,
Pa's gone and left me, and I want
To talk with you along the way."
Of course he could do nought but grant
The girl's request, what could he say
But certainly, and glad to see
Her home if he might service be,
Mary Melville had already gone.
And all were hurrying away,
And they were now almost alone;
A-down the lane the young and gay
Were laughing, and the night air rang.
As shone the full moon overhead.
With songs the frogs and crickets sang.
''And are you on such nights afraid?"
He asked her as her arm he took,
In question to her timid look.
"No, I can't say I am afraid.
There's nothing to be 'fraid of here;
But Papa having gone ahead,
I thought of course you would not care
In walking on such nights with me.
I really love such nights, don't you?"
She looked up to- his face to see
Just how he took her words. "I knew
You would not see me go alone."
"Why certainly I'd not," said Stone.
''And I do love such nights as these,
And, more, to be with such as you.
So let me say, you could not please
Me better than the w^ay you do
In being, O so frank with me."
The words were more than he thought well,
And he regretted that so free
He'd spoken. Sudden silence fell,
And he walked on and she walked on
With not a word from either one.
And when the cottage came in sight.
She quietly slipped her arm from his.
"Perhaps," she said, "it was not right
For me wath you to act like this ;
For everything ^yas thoughtless done,
Yiou from the first seemed fatherly.
And so I took you. Rev. Stone,
And if you've been mistaken in me.
Well, I am sorry. Now good-night."
And she had disappeared from sight.
Stone stood confounded there alone.
A weight was pressing at his heart.
He could not say what had been done,
'Twas nothing meant upon his part.
But this was not the maiden's mind.
He blamed himself for everything.
For being so conceited, blind ;
And should she speak how it would ring!
That all the neighborhood would know — -
My ! that would never, never do !
He turned, but not for home, but went
Listlessly on into the night,
Listlessly on with no intent,
Except to wander in the light
Oif that bright moon and stars. He caught
The voices, now and then, of those
Who to the meeting came, but sought
To keep from them. Those words from Rose
Had made a deep impression on
His mind, and he would walk alone.
Still croaked the frogs in yonder swamp;
Still from the wood the owls' hoots came;
Still here and there the firefly's lamp
Burst from a leaf in greenish flame;
A kildee ran along the road,
Before him shrieking as he ran ;
A whip-poor-will his plaintive ode,
Sang for the pleasure of the man ;
A glow worm wabbled in the grass.
And shone just as he chanced to pass.
Fool that he was, when May Melville
Came forward taking hold his hand,
And in it said she knew him still
With look he could but understand.
Why had he not detained her there
Until this ''fresh young Miss" had gone?
Perhaps, ah well, two weights to bear
He thought 'twas now instead of one.
Between two fires he must be
With little show for victory.
How long he walked, or to what place,
Left to himself he had not known;
And he had never seen the face
That from a window looked, where shone
A bright light. ''Have you lost your way?"
A sweet, soft, silver voice awoke
Him from his dreams. And it was May,
Who from her porch now standing, spoke.
And Melville who had gained her side,
Called to him with them to abide.
He knew not what to say, complete
Surprised, bewildered and ashamed.
Melville came forward quick to meet
Him. ''Stay all night," for soon, he claimed,
There'd be an ugly gust. The sky
E'en then was clouding up. It was,
And Bro. Nook's home was nigh
Three miles away ; he'd better pass
The night with them ; 'twas dangerous to
Attempt that distance then to go.
And must he yield? and would he stay
In face of all the circumstance?
"No !" said an inner voice, "away
And trust thyself to Providence."
"Stay," said another voice, "the night
Will soon be dark, a clouded sky
Is making, danger lies in flight;
Besides, there is no cause to fly.
Stay, see? in yonder door she stands
And beckons thee with open hands."
He stood half hesitating there,
And Melville, unsuspecting, stood.
Her voice again he heard, and clear,
''Come, 'tis not well out in the wood
During a storm; don't hesitate.
The folks will not uneasy be.
And they already, since 'tis late,
Will think you were our company."
And as she spoke she came to join.
In stage-like voice, ''Come, friend of mine,"
She laughed, "See thine abiding place,
Thy bed already waits to-night?"
He raised his eyes, looked in her face.
And thought her beautiful; the sight
Condemned him. Melville, silent now.
Awaited that he might decide.
Where was now his sacred vow
A week ago? Tempted and tried.
No, no ; he would not stay, but go ;
That was his duty. Then, say no.
"I cannot stop with you to-night.
But sometime in the future I
Shall certainly take much delight.
But now I hope you'll pardon me."
There was an hour or two, he thought, .
Before the storm would likely come.
No danger thus in being caught ;
For in that time he would be home. '
To stay he could not then consent;
So off into the night he went.
THE THUNDm STORM.
Around the chapel, here and there
Went busy workmen to and fro,
Their merry voices filled the air
As rang each hammer's constant blow.
The frame work was already up,
The weather-boarding nailed thereon,
And travellers on the road would stop
To see the sight ; and one by one
Would pass their comments, and reflect
'Twas something pretty to erect.
And Stone, in overalls arra}'ed,
As busy as the workmen there,
Worked as a master at the trade.
And used the tools with skill most rare;
And when the summer day was done.
His was a strong man's appetite.
And when the hour for sleep came on,
His was a tired sleeper's night.
All undisturbed, he slept until
The dawn peeped o'er the distant hill,
THE THUNDER STORM. Gj
He drew the plans, he ran the line,
He pointed out the proper site.
He cut the shrubbery and vine.
And saw that everything was right.
And here while working he would dwell
Upon the Sabbath sermons, too ;
Some word dropped by the men would well
Bring to his mind a better view;
And, thus, as he would work away,
He'd whistle, meditate, and pray.
The month of May had gone and June
Had come. The busy Sabbath School
Was practicing; for very soon,
According to the church's rule,
It's Children's Day would come; and they,
True Methodist, would never fail
To celebrate their Children's Day.
So 'twas about the altar rail,
Each afternoon the children came
To practice with the organist, Mame.
He saw her from a distance as
He was engaged about the ground.
He always bowed when she would pass,
But never an idle moment found
To speak with her. Rosetta came
Around the building often, too ;
But, somehow, there would always clairp
His mind somebody else; and few .
The words he said to her except
Explaining why he busy kept,
Now when they parted on that night
She straight unto her room had gone,
Indignant half, half in delight,
Half hating, half in love with Stone.
She told herself she acted rude,
His words indeed were not amiss;
That she herself misunderstoood,
That it was no mistake of his ;
That very night felt she should go,
Despite her pride, and tell him so.
One day she came mind fully made
To make him talk whether or no,
Determined that she would pursuade
Him to quit work and with her go
Back to her house to tea, to stay
(For ma was willing, too,) all night.
She came. Of course 'twas hard to say.
But she would say it. 'Twas not right,
But would he not escort her home
That afternoon? Ma said to come.
He put the hatchet down, he had,
And looked at her most soberly.
To go with her he would be glad,
But truly then, he didn't see
How he could spare the time; he would
That very night be most compelled
To do some writing. Yes^ he should
Be very glad to go, but held
In this position must say no,
Tho' he would really like to gp,
•'You work," she said, ''indeed, too hard.
'Tvvere better if you took some rest.
And after all, 'tis small reward ,
You'll get for all your pains, at best.
Come, leave the hatchet lying there;
Throw off those ugly overalls;
And brush the saw dust from your hair;
Leave to the carpenters the walls;
We wish our preacher to appear
Always dressed up, if you must hear."
She'd said it all at once. It came
A rapid flow of words, and struck
Deep in the heart. Somehow^ a shame
He felt. Tho' much he praised her pluck,
For this outburst, he stood awhile
And gravely looked at her nor spoke.
She wistful gazed at him. A smile
That broadened o'er his features broke,
"I like your speech," he said, "enough
Although I think it little rough."
"O do you then?" She came and caught
Him by the lapel of his coat,
And looked up to him. "O I thought
You would get mad, but you don't show 't.
Now, won't you come, please. Rev. Stone,
We'd dearly love to have you there.
And, see, I'd have to go alone
Thro' that dark wood, you know I fear !"
She laughed. "Be good and not say, no."
(He smiled.) "Of course that means you'll go."
''You witch!" he laughing said, "of course.
Perhaps what you have said is true ;
I never thought it with this force
Until it is brought home by you.
Excuse me, I must make some change,
And I will stroll with you awhile.
'Twill not take long. Miss, to arrange
My bad looks (laughing). Men of toil
Should look bad sometimes, even tho'
They should be preachers, don't you know."
She smiled as he went ofif from her.
"Now don't be long; 'tis hard to wait,"
She called. She thought him handsomer
Just in that rig, but would not say 't.
She watched him till he disappeared
Within the chapel door. Her heart
With a peculiar thrill was stirred,
And thoughts there were which made her start,
And thoughts that made her start, there were,
That made her start in joyous fear.
To every women comes an hour
When she with self stands face to face;
She doth most realize her power
And find within this life her place.
And when that time doth come 'tis well
That she should with discretion move,
Nor 'gainst her better self rebel.
But if she must, then wisely love.
That hour to fair Rosetta came :
Within her bo&om burnt love's flame.
THE THUNDER STORM. 7 I
Within her bosom burnt love's flame.
She knew it when she trembled most;
'Twas then that great truth to her came
'' 'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all."
For she was happy in that hour.
The world that hitherto seemed small,
Grew large to her, a wondrous power
That thrilled her bosom, her possessed,
A strange deep feeling in the breast.
"Fve kept you waiting," with a look
Of real pleasure, Stone returned.
''Where shall we go?" Her arm he took
Quite carelessly. How her heart burned !
Softly she answered, "Anywhere,
But let it lead towards my home.
However, do not hurry there.
Such afternoons I like to roam
Through quiet woods, by peaceful streams
Where one may lose herself in dreams."
So they strolled off. Each workman's eye
Looked on and winked. "The parson's gone;
Look out, this house will by and by
Hold two, I think, instead of one,"
So said the big boss carpenter,
As he looked at them down the road.
"Ah well, a single minister
Won't do ; it is too great a load
For one to carry, better tzifo,
An' that 'a gal I think will do."
And so ran gossip. Other eyes
Beheld the two go down the lane ;
Eyes that gazed on in some surprise,
Whose owner's heart beat with much pain.
Eyes, where a soul week after week
Had seen and listened in vain to h-ear
Somebody of the past to speak ;
And now to her these two appear
Not pleasant. Ay, a jealous hate
Doth at the door for entrance wait.
''She with him!" thus May Melville said
Between shut teeth, as on she came
Toward the church. Her pathway led
Her straight to them. She heard her name
Just as she met them. "For a stroll?"
She turned to say quite civilly,
''Do let me go," and her control
Was wonderful beyond degree.
Both laughing, answered, ''Certainly,
There's always room enough for three."
"How mean ; you know I cannot go.
The children need me at this hour."
She stopped, slight gossiping, "Like to tho'.
Looks as if there'd be a shower
Before night fall ; pray don't be caught."
Rosetta answered, though they should,
She had this one comforting thought
She had the preacher, he was good.
Surely now Providence would spare
Her if the minister was there.
Thus with another word or two
And civil smiles, she passed them by.
''Poor thing, she has a lot to do,"
Said Rose, with sympathetic sigh.
''She certainly is a Christian, sir,
She's done so much for us, and still
There's nothing that's too hard for her.
Oh, she has such a wondrous will.
I wish I was as strong as she,
A mighty woman I would be."
They entered now a wood path where
'ihe pines, tall sentinels, high stood.
And cool and pleasant was the air.
Perfumed with odor of the wood.
The velvet moss, growing between
And crow foot, running 'long the way.
Showed up against them bright and green.
Now here, now there, a gum or oak
The sombre green of pine trees broke.
It was that early part of June
When in their robes the swaying trees
Look best. And on this afternoon.
There was a restless kind of breeze.
Which showed unsettledness ; and yet
One were not bothered 'bout the storm,
No danger there, of getting wet
For three hours at the most. The farm
Of Bro. Hawkins was about
One mile away. There was no doubt
That Stone enjoyed the stroll. To him
This maiden's talk for once appealed.
Perhaps, it was, he felt a dim
Small light appear upon life's field,
Till then not there. ''You strong as she?"
He asked when he had silent been
Some time. ''And now why shouldn't you be?"
Perhaps you are from what I've seen.
For he was thinking of the night
When she intO' the dark took flight.
"She has a romance in her life"
She said with somewhat of the touch
Of confidence. "Although the wife
Of, perhaps, one of the best. - Yet such
Has been her fate within the past
To love another who, she said,
Was the most brilliant, but was 'fast,'
And whom she felt she dared not wed ;
And yet she loved him, loved him true.
Now does this not show strength to vou?"
He murmured assent. "And his name?"
"She would not tell his name. She said
That was too sacred. Some day fame.
She thought, would tell it, if he led
A different life. She never knew
Just what he would make up his mind
Within this great big wo.rld to do,
But she was sure that he could find
His place in any walk. So bright,
Tis pity that his faults must blight."
*'And do you think that such is strength,
To throw aside the one we love
And let him run to the rope's length,
Himself a saint or demon prove?"
He bit his lips. "And now think you
It had been better had she caught
This lover wild of hers, if true,
And him upon good terms brought ?
I hope if you should ever love
You would not half as heartless prove."
''But what is love? I do not know !"
She murmured,, "Could a woman make
The man she thought she loved just so
As she should wish him? Can she break
Him of bad habits?" "Now you ask
Too many questions, for its first,
You ask what's love. It were a task
To answer. Let us say, a thirst
Of soul for soul, one's self to seek,
Where only soul to soul can speak."
"Can woman make the man she thinks
wShe loves do what she'd have him do?
Here let me say if she but drinks
From the pure fountain, if but true,
Her life to him an influence
For good in every way, I say,
No matter what the circumstance,
At last she'll make him turn her way.
There's nothing mightier than love —
In woman nought more strong can prove."
''Suppose," she ventured, '1ie does not
Know of this love, and that she knows
Not that he loves her? Suppose her lot
Be but to love in vain? — suppose
He loves no one? is very cold.
Then can she make him love her? Can
She be excused if she be bold
In making the advance? A man
Himself not sensible, should he
Disdain her if more forward she?"
"In such a case, much may depend,
The whole thing is conditional.
The girl who has a noble end
In view may be excused in all ;
But even if the man be such
As you describe him, there is chance
To win him. Yes, to win him, much
Depends upon the circumstance ;
She must be bold and also shy,
Seek yet to avoid his company.
"Draw, yet be drawn by him ; and tease
When he would think the way is clear;
When he is overwarm, then freeze.
Care less for him should he most care.
Well thus to end it all, to do
Whatever prudence mip-ht allow.
Successful lovers, there are few.
And mostly all end in a row.
Why should you ask such things of me?
In love, you surely cannot be."
THE THUNDER STORM. ^J
"And if I were," she laughing said,
''There's not a man in all this land
Who'd bother for an hour his head
On my account, or seek my hand."
She sighed. "Ma says I am too bold,
I should, she says, be more sedate.
Ah, well, you see, most men are cold,
And I'm afraid, it is my fate
To love the coldest man alive —
To whom I uselessly must give
"My heart." "To me confession made?
Now don't, I shan't confessor be!"
He laughed, "Poor little heart, and laid
Down at a cold man's feet. And he,
And does he love you ? — never mind —
Don't answer." "But how do I know?
For that is what I'd like to find
Out." "Truly," he replied, "how so?'
"By asking, if no other way,
'Seek, ye shall find,' the Scriptures say."
"There, naughty girl, you ought not quote
The Scripture for things so profane."
"There, pardon me, I ought to know 't,"
She said, "And yet, the thought is plain.
If I would know my fate, to seek
By asking; tell me am I right?"
He laughed, "Compel me not to speak
Just now, besides I see the light
Is fading. Let us hurry on,
pre we get home the day '11 be gone.''
"And how abrupt !" she laughing said,
''You have no sign of sympathy
To one in trouble. I'm afraid,
Poor peace, if any, you would be."
He arched his brows and looked surprised.
"How plain," he said, "how very plain.
In the rough term, I think you've sized
Me up too well indeed. Again
Of me whatever now you know,
I think that we had better go."
They stood near by two roads that met.
By-roads they were that thro' the wood
Cut off the main. And now they set
Out for her home. "I've not been good,
She said, "at all. I know you'll not
Consent to stroll with me again.
Now won't you let all be forgot
That we have said, and still remain
My friend, and when I ask you go.
Not be prepared to tell me no?"
He smiled, looked down upon the girl,
He saw pure sadness in her face.
Her hat she carried. A dark curl
Stole down her brow. 'Twas out of place
He thought and yet that one short hour
Had brought this simple maid so near
He felt she had peculiar power
O'er his small life. "Yies, yes, my dear —
D-d-aughter," he had stammered out,
Not knowing what he was about."
THE THUNDER STORM. 79
She smiled. ''Thank you, and you are good,
As good as I had thought you were,
But tell me, have I not been rude?"
Again he answered, "No, my dear."
This seemed to please her very much.
Her hand stole slyly in his arm,
"You don't think, do you, I am such
A bold girl after all?" A charm
Was in the maiden's very tone.
"No, no, dear child," soft murmured Stone.
They wend their way now leisurely,
She leaning lightly on his arm.
So sweet was all, now cared not he
How^ far the walk was to the farm.
Perhaps 'twas well that neither knew
The thoughts that occupied each mind.
Was it unconsciously he drew
Her hand in his ? Or was she blind
To that firm press ? She felt the thrill,
Yet on his arm she linsfered still.
She closed her eyes. He did not speak
He dared not. 'Twas the other night-
Would he forget? He was not weak.
Why lose these moments of delight?
Why should he tell this girl to-day
How glad he felt there at her side?
No. He had seen her rush away
And leave him with indignant pride.
No. Was he sure? 'Twas but a whim
Upon her part to be with him.
**Must I not ask him to forgive
Me for my rudeness t'other night?
But how would he my words receive ?
Of course it cannot be just right.
Why does he press my hand Hke this,
And can he love me, can he feel
As I for him ? Should I dismiss
Such feeling? How can I conceal
The truth from him, I know he knows?"
Thus, as she walked along, thought Rose.
'Twas from the wood at last they came.
What seemed approaching of the night
Was darkened skies. The last red flame
Of setting sun had gone. The light
Of gold was banked by threatenino"
Black clouds which rolled portentiously
Out from the west. A muttering
Of nearing thunder. ''Mercy me!
A gust is coming," quick, she cried.
And closer drew unto his side.
''Look!" She pointed to the west.
"Those awful clouds! Oh, dear! Oh, dear!'
He answered, "Let us make the best
Of it we can. Your home is near?"
"One-half of mile around the road,
A shorter distance through the wood,"
She answered. "But the ground is ploughed
In the first field, and 'tis not good
To try that way. I think it best
To tak^ the road, 'tis easiest."
"We'll try the road; can you walk fast?"
He asked. ''Of course, not fast as you."
''You must," he softly said, ''the blast
Will break upon us." And he drew
Her hand still tighter. "Maybe I
Shall have to carry you, so come."
Her grasp but tightened in reply.
Stepped firmly, quickly. It was some
Moments before either spoke.
The wind has risen. Wildly broke
In screams through swaying ancient pines.
He felt her tremble at his side.
Along the horizon great lines
Of smoky clouds had gathered. Wide
The fields of grain unharvested
Kolled in great waves beneath the wind.
A farmer to the barn had led
His team that they might shelter find,
A frightened flock of sheep stood nigh
The bars and waited anxiously.
The farm is almost reached, the house
Stood plainly out into full view.
"If we get caught I am the cause
We had been home if left to you —
I am so silly," gasping she
Had spoken. "Come, let's get there first,
Ere comments shall be passed," said he;
And as he spoke a flash — a burst
Of thunder, then a crashing sound —
An oak nearby falls to the ground.
''Oh!" cried the girl," we shall be struck!"
And closer drew to him. ''No, no,"
He said; "No, no; no such ill luck."
"But see" (another peal) "how slow
I walk ! alas !" she cried. His arm
About her drew most tenderly,
As if assurance that no harm
Could come to her. They now could see
Her parents waiting for them on
The porch. She quickly drew from Stone.
A tell-tale flush now on her face.
"Forgive me, I would rather be
Left thus, a little out of place.
You know." She'd spoken "hurriedly.
Stone heard and fully understood.
Nor failed he to appreciate
Her for it. It was for his good ;
Now they had entered the large gate.
Loud howled the wind, "Come on, come on,"
The father called to her and Stone.
"We might have been here sooner, but
I would not come," said Rose when they
Had gathered in the house. "To put
The blame on you," spoke Stone, "I say
It is not fair. It was my fault,
For I proposed that we should take
The stroll, and oft took time to halt.
First at this place and that to make
Some note. I should have used more thought ;
We certainly came near being caught.
THE THUNDER STORM. 83
^'Ah well, no harm," her father said.
*'No," joined her mother since you were
Not caught, and yet I felt some dread
Until I saw you both appear."
"And when you saw us. Ma?" asked Rose,
Who failed not to recall the arm
About her waist, looked at him whose
Arm it had been, while blood rushed warm
Into each cheek. ''I felt all right
The moment that you came in sight."
They now were in the living room,
The sky was blacker growing still.
The clouds shapes ominous assume;
The wind was blowing wild and shrill.
And blinding dust was in the air.
Which blew in scuddying whirls around,
And peal on peal of thunder there,
As flash on flash of lightning wound
It's zigzag course the wood along.
''Keep silent Rose, you know 'tis wTong,"
Said Mrs. Hawkins, as she drew
Far from the window. Little John
And Nellie there beside her, knew
Their mother's rule and spoke alone
In whispers. Mr. Hawkins sat,
Himself now silent, gazing out
The window, to the roadway that
Could not be seen for dust. Half pout
Was playing on Rosetta's lips,
Now biting at her finger tips.
There from the sofa, Stone could see
Each of the family, and draw.
In study of this family,
Conclusions just from what he saw.
All now was silent there within,
All howling of the wind without;
Wild demons seemed to raise a din,
Rush howling all the place about.
And loud the thunder pealed. At last
Down came the rain, a fearful blast.
Down came the rain ! How dark it was !
Except where lightning cleft the sky.
The windows shook ! each pane of glass
Seemed threatened as most furiously
The driving rain beat 'gainst each place.
Rose whispered '' 'Tis a cloudburst — my !"
A flash of lightning lit her face.
An awful crash, as if nearby
It struck. x\bove the dark a light
Flames in the sky, and all is bright.
"Eire!" Rosetta screamed, and Stone
Rushed to the hall, and out the door
Upon the porch. The heavens shone
With flames. Perhaps a mile or more
He saw a stately barn ablaze.
The family had followed out.
"How far is it?" "A little ways,"
Replied his host. "Perhaps about
A mile. It is the Smith estate."
■ My ! my !," cried Rose, "the glare — how great !'
"Come Rose into the house. You Nell,
John ! — come out now of that rain you all
Do know that none of you are well,"
Called Mrs. Hawkins from the hall.
"Yes, it is not the thing to do
Myself," said Stone, "I should not be
A standing here." "Yes, that is true,"
Said Mr. Hawkins, "but now with me,
Should there a fire be around,
Outside the house I'm mostly found."
The storm was growing less severe.
The rolling thunder far away
Began to sound. "O dear ! O dear !
How frightened I have been ! To-day
Has been so full of happenings,"
Said Rose when she had struck a light.
And Nell began to put the things
In order now for tea. The bright
Light from out that room broke on
The living room from which had gone
All but Stone and his host, who sat
In silence. But 'twas presently
The latter spoke. "Well, Reverend, what
About our parsonage — will it be
Finished by fall?" "I think it will,
If nothing happens," Stone replied.
"Those workmen are good men of skill,
And in the work take special pride;
I think, however, after all,
We'll move into our house by fall."
"We?" said his now inquiring host,
''I pray who shall the madam be?"
Who was full bent on making most
Upon Stone's speaking of the ''we."
''The madam?" quered Stone. 'T mean
The church that is the madam now.
Aside from her, I have not seen
The woman upon whose fair brow
That I might place the crown of wife,
Herself to crown my lonely life."
''Tut, Reverend, tut, a man like you
Should have a wife by all means, sir;
For in this place 'twill never do
To have a single minister."
"Well, yes, perhaps all that you say
Is so. I shan't one word deny.
Still I have not up to this day,
Been good enough in woman's eye
To call one wife, though much I would,
But somehow I'm not understood."
Not understood? — from out the gloom,
Where she was busying about.
He saw Rose in the dining room,
And on her face a look of doubt. .
A look of doubt, a roguish smile
Which plainly in its silence said,
"I don't believe it." All the while
The things were on the table laid.
"You are all right," his host replied,
"And would be better with a bride."
THE THUNDER STORM. 87
''Still that depends," observed his guest.
''I'm sure it is for better or worse.
I'm kind of cautious in it, lest
I miss the blessing, get the curse.
Of course, a woman, I suppose.
To wed me I might chance to find,
But I don't seek for one of those.
Perhaps I'm choicy, and the kind
I want, don't want me, don't you see?
The kind I want will not have me."
"Pray, why?" his host surprised made quest.
"Oh, many reasons may be shown ;
Most of them do not think it best
To be a preacher's wife," said Stone.
Rose colored as she placed a dish
Upon the table. "Think you so?
It seems 'twould be her highest wish
To marry one from what I know,"
His host replied. "From what you see,
'Tis not all bright this ministry."
"Perhaps," replied his host, "conceit,
If you v/ill pardon me, I fear,
Born of a bachelor's life 's complete
Control of you. An old man hear.
I'm father of thirteen, one wife,
(A goodly wife as ever lived.)
A hard worked man, and yet a life
Of peace and joy I have derived
From union with this wife of mine
Tho' bitter as well as sweet my wine.
"You marry, 'tis a better thing
Than Hvnig such a lonely life.
Ah, yes, 'tis more encouraging
Than single-handed in this strife.
Marry 'for better or for worse;'
But in it trust to Providence,
Whatever afterward your course.
That both of you use common sense.
Get from your head that poor conceit :
A woman makes a man complete."
''Thanks for your sermon," murmured Stone.
"Tea!" cried Rosetta; "come to tea!
Pa, let the Reverend alone.
His wife's picked out, who e'er she be."
Mrs. Hawkins entered, and the two
Went to the dining room, and there
Up to the sumptuous repast drew.
The smell of chicken filled the air.
Said Stone, "Pd marry if I could
Obtain a wife who'd cook such food."
When Stone awoke the sun was high.
Without a bird sang merrily,
As perched upon a Hmb near by,
''Too weet, too w^ee! too weet, too wee!'
A w^asp was building in the eaves
Ingeniously her house of clay ;
From limb to limb a spider weaves
Her silken web in wondrous way;
A bee goes buzzing on the wing.
And there is life in every thing.
A turkey gobbler struts about,
And drums upon the dampened sward ;
And puts the crowing cock to rout
Into a corner of the yard.
The cackling of excited hens,
A small stray chicken's ''peep, peep,"
The grunt of pigs there in the pens, —
And how could Stone be fast asleep ?
Despite the fact, in sweet repose.
He dreamed the live long night of Rose.
And, reader, will you think him weak.
If after eight long weary years
Of service, where he had to speak
To unresponsive heart:^ 'midst tears
' And disappointments, if at last
The heart, which misery made to love,
Should at a pretty face beat fast,
And he like other men should prove?
And scorn the preacher if the man
Should love, which is but Nature's plan?
And did Stone love ? He could not say.
The passion of more youthful years
He simply knew, had passed away,
And in its place, 'midst hopes- and fears.
Came something stirring in his breast.
Which softened every rugged line ;
In lives of others see the best
Above the human, the divine;
Yea, lifted him above the human,
To see the angelhood of woman.
He lay awhile there to survey
The room in which so well he'd slept.
Through the green blinds a flooding ray
Of light in every corner swept.
And on an easel, of life size,
A crayon of Rosetta was.
So life like, seemed to speak. Her eyes
Looked right at him. A roguish mass
Of curls stole from a pompadore
And down her brow came creeping o'er.
The other pictures, that around
The walls profusely hung, he saw
Not. Here, as if he had been bound,
He gazed. And just what seemed to draw
He did not know. But only this :
The more he gazed upon this face
He felt, and was he sure? that his
Life, somehow, must find its place
Along with her's whose portrait he
Was gazing on so earnestly.
Here as he lay enrapt, a song
Came from the floor below. His ear
Caught now and then the words which rung
Softly and sweet. The voice was clear.
'T need thee every hour." The line
Came to him as a morning prayer,
"Stay thou near by." O words divine !
Were they not spoken for him there?
Thus he arose — no more delay
And fell upon his knees to pray.
What prayed he for ? He would be strong.
He would, whate'er the day might bring,
Steer to the right and clear of wrong
And say and do the proper thing.
The proper thing, the will alone
Of him be done who's over all.
Into the opening day trod on.
Brave hearted to the last — nor fall,
Nor falter when the foe comes nigh.
But press right on to victory.
Stone had been dressed an hour, and read
His morning lesson when the call
For rising to his chamber sped,
Rung from a bell within the hall.
And "J^s^^s, lover of my soul,"
Sang Rosie in the dining room,
That hour a glowing feeling stole
Into Stone's heart. ''Ah, such was home'
And from his eyes he dashed a tear.
In looking at the picture there.
Down stairs he went and thro' the hall
Out on the front porch. Standing there
Was little Nell. A worsted ball
She held about to toss it. She
Looked and said, "Good mocning, sir."
"Good morning, daughter." Fatherly
He stroked her long dark hair. "And were
You frightened last nig-ht in the storm?"
"No, sir. I knew there'd be no harm."
"And why?" he asked with half a guess
What she would answer. "Tell me why."
"Ma bids us never fear unless
We have done wrong, for God's great eye
Doth watch o'er all, and he will keep
Us in all kinds of storms and things.
He guards us all when we are sleep
And thro' the darkest night he brings
Us safely to the light of day.
Then guides us all along the way."
THE MORNING AFTER. 93
"Sun of my soul thou Saviour dear,"
This moment from the house now stole.
*'It is not night if thou be near"
Brought sunlight to our hero's soul.
''Am I not right?" She raised her eyes
To him, he murmured gently, *'Yes."
She for her age was overwise
Herself in such way to express.
"O let no earth-born cloud arise
To hide thee from thy servant's eyes."
The little bird up in the tree
Stopped for a while to hear the song ;
And Stone hummed soft, "Abide with me."
As aloft the notes to heaven rung
''Come, Reverend, catch this ball with me,"
Said Nell, who tossed into the air
The ball she had, and quickly he
Struck attitude to catch it there.
"Ha, ha, and that was fine," cried Nell.
So passed the time until the bell
For breakfast rung. Toward the door
He looked. Without Rosetta stood.
Neat dressed, her hair la pompadore.
That tell-tale curl, and rosey hued
Her cheeks. "Why, Reverend, you here? —
And Nell, you little rogue, to steal
Away from me!" "There, there, my dear, —
Good datighter," stammered Stone, "don't feel
Too sore if this dear miss has run
Away from you, much good she's done."
Nell smiled and caught behind his coat,
Rose looked confused, and disappeared.
They followed her. He cleared his throat,
''Ahem! she flees without a word."
''Here, Reverend," in the living room.
'Twas Bro. Hawkins' voice just then.
"Go, Nellie, tell the rest to come.
A lovely morning after rain."
He turned to Stone who took his hand.
" 'Twas needed badly by the land."
In came the madam, followed now
By Rosie, N'ell and little John .
A sweet song sung, and then they bow
Together, led in prayer by Stone,
Short, mete and very forcible.
For still had Stone upon his mind
The simple faith of little Nell —
The words she said. He felt the kind
Of home this was. Thus with accord
Could lead this family to the Lord.
Then out to breakfast. There again
To sit and eat the well served food.
Tho' every thing was very plain,
Yet everything was very good.
"Your own raised hams?" he asked his host.
"Yes, sir. We seldom have to buy
Unless some sickness. Y'et the most.
We have our own meat; that is why
I am always ahead, you see,
For nothing gets away from me."
"Why, Reverend," said young John, ''you know,
You said last night — " ''Why, mother, — John,"
Cried Rosie. "Well now," said John, " 'tis so^-
That you would m-m — " "Well, upon
My word," said Mrs. Hawkins; "Jack,
What ails you? Will you not be still?"
"Well, mama," he was crying back,
"Just let me finish." "No, 'tis ill
To speak of everything you hear;
I'll have to punish you, I fear."
Stone's host was all aglow with smiles,
And little Nell look frightened. Rose
Was trembling and her food in piles,
Lay on her plate untouched. "Don't lose
Your appetite, my dear," now said
Her mother calmly, "eat your food;
Last night's excitement, I'm afraid.
Regards your nerves, did you no good.
Well, Reverend, how did yoit rest ?"
"Ah, splendidly — the very best."
Somehow Stone knew the whole import
Of Johnnie's words. And, now, to tease.
From talking other things' quite short
He turned toward his host. "Now please
Tell me who with such delicate skill
Prepared this breakfast — may I know ? —
She certainly has 'filled the bill.' "
Then John cried out, "I told you so,"
And looked at Rose. "Well, now," replied
His host, "I think you may decide."
**Ah?" (Rose stopped eating,) said the guest.
*'I see — pray daughter, feel no shame
Unless condemned here hy the rest.
I can but praise the food. Your name,
If you continue as you do,
Cannot remain mere Hawkins long;
Some one is sure to search for you.
I'm certain he will not be wrong.
Had I some one to cook like this.
My home would be a place of bliss."
''Don't flatter, Rev. Stone," she broke
Out sharply, "I hate flattery."
She seemed as as if she'd almost choke.
"Pray throw it not away on fne."
"Nay, daughter, flattery? — not at all;
You must not be incredulous.
The skill to cook a meal's not small,
Especially w^hen it is thus.
I hope you'll pardon me if I
Have been more frank than I should be."
His hostess smiled, her daughter blushed.
His host each point of it enjoyed.
And even further would have pushed.
But fear that Rose would be annoyed.
John, too, looked wise, but said no more.
And little Nell was most precise
To cut her meat up o'er and o'er,
Which was the smallest bit of slice.
Thus each with his own thoughts intent,
The breakfast hour now was spent.
THE MORNING AFTER. 97
The meal now o'er, the family
Began the duties of the day.
His host declared his work should be
- Down in the meadow, mowing hay.
''You'll not go to the building then?"
He asked Stone. "Not if I were you;
Besides I think, sir, that the men
Can get along without you. True
I understand just how you feel
And all appreciate your zeal.
"Stay here, however, madam will
Take splendid care of you, be sure.
The Nooks, don't fear, will not think ill
In your abiding here. And more,
I'll send John to inform them that
You'll be with us a day or two.
And you may have them send you what
E'er there may be of need to you.
My house is large, my family small.
There is room and food enough for all."
Thus with them all 'twas understood
That Rev. Stone awhile should be
Their guest. Said Nellie 'Tsn't he good?''
To Johnnie confidentially.
"You bet. I'm going to Mr. Nooks'
For him, and when I do get bac^
He'll read me outen all his books,
I know, or else my name's not Jack."
"How do you know the books will do,
You silly boy, to read to you?"
"Of course they'll do, for won't I be
A preacher, too, one of these days ?
Perhaps, a sliding elder, see?
So I'll get use to all the ways.
And when I've made the seventh grade
And gone from here to college, then
A first-class preacher I'll be made.
And preach just like these other men —
But, no, I shall not cry and bawl,
For I don't b'lieve in that at all.''
"And will you let folks clap and shout,
And shake their hands as some do here?"
Asked little Nellie. "Not without
The Spirit moves them. Perhaps there
May be some who are not real good.
And yet when I begin to preach.
Will shout and clap their hands. I should
When these begin to clap and screech,
Jes' say to them, 'you hypercrit.
You jes' set there and wait abit.' "
"Well, I shall be a preacher's wife,"
Said Nellie in a manner grave.
"You do not know — upon my life! —
You've got to wait for one to have
You," said her brother with disgust.
"How can you tell that such will be.
You see a grown-up woman must
Wait for a man to ask her. See?"
"I see, of course," said little Nell;
"I had not thought of that, to tell
THE MORNING AFTER. 99
"The truth, I thought that one could be
Just what one wanted to." "Of course,
When left alone with one, but we
Men must ask you this. To force
Yourself on us would not be wise."
And John, who had been tossing chips
After the turkey, to full size
Drew himself up. With tight closed lips,
His Httle sister, at his side,
Looked at her brother with deep pride.
Not far away, this childish talk
Was heard and well enjoyed, by Stone,
Who having started for a walk
Into the meadow all alone.
But being attracted by the trees
That hung with apples, almost ripe.
He stopped to sample one of these,
And put aside his friendly pipe,
The talk of these two children heard,
Enjoying richly every word.
And as their talk seemed finished he
Continued, thoughtful, on his stroll,
"An interesting family,"
He murmured. "Yea, upon my soul,
The last eight years I have not met
In all my work the like before."
And thus his memory he let
His former work to wander o'er.
His three appointments in these years.
The records of his hopes and fears. ;
And now his first work comes to view,
The one dear work of all the three,
Where first the pastor's trials he knew
And met responsibility;
Of how the people met him first,
And what they of his preaching said.
No welcoming, no wild outburst,
But doubtful shakes of many a head.
And then his elders' grave advice.
His own true style to sacrifice;
And how he held his chosen course,
The even tenor of his way ;
And how it seemed a silent force
Was gaining for him every day,
Till vacant pews began to fill.
And anxious faces met his gaze,
And far and near his pulpit skill
Began to win the people's praise.
And he had raised them up to him
Instead of going down to them.
Then those prayer meetings, how he first
Looked at them, and considered how
He might discourage them ; how burst
Upon him for this such a row
Of cruel abuse, and how he stood
Closed mouth, except when to defend ;
And how it was there came a flood
Of favor for him, and the end
Of all of it, the methods changed,
The comingf back of those estranged.
His second work. The circuit long,
On lonely roads, dense covered woods,
Which he had travelled, song on song:.
Had sung as he the miles pursued
In shaky road cart, sleepy nag.
To lodge at night beneath a roof
Where there was not a decent rag
To lie on ; but to be dirt proof,
And eat without a word the food
One placed before him, bad or good.
His third work, an unruly Board,
A church half buried in a debt,
To which he went with drawn sword,
Determined fully not to let
Himself be beaten; how he won
And brought the church upon her feet,
And when his joy had just begun
And he began to taste the sweet
Of harvest, he was called away
Sent to this place for more affray.
Now^ over all his work his mind
Has wandered, and as he recalls
Each scene, he does not fail to find,
Despite the draw backs and pitfalls ;
Despite the wrangles in the boards ;
Despite the cold dark wintry days ;
Despite the many adverse words,
The slander far outweighing praise,
Some people he could well recall
With tender feeling after all.
Some good, yes, true, parishoner
Who never failed him when in need;
Some widow, yes, he found in her
A constant friend in time of need.
Some brother, who without a doubt
Would do his duty, come or go,
When needed was always about
To answer to his call. Whom no
E'er changing wind could turn away,
But by him to the last would stay.
Such were the men and women who
God always has prepared to take
His servants whom he sends, tho' few,
Enough there will be found to make
God's servants happy in the thought
That they can never be alone,
Who work for God, — that there is nought
To stop them, they may rest upon
God's Word which says that He will raise
Up friends for them throughout their days.
THE RUMOR. I03
Canto IX. — I.
'Twas Monday after Children's Day,
When Mary Melville, breakfast o'er
And dishes washed and put away,
Stood idle at her kitchen door.
Her view was o'er a stretching heath
Where huckelberries richly grew.
Among which ran a winding path
That she was wont oft to pursue.
Clad in a rough-and-ready suit,
To gather the delicious fruit.
Now they were ripe, she would not wash,
But spend perhaps an hour or two
Out there. She would enjoy to slash
About where prickly briers grew.
Of snakes, Mame Melville had no fear,
Nor squirmed to see them at her feet.
Just so her trusty stick was near.
That snake had better make retreat ;
For if she had to kill one, well.
She'd try to do it, that was all.
Melville to town to-day had gone,
Would not be back till nearly night ;
And being left here all alone,
The morning was so very bright,
Her spirit longed to be away.
To wander over fields afar,
Commune with Nature thro' the day.
Throw to the win<ls dull sordid care,
And once more like the careless child,
Go bounding o'er the open wild.
And she was tired; sorely taxed
With training children in their part —
All over now, her nerves relaxed.
She needed change. Her throbbing heart
Beat for new scenes. Perhaps she stood
This morning at her kitchen door
Not in a very happy mood ;
And yet not sorrowful ; for o'er
Her features now and then would pass
A smile — or something like it was.
For looking at May Melville, one
Could scarcely tell just what she did.
For she was seldom ever known;
Herself she kept completely hid.
And as one saw her stately form.
Or dared to meet her searching gaze.
One never thought that passion's storm
Beneath that heaving bosom sways.
He saw alone what seemed to be
Herself, not in reality.
tHE RUMOR. 105
Stone praised her work, he said 'twas grand, ]
Yes, it was all a great success; \
Congratulating, pressed her hand, I
And murmured warmly, "Heaven bless
You, sister, for your noble work."
Then marched in company down the isle.
With Rosie, who with a jaunty jerk,
Stepped at his side. A hateful smile |
Which seemed as plain as day to say, 1
"You do the work, I get the pay." j
Marched down the isle with fresh young Rose, \
She really thought he had more sense ; '
And now she wondered if he knows
What people say of him. Defense
She'd offered for him oft of late, j
About this very thing, but she?
What could she do, if to his fate
He plunged headlong ? it seems that he
Had little talk for her alone, I
He smiling spoke, and then went on. j
Since that bright night he had not been
To see them, though in homes near by.
She knew he'd been, for she had seen
Him by their gate go rapidly ;
Go rapidly when she had thought
That he would surely turn their way.
But, no, he passed them by, was aught !
He had against her to display
Such coldness, that a minister I
Should have for no parishioner ? ^
If he would come, she'd tell him how
The people tried to criticise;
She'd counsel him not to allow
Such little things as these to rise ;
She'd tell him that 'twas to his hurt;
That it was wholly out of place
To hang upon a woman's skirt,
Who merely had a pretty face,
A little property, but who
Was not his kind if all were true.
Not that Rose was not pure; no, no;
Yet when it came to such as this,
She was not all she should be, tho'
She never saw one thing amiss —
The people said she kept the place
In constant uproar by her pranks ;
And such a girl, despite her face,
Was not for ministerial ranks.
She'd spoil, thought May, the best of men,
"And Raymond ought to know it, then."
And there was something else, also;
Some even went so far to say
The P. E. thought himself her beau.
And wrote her letters anyway.
If this was true, a base coquette,
The girl must be, and some one should
Be even kind enough to let
The Reverend know the girl he wooed.
But no, to him none -spoke a word,
Yet gossip on the outside stirr'd.
'Twas even at the cross-roads store.
The first thing the proprietor
Threw at Melville the night before
Last was that of their minister.
"Mel" did not like the thing at all,
And came straight home and made it known.
Told her to speak at his first call.
He'd great respect for Rev. Stone,
And did not wnsh to have it said
He was by Rosie Hawkins led.
These were her thoughts as now she stood
This morning at her kitchen door.
She thought now^ if he only would
Come there to-day, she would no more
Play doubly with him, but be plain,
And tell him all that Gossip said.
And urge him after to refrain
From keeping company with the maid ;
And tho' sincere she really w-ere,
'Twas not well to be seen with her.
She turned preparatory to
Go to the woods, when in the front
She heard approaching steps, and grew
Slight nervous, tho' 'twas not her wont.
"I wonder, now, who it can be?"
She murmured as she closed the door,
Tipped to the front room cautiously,
Looked through the blinds. And was she sure ?
Lo, standing with his gaze upon
Some distant object, there was Stone,
Already on the porch, about
To knock. She felt a little strange.
She must not let him in without
She made in dress a little change.
She could not dare to see him thus.
She'd call to him to wait. And so
She stole upstairs with little fuss
Just as he knocked. And with a ''Who
Comes?" waited for his answer ''I."
''O, Reverend !" with a little cry,
"Please wait, and I will not be long,
There on the porch, please take a chair."
Then with some snatches of a song
From Children's Day, smoothes back her hair,
Puts on a plain but pretty gown,
A pair of silken stockings, blue;
A dainty pair of slippers on,
Then standing at the glass to view
Her hasty toilet, goes to greet
Th^ man she most desired to meet.
No, he preferred the porch, the air
Was pleasanter, his time was short.
He lounged back in the rustic chair.
He was not well at all, but sort
Of run down. Thought he'd go away
To spend a day or two, and near,
Decided he would call to say
He might be over Sunday, for fear
The choir'd follow suit, thought he
Would ask her to them all to see.
THE RUMOR. TO9
XVIIl. : ,
'Terhaps 'tis best," she said, ''if you j
(Herself she'd seated opposite,)
Are not so well, a day or two
To take away, but 'tis not right
To miss a Sabbath. People here
Prefer to have their minister
Within the pulpit to appear,
The least. You may be abler
By Sunday. If you go away
Where'er you are, you'll something say.
''Come back," she smiled, "by then and preach
To those who love to hear you still.
Who need the very truth you teach,
Who come each Sabbath for their fill.
But pardon me, I have no right
To talk this way, and you my guide.
You must excuse me, for I'm quite
Too forward; for yourself decide."
She finished, looked through half-closed eyes
Upon him. Most slowly Stone replies,
"Believe me, you, without a doubt,
Are right in giving such advice.
A woman sees at once without
The pafin of thinking over twice.
Qf course, I ought not leave at all.
But really feel at times so dull.
The folks are busy on whom I call.
And tho' indeed my hands are full,
I cannot study ; 'tis too warm,
i\n4 even Nature has lost charn^."
She pitied him. She saw at once
The cause of this peculiar state.
She gave him now a searching glance,
And what use was there to wait?
She'd speak to him at once, and tell
Him in the simplest way she could,
What was not very suitable
For one who stood just where he stood.
He lounged back in the chair and wore
A look most wretched. Oft before
In other days she saw that look.
'The same old Raymond after all,"
She murmured under breath. She took
A rose, whose vine ran up the wall.
And blew its petals, one by one.
And shook her dainty little foot.
Stretched careless out, her eyes on Stone,
Who chewed upon a sassafras root.
Five minutes passed ere either spoke,
And then 'twas she the silence broke.
"Now, Reverend, it is useless for
This little farce, that we have played,
To go on longer. Nobler,
It is, if everything be made
Now plain between us. From the first
I knew you and you knew me, too,
And showed it in that quick outburst
That Sunday night. Just what to do
I knew not then, but now I see
My duty very plain to me."
THE RUMOK. Ill
He didn't answer, simply sat
And looked at her in mute surprise.
He never had expected that,
Or he had never come. Her eyes
Were straight upon him. She went on,
"I need not tell you how I felt
To have you preaching, Rev. Stone,
In the very parish where I dwelt.
And I, too, married. Not to me
Belongs you being here to tea.
"I never heard a word you said,
I only thought, 'And is this Ray ?'
Some one had written you were dead,
Died after I had gone away.
At first 'twas you had disappeared,
Left all your old acquaintances.
Then some time after that, had heard
That to a terrible disease
You had succumbed, some where down South;
Of course, I took it to be truth."
He laughed a hollow laugh, ''At most.
From all you've seen of me since here,
You'll think I'm quite an active ghost.
I wonder you had not some fear."
"No, no," she cried. 'T taught for five
Long years up North, nor wished to see
A soul. Alone, I tried to live
For others. 'Twas a blow to me.
Then I came here and taught two years.
None but my God can tell the tears
**I shed, and even now for that.
But then I met my husband. He
Is noble, Reverend, just what
A lonely sorrowing one like me
Needs to protect her. And he loved ;
I married him from pure respect,
And faithful to him I have proved.
Or tried to. I did not reject
His noble love. I thought it best
To marry. Thus I have confessed.
**But wait, I am not through, don't speak.
I fear I know what you would say.
After our wedding, scarce a week
Had gone, the preacher came* one day,
And looking in my album came
Across your portrait, and at once
Declared he knew you, called your name.
Said you were in his conference;
And when I told him you were dead,
Your name within the minutes read.
'*0f course I never thought to look
Along the ministerial list.
Although I always bought the book,
And even then your name I'd missed.
Not looking for you there. And so
Of course I thought some day
I'd see you, but you should not know
I recognized you. Now I'd play
A perfect ignorance, all that,
Pvit now, I se^ it different. Whaf
THE RUMOR. 1 1 3
"Is it that makes me see?" 'Tis you —
Your good, or you had never heard
A word. Perhaps you do not view
It as I do. But when a word
Is spoken to your hurt 'twill cut
Me also even now, and thus
Excuse me, when myself I put
Into your matters; there's a muss
Throughout the parish all astir
Because you go so much with her."
Stone sat and heard Mame Melville thro',
Now old love, now mere smypathy;
Knew not what she was driving to,
Nor understood her until she
Had finished. Then it was surprise !
If there were aught, it never came
To him at all. To criticise
He knew 'twas common, could not blame
The people for the gossip, knew
About them all a thing or two.
But why this muss of which she spoke.
Which caused her to have gone o'er all
Her history? True she awoke
Within him much. But since a wall
Was reared between them, it was best.
He thought, to have kept back much said ;
Yes, let the buried ashes rest,
Nor kindle up the coals till red
They glow. No, forever, no,
In speaking he would tell her so.
''Mame/' he now murmured, soft and low,
''You have my deepest sympathy,
But what occurred long years ago
'Tis best, I think, to let it be.
You knew me then, may know me now ;
God knows me best ; in Him I trust.
Not far from here I made a vow
Not to recall the past. I must
Therefore forever treat it as
Within our life, such never was.
"You have a noble husband, true;
One who can love you as he ought.
Let such love be returned by you,
And give to me no further thought.
Look at me only as you look
At other messengers of Truth,
Sent as your pastors. Do not brook
To think of that once reckless youth.
In truth he died and rose again
Another, better, stronger man.
"Your reference to musses, pray,
What can there be for folks to talk?
Am I a child ? I know the way ;
My head's not turned because I walk
With some congenial girl, a child
Almost to me ; that I am sure.
Of course, I own a little wild,
But from what I see, quite pure,
With not a measure of deceit,
And for my company quite mete.
THE RUMOR. 115
''I like her family, because
They lead an ideal Christian life.
They try their best to keep the Laws
Of God, and never are in strife.
I know some folks don't like them, true.
Few folks like those who do the right.
All may not even like me, too ;
But does that matter? In God's sight
I 'Stand adjudged. He knows my heart
And sees the very innermost part.
''Believe me, I don't try to please
In any of my life mere man ;
Enough to me that Heayen sees,
That God in heaven approves my plan.
And I go on. Let people talk, —
Why, bless you, child, they will make ill
Of our best deeds, and watch our walk
To see a step which they may fill
With dirt, to show we've walked therein,
Then pointing shout, 'Behold his sin!'
"Of course, I well appreciate
Your concern for me, but decline
To have you meddle ; 'tis my trait
To jealously guard affairs of mine.
I make no confidents. No, none.
I treat my members all the same,
And when from them I shall have gone
For 'picking' they will not me blame.
So, Mame, I thank you for your show
Of sympathy, and now must go."
Il6 BROWN CHAPEL.
"Not yet," she said, (a smothered sigh)
*'Not yet, don't go and leave me thus.
I meant you well, you can't deny,
Since all around I hear this muss.
Yet, pardon me, if I have gone
Too far in all that I have said.
To me you shall be Bro. Stone,
No more, and if I have displayed
Aught unbecoming, I take back.
Pray God to give me what I lack.
"Yet one thing you cannot control,
That is a lasting sympathy;
That, the one impulse of my soul,
Shall always rush incessantly,
Whenever you in trouble are.
Whenever you may need advice,
Whenever you are bent with care,
My soul, a willing sacrifice.
Shall live for you, shall for you live.
If this be wrong, may God forgive!"
He answered not, but rose to go.
"No, do not go; retake your seat.
You are not strong, 'tis true, I know ;
Stay, I'll prepare a bit to eat.
Stay, you shall have a book to read.
I know you'll interested be.
Stay do not worry, you'll not need
To say another word to me."
She not another moment took
But went and got for him the book,
tHE RUMOR. ' 117
"Quo Vadis," as he took his seat,
Reached for the book she to him brought,
She said, "I know that it will meet
With your approval, for the thought
Is grand." And then she disappeared.
He soon began the leaves to turn.
'Twas now and then her voice he heard
In snatch of sacred song, but, stern
He drove, if came soft thoughts, away,
And sat and read that summer day.
1 I ^ BllOWN CHAPEL.
Canto X. — .
The Rev. Dr. Samuel Small
Was th^ Presiding Elder of
The B ]\I District. Somewhat tall,
Large in proportion, quite a proof
To the rough travel attending such
A District in its rural parts.-
A man who easily came in touch
With all the people, won their hearts,
And went among his brethren
As the very best of men.
Quite dark, strong features, large bright eyes
'Neath a broad intellectual brow,
Which was in keeping with his size,
And made you in his measure 'low
For common sense and shrewdness full.
A manner quite magnetic, he
Could wake the dullest of the dull,
The gravest to a sense of glee.
At Brown's pronounced an orator
By every parishpner.
OUARTEPLY MEETING. I tQ
It was mid-summer, in July,
For his first ''Quarterly" he came.
Brown's people came from far and nigh ;
For quarterlies, it was their claim,
They made their biggest days, and so
The church was always crowded. Old
And young would never fail to go.
And much untruth that day was told —
Ah, many untruths told that day —
'Tis what the usual critics say.
But we have watched them at such times,
And heard the testimony given,
Poetic speeches, 'spersed with rhymes,
And been constrained to think that heaven,
Some of them had already seen,
And some were not so far away,
And some had to its borders been, —
For they had, oh, so much to say !
And some, we thought, if they held out
Would enter heaven without a doubt.
Then, some we've heard, but knowing them,
Oh, sad to hear such people talk
About the new Jerusalem,
Yet stray far from it in their walk !
Such, we have often thought, were blind,
Or groped in darkness, failed to see,
What they called heaven was not the kind
Of place in which we hope to be.
From knowledge of their daily modes,
We've thought them bound on different roads.
2() BROWN CHAPEL.
The Doctor's sermon might be said
To be a revelation quite.
Forsooth, the people's minds were led
Up to a most tremendous height.
If they saw heaven (some avowed
They did, but never stopped to tell
Just how it looked), they shouted loud.
And gave the Methodistic yell,
And wagged their heads and clapped their hands
And sung of shining silver strands.
Some swooned away, for I suppose,
So unaccustomed to the sight.
They could not stand it like to those
Who daily basked within its light.
And some got up and waltzed around
The little chapel. I presume
They thought they walked celestial ground
Though in the aisle 'twas hardly room.
But such the power of eloquence
Which robs a man of all his sense.
Now, Stone had quite a different style.
He seldom rose at times above
A simple talk, all free from guile.
And yet such powerful truth he drove
Home to his hearers, they were wont
To feel his every word, recoil
Because he poured a solid front
Into them, causing such turmoil,
Till they who came to hear him preach,
Felt every man himself in reach.
OUARTfiRLY MEETING. t^t
They seldom lost their heads, yet when
They saw the speaker disappear
Behind the sacred desk, 'twas then
They felt the more inclined to hear ;
Was sorry when he had sat down.
Their very souls would cry "Go on!"
For each one thought the word his own.
Something that he alone had done.
And so preached Stone ; so Bishop Payne :
Which of these styles the more will gain?
I think somebody says, "If God
Is in the preaching, then all rig'ht."
We tread the path the Master trod,
And in his preaching where's the might?
Think you, on Mount Beatitudes,
He spoke unto that motley throng,
They heard Him in excited moods,
Except when being convinced of wrong,
They had been stabbed unto the quick.
And fallen over conscience strick ?
And even then, now did our Lord
Stand up and loud His words declaim ?
Or sat he not while every word
Burned in the conscience like a flame?
His was the "still small voice." Go search
The Scriptures, read the Parables,
And then conclude that in the church
True preaching is not jingling bells.
Not jingling bells, however sweet
They sound and our approval meet.
t^± BROWN CHAPEL.
True preaching ? Let us first convince
The judgment, all we say is right,
Is truth, though one beneath it wince ;
Then secondly, we must incite
One to perform that which he sees
Is duty. This is but to cause
His will to act. That he might please
His Maker, he'll no longer pause,
But having seen his duty, rise
To make a perfect sacrifice.
Then, is a man condemned if he
Should be of such a nervous make
When preaching he excitedly
Should lumber, till the corners shake?
No, brother, if the truth he hurls
Straight to the mark and makes a stir,
Till men forsake mere rocks, seek pearls
O^f righteousness, live nobler.
Yet, if it is but empty sound.
For such excitement, there's no ground.
Besides, our people need to think ;
To use their minds, themselves to see ;
At faults no longer can we wink —
And many a filthy fault have we.
Truth's searchlight must be turned upon
Ourselves, our public, private life.
This can by thought alone be done.
Ours is a most peculiar strife.
Tho' all without a mighty host,
We fight against ourselves the most.
QUARtERLY MfiEtlNd. l23
These things must every pastor preach;
Yea, Hke the seers gray, of old,
Our people not forbear to teach,
Before them e'er the Truth to hold,
Then point them out a better way,
Show them that life is practical.
Religion not a great display.
But it is daily doing all
The little things which life complete:
This makes alone for heaven mete.
Let every Sabbath Day unseal
Another roll of blessed Truth ;
And let God's messengers reveal
It not with words of man too smooth.
But when the vision doth appear,
And when the high command is given.
Oh, let the waiting people hear
The message as it comes from heaven ;
And should it kill and should it cure.
He does his duty, does no more.
The Rev. Dr. Small had ceased.
The prayer chanted by the choir.
The chanted prayer but increased
The burning of the zealous fire.
The anthem following at last
Prepared them for the offering,
Which quite a damper o'er them cast.
After such mighty holloing;
But they, the faithful, to the table.
Came, and laid down what they were able.
1^4 BROWN CHAPEL.
And some who seldom ever came,
But now dressed in their very best
Came also up. It seemed their aim
Alone to show how well they dressed;
For hunting in their purses, gave
The smallest coin they could find.
Ah, who could faith in some folks have.
With all this ever on his mind ?
'Twere better if we never heard
Them in the class-room say a word.
Ere came the service to a close.
In the best words at his command,
The Doctor smiling as he rose
Praised their advancement, pronounced grand
The building of the parsonage,
Their pastor who suggested it,
Called 'him a young man of the age,
(And made Stone most uneasily sit.)
Was confident from every sign
They'd prosper all along the line.
When benediction had been said
And he within the chancel stood,
O many a gracious hand was laid
Within his honest grasp. How good
His sermon was that morning, how
It made them feel, and all of that.
He'd be with them for dinner ; now,
If they remembered right 'twas what
He said when he was there before. <
And thus they pressed him by the score.
QUARTERLY MEETING. 125
But, no, 'twas Hawkins he had thought; j
Yes, Hawkins said it surely was ; I
And when he had the pastor sought j
Who was surrounded by a mass
Of choir girls, they straightway went
With Bro. Hawkins as agreed,
Who' as they went was eloquent
In praise of Stone. There was no need,
The Doctor knew the pastor well.
Whose motto's always to excell.
Rose, with another girl, a friend,
A former classmate, who had come '
This year a little while to spend i
Vacation in this country home.
From city's heat, walked slow behind.
''A widower, of course, you know," :
Said Rose, quite softly, "and now mind |
You girl, he wants to be my beau ! i
He writes, of course, occasionally,
And says such silly things to me.
'*0f course, you'll entertain him some,
And that will give me little chance ;
With Ray. Pa fixed for him to come
When here last time. You see him glance
At me when I was in the choir
Just after I the solo sang?
Well, child, it was not my desire
To laugh, and I just had to hang
My head for I was shaking so ;
That look did certainly tickle tho'."
The friend looked at the girl. A mild
Reproach was on her lips. "You Rose,
O when will you get better, child?
You should not act like that. Suppose
He really loves you, and what then?''
''My! Love? He does not love at all.
He's only like the most of men
Who preach. A second wife to haul
About the country that's his aim.
But he won't get me, all the same."
"Then," said her friend, "now^ wdiat about
The pastor ? You are surely struck
With him. This not a soul can doubt
To hear you speak. 'Tis the same luck;
And may be worse ; he's yet to rise.
And years shall pass ere he can reach
A paying charge, however wise
He be or well, perhaps, may preach ;
For our church has peculiar wavs
To try its young men nowadays."
"I had not thought of that," said Rose,
"Nor do I really know at all
That he loves me, yet I suppose
He cares a little. Not like Small,
He's very careful what he says,
And here of late avoided me.
Somehow I rather like his ways,
His quiet talk and dignity.
The way he treats us all. He comes
Just as a brother to our homes;
QUARTERLY MEETING. 12/
*'And yet no word suggesting ill
Has yet of him been said. You see
There are some characters you will
Xot help from loving, such is he."
"And do you know," now asked her friend,
That this is real or do you paint
Because when 'tis seen from your end
Of view, the man appears a saint?
And is it wise to love a man
You know not loves you ? Such a plan
"Makes untold trouble in the end.
Your very life a wreck may be.
Rose, listen ; advice from your friend
X'ow take. Look well your way to see."
*'0, Dora, I know nothing; you
Would be like me if in my place.
I yet believe that he is true
And upright. If I have no grace
With him, it makes no difference. I
Could for him live. Yes, even die."
At this outburst, quiet Dora Wright
Looked down upon the girlish form
Beside her. "And, unselfish quite.
Your love is. Hope it brings no harm.
I wish that I could love as you.
Perhaps I would be better then.
To me, things have a different view,
I love not, am not loved by men.
If you do win him it must prove
Alone the power of pure love.
"I trust you shall." 'Thank you so much,"
Said Rose, as glancing up into
Her face. ''You can't tell how vou touch
Me with such words. And when from you,
I can hope on. Yes, I will try
To be less wild. I know 'tis wrong.
That holds him back, maybe." (A sigh.)
"Hereafter I will be more strong,
ril cease this flitting all about
Which holds him back, I have no doubt."
"Of course, that's right. You know you were
Too bright a girl at school to be
Now rushing with these young folks here.
There's something else in life to see.
Your education was far more
Than just to settle down at this.
And have you thought how many poor
Young girls such chance as you have, miss ?
Then you who have been favored, do'
The things the world expects of you."
"Ah, you should be a preacher's wife,"
Said Rose so loud that Dora feared
The men had heard. "Yours is the life,
The nobleness that has endeared
You to me, makes me often long
To be like you, always to speak
As you, in all to be as strong
As you. But no, I'm very weak ;
And yet I hope to be some day
A little strong; do for me pray."
QUARTERLY MEETING. 12^
*'I will," replied her friend. And then
They stood beside the great farm gate;
And now already had the men
Passed through. *'Now girls don't have me wait,'
Said Mrs. Hawkins when she met
Them in the hall as np the stairs
They went that they their hair might set
In shape. For women must their hair
Smoothe every quarter of an hour.
They know too well where lies their power.
'Tvvas Monday afternoon when Stone
In road-cart with the Rev. Small
Drove off to town, after they'd shown
Themselves in making many a call.
And now as on the road they chat,
(As only reverend brethren ca"n
About this matter and of that,
When each is every inch a man,)
Of what the outside world was doing.
The various paths men were pursuing.
But first they spoke about the folks
On whom they'd called, and just how well
They lived, despite the humble walks 1
In which they went. 'Twas much to tell
Of progress since the days of thrall,
When for them there was not a school,
When ignorance hung over all ;
Yet with ten acres and a mule
Some started and in thirty years
Became their former masters' peers.
THE RUN-AWAY. I3I
"Yes, wonderful the progress made,"
Said Small, when they a farm had passed
Owned by a Negro. ''Those who stayed
Here in the country have amassed
Considerable. I wish that some
Of those who in the city live.
That haven't either house or home,
Would take the lessons that these give.
This Hawkins, for an instance, he
Is what many of them might be.
"YouVe met the married daughter?" ''Yes,"
Replied the younger, "Quite refined."
"Exceedingly, I must confess.
And one with quite a witty mind.
But Rosie, what think you of her?"
"I have not drawn conclusions," said
Quite slow, the younger minister.
"I really cannot say." "You've paid
But small attention there, I see,"
The elder said, "from your reply."
"Peihaps," asserted Stone, "'tis true.
One cannot always well afford
Too much attention upon few
When many need him, too." "The Lord,"
Now held the elder, "had his friends,
Mary and Martha, — Lazarus."
"Ah, that is true, yet much depends
On friendship's use with one of us,"
In quite emphatic tones said Stone.
'*0f course," replied the other one.
''But since I mention her I must
Here say, at heart, this same, Miss Rose
Is one of the best girls, and just
Some men's ideal. I suppose
All men would not agree with me."
"No; each man has his own ideal.
'Tis seldom that two men may see
Alike, for much on how we feel
Depends," said Stone. There was a cough.
"Fie," said the other, "you are off,
"For much depends on how we see.
To make us feel, that is more true.
A woman may attractive be
To me, yet not at all to you;
For now, real beauty to be known,
Must first be seen. Not every one
Can 'see, and 'tis not always shown.
The sun is bright, altho' the sun
Cannot be seen by men down in
The very bottom of a mine.
" 'Whatever God has made,' one says,
Ts beautiful.' Picks up the worm
And cries, 'How wonderful thy ways
And works !' in looking at the form,
And by the aid of some strong glass
Examines what the naked eye
Could never see, a blade of grass,
Or tiniest bubble of the sea.
The home for millions. Yet declare
These to be wonderful. The ai;*
THE RUN-AWAY. 133
"Swarms with myriads of creature life,
Which could we see with natural eye,
And were we not inclined to strife,
We'd pronounced beautiful. That's why
We fail to feel just as we ought
Toward the higher nobler things.
We see not, and 'tis therefore nought
We know about them, and this brings
Me even to theology
They hate God, who God fail to see.
"Once seen, seen as He is, 'tis love
That fills the bosom of our being ;
Once known, and we will never prove
Cold to His wishes, but will bring
Our souls a willing sacrifice.
Only that we might contemplate
Upon Him, and our devotions rise
Before Him, to us s^ood and great.
Recall you Peter ? *Unto you
That believe He precious is.' Yes, true.'*
"Thank you," said Stone, "your point is won.
Have it your way; I can't make void
Your argument." "No, Bro. Stone,
And your assertion is destroyed.
Of course I hope you will agree
That there is much in this young maid,
But only you have failed to see,"
The Rev. Dr. slyly said.
"Oh, I suppose there is," said Stone,
With much indifference in his tone.
T34 BROWN CHAPEL.
But to himself he murmured, ''You
Grand old rascal, come off there!
I think I really catch your view.
Yiour eyes are seeking 'Mistress Clare,
Beware, take care, she's fooling thee/
Look sharp, my boy, who knows, who knows,
But what she's full of coquetry.
This switching most bewitching Rose.
'I know a maiden fair to see,
She can both false and friendly be.' "
"I hear," he said, "that Clay has been
Removed from X — and sent to B — ."
"Yes," said the Elder, "so I've seen.
He was not satisfied, you see ; -
And the man's family is large.
The work two hundred, scarce, a year.
I knew when first he took the charge
He'd not remain. In fact, I fear
He'll not stay at his present one
Unless there's something for him done."
"What does B — pay?" "Not over three.
Besides, the place is most remote,
And Clay is young and wants to be
Within the city. In his boat
There's many another man also.
But country charges are the best
For all young clergymen to go
Where they may get the real test.
Of course for several years it's hard,
But faithfulness has its reward."
THE RUN-AWAY. T35 \
*'Yet how is it with others who
Have never seen the country ? I \
Beheve there are a favorite few :
Who have the best, and who would die
If sent to such a charge as mine,
And who, 1 think, would never go. '
Now what of them ? What was the line
By which they have been tested ? Oh, ;
There's some injustice in it all.
You know it well, now. Dr. Small,"
The other 'neath the challenge winced.
''Don't be too harsh, now, Bro. Stone.
There's much of which I am convinced i
Is wrong, but everything that's done I
In conference is for the best. j
It is the man that makes the place.
Our way to find it is to test.
May be 'tis seen upon the face i
Of matters. Some men are just what
We need in this place or in that.
''Granted, all men could never fill v.- !
A country charge; and just as true
With the reverse. There are some still
Who. can with power fill the two.
Such men, of course, are rare. When found,
I tell you, sir, it is not long,
That they, though at the bottom round,
Will reach the top. The church needs strong
Progressive men, wherever be
The charge; this one can plainly see.
l^f) fiROWN CHAPEL.
"Besides, the work must all be done;
'Tis wrong to say, *I will not go
Into the country,' and no one
Is a true servant who will show
Such spirit. He a hirling is,
Who tends the sheep alone for wool.
The shepherd's spirit is not his ;
For he cares nothing for the soul.
Since money is his main interest.
He seeks it where 'tis easiest."
"These," replied Stone, "I won't dispute,
Yet this is what appeals to me,.
Why this poor man, now, does it suit
Conference to send to, lets say B — ,
When there are men of means who might
Now just as well a year or two
Spend in this place ? Think it is right
That we should keep a favorite few
In city charges with no test ?
Then dare to call such men the best ?
"There is another thought also.
If testing men is what you mean,
I think it right that men skould go
Unto those people with whom they've been
Accustomed. Take this Eastern Shore
From Cecil down to Worcester,
We should not think of bringing o'er
A western shoreman, never, sir.
Let those who have been lx)rn and bred
Here on this side be pastors made."
tHE run-Away. t^^
''Another thing, poor charges ought
Be pastored by rich pastors, too,
And rich as well in health and thought.
Of course you'll say we have but few.
This I acknowledge, but how some'er,
If these we have would take a turn
In these poor charges it is clear
The church would be the stronger. Learn
From what the laity has to say
Of the assessments it must pay.
"How little it has left to meet
Its local debts that constant come.
A pastor must be most discreet,
For there is constantly coming some,
Far wiser than the rest, to ask
Why such and such a sum is raised;
And where the work is poor, a task
It is to do this. He's not praised
Too much if he has managed to
Raise every claim that's asked by you.
"Suppose a man, who's well-to-do,
About to superanuate,
Should be by conference sent to
A charge that's poor. He need not wait
To have them give him what they should
A man who is not otherwise
Supported. If 'twere all they could,
A Httle salary and supplies.
Well then ? They'd have a chance to grow,
Pay off their debts, is this not so?"
13^ BROWN CHAPEL.
"Well, Brother," answered Dr. Small,
"There are some problems, if you please,
Tho' we try work them, after all
May be concluded mysteries.
Just be content. Yes, be content ;
Put in the hands of God your cause;
And faithfully go where you are sent,
Strive to maintain the church's law^s,
And I predict you'll never stop
Until you've made the very top.'*
"Oh, no," said Stone, "I do not fret
About myself. I am all right.
I speak for others, those who get
Along so badly, and who might.
It seems a better show^ be given, —
Who often have large families, —
These are the men I speak for. Heaven
Unravel soon your mysteries.
And let these fellows have a show,
Or there'll be terrible times, I know.
"Have you not ears? Of course you hear.
Have you not eyes ? You surely see.
There's discontent, sir, everywhere.
The brewing of a mutiny.
The young men all, in arms, are up;
They'll scarcely longer tolerate,
They deem past bitterness their cup ;
And even now they but await
The signal of some leader, then
Look out, you elder clergymen.
tHE RUN-AWAY. I39
*'Who must to General Conference go?
Of course some man who cares no more
For 'little men' than for some foe
W^ho stood to stab him at his door.
Yet each quadrennial we send
Such fellows there. What do they do ?
Nothing that we might commend.
Elect some bishops, create some new
Departments, make a higher tax
To goad the people, now most lax.
''And every man that has the bee
Of bishop buzzing in his head
Will aim to make another See,
When we might now have less instead.
And thus to eke them out support,
We now must make bricks without straw,
When driven to the last resort, —
To church theatres, then the law,
The law, which says it ought not be —
What was it made another See?
''Well, there is much that I might say,
Suffice that I now say to you, '
Use all your power along the way.
Undo the harm that many do.
Lord it not o'er God's heritage,
Drive not the young men to the wall,
This is a most peculiar age.
And there is room enough for all.
Just let the young men have a chance;
That's all we ask of conference."
140 feROWN Cl-IAPEL.
By now they'd come in sight of town.
The tall red reservoir in sight;
The steeples high and smokestacks brown,
Now glisten in the sun's bright light.
The houses in among the trees ;
The curling smoke from chimneys tall ;
The smell of gas upon the breeze;
The winding river; and the fall
Of land, the buzzing and the hum,
Told them that near the town they'd come,
"Straight to the depot?" ''Yes," said Small.
'T don't know that my horse will stand."
''Just drive there, need not wait at all.
You will not have much time on hand."
And thus it was in silence thev
Entered the town, each occupied
With his own thoughts. Along the way,
Folks bowed to them on every side.
Soon to the little station came.
"Success," said Small, and "You the same,"
Said Stone, and he was on his way
Back through the town, and Small had gone
To get his ticket. Three hours, and day
He told himself would then be done.
He stopped no longer than to buy
Some writing paper and the like;
And then he drove most hurriedly
Out of the town unto the pike.
A mile, a turn, and on the right
The little town lay out of sight.
THE RUN-AWAY. I4I :
The road is broad, save here and there
A lot of sand, is very good;
To-day quite dusty, and the air j
At times is thick, especially should \
He come up with a team, or let
Another drive before him ; then
His horse would uneasy get,
And try to run ahead. But when
He drove all undisturbed along
So far as dust there was no wrong.
Slowly the sun sinks to the west.
Leaving an almost cloudless sky, I
Except a few with burnished crest i
That 'round the low horizon lie. |
'Twas a delightful afternoon, • |
Unlike the usual July,
But more like weather found in June,
When, lo, beneath a harvest sky, ,
Men gazed upon their ripening grain.
That rolls in waves as doth the main.
The road runs through a country which
Is here and there marked by broad fields
Of golden grain which now looked rich
Beneath the sun. Now as stacked shields
Of resting army, in a row,
Stand fresh cut shocks, by busy men *
So placed, who hither, thither go -
All up and down the field again
Behind the reaper, binding, still,
The marvel of ingenius skill,
Now here a field of bowing maize
And there a watermelon patch ;
And here a field where cattle graze,
But now stand at the bars to watch
For John who with his loud halloo,
His old, but trusty nag astride,
O'er yonder hill just comes in view,
Galloping o'er the meadow wide ;
And huddled closely there's a flock
Of sheep near by an ancient rock.
An hour has passed. The horse can make
Five miles an hour and five are made.
In dreamy mood. Stone let him take
His time, especially when the grade
Is heavy. An hour, and the sun
Would set, but quite a long twilight.
Stone did not mind ; there was but one
Thing he must watch. A sudden fright,
The horse had taken now and then.
But a good animal in the main.
'Twas Bro. Hawkins' horse, a steed,
When placed u^x^n the level road,
Was said to make considerable speed.
As his past services had showed.
But now Stone felt not much inclined
To put him on his level best.
In fact, now, Stone was rather kind
To brutes ; and thought there was much test
In going those ten miles and back
Without a break in all his track.
THE RUN-AWAY. I43
Within the west now came a glow ;
The clouds took on a golden crest,
The sun, in crimson sinking low,
Was leaving beautiful the west.
Now here, now there, familiar calls
Rose on the air of ''co, co,
Co boss, CO boss," at intervals.
As stretch the shadows wide and slow.
And now against the burnished sky
A flock of crows is seen to fly.
Across the road, on either side
The quiet wood, a squirrel is seen
To skip ; then sit all open-eyed.
Half hidden by the twigs of green,
Rise on his haunches to survey
The lonely driver in the cart ;
Then quickly drop and dart away
Into the dark with panting heart.
Softly as if there never was
A creature rushing through the grass.
Three miles the road leads through a wood.
Above the dark sentinel trees ;
The sky is clear, and solitude
Reigns here. No stirring of the breeze,
No rustling of the leaves except
Here now and there, a rabbit, shy.
Across the shadowy road has lept
Just as the cart goes creaking by.
Of Bryant's "Thanatopsis" Stone
Thought as he drove along alone.
T44 BFOWN CHAPEL.
Two things 'tis said together go,
Two things, and they are wed as one.
'Tis Love and Poetry that flow
By either's side until they run
Into each other. This is true.
Who ever now the subject be.
There have been those who never knew,
Or wished to know of poetry.
Once loving, see in simplest rhyme
The quality that is sublime. .
And those, there are, who never stopped
In all their life before to read
One bit of verse, in love, have dropped
Into the habit till indeed
They find themselves can too compose ;
And love-sick verse is everywhere
Found in their chambers, which but shows
We all are poets on the rare
Occasion of a love attack.
Which balances the wit we lack.
If Stone in love of Nature held
Communfon with her flowers, it was
Because it all had been impelled
By thoughts about a witching lass.
If he forgot to watch his course,
To close his eyes to all about.
To give the reins up to the horse.
There cannot be the slightest doubt,
The fault was due all to this maid
And what she had unto him sai4T
THE RUN-AWAY. I45
Sweet dreams of love ! Why unconcerned
In everything about thee man?
Well, dream on! Of a sudden turned
His horse, and snorting, stretching, ran
At breakneck speed right down the road !
Stone awakened grabbed the reins; in vain,
He wxnt the faster, mettle showed,
Tho' Stcne held on with might and main.
And soon he found to his dismay.
The animal meant to run away.
He'd hold him straight within the road,
Thought Stone until he tired grew.
'Twas usually the wisest mode.
This rate would not keep up he knew.
One thing there was, two miles or more,
Just where the woods came to an end,
A high fenced field lying straight before,
The road came to a sudden bend.
To safely turn at such high speed
WquIcJ be a iniracle indeed.
Stretched out his neck, straight out his head,
Set back his ears, aflame his eyes,
With smoking nostrils, on he sped.
Causing the dust in clouds to rise.
The whirling spokes cannot be seen ;
The cart but like a phantom flashed
By oak and gum of sombre green,
As on along the road he dashed.
One seeing from the wood would swear
A spectre only filled the air,
On ! on ! the bend is just ahead ;
On ! on ! 'tis faster now the flight,
As if the very noise he made,
But added terror to his fright.
Lines well in hand. Stone holds his course.
He dares not think about the end.
Determined but to turn the horse
Just as he came up to the bend, —
To turn him if it were that he
Should turn into eternity.
In face of danger, there is that
Which often makes a weak man strong.
If you would know it, it is what
Men call clear conscience, when no wrong
Committed stands a charge to lay,
And all our sins have been forgiven.
What though 'tis Death we meet ? the way
But opens unto us our heaven.
No fear within the breast of Stone,
Although his horse rushed madly on.
On tore the horse. Still self-possessed,
Stone sat the awful doom to face.
He thinks of many things, his breast
Swells strangely as he nears the place.
Back from the past his whole life flashed.
Back the last look af mother dear,
Back came to him, as on he dashed.
His childhood and the days that were.
Then came a sweet young face to view,
One who had said, "We'll wait for you."
THE RUN-AWAY. T47
"We'll wait for you." Her words were those
When they were on the porch alone.
That witching maid, that wild, wild Rose,
Who waited till her pa had gone
To get the horse, she stole the chance
To bid him back to supper come
W^ith such a sweet sly roguish glance.
He knew she waited now at home.
Still tighter on the reins he drew
And heard again "We'll wait for you."
O death is sweet when Love is born!
The pain of all the travail paid.
If but the light of Hope's glad morn.
What tho' one in the earth be laid ?
What though the heart no more may beat.
What though the lips may never tell
That love, so heavenly and sweet,
Oh, the incomprehensible
Will cast a halo o'er that love.
And make it far more joyous prove!
Out of the woods. And what is that ?
The road, a woman's figure crossed.
Stone saw it as he grimly sat.
The bend ! — no moment must be lost.
He breathed a prayer, steeled his nerve,
Firm in the cart he braced his feet,
Tight held the lines. A sudden swerve,
He is sent flying from his seat.
CRASH ! — cartless speeds the horse away !
A woman cries, "Oh. God, 'tis Ray !"
148 BROWN CHAPEL
May Melville stoops beside the form,
Which bleeding and unconscious lay.
Her soul is full. In deep alarm,
Lifting her voice, she cries "O Ray!"
No answer but the crimson stream.
That treakled down that lofty brow.
The shadows fall, the sun's last ^leam
Has vanished. Night is coming now,
The grass already wet with dew.
"Oh, God!" she cries, "what shall I do?"
As if in answer to her prayer.
The steps of hurried feet are heard,
And in the dark she listened there.
When soon three stalwart forms appeared,
Two colored and the other white.
"Boys, come ! For God's sake come !" she cried.
They come, at once take in the sight,
The smashed cart, form, and at its side
This woman, whom each of them knew,
And all at once, "What can we do?"
"Ylou Charles," she to the white lad said,
"Go for the Doctor, quickly, please;
And you, John Henry, stay with Ned.
In yonder are some hickories ;
These with those shafts a litter make.
Quick, boys! don't stand there gaping, see?
Do go at once, for mercy sake !
Who knows ? The case may fatal be— r
Go !" she almost screamed, and they,
|!ach went her biddinia: tp obev.
tHE RUN-AWAV. ' t49
It is not very long before
A litter rude is strongly made,
To her it seemed an hour or more.
The last faint glow began to fade,
And darkness settled all around.
And damper, chillier, seemed the dew.
They raised the form from off the gfround.
''Where shall we take him?" asked the two.
"Where take him?" and her voice was hoarse,
"\Miy, take him to my house, of course !"
]^C. BROWN CHAPEL.
THE TWILIGHT SEARCH.
''Come, Dora, to the kitchen; 'tis
An hour befrre sunset, and I
Will show you what giood cooking is,"
Said Rosie. 'T have got tO' fry
Some fowl for supper, don't you know;
Ma's gone out calling, don't you see.
Of course, now I have got to show
My hand at cooking — laugh at me?
Why bless you, I'm no amateur,
I'm by profession, now, be sure."
They stood there on the front porch then,
And looked toward the dusty pike.
Beyond they watched the busy men
Stack shocks of wdieat. ''Well as you like,"
Said Dora, "but I laughed not at
Your cooking, but another thought — "
"Ah !" exclaimed Rosie, "I know what,"
As by the arm her friend she caught.
"Yes, I expect he will be here
For supper, too, but never fear,
THE TWILIGHT-SEARCH. ISl
"I think ril please his appetite;
Come now." And around the house they went.
''John, killed the chickens? — that is right,"
She said as John out of a tent,
Quite rudely made of poles and straw,
Came answering to her quickly, "There,''
And pointed to a crock she saw
In the well house. ''I do declare.
How fat they are !" she cried when she
Had raised a lid the fowls to see.
Within the kitchen, blazing bright,
A fire now already burned.
A pan of rolls, already "light,"
Was waiting. Rose the damper turned ;
The frying pan placed on the stove ;
Her sleeves rolled up, an apron on,
'Twas thus she stood, herself to prove
As good a cook as any one.
The kettle soon began to sing.
And all took on a merry ring.
"There, Dora, dear, do take that chair
There by the door ; it is so warm
In here ; and it is cooler there —
My! how these plagued flies do sw^arm!
Shoo! — John! come here and bring your bush.
These flies are nearly taking me."
John came and soon began to brush.
"That's right ; you're good as you can be !"
"Your rolls should go in, ought they not?"
Asked Dora. "Yes, the oven's hot.
''John, grind the coffee; that's a man,"
Said Rosie, ''Dora, let it be;
John will see to it. Johnnie can
Do lots of things, and will for me."
*'How nice," said Dora. Johnnie, proud,
Got down the coffee mill, and soon
The air is filled with notes quite loud
As played that instrument a time.
"Which pot's for coffee?" Dora, wdio
Could not. sit there and nothing do,
Asked as she from the dresser took
Two agate vessels. "That's the one,"
Said Rosie, with a hurried look.
As from the pan, so crisp arrd brown.
She forked some chicken, all the while
Her mind was on one certain guest.
In vain, she could not hide the smile,
Though trying with her level best.
"He likes the 'pope's nose,' too," she said
All to herself. Alas, poor maid!
She little knew the meal prepared,
Would not be seen by him that night;
She little knew just how he fared
That very moment. With delight
In that hot kitchen now she stands
And bravely bends o'er that hot stove.
She scalds her arms and burns her hands
But minds it not because of love;
Love, which she dares not think returned —
Her arms are scald'd, her hands are burned.
THE TWILIGHT-SEARCH. I53
The sun is nearly out of sight.
" 'Twill not be long," herself she told,
"Ere he will come." The blazing light
Now filled the west with brightest gold.
"How beautiful," said Dora, who
Was standing at the kitchen door.
"Were I an artist, such a view
As this I'd paint. And yet 'tis more
Than any artist well can catch.
But I can only stand and watch."
"Yes," Rosie said between her turns
About the room, "when such I see,
There is a fire within me burns.
Something, it seems a mystery,
A hungering to be out, away
Into the flaming of the light.
To follow it; I cannot say
Just what, but I have stood till night
Has banished every crimson hue.
And all the sky was bright and blue.
"What is it, Dora, can you tell?"
" 'Tis the poetic of your soul.
We all possess it, and 'tis well
That we should keep it in control,
Or we, I think, would grow insane.
Yet it is good, yet very good.
All feel it more or less, 'tis plain,
And 'tis the very happiest mood, —
This love that's for the beautiful.
All else in life is very dull."
1S4 13R0WN CitAPEL.
''O Dora, were I half as wise
As you I should be so content."
''No, child, for wisdom aims to rise;
And though I know your words are meant,
I am not wise. I only wish
I were in many, many things.
I stand with one small string of fish.
And others have ;so many strings ;
And theirs so large and mine so small,
I have but little after all."
"You are too modest, Dora. That,
However, shows your wisdom, girl.
I've watched you often, this is what,
I never saw you in a whirl,
I never saw you lose your head.
Or once get angry, that is true;
Or said what you should not have said.
Or do one thing you ought not do.
Now, such a person, in my eyes
Is what I am convinced is wise,"
"Yes, far as observation goes,"
Replied her friend, "you may be right.
But don't you know, my dearest Rose,
There is a lot not in your sight.
You cannot see my mind, nor know
Just all I am ; you only see
What flesh and blood may sometimes show,
But that is not beholding mc.
And only God that person sees,
And Him, I fear, I do not please."
THEi TWlLlGHt-SEARCIt. 155
Rose took the rolls from out the stove.
"Ah, well, I do not understand.
That person's wise who seems to prove
To all the sense I can command.
Of course I may short-sighted be,
And cannot see it just as you.
Not learned in philosophy.
Nor do I know that it is true,
That what appears may not be real ;
This much, at least, you're my ideal !"
"I thank you very much for that.
One thing, simplicity, I see.
You lack not. Truly this is what
Has always made you dear to me.
So few of girls, there are ,you know,
In whom we really can confide.
It's been my case; — you found it so?
And many in my life I've tried.
Girls are so selfish, jealous, too.
They are quite dangerous to you.
''Now, there was Mage, you may recall
That proud, but pretty, round-faced Mage,
There was no girl within the hall
Could beat her singing on the stage.
She was the very first I met
On coming to the place, and she
Took me by main force, would not let
Me get from out her company —
Until she saw that I had won
The attention of Will Patterson.
iS^ SROVVN CHAfEL.
*'And then she dropped me. So you see
How shallow women really are
Toward each other. But, to me,
You are so different, by far
The dearest girl I've ever known — "
''Until," laughed Rosie, 'T shall find
You making love to Rev. Stone,
And then, perhaps, you'll change your min<]
Concern-ing mef "There, there, don't fear,
I shan't attempt to win him, dear."
Within the barnyard from the field
The farmer and an elder son
Are feeding cattle. Half concealed
Behind the rick sat milking, John,
Who when he got his coffee ground.
Had stolen from the kitchen, and,
On seeing much to do around
The place, himself threw in a hand
By bringing up the cows, and now
Sat carefully milking cow after cow.
'Tather!" cried Charles Hawkins, "look!"
And pointed to the public gate.
'Twas but a glance the father took.
There stood a horse, which seemed to wait
For one to open. "Is it Jack?"
The farmer questioned, as he strode
Toward the gate. The handsome black.
All trembling, stood out in the road,
With only shreds of harness on.
"What has become of Rev. Stone?"
THE TWILIGHT-SEARCH. 1 57
The farmer murmured, drawing back
The gate to let the animal in.
It yet was frightened. "Whoa, Jack !"
He coaxed. He w^ould not make a scene.
He caught the bridle, yet intact,
And led him back toward the barn.
The girls he'd try not to attract,
And was about his sons to warn,
When from the house Rose came along,
"O, papa! papa! what is wrong?"
She cried when she beheld the horse
With the torn harness and no cart.
Too well she knew the matter, — worse,
There was a jerking at her heart.
"Speak, papa! Where is Rev. Stone?'*
The father answered not a word
But gave the animal to his son.
Then started for the road. He heard
His daughter screaming "Let me go
And find him !" Dora's gentle, "No."
And down the road upon a run
He went that he might find a trace.
The night was on him, for the sun
Sometime had set. And now his pace
He quickens every moment, though
His limbs were aching, full of pain.
That day he'd shocked row after row
Within his field of golden grain.
And yet in the dim twilight, on
P^ rushed to fine} same trace of Stpn^. *
'Tis here and there he can discern
Some parts of traces or of rein.
Then on he staggers, here a turn
And there, he stops, he looks again,
He staggers on. And now the night
Is fully on him, but above.
The stars are sending down their light
To guide him in his quest of love.
The fire-flies with their greenish flare
Are all about him in the air.
He hears the owl hoot — hoo ! hoo ! —
The bats fly zig-zag o'er his head.
It seems a million demons, too.
Run with him croaking, "He is dead !
Dead, dead, and yonder lies."
And now in every foot of space,
In staggering on he strains his eyes ;
But nothing sees in any place.
Amidst the frogs incessant croak,
''You zvill not -find him," something spoke.
He was not superstitious, but
The air seemed haunted all about.
He scarce knew where he placed his foot.
Hark ! He thought he heard a shout.
'Twas but imagination, sure.
Ay, what was that off to the right ?
Some pile of brushwood, nothing more.
Look yonder in the woods a light, —
Ah, yes, but 'tis that ghoistly lamp
Which usually glides about the swamp.
THE TWILIGHT-SEARCH. 159
That road which he had oft before
Gone over, seemed so strange to-night.
For every bend had now in store^
It seemed, an object to affright.
A long-eared animal like a dog
Ten feet away as he went on
Sat crouching on an ancient log,
Sprang up, snarled fiercely, and was gone.
But now at last with beating heart,
He comes where lies the broken cart.
'Twas dark, he could not make all out;
The merest outline could but see.
As best he could he searched about.
No signs of Stone there seemed to be.
He'd shout, he'd make a noise, he might
Have simply fallen further down;
Had not been hurt, but was all right.
Or, maybe, all occurred in town.
And Stone e'en now was on his way,
Somebody bringing him. To say
These things at once came to him, no;
But there about the broken cart.
More quiet now, it was that slow
These things came to him. And his heart
More hopeful now, his voice rang out,
''Hello-o-o !" Back upon the night,
He almost thought another shout,
''Hello-o-o!" rang; but very slight.
'Twas but his echo, something said —
No, 'twas another voice instead.
l6o BROWN CHAPEL.
*'Hello-o-o !" now again he bawled,
This time far louder than before.
"Hello-o-o !" back somebody called.
'Twas some one else he now was sure.
"Who is that calling?" some one cried;
And now it was he knew the tone.
" 'Tis me, Melville," he then replied.
"Know what's become of Rev. Stone?"
And Melville from the woods soon drew
In sight. Ah yes, too well he knew.
"Come to the house," he turned and said,
"It can't be fatal is it, Mel?"
Don't know," he answered, as he led
The way, "the doctor would not tell.
He's still unconscious, you may know-
It's very 'serious accident.
It certainly seems an awful blow
Upon the head. He's hardly spent
Three months with us," and here a choke
Rose in his throat. No more he spoke.
And as he walked the father thought
Of that young voice, "O, let me go
And find him !" Ay, all night he'd sought
That he the very truth might know
Rather than back to her have gone
And said he could not find a trace.
No, no, though tired had gone on.
And hunted, yes, in every place
That he might satisfy the child
fie lovecl, despite her being wild.
THE VISION. l6l
*Twas early morning and the sun
Played on the bright green papered wall
Through slatted shutters ; one by one
The many rays danced over all ;
A picture of the Last Supper hung
Just opposite the white iron bed ;
A vase of flowers was among
A lot of bottles at the head ;
When Stone awoke in 'wildered mind
Himself within this room to find.
A stiffness in his side, a pain
About his head. Though somewhat blurred,
'Tis now that he recalls again
The accident that had occurred.
His head is bandaged, and also
His right arm seemed severely sprained.
And here he lay, he did not know
Just where, but that he ached and pained
All over. Then he tried to turn.
His brow began to throb and burn.
1 62 BROWN CHAPEL.
Where was he, and who brought him there?
What gentle hands had placed those flowers?
Why did the sun's bright rays appear
To dance about the room ? What powers
Those figures in the picture had !
They all were moving up and down.
This he was sure : he was not mad —
Sure as he was his eyes his own —
Yet e'en the flowers in the vase
Were not inclined to keep their place.
In fact the whole room seemed to toss
Since he had tried to turn a bit.
The rocker seemed to m.ove across
The floor, yet no one moving it.
The door was bobbing to and fro ;
The printed figures on the wall
Were bowing to the sunbeams now
And yonder wardrobe, grim and tall,
Was swaying every moment like
The mantlepiece it soon would strike.
A laugh he scarcely could control,
Though either added to his pain.
He felt the bed most graceful roll
Across the floor and back again.
The whole thing seemed so ludicrous
That he could not refrain a smile.
He could not tell what made it thus,
But he enjoyed it all the while.
And thus it was for hours he lay
Till all began to fade away.
THE VISION. 163
And so he slept. When he awoke
Mame Melville in the rocking chair
Sat sewing. But he never spoke ,
Just lay and gazed upon her there.
She did not seem to know that he
Was now awake. Intent upon
Her sewing, she sat silently
That hour beneath the gaze of Stone.
And he felt so comfortable
He did not wish to break the spell.
'Tis all a dreani. The woman there
Is no real woman, surely not.
He's dreaming. See, her face is fair,
And he lies in a heavenly spot.
The counterpane is w^hite as snow.
The walls are of a magic cast ;
Just where he w^as he did not know,
Not- cared, just so the spell would last.
The woman in that snow-white gown
Was one that he had never known.
To him the woman in the gown
Was not Mame Melville sitting there.
Despite her smooth skin's lightish brown ;
Despite the full dark suit of hair;
Despite the quiet, earnest face ;
The neck and shoulders' gentle curve ;
The heaving bosom's tapering grace:
'Twas not Mame Melville come to serve
'Twas not the petite form of Rose
Who in that rocker quietly sew^s. •
Stitch after stitch, stitch after stitch,
Her well-shaped hand doth sweep the air.
As same as clock work ; without hitch,
Her needle works the cotton there.
Comes from without the hum of bees;
For now the day is bright and warm.
And yonder in the apple trees
From early morn till eve they swarm.
So comes into this room the sound
Which throws a dreamy spell around.
And thus in semi-conscious state
For three whole days the sufferer lay.
From early morn till very late,,
\\'as in that rocker seated. May.
He does not know just who she is.
He feels a soft hand on his brow,
A gentle voice oft says, ''Take this
And it will make you better now."
A woman's lips once pressed his own
But, oh, the woman seemed unknown.
Sometimes folks crowded in the room,
He wondered why they seemed so sad.
And once a sweet small form had come
And stood beside his bed, and had
Soft pressed his brow, while from her eyes
Great tears were creeping. But he knew
Not who she was, though with deep sighs.
Her from the bed another drew.
And then it all grew dark and he
Reached out, but ah, could no one see.
THE VISION. 165
Reached out, and reaching out stood on
A high and rocky precipice.
The room in which he lay had gone ;
Up from a chasm doth arise
A cloud of smoke as well as blaze.
Behind him was a towering wall
Of rocks that rose in mist and haze.
And that'on which he stood as small,
And sharp, and pointed as 'twas steep;
The smoking chasm wide and deep.
Beyond, another ledge there was,
On which another figure stood,
A fair, a beautiful young lass.
And just behind her was a wood,
A quiet pleasant spot to rest,
A cottage white that stood within.
She was thin robed, and bared her breast.
She pointed to the grove, so green.
And cried across the chasm deep,
'T wait for you, come quickly — leap!"
The smoke that from the chasm rose,
Oft shut her lovely form from view;
In curling wreathes would round her close.
Then circle off in airy blue.
Still beckoned she to him, and cried,
''The cot is ready, come, O come!"
"I can't," he called. ''The chasm's wide.
The fire rages^ get thee home.
I cannot come; I dare not leap;
The chasm's wide, the chasm's deep."
l'^*^^ BROWN CHAPEL.
'Tear not," she cried, "the way is clear;
Thou wilt not in the chasm fall.
Even the rising smoke will bear
Thee up; thou wilt not sink at all.
Be not faint-hearted, come away.
A cot doth ready stand for thee;
A breast where on thy head to lay,
Doth rise to share thy company.
Leap ! leap ! that dreary cliff desert,
And join thee with a loving heart!"
Enough, he saw that pleading gaze.
He caught the light within those eyes ;
And now, despite the smoke and blaze,
He leaps, leaps out, begins to rise,
Then fall upon thin clouds of smoke.
The vision fades, the chasm's gloom, —
And springing up in bed, awoke,
To find himself within the room,
Where Mame Melville with startled cry,
Sprang up from rocker sitting by.
First like a frightened fawn she stands.
Her lovely arms above her head ;
And he with bandaged brow and hands,
Is sitting up within the bed.
Into each other's eyes they gaze,
While in Stone's mind the dream, still clear,
He saw the smoke, the fire blaze.
Felt how he leaped into the air, .
The woman on the other side.
And back to him 'twas still she cried,
The vision. 167
''Leap, leap!" and when he dared to leap,
When he had dared with her to be,
He had awakened from his sleep,
Mame Melville at his bed to see.
"Mame." That was all he said. Suffice,
She dropped her hands, came quick beside
The bed. No need to call her twice.
''O Ray ! O Ray !" she fell and cried.
Her head there on the counterpane.
He stroked her hair despite his sprain.
He stroked her hair as there she knelt.
Just as a father would a child.
Oh, happiness ! what bliss she felt !
What passion stirred her bosom wild !
How she had sat and longed for this.
That she might be the first to hear
His voice, and lo, her name, O bliss!
His voice, in softness sweet and clear,
Had called her name, her old pet name.
As in the former years, his "Mame."
And thus he asked : ''Where am I, Mame ?'
So gentle was his voice, and sweet.
When she had heard him breathe her name.
She raised her head his eyes to meet,
"You are with me at my house, Ray.
We brought you here some nights ago.
And 'Mel' has not been long away.
I came to sit by you, you know.
But when you rose so suddenly
You frightened, greatly frightened me."
I^'H feROWN CHAPEL.
He smiled and lay back in the bed.
I didn't mean to frighten you."
*'Of course," in covering him she said,
And I was very foolish, too.
But you are weak, you must take care
And spring not up that way again —
My ! Ray, you gave me such a scare !
Tell me was it .some sudden pain?"
"No, no, it was a dream, that's all.
I thought I was about to fall."
"Yes, yes, poor boy, it was severe,"
(She spoke about the accident.)
"I found you there and brought you here,
A young man for the doctor -sent."
"You, then, it was that crossed the road?"
(About the dream no more he spoke.)
"To you, dear child, my life is owed,"
He said as soon as he awoke
To all that had occurred that night.
The woman that had stood in sight.
"I tried to stop him, Ray. I tried
To wave my hand ; of course, you know
He came so fast I stood aside.
He swerved, you fell, and then that blow.'
Upon his brow she gently pressed
That long and slender shapely hand.
Her touch a magic stroke possessed ;
And this she seemed to understand,
For smiling, she continued to
Smooth his hot face. Yes, yes, she knew.
tH£ VISIOI^. 169
He closed his eyes a moment now.
He felt at rest despite his pain.
Then caught the hand that smoothed his brow
And kissed it o'er and o'er again.
His eyes are filling fast with tears,
His breast, in strong convulsions, swelled.
And she for once his passion bears,
When she those flooding tears beheld.
Why not? Could it be sin to let
Herself and him for once forget?
For once forget, when many years
Had robbed her of her coveted joy?
She happy felt to see those tears,
'Twas Ray once more, her long lost boy.
She felt the beating of his heart.
She thought he heard her's throbbing, too.
That moment, nothing then should part
Her from him; this with joy she knew
She does not draw herself away.
But sat there by him, this was Ray.
Judge her not wrongly. Reader, no,
I bid you think of neither wrong:
Their characters I yet must show
Within the measure of this song.
She sat, 'tis true, another's wife.
She at a former lover's bed.
And yet most hard had been her life,
Her love for all but him was dead.
True love can never, never die.
Though smothering for long years it lie.
1^0 BROWN CHAPEL.
Across the bar we dare not run
Our vessels in such seas as this,
And yet to drive our barks upon
Such surging billows, what a bliss !
Tho' dangerous we know 'twill bt.
And much we court an awful wreck,
Despite the raging of the sea,
We would not give our course a check,
Until plunged deep into the trough.
We find too late we have enough !
Was this to be Mame's Waterloo?
Shall she throw prudence to the wind
When all the consequence she knew?
Ah, love, when long imprisoned, is blind.
Ah, when two hearts are kept apart,
When there's the arrow e'er to pierce,
When there's Fate's rancor e'er to smart/
To make the passions e'en more fierce.
When once united are, those two
Will almost any folly do.
She does not draw from him a\vay,
But there upon his bed she sat ;
She was his Mame, he was her Ray
For once ; she made the most of that.
For once, she'd dream life's happy dream,
For once, she'd feel the happy thrill.
What if ''things are not wdiat they seem?"
Could she not love and serve him still.
She told herself, one hour she'd sit
And let the moments heedless flit.
THE VISITORS. l^I
One August afternoon when hot
The sun beat down upon the earth,
And there was scarce a pleasant spot ;
The air was dry, the water dearth ;
The corn was burning 'neath the heat.
The once fresh blades had, drooping, lain ;
The cracking earth w^as baked complete;
And every soul was crying rain,
Near by the cottage, 'neath a tree.
Sat Stone in Melville's company.
The 'spot in which he sat was strewn
With papers, telling him the news,
Which he had read the whole forenoon,
And after dinner, Melville, whose
Devotion led him to remain
From work, now chats with him awhile.
About his place, about his grain.
About the quality of soil ;
Of everything he talks, in fact
In order that he might attract
1?2 6R0WN CHAPEL.
Stone's mind from off his work, which had
Been worrying him incessantly.
There was no cause for feeling bad,
For all went well 'twas plain to see.
Brown Chapel people, it was said.
Stuck by the church far more than e'er,
Despite the great attraction made
By big camp meetings far and near.
'Twas seldom that they missed the Wye.
This year it seemed they kept close by
Camp meeting. Reader, have you been
To one, a real camp meeting, say,
With tents and pulpit 'neath the green
Tall spreading trees in great 'display?
With long rough planks for benches placed
On driven stakes into the ground,
Twelve inches high, so as you faced
The stand, from which in thundering sound,
Some strong-lunged messenger would tell
How man was perfect, how he fell?
Have you not seen the motly crowd
That never has been known to miss
These meetings? Some with voices loud
To shout of one eternal bliss.
And others just to meet with friends.
And some alone for selfish gain.
And yet whatever be their ends,
They seldom from the place remain,
But come in thousands far and near
That they might have a good time here?
THE VISITORS. 173
Brown Chapel had its annual camp,
But this was usually later on,
When days were hot, nights cool and damp.
Their only reason was this one :—
Then all the camps ten miles or more
That could at all attraction be,
By such a time would then be o'er.
And they would have more people, see?
And thus they argued, having more.
The revenue would be quite sure.
Of course 'twas not the revenue
For which alone the camp was held.
'Twas for a spiritual purpose, too ;
But, all declared, they were compelled
To gather finances also;
And this was but the proper time,
Since folks would to camp meetings go,
'Twas reasoned that a half a dime
Paid at the gate would be no harm,
Nor take away religion's charm.
Stone had heard all of this before
He had met with his accident.
And now that he was up once more,
It was no little worriment.
'Twas early August, still the days
Were slipping quietly along;
And yet he here at Melville's stays
Because, 'twas said, he was not strong
Enough to do his work just yet.
Of course, he had some cause to fret.
For that was natural, of course.
He ought to feel an interest in
All of his work. He had that force
Of character which worked to win.
He felt when absent from the place
Of battle, there could never be,
Without his own encouraging face.
For him a glorious victory.
Thus Stone tho' talking with Melville,
Was thinking of his church work still.
The building of the cottage, how
Was work progressing? And to him,
'Twas said, they were on the inside now.
That very day begun to trim, '
And everything looked excellent.
The house thus far attractive stood.
May ispoke of hours to be spent
Next summer in the quiet wood.
In fact she so poetic got.
She made an Eden of the spot.
The brethren for official board
Now met him there since well enough.
'Twas funny how they used each word.
For fear they were considered rough
By Mame, whom they with reverence
Respected, tried their best to act
As men full of good common sense,
And made each utterance exact.
Whether reporting of the class,
Or something they had wish to pass.
THE VISITORS. I75
These informed their pastor, they
Were carrying his instructions out;
Had good turnouts each Sabbath Day ;
And he should have no cause to doubt
The safety of the work, so long
As they had health and strength to be
About the place; there'd be no wrong
To happen to it. They were free
To say the church stood by them more
Than it had ever done before.
And all they felt was rightly due
To his own presence, them among.
They saw it in every service, too ;
The hymns they found were better sung
Dues were kept up more than before ;
More strict attendance to the class;
And members loved each other more ;
Less cider drinking seemed to pass
Among them. They could readily see
The marks of spirituality.
These things were certainly pleasing to
The pastor. Yet he longed to be
Where he could something better do
Than sit and read beneath a tree.
To make his visits as he had,
Among their homes to sit and talk
Of Christ, till he and they were glad.
He longed for now his daily walk
From house to house on goodness bent,
In that, God's willing instrument.
The camp, they told him if he made
Committees, would go on the same ;
And thus accepting of their aid,
Committees felt compelled to name,
And these, from what he constant heard,
Performed their duty, to a man.
Did as directed, to a word,
According to the pastor's plan.
And now he had alone on hand
The preachers who would fill the stand.
May acted secretary to
Him, and wrote each letter he
Desired to be written. So
He sent his fellow ministry
The invitations thus to fill
On such a day and such a date.
But some he had not heard from. Still
He felt that it was not too late,
And hoped by then if possible.
Himself to be full strong and well.
May was this moment fast asleep,
A custom of the people here,
Just after dinner, which to keep
In all warm places, 'tis quite clear,
Would be a very goodly rule,
And one these people seldom break.
*Tis only when it gets quite cool
The people in such places wake.
And all refreshed, can do the more,
For hours given to sleep before.
THE VISITORS. ' 1 77
This does not now apply to men,
Tho' men might take the dinner hour
To sleep a little while, and then
Arise, 'tis said with better power
To go about their w^ork beneath
The scorching sun, whate'er it be,
When one is longing for a breath
Of pleasant breeze most anxiously.
Which comes sometimes, tho' these are few,
Some where about the hour of two.
''Your yield was wdiat, you said this year?"
"Six hundred bushels, sir, I guess.
Somewhat increased, despite my fear.
Last year I had considerably less."
"What will you do w^ith it?" asked Stone.
"Oh, sell it, 'cepting that I use,"
Said Melville. "I shall wait upon
The market — ^by the way, what news
The papers give of them to-day?
Please look and see just what they say."
Stone took a paper, at his feet, .
And scanned the columns steadily.
"Well, I declare!" up from his seat
Sprang Melville, "Now w^ho can they be?"
Stone dropped the paper, turned to look
Toward the gate. And down the drive
Two persons came. He slightly shook
From nervousness. Arose to give
Himself a better sight, and there
He made out now just who they were.
"Now don't you know them, Bro. IMel?"
He asked. ''I don't believe I do.
If you will be so kind to tell
Me who they are, then I'll tell you."
"Why, you have seen them both before.
And one of them you ought to know."
He looked again. ''Well, I'm not sure,
The short one walks like Rose, altho'
The sun somewhat confuses me,
I never could a distance see."
"That is Miss Rosie and her friend
Who's with her from the city. I
Must get my coat, I can't pretend
To meet them in this fix." Vet fly
Into the house he could not. Stood
And watched them coming nearer still.
"Oh, bother, Reverend, this is good
Enough to meet them," said Melville.
"Don't think of coat, the weather's warm.
And there's yet danger to your arm."
He felt his hair. "Oh, that's all right,"
Said Melville, "nothing wrong with you;
And 'tis not well when in their sight
To run; see, I am shabby, too."
"Ah well," said Stone, "my ground I'll stand/
And as the ladies now drew near
He forward stepped with outstretched hand.
And in a voice of right good cheer,
Said, "Glad to see you, ladies, come
And share my temporary home."
THE VISITORS. 1 79
They came all smiles. Rose gently pressed
His hand and anxious looked into
His face. He saw her throbbing breast,
But turning to fair Dora, who
Came smiling forward, had her meet
His host, who tho' despite his boast,
Because he was not looking neat.
Felt hardly fit to stand as host,
Held out his horny hand to take
The lady's, giving quite a shake.
He soon had brought them each a seat.
As they preferred the pleasant shade.
'*Ah," said Miss Wright, ''what a retreat!"
And down upon the grass she laid
Her great sun hat. ''Oh what a life!"
Stone smiled. "Y|bu like it, then, I see."
*T would prefer it to the strife
One finds in town society."
She gave her head a pretty jerk.
'Tn town there's too much rush and work."
Now, feeling too much out of place,
Despite the advice given Stone,
Melville excused himself with grace.
And left the pastor there alone.
Straight to the house he went and crept
Up stairs to where Manie sleeping lay.
He ne'er disturbed her while she slept.
But he must break the rule to-day.
He called her gently ; she awoke,
And then he told her of the folk.
l80 BROWN CHAPEL.
It was yet warm, but she would try
If possiSle to look her best,
And she looked o'er quite hurriedly
The many pretty gowns possessed.
Mel. would go for Aunt Tildy Payne,
Who would get supper for her, so
She'd have the time to entertain.
And thus at once she had him go,
While she before the glass arranged
Herself till she'd completely changed.
Robed in a muslin gown, her hair
Thrown up, all dazzling with pins,
Light slippered, sauntered down the stair;
With a sweet look that ever wins,
She lightly crossed the sward where sat
The three beneath the sycamore,
Engaged now in a lively chat
About the scenes of Eastern Shore.
With bow most gracious, ''How dye do?"
(Now seated.) "Warm enough for you?"
''O yes," (to Stone) "I've met Miss Wright.
Am glad also to have you call.
You find it warm?" (to Dora.) "Quite.
We didn't mind it, tho', at all."
"Love walking?" "Yes, good exercise.
It is my only medicine."
"I see," said Mame, "and very wise;
I only wish that it were mine."
"Doctors and I seldom agree,"
Said Dora, "Exercise for me."
THE VISITORS. 18 [
And thus they chatted. Dora Wright
Began at once to fall in love
With Mary Melville, whose delight
Was such as Dora seemed to prove.
And so absorbed in talk became,
No notice gave to Rose and Stone, —
A little stratagem which Mame
Thought that she managed all alone,
When Dora had herself conspired
To do just what poor Mame desired.
"You suffered so, I know," said Rose
In the most sympathetic tone.
"Just how I felt, nobody knows,
I came to see you, Rev. Stone."
"You came to see me, tell me when,
It seems I don't recall at all."
"Of course not, you were in such pain
And fever, you cannot recall.
They took me from you, tho' I could
Beside your bed all day have stood."
"Somehow," he said, " 'tis like a dream.
I do recall you coming here,
And now that you have spoken, seem
To bring back something else, — 'tis clear !"
He istopped, he looked upon her now.
She was the maiden he had seen
In that strange vi'sion, which some how
Had forgotten by him been.
"O/li, tell me, what is clear," she said.
He smiled and simply shook his head.
1^2 BROWN CHAPEL.
"Don't be contrary, Rev. Stone,
For you have been too sick, you know/'
She whispered in a pleading tone,
''Do tell me, do not treat me so.
\Miat is it clear?" He shook his head.
'Terhaps Til tell you all some day,
But now, I dare not, I am afraid,
And do not urge me now, I pray."
He was so earnest in his plea.
She felt she ought to let it be.
''Please pardon me. I am so rude; '
It seems I have such little sense."
"There, there, 'tis only that you should
Desire me to tell you, hence
Your spirit; think of it no more;
I am too glad to have you here.
Instead of having you fret o'er
One single thing. It's been so drear
Away from church and all of you,
I've hardly known just what to do."
"You miss us then ?" "W' hy certainly,
How could one help from missing you?'
She smiled, "But really missed you me?
Me, little Rose? now tell me true."
"I missed you all, why further press
For that which you well know I feel,
You rogue? but I will not confess
That which I think best to conceal."
"Poor one you are, in that," she cried,
*' 'Tis in your very words implied."
THE VISITORS. 183
He looked all ruffled. '^Did I say
I missed you ? Well, I do declare,
In roles like this, I must display
My ignorance. You are not fair — "
''Therefore not false," she laughing said.
" 'You're fair but you're false,' so goes the song.''
"You've a lot of nonsense in your head."
''Nay, it is simply on my tongue."
He smiled to see how quick she was,
And felt himself drawn to the lass.
As long as they sat bantering.
No serious talk could occupy.
'Twas true, both thought of many a thing,
They fain had said, but passed it by.
But passed it by, but to recall
Some other time they knew not when.
Thus drew a curtain over all.
And covered it — "What might have been."
Enough, just now to be together,
Why test the feelings of each other?
Yet, some how, both felt satisfied
That soul had found its other soul ;
Each felt while seated side by side
Their two lives made a single whole;
Yet neither told the other so,
And yet each knew the other knew.
There was glow answering to glow,
And each in spirit closer drew
Together, though they sat apart.
Heart answered to the other heart.
.^4 iJROWN CHAPEL.
THE CAMP MEETING.
September, and has come the day
When all the country spread around
Shall to Brow n Chapel wend their way
To gather on the camping ground.
Nor better weather could they have.
The dawn looked o'er the sleeping earth,
The eastern sky its roses gave,
And soon athwart the field leaped forth
The golden harbingers of light
As rose the mighty king in sight.
O'er marsh and meadow vapory sheen
Began to rise and melt away,
Disclosing rush and bush of green,
Where hidden muskrats safely lay.
Trailing the worm-like fence along.
The golden-rod lifts high its head ;
Or with their purple flowers among,
Throughout the fields the sages spread.
And darting in and out the bee
Already hums his ministry.
tHE CAMt» MEETING. 1 85
Brown Chapel's grove transformed has been.
The uninviting stand no more
Beneath the spreading chestnuts green
Looks lonely. Round about, five score
Of rude constructed benches spread,
With lanterns hanging here and there,
And pine torch-stands, but lately made,
To give at night their smoky glare ;
And rude made boarding tents of pine
On either side the spaces, line.
The squirrel deeper into the wood
Hath at this transformation fled.
In search of richer solitude.
Where freer life might safe be led ;
And birds high perched in tallest trees,
Look down in wonder on the scene ;
And sing their trouble to the breeze,
How peaceful days ago have been ;
And rabbits but a three months' old
Now think it time to be less bold.
None hold their once undisturbed sway
But yonder nest of hornets, high
Above the ''horse pound" hid away
Within the green from mortal eye.
These looked with dire threats upon
The changes that have taken place.
And seemed to've stood their ground alone,
And watched aloft with mute grimace,
As tent, on tent, erected stood
Within this once sequestered wood.
[^6 BROWN CHAPEL.
Perchance a yellow- jacket came,
As chicken odor filled the air,
To see if he had right to claim
A portion of it for his share.
And flies in swarms that were immense
By some intelligence having found,
(I cannot comprehend what sense,)
The tents that with much food abound,
Swarm in and out with ceaseless hum.
Too glad such happy times have come.
The now completed parsonage
Looks on surprised at such a scene.
For days wnthin its walls the rage^
Brown Chapel's annual camp has been.
And lusty maidens as they ran
Within and out to make complete
The furnishings, or stopped to plan,
'Twas only that they might repeat
What they on such a day would wear.
How such and such a one would stare.
The chapel stood in silence now.
Closed for a fortnight from the light.
From that time should no sacred vow
Be made therein by day or night ;
But yonder in the airy grove,
Beneath the oak and chestnut green,
Should men vow^ all their sacred love.
Or testify of dangers seen,
Or great conflicts thro' which they passed
Since they had been assembled last.
THE CAMP MEETING. 1S7
'Tis early yet, and but a few
Within the grove astir are seen.
These are the good tent-holders, who,
There all the whole night long have been.
And these were getting now prepared
This morning for the hungry crowd,
Who must be necessarily cared
For by them. For when shouting loud,
Or strolling in and out the wood,
Would breed great appetite for food.
The house completed, Stone, now well.
The host of two good clergymen,
Has slept there most comfortable;
Nor woke till five, and only then
To roll back on the bed again.
As sweet the breath of rose perfume
Which Rosie, it was very plain,
Had seen to filling all the room,
Anr^ slept and slept till it was seven,
W^hile preaching was to. be 't eleven.
"Rise, Elder, rise ! Don't sleep all day,"
Thus Rev. Skinner, at the door.
Called in to Stone. ''Get up, I say;
They're nigh five hundred folk or more
Already on the grounds and we
Not yet at breakfast." Stone looked out.
And saw what was a sight to see,
OfT here, of¥ there, around about,
In swarms they stood as thick as bees
Or leaves upon the swaying trees.
iS^ BROWN CHAPElL.
Here, there, they surged, youth and old age,
Both men and women gayly dressed.
To Stone, it seemed the parsonage
By them was even now possessed.
And, then, far down the winding road,
Far as the mortal eye could see.
They came in hack and wagon load.
In one unending company.
And as this number came along.
The silent wood was filled with song.
Red, yellow, white and blue and green
And brown and gray and other shades
In great profusion now are seen
In hats and gowns w^orn by the maids.
And different styles in cut of coat
And trousers, eagerly the men
Vied with each other for the note
Who might the most attention gain.
All this was from the window seen
When Stone from sleep had awakened been.
"No need to worry," he replied.
'The brethren have all things in hand."
(His pajamas he threw aside.)
"The breakfast serving has been planned."
But Rev. Skinner now had gone
With Rev. Snowden down the stair,
And in his room with leisure. Stone
Stood dressing, after fervent prayer,
In which he gave to God the day.
His guidance through it all the way.
THE CAMP MEETING. 189
He stood before the bureau, where
On a pretty scarf was spread.
Its needle work was very rare,
Of lovely roses in silk thread.
One thought them painted, at first sight ;
Might think them natural roses, laid
Upon the bureau, if the light
Were strong enough, so finely made.
And as he dresses, it is oft
With an expression, sweet and soft,
Upon this scarf he gazes now.
And in his heart of hearts, he feels
A tenderness ; and there, isomehow,
A spirit in its chamber steals
And takes possession, full control.
Love and religion once combined.
Alone give life into the soul.
Alone give pleasure tO' the mind.
This love Stone has this Sabbath morn
With deep religious feeling born.
Ah, not a piece of furniture
But what has tenderest interest;
For every thing was placed by her
Who caused this feeling in his breast.
Indifference makes a woman love.
But gentle kindness, it is said,
Doth sometniie make a strong man prove
The willing lover of a maid.
Such gentle acts, in truth, discover
Unto the man he is a lover.
No woman need of love despair,
If she herself can loving be.
But loving means a kindness rare
To whom she loves, a sympathy
Which flowers into words and deeds
Of gentle interest wherein
Herself is lost. Ah, such succeeds
When every other fails to win.
Man loves, and loves that woman best,
Who loves him for herself the least.
Man loves that woman best of all
Who loves him for himself the most.
Such love he knows cannot be small
And is beyond the greatest cost.
Such love when he at last has seen
It stand the very greatest test,
He honors, lets nought come between
Him and that love, and learns to rest
Upon that love for strength secure :
Thus seeks that love, nor craves for more.
A love like this is born in heaven,
But God in His wise providence
Unto the gentler sex hath given
The privilege of its use. But since
So few behold the privilege
And do. not know it doth exist,
They let the looser passions rage
And learn to hate what they have missed,
While still the golden crown of love
Waits for their crowning just above.
THE CAMP MEETING. I9I
Stone soon had dressed and down the stair
Went to be greeted jovially
By the two clergymen down there
About the happy company
Of people running all about.
In full possession of the place.
And here and there, a lusty shout
Breaks from some strong-lunged of the race.
The sisters on the table had
A very sumptuous breakfast spread.
And as they there at breakfast sat,
The Love Feast having long begun.
They heard them liinging betwixt their chat,
Or loudly speaking one by one. \
"A very good start," Skinner said.
"Most piomising now," Snowden joined,
*Tf all in here their fare have paid,
A goodly sum please bear in mind. )
What is the number, think you now?" '
'Twelve hundred I should most allow." \
'T preach this morning, Elder Stone?"
"As scheduled, I believe you do."
"And I?" asked Skinner, as upon '
Another egg his fork he drew.
"To-night I have you scheduled, sir."
"Ah, good. I'm glad it is to-night,
Though very few the night prefer.
But hearing you will get me right."
"Well, mo&t any time for me," !
Said Stone most absent-mindedly.
192 BROWN CHAPEI^
''Good morning, brethren," from the hall
Cried Melville as he passed to go
Into the kitchen. ''N^ooks is all
Afire," in a voice quite low,
He said to Sister Hannah Brown,
Who in the kitchen o'er the stove
Was busy cooking. ''Call 'im down,"
She said most sharply. "Oughter prove
His life by wuks an' not his voice.
I don't see how he kin rejoice."
''Do stop, Aunt Hannah, charity !"
"Oh, yes, I know that is all right.
But when so many things I see —
Well I can't help what's in my sight.
One's bound to think." "Yes, not to speakJ
Then you believe in hiding dirt?
You'll have me thinkin' you's as weak
As he is !" and she shook her skirt
As if disgusted. Melville went
Out and toward a boarding tent.
Meanwhile our ministers are through
Their breakfast and are making w^ay
Toward the stand. The great crowds drew
Aside at their approach. The gay
Young maids with most coquettish wiles
Are trying hard to catch Stone's eye,
And many are the winning smiles
And witching bows in passing by.
And so with here and there a shake
And press of hands, their way they make
THE CAMP MEETING. IQJ
Towards the preaching stand, around
Which now a mass of people sat.
Enthusiasm doth abound,
And one by one, said something that
Inflamed another one to speak,
Inflamed somebody else to sing.
No voice was fearful, none was weak.
Some in the richest tones could ring.
Some pitched to highest chords, break forth,
But all told of God's wondrous worth.
Yet while all this was going on,
Beyond in circles far apart,
There gathered others there alone
That they might some mischief start.
On these Brown Chapel officers
Kept watch that was most vigilant.
And where the least bad act occurs,
'Tis there these watchful brethren went;
And when persuasion failed its course.
The men resorted to brute force.
Thus kept them down. But hour by hour
The mighty concourse was increased.
Except the Law, these brethren's power
Was very small. But man, like beast.
Is cowered by the punishment.
He knows is meted by the Law ;
And they who stand to represent
He learns to look upon with awe;
Stands fearful lest entangled, he
Might lose bis cherished liberty.
Thus while there was an element
Which in the place could do much harn\
Kept now beneath the right restraint,
'Twas no occasion for alarm.
So as the thousand swelled to two,
And there was scarcely standing room.
All quiet kept, and there were few
Who had to wish they had not come.
If any discontented were,
'Twas not because of trouble here.
Now when the great Love Feast was o'er
Then has arrived the hour to preach,
The Rev. Snowden stood before
One thousand within speaking reach.
A Methodistic hymn he read,
In swelling notes the people sang.
Then Rev. Skinner bowed and prayed
Throughout the place loud ''Amens" rang.
Or "Hallelujah," "Praise the Lord,"
Or "Blessed be unto His Word."
Stone read the Scripture firm and clear.
Himself must have been keenly stirred
In lictening to that fervent prayer.
He felt new force in every word.
Of Israel in the wilderness.
Of dwelling in the booths he read.
Of Nehemiah's great success.
And how he to Jerusalem led
The remnant of the church of God
Which had bent beneath the rod.
THE CAMP MEETING. I95
And then 'twas Rosie's voice that rang
In mellowed richness on the air.
As she the *'Holy City" sang
Men seemed to see the vision there.
In all that sea of faces was
The use of handkerchiefs, so sweet
That young voice filled the great compass,
And brought men to the Master's feet.
She ceased, a sacred hush fell o'er,
Till Stone's clear voice was heard once more,
To introduce the speaker, now,
To call for closing of each tent,
He hoped that no one would allow
One moment of the time be spent
In inattention to the Word
That from the speaker's lips should fall.
And not the man, he warned, the Lord
Spoke in that hour unto all,
And every one should feel that he
Received the message personally.
And thus the speaker of the hour
Came forward to the desk where lay
The Word of God. He said, if power
At all were given him that day
'Twould be alone because of prayer,
Sent by the concourse up to heaven.
He was convinced power came from there,
Could from no other source be given.
He, therefore, asked the people pray,
That power be given him that day.
The ''Dignity of Man," his theme,
And thus in flights he strove to show
How man upon a downward stream
Had tended ; yet how checked the flow
By Him who came man's cause to take;
How upward he was moving now ;
How hell's strong bolts could never shake
The man that held to Jesus ; how
Each day his spirit was renewed
By feeding on the heavenly food.
The people prayed, and 'twas sincere,
The Power came down from on High.
All knew it, no mistaking here,^
The Holy Ghost was very nigh.
Though simple were his words, he spoke
With mighty unction, and that host,
Like as a pent-up flood, then broke.
Each sentence, felt the Holy Ghost.
And hardened criminals who came
Just to be there trembled for shame,
And thoughtless maidens, dress-arrayed,
Who never had one moment given.
In thinking over what was said
About their chance for hell or heaven,
Hung on the words that seem to fall
Alone for them to think upon.
They who had never thought at all
Were thinking that the words alone
Stood as a knocking at their door.
To open now or never more,
tHE CAmP MEEtlNd. IQJ^
Needless to say when Stone arose
The invitation to extend
To any one, yes, one of those
Who felt that it was time to end
His downward course, that forward came
A number to the Mercy Seat.
Too sharp the sword, too great the flame,
And rich the table spread to eat;
For when they cleared for them the place,
Two hundred sought for pardoning grace.
And now another scene began —
The Praying Bands from everywhere
Draw around these seekers to a man,
To lead in singing and in prayer.
Well trained they are in isiich an art —
In leading of their doleful chants ;
But more the ear and less the heart,
It seems, which is not what one wants ;
Yet years have been, and still may be,
Ere they give up such ministry.
Now high, now low, now women, now men.
Their hands, their feet, their bodies swayed ;
Their faces leering as in pain,
■ They sing and clap — thus noise is made.
Some leader pointing to the skies,
Or here, or there, or down below,
Amidst the penitential cries,
And thus the chanting on must go,
Till he who leads has ceased to think,
And then exhausted down all sink.
J 9^ BROWN Chapel.
Then one with strong lungs makes a prayer,
I dare not say he does not pray,
I cannot say he prays it ; there
Is so much doubt along the way.
And then they all join in with this,
As the excitement doth increase,
All crying in a frenzied bliss,
But when the leader stops, they cease,
And then, who ever has the gift.
Another doleful chant doth lift.
Thus singing, clapping they've forgot
Even the seeking souls that cry;
For having tired of the spot,
They leave the altar frenziedly,
And all about the ground they go.
The whole compass encircling,
As Joshua circled Jericho;
Instead of blowing trumps, they sing,
But in their frenzied happiness,
They carry all things to excess.
These things saw Stone who in the stand
Stood with his brother clergymen.
He called one captain of a band
And bade him call his followers in.
That Jiere was work for them to do, —
Pray for the seekers kneeling there.
And so, he got them one or two,
And fell upon his knees in prayer.
Then others seeming more inclined,
Drew 'round him of one voice and mind.
THE CAMP MEETING. I99
It seemed this was the proper move,
For suddenly the row along
The fervent spirit 'gan to prove,
And upward sprang in praise and song
A host of new converted men
And women, jumping in the air.
Then Stone thought of Ezekiel's slain,
In gratitude sent up a prayer.
In all the place excitement reigned,
And none their spirit now restrained.
But it is said when sons of Grace
Are fighting on God's battlefield,
O'ld Satan's somewhere in the place.
And leaves some wounds ere made to yield.
So when the flag was waving high,
Yes, held aloft victoriously.
Then Satan had his wicked eye
Upon those hornets in the tree.
The horses all stood in the pound
Most peaceful till those hornets found
'Twas time to get, too, in the ring.
Just as the Band that we have seen
Came near the place, a buzz, a sting,
Down from the leaves of maple green
They came a swarm, a buzzing host !
And horses reared and broke away.
Men, women rushed, their reasons lost;
In all directions in dismay.
Thus in a moment on them fell
The diabolic hosts of hell.
20() BROWN CHAPEL.
Stone stood up in the stand to see
The great rejoicing going on.
When lo, the mighty company-
Was surging, pushing one upon
The other, crushing, screaming loud.
Nor could he then divine the cause.
He held his hand up to the crowd,
He bid them in their rush to pause.
''Stop ! stop !" he cried, an answered yell
Like demons just broke loose from hell.
His brother clergymen, ah, they?
He looked in vain to find them there.
(No, early they had made their way
Toward the parsonage. ) Nowhere
Out in the crowd could they be seen.
But there was one he did behold.
She came, the surging crowd between,
She fought her way, his heart grew cold.
For there, in all that rolling mass.
Pressed Rose her way to where he was.
October NiGHt. ^ot
October, and the day is fair, ]
This afternoon the sky is blue, I
With just a touch of frost the air '
Gave to the trees each varied hue. |
The sombre pines, the maple, gum, j
The chestnut, walnut, hickory, oak,
Since mild October days had come.
Into new robes of beauty broke. i
Here touch of crimson, splash of gold, I
The work of nightly fairies told.
n. , \
How beautiful the golden sage, i
With purple flowers yet in bloom, j
Stretched wide before the parsonage.
Where upstairs in his cheery room,
Looking from the window far away [
Across this waving sea of gold, - ;
Stone sits and dreams this autumn day, ,
Dreams that he would blush to have told. j
He dreams, not studies, ah, he dreams j
That life is more than what it seems. !
^02 feROVVN dHAfEL.
And why this dreamy spell of Stone,
A man who deals alone with facts? —
A man who deals in facts alone^
What is it that his mind attracts
That he should dream? October days,
Can they not weave o'er one a spell?
Who hath not felt beneath their haze
Emotion that's unspeakable?
Who hath not in such seasons known
The thrills, the raptures felt by Stone?
i ■ ,
Down stairs Aunt Hannah Brown's astir,
Just in his supper to prepare.
He surelv does not dream of lier.
And is it one more young and fair?
Ah, Stone has dreams, he must not tell ;
Dreams which he strives to put away ;
He does not like them very well,
And yet with him they seem to stay.
Whate'er he says, where'er he goes.
There are these dreams of little Rose.
Now ever since that Sabbath day.
Through that mad howling, surging crowd.
To him she nobly fought her way,
He has been feeling of her proud.
Yes, even more. What brought her there.
When trembling at his side she stood,
Rose-colored with dismantled hair?
She came, she said, because she could
Not see him standing there alone
In that wild mob, his brethren gone.
DCtOBfiR I^ICJhT. ^^
He pressed her hand so tightly then
When she had made him this reply,
It certainly must have caused her pain,
But she refrained of course the cry.
And when good order was restored,
And they had to the parsonage gone,
She came to him without a word,
And showed his finger-marks alone.
He gazed upon her hand and smiled,
''Knew not what I was doing, child."
A hundred little things since then
Had drawn him closer to the maid.
And yet though try he would, in vain.
The words he should say were not said.
Oft when Aunt Hannah busy was.
She came that she might her assi'st ;
'Twas then he'd gaze upon the lass
With thoughts that neither could exist
Without the other; tell her? No,
He could not go and tell her so.
The feeling he once had for Mame,
The passion of a thoughtless youth,
Was dead. And in its place a flame
Sprung from the embers of pure truth.
Was kindled. Yet for Rose he had
A deep warm feeling such as made
Him in her presence blithe and glad,
And absent from her still was stayed
In joyous thrills as if there were
Some thing that still whispered of her.
i64 BtlOWJJ CllAPftL.
Or rather, though they were apart,
Her spirit kept him company;
And her own heart now with his heart
Did beat in perfect unity.
If at his studies, she was there,
A chair beside his occupied,
Or standing with dismantled hair.
Looked love upon him at his side,
And something whispered "Throughout life
We'll journey on as man and wife."
And there were times when he could see
Into the future; and he smiled
For there, what blissful reverie !
He saw a mother and her child
Sit, listening to him preaching on
The Sabbath, or around the board,
Glad feasting — ah ,what dreams had Stone,
Who had not even said a word.
Or made one move to learn his fate,
Yet dreaming of his wedded isitate.
Such men can dream. Love knows no bounds.
Imagination winged goes
Up to all heights, into all grounds,
And touched with love, the future shows.
Sweet are the dreams that fancy gives
Though short lived they may be at best ;
Oflie in imagination lives
Another life above the rest,
Enjoying sights and scenes where they
That live in fancy cannot stray.
OCTOBER NIGHT. 205
Love and Imagination once
United, to the lofty height'
Beyond the realms of mere sense,
Are ever known to take their flight.
And men live on in such a state,
Still in their youth, though old they grow ;
But let these ever separate,
Men look upon their lives and know
The ills of life, the sordid care,
The sorrows that must claim a share.
To Stone this bright October day
Was the most perfect ever seen ;
Just why it was, he could not say,
Perhaps some previous days had been
To others just as perfect, but
This day, this bright October day
To him within the parsonage shut
Unto himself, was stealing away
In such a calm, sweet, heavenly peace,
He felt his happiness increase."
How long he mused, he did not know,
Already had the sun gone down.
And left behind the ruddy glow
Of twilight. Where the wood rose brown,
Dark shadows stole across the road,
And over in the field of sage
The Jersey to Aunt Hannah lowed,
Just opposite the parsonage,
And Stone soon saw Aunt Hannah go
In answer to her gentle low,
And let her through the bars into
The side gate, leading to the rear.
And then it was that Stone well knew
That supper time was drawing near.
He rose, ishook off the dreamy spell.
And left the -now dark growing room.
Down stairs he went, out to the well,
Drew up a pail of water. From
The stable he could hear just now
Aunt Hannah talking to the cow.
*'Stan' ovah heah! What ails you, Sue?
Y|ou bettah min' what you's about !
Ain't that there feed good 'nouf for vou !
Then you will hafter do without.
You's mighty dainty now ter night,
And very restless, too, I see —
Hey ovah. Sue, can't you stan' right ?
Why don't you stop that botherin' me?"
Dipping into the pail a gourd
He drank, amused at every word.
Stone stood upon the side porch when
Aunt Hannah from the stable came.
Bearing a pail of milk. ''Well, then,
I think it is an awful ^shame.
That cow done kicked ovah ha'f her milk,"
She said as she discovered him.
*Tt certainly seems she likes to bilk
Me in my aims, up to this rim,
I usually git it ; now I'm put
Back in what I had on foot."
OCTOBER NIGHT. 20/
"Ah, well, no matter," solaced Stone.
''We can't have everything we want ;
Just dO' with what you have alone.
What you can't do, of course, you can't,'
"Laws, Bro. Stone, you is the mos'
Good natured man I've eveh seen.
You don't seem worried by no loss,
I must ow^n up you's certainly been
A sample for us all, in grace,
Since you is been about this place."
Into the house Aunt Hannah went.
"Ain't gettin' lonesome now, I hope?"
*She asked, as o'er the table bent,
A jar of peaches tried to ope.
"Oh, no," said Stone, "but somehow I
Would like to take a stroll to-night.
So calm the time, so clear the sky,
I think beneath the half moon's light
I shall enjoy a mile or two
Of walking, that I think I'll do."
"Ah, Bro. Stone, I think I see ;
You's gittin' lonesome staying heah.
You wants some un else besides me;
An' I don't blame you, for I feah.
This house without some loving w^ife
Is most too large for any man ;
An' that's what you all need in life.
You cannot hoi' it a good plan
To live without a wife, kin you?
Now answer, Bro. Stone, mos' true?"
"Why, Sister Hannah, are you not
Sufficient to see to the place?"
*'La\vd, yes, but that ain't all. The spot
Ain't filled by me. Another face
'Sides mine, I think, should be heah, too,
To help you in your work, you see.
Of course I do what I can do ;
A wife could even bettah be.
Besides, when Fs away at nights,
You's heah alone, now is that right?
"S'pose you git sick an all alone.
Who's heah to tend you — thought o' that?"
This certainly had not come to Stone,
And it was something to look at.
"No, I confess I have not thought,"
He said, "but such may never be."
"Can't tell at all," she said, "It mought.
What's coming none of us can see."
"Of course,^ said Stone, "that's right, of course,
And yet we look not for the worse."
"And still you get it often, tho'.
Mo' then you do the bettah git."
She won her point, he let it go,
And didn't coax another bit.
And now his supper she began
Into the dining room to take.
And Stone, a very hearty man.
To the occasion doth awake.
She set in tastely way each dish
Which ere he tasted roused a wish.
OCTOBER NIGHT. 209
"Yer supper's ready, Bro. Stone."
''Ah, thank you," and 'twas in he went.
Now from a pretty lamp there shone
A bright light 'round the room. Intent
In thought, Stone sat in silence down
To eat the supper rich prepared.
Say it in truth for Sister Brown,
'Twas well she for her pastor cared.
No dainty that her fertile brain
Suggested which she'd not obtain.
And when she saw him satisfied,
Eating the meal most heartily,
She to the kitchen went with pride,
Happy such appetite to see.
And Stone with visions of a form
Just yonder on the opposite
The table, sees in life a charm
Never before beheld, — to-night
A woman petite, blushing, wild,
A woman yet to him a child !
Then Sister Brown stood in the door.
'Tt do look lonesome heah for trufe."
And now his little dream was o'er
"I'm sure," he said, ''there is no proof."
*T see it tho," the woman said,
Her arms akimbo, standing there,
A great red kerchief on her head.
Her sleeves rolled up, and elbows bare.
"Well, I suppose so," Stone replied,
Eating as if well satisfied.
'*Bro. Hawkins passed the lane to-day,"
She said in way of Httle news.
'That so? He turned not in this way,"
Said Stone, not over-sad to choose
Just such a theme. ''No ; went on by.
Was driving, he and Rose, I b'heve."
"In what direction?" carelessly.
"To town, I think; she's 'bout to leave."
"To leave?'' asked Stone, now all surprised,
Of such he had not been advised.
"Oh, don't you know she was to go?''
Aunt Hannah asked in surprised tone.
"To go?" Stone answered, "certainly, no;
Have not been told by any one."
"Strange," said Aunt Hannah, "very strange.
Las' Sunday — did you see her then?"
"Yes, but 'twas only to exchange
A greeting, for some brethren
Called my attention from her, and
I simply stopped to grasp her hand."
"When was you there to make a call ?"
"Not since two weeks, I think, ago;
And things were just as usual,
That is, so far as I could know.
But where is Rosie going to?"
"Now really, pastah, I can't say.
It's to the lady's that, you know,
Has been heah with her. 'Twas away
She went I think on Thursday las'.
I also seen her when she pass."
OCTOBER NIGHT. 21 I
Stone ate in silence, dared not speak; i
And Sister Hannah now went on, ]
"May Jane, she tol' me 'way las' week j
That Rose was goin' to some town, I
The name, I disremember, but
'Twas where this lady lived, I know.
I s'pose she's been down here and put '
Some notions in her head to go."
Stone without answering, rose and went j
Upstairs, his heart most sorely rent.
He made no light, he wanted none,
A half-moon cast her silver light
Into the room. And there alone >
He sat, looked out into the night,
Hard ty the window. Far away
Now on the frosty air he heard. ^
Rise mournfully, the plaintive lay, I
Sung by the whip-poor-will, sad bird, — J
Seemed singing now in sympathy
With him, e'en sadder far than he.
Even the owl's quick hoo ! hoc!
Which joined the whip-poor-will's plaint song,
Seemed as this bird his sorrow knew.
And passed it through the woods along ; j
And told the maple trees and gum, *
The walnut and the hickory.
The cloud that o'er his life had cume.
And bade them bow in sympathy ; i
And all the pines in sombre green
Low whispered of ''what might have been."
The moon, half sad, looked down to-night
And told it to a passing cloud;
A shooting star went out of sight;
The sage field wrapped it in a shroud
Of vapor; and the stars looked down
And twinkled o'er it knowingly,
As if the universe with Stone
Was in the deepest sympathy.
'The whole world loves a lover." Yies,
And mourns in his unhappiness.
And there he sat, the night sped on.
He heard Aunt Hannah shut the door,
And knew that she at last had gone.
Now silence reigned the cottage o'er,
Save now and then a candle-fly
Beat, frightened, 'gainst the window pane;
Or bat, in zig-zag route go by
And graze against the roof again.
And he within a ghostly glare
Of moon light, crushed and sore, sat there.
Gone, and without a word to tell
Him that she had a mind to go.
Gone, not one look to say farewell.
No word to tell him "yes" or ''no"
To what he long had questioned her.
To what he full believed she knew,
Which every act proved whisperer,
Which every look of hers well drew,
Gone, spirited from him away.
For what ? Alas, he could not say,
OCTOBER NIdHt. 21^
And was it of her own sweet will ?
No, she Had told him of it then;
Would not have left the place until
She had the chance to make it plain.
Was there some secret enemy
At work against his happiness?
He thought of Mame, no, no, not she ;
She would have aided him, ah, yes.
He thought of Dora Wright, of Small,
He let his mind run over all.
But there was nothing to suggest
That there was one him to oppose.
The whole community, at best,
Looked with deep favor upon Rose,
And many marked about the change
In her behavior there of late,
And many said it was so strange
She was so gentle and sedate;
And many said it openly
'Twas owing to his company.
Nor did her father once object
To his attention to the maid.
And all looked on it as correct,
Tho' he had nothing to her said.
Yet everybody who beheld
The two when out in company.
From their fond actions, was compelled
To think they must bethrothed be.
Thus who was there that might oppose
Him in his love for gentle Rose.
J\/\ BROWN CHAPEL.
And thus he sits there pondering
The cause that took her from his side.
He could not think of any thing-.
Or any one that might divide
Their feehng. WHiat? What had he done
To show her that he truly loved ?
What word had said to her alone
W'hich had his deep affection proved?
Had he not trifled with her heart
Which cau«'?d them now to be apart?
Does he recall how once she stood
There at the gate one lovely night,
When the moon in silver slashed the wood,
And threw o'er all a halo bright,
Her trembling hand now pressed in his ;
Her eyes uplifted to his own;
Lips almost asking for a kiss ;
He'd said in ordinary tone,
"Good night," and simply dropped her hand
And seen her turn to leave him ; and
When on her porch, look back and wave
Her hand to him as if to say,
"I give the kiss you never gave,"
Then disappear, he turned away?
And that he mused was the last time
They were together. Was it, then,
The moment in his life sublime.
He should have spoken. Other men,
He told himself, had ta'en the chance
To bring theirr love to evidence.
OCTOBER NIGHt. ^1$
What held him back? Ten years ago,
And he had spoken in a flood ;
And he had let his passion flow
In all the ardor of his blood ;
But then, the mask accustomed to,
The mask which ministers must wear.
Kept his real nature from her view,
And made him cold and heartless there.
And, O the words he fain had said.
He never uttered to the maid.
Perhaps, he reasoned, time enough ;
Perhaps, he told himself, "Not now;"
Perhaps, though in the very trough
Of passion, yet would not allow
It to o'erwhelm but manned the bark
Beyond the breakers of his soul ;
And laughed because he missed the mark.
Because he could himself control;
But now, he sees how foolish he.
In all of this, turned out to be.
And now his laughing turns to sighs,
The mask is wrenched from off his brow;
He wishes he might have those eyes
Uplifted to his own just now;
He wishes that those lips were there
That he might press them to his own ;
She would not list in -vain to hear
His words, which he in loving tone,
Would speak to her about his he«rt ;
But now, alas ! they are apart.
2l6 BROWN CHAPEL.
Apart ! A demon in the sage
Re-echoed back the words to him;
Enveloped was the parsonage
In clouds, and all about was dim ;
''Apart !" A yelling company
Of imps danced in the chamber there.
The night refused her sympathy,
And all was howling in despair.
"Apart! apart! apart! apart!"
Vain were the words about his heart.
We never know how much we miss
Our loved ones till at last we've lost;
We never learn to value bliss
Till sorrow hath our pathway crossed.
We lightly tread the flowered walk,
Nor think to drink the odor in,
Some careless conversation talk
And never breathe the things we mean ;
And let a fortune slip away
That might have been our own for aye.
The half of us have had our dream
And wakened ere we found it out.
Then say ''Things are not what they seem,"
Take consolation in this doubt. —
Oh, happy he who sees his chance
And knows just what to put it to,
To make the best of circumstance,
But once he'll have the thing to do.
That moment idly passed, 'tis then
To him it comes not back again.
OCTOBER NIGHT. ^if
At last the mist has cleared away,
And reason doth itself assert.
Stone falls upon his knees to pray,
In that dark ro9m, to pour his heart
Out to his Christ, who said ''Commit
Thy work unto the Lord, and He
Will by His power establish it.
And thou needst not uneasy be."
The cloud was lifted, cleared the gloom,
Once more light streamed into the room.
Once more the whip-poor-will w^as heard,
Once more the owl's quick hoo, hoo.
Came back to him ; but neither bird
Brought sadness by its 'Song. The blue
Bright heavens with the stars gazed down,
And sent to him the words of hope.
And from the trees to him was blown
The words "Arise, thy doors shall ope."
And he arose and went to bed,
In some way strangely comforted.
2l8 BROWN CkAPEL.
Canto XVII. ,
A STRANGE STORY.
Some things there are we do not know,
Some things there are we cannot see,
Some things as mysteries must go,
And so unsolved shall ever be.
No man can fathom every thing,
Within his life some things appear
Which with them such vague shadows bring.
Nothing about them seemeth clear;
Ay, at our best we but surmise.
Surmising, think that we are wise.
"Behold, we know not any thing,"
So sang the singer, sweet of eld;
Sang as none but himself could sing,
And who disputes the truth he held?
"We have but faith ; we cannot know.
For knowledge is of things we see,"
And thus he sang long years ago
In that lament most plaintively,
As drifting far into the dark,
He strives to man his tossing bark.
A STRANGE STORY. ^l^
Life is one endless mystery,
Despite what we might say of chance ;
Despite of our free agency,
And all we say of circumstance.
One seems at times a child of fate,
A toy within a ruthless hand;
For things there are which are too great
For mortal mind to understand.
One, like a poor despised worm,
Becomes the creature of the storm.
And yet where Reason fails to guide,
Faith takes the helm from his hands;
And as we stem the ruthless tide,
Hope, as our look-out, forward stands.
What tho' the vessel labors on;
What tho' the night is long and black;
What tho' the last faint star be gone,
And demons howl upon our track;
Hope forward stands. Faith at the' wheel,
No unseen rocks can graze the keel !
No unseen rocks can graze the keel.
No lone bleak shores or crags await.
Hope forward stands, Faith at the wheel,
We are not in the hands of Fate.
The hands of Fate we are not in,
Tho' reason failed to guide us out :
That was the echoing of sin,
The rancor of a lingering doubt.
Man need not subject be to chance,
Is not the child of circumstance.
2^6 feROWN CHAPEL
And yet, O mystery, the same !
Not now, but in a future day,
Some future, better clime will claim
Attention. When we re-survey,
O when we look upon the track.
The track that we have made in pain,
O then, it is, in looking back
The way shall be both clear and plain.
That unsolved then no more shall be.
Which we now call a mystery.
Stone was absorbed in study, deep,
Next morning in his chamber bright,
In which he early woke from sleep.
When first the sun sent forth his light.
Already he had breakfast had.
And now within his room alone,
In hi'S brown smoking jacket clad.
He sat in study, busy on
Next Sabbath's sermon, here and there
Forming a head with fervent prayer.
Despite what e'er his troubles were,
However sore his life had been,
He'd never let aught interfere
With this, his sacred work. Here clean
Forgot the world now stood when he
Approached his desk in order to
Prepare his sermons. Earnestly
He labored, often going through
The greatest mental strain to bring
A message worthy of his King.
A STRANGE STORY. 221
And thus as through the shutters green "
The sunlight of that autumn morn
Streamed silently, with placid mein,
No signs of suffering inward borne,
He sat his mind on things divine. I
His thoughts in messages of Truth J
Flowed, as he wrote line after line
Gn white note-paper neat and smooth.
A bird is singing in the grove
A song of his last summer love.
The breeze is stirring thro' the trees,
And gently now the branches sway;
A song comes floating on the breeze
From merry buskers o'er the way.
The scent of cider, newly made, '
Comes with it from the distant farm, i
To which he no attention paid;
And if such had for him a charm,
'Twas that which only helped to fill ,
Him with absorption deeper still. . '
Aunt Hannah turned her here and there
About the house, downstairs, that she
A sumptuous dinner might prepare, ,
Nor minute late with it to be. • \
This dish and that with gentle croon, ]
With thoughts of him she doth devise. 1
She knows he'll not be down till noon, |
And then she'll spread before his eyes \
Some dainty, which she heard him say i
He liked. What joy he would display! |
And thus absorbed, she does not hear
The gentle steps of one who stands
There on the porch; and 'twas with fear
At last she turned, threw up her hands
As Mary Melville hallowed ^'Boo !"
And she beheld her standing there.
"Why howdy, gal ; go long wid you !
How^ could you gimme sich a scare?"
"O dear. Aunt Hannah," Alary said,
"I didn't think you that afraid."
And when she'd kissed Aunt Hannah, who
Led her into the dining room,
Herself into a rocker threw.
''So glad, I really is you's corhe,"
Aunt Hannah said, "So lonesome heah."
"Where's Rev. Stone?" "Up starhs, I believe.
He studies mos' too hard, I feah.
Some one I think should make him leave
His books alone, awhile at leas',
An' take a little res' and peace.
"Well, what's the news about the place."
"O nothing much, that I can hear;
They're matching for a big foot race
To-day two weeks ; a dancing bear,
Some one that day, they say, will show,
And lots of other things, I guess.
There's little that one ought to know
A going on, I must confess.
Of course you heard about how Jake
Found in his house the copper snake."
A STRANGE STORY. 223
'*Ah, yes," said Sister Brown, "an' you,
You've hearn about Rose goin' away?''
*'I heard it, did not think it true."
"Oh, yes, she went on yestiday."
''Poor silly girl," now Mary said,
*'Her father better'd kept her here."
**Well, that a gal's got in her head
Some foolishness." "Too bad; I fear
She will not 'mount to much away.
This is the place for her to stay."
"Don't know, I liked Rose very well;
Of course she was the lively sort ;
But if the trufe we might now tell,
She warn't so bad as folks report.
Now, since that gal came Rose jes' quit
Her running all the place about.
I'm not the onliest noticed it,
But several others also mought.
O, yes, she is a lively gal.
In fact, I like her arter all."
"Well, yes, I nothing saw in Rose.
Perhaps, we all have judged her wrong.
And since she's gone aw^ay, who knows.
But what 'twill make her even strong.
I somehow^ liked this young Miss Wright,
She such a sweet way 'bout her has,
I loved her almost at first sight.
She comes, I'm told, of the best class :
If 'tis to her home Rose has gone
I'm sure 'twill be her good alone."
And thus they talk. Aunt Hannah who
Now in the kitchen constant phes
Her energies, now there were two
Instead of one to dinner, tries
To get a goodly meal ; and so
Manie rocking lazily doth talk
Of everything she chanced to know
About the parish or the folk.
So passed the time along, and soon
The hour was pushing close to noon.
"I'll set the table," Mary said.
''O, by the way. Aunt Hannah, I
Forgot to tell you, I have made
The best preserves, and have set by
A gallon jar for Rev. Stone;
You think he likes them ?" 'That he do ;
He eats all kinds of sweets ; he's done
Clean clahed his yaller peaches thro'."
''Then, if you have not any, I
Will give you some from my supply.
"Mel. said he thought the flour out."
"Not quite," Aunt Hannah said, "Thah's moah
Then quahtar barrell; now you mought
Jes' look yo' se'f thah in th' stoah."
"O that's all right. You know when 'tis,
Mel. says he'll bring 'Some to you, as
There has not been much call for his;
And he would never let it pass
Without he did his part, so he
Told me on coming here to see.
A STRANGE STORY. * 225
*'How was the cottage cheese I sent ?"
'*0 that was elegant, indeed.
He ate an' ate, nor was content
Untel I tol' by who 'twas made."
*'Ah, so?" laughed Mary, ''yet I told
You not to say who made the cheese.
Poor one, I think you are, to hold
A secret." ''Yet I had to please
So tol' him all about it, see?"
"O yes, but that's not minding me."
And as they talk, upon the air
The farmer's bell is heard to ring.
"And twelve o'clock, well I declare,
How does the time go hurrying!"
"Huh ! 'Time an' tide waits for no man.'
I's got my dinner ready to
Put on the table. It's my plan
To do on time all that I do,"
Triumphantly Aunt Hannah said.
As she upon the table laid
Her meats. "You ring that bell thah, please,"
And Mary reaching took the bell
And rang it. Now a thought doth seize
Her just to hide. So not to tell,
She warned Aunt Hannah, then she fled
Into the living room where she
Soon heard Stone walking overhead,
Move down the stairs most leisurely.
"Aunt Hannah, heard I not someone?"
On entering the room asked Stone.
226 ' BROWN CHAPEL.
*'I do not know as ef you did,"
Aunt Hannah said, as he sat down,
And from the room where she was hid
Mame warning looked at Sister Brown.
He noticed not the extra plate
Or hat that she had not removed.
In study deep he silent sat.
Perhaps he thought of her he loved;
Perhaps his sermon's last brief head;
Perhaps, but nothing now he said.
He does not hear Mame when she tips
And at his back mischievous stands ;
He's all surprised when quick, she slips
Around his brow her soft brown hands
And holds them o'er his flashing eyes;
But still he does not struggle much.
"Guess who it is !" she gayly cries.
He knew when first he felt the touch.
*'0 Madam Melville, now how rude!
Of all, I thought that you were good."
"Of course," she laughed as at her place
There at the table now she sat.
"Too good to come to-day and grace
This table for you, that is flat.
But since I had some work to do
Here at the church, I came to see
Aunt Hannah, never dreamed that you
Would not enjoy my company.
Of course though, if you do not. then
I'll never force myself again,
A STRANGE STORY. 22/
"And now, sir, there, take that will you?"
She laughed and passed him o'er his plate
Helped to potatoes. As he drew
The plate toward him, she would wait
To see what he would say ; but Stone
Was eating with his usual smile
A playing o'er his face alone;
And she sat waiting all the while.
At last, "You'd better eat," he said.
"Do try some of Aunt Hannah's bread."
"Well, I was waiting just to see
If you enjoyed my being here."
"Believe me, ma'am, your company
But raises ten degrees my cheer,"
Still smiling, mildly, Stone rejoined.
"Ah, thank you, then, I guess I'll eat.
Of course, you men are so unkind.
You seldom know just how to treat
A woman when she tries to do
A thing, she believes, please you."
"You had some work you said to do,"
(As if he heard not what she said.)
"O, yes, most of the music's new,
And on the organ must be played,
So I came here awhile to play."
"Have you been over there as yet?"
No ; after walking all the way,
I seemed so very warm to get,
I simply got as far as here ;
And here I sit, it does appear,"
"Well, really glad to have you, too."
"'Oh, so 'tis really this you mean?"
''1 think that all I say is true;
There's nothing in my words, you've seen,
Untrue," he said, arching his brow.
''There, don't, it does not suit your face,"
She said, 'T must acknowledge now
You make me feel quite out of place."
"One of my 'ways' you used to say,"
He murmured, "once upon a day."
She sighed. He noticed it and stopped.
" 'Twas foolish, very foolish," she
Now murmured, and her clear, voice dropped
Down to a whisper. 'Twas then he
Looked up and caught her tender gaze.
"O, Ray!" she murmured under breath,
Those happy, happy, HAPiPY days
Shall bright before me be till death — "
"Now do us part," he laughing said.
"Why, chase such nonsense from your head!
" 'Twas very foolish, now I own,
That I should then to it advert.
I hope, however," added Stone,
"That it has caused no serious hurt.
'Tis time that we should both be strong;
Besides, I need your counsel now.
By coming here you did no wrong.
The fact is, you once made a vow
To which I have a mind to hold
You, tho' the making was quite bold."
A STRANGE STORY. 22^J
She paused in cutting up her food,
Looked at him with wide opened eyes,
And really she was of some good
To him at any rate. She tries
To hide the glow that spreads her face.
The tremor of that gentle mouth.
'Twas now she did feel out of place,
When she was most in place, in truth.
Her look was questioning, ''Not here,"
He said, 'T'll see you over there."
And now they talked of other things,
Of plans of church work, this and that.
Aunt Hannah in the kitchen sings
In minor key and pitch B flat,
And Mary, though the meal was good.
Had lost, it seems, her appetite.
And sparingly now ate the food
At which she started with delight.
What was it he would have her do?
She dared not guess, she thought she knew.
He was so strange, that Raymond Stone,
So cold at times, so very 'Stern,
It seemed he loved himself alone ;
And yet one knew him but to learn
To love him ; loving him to do
What e'er he might desire one.
She dared not guess, she thought she knew.
But Rosie Hawkins now had gone.
She dared not guess she thought — but oh.
Was it not best to wait and know.
2^0 6R0WN CHAPEL.
The dinner finished both arose.
"Then you will to the chapel go
With me?" she asked. "Oh, I suppose —
But stop," he added, "I don't know."
He paused. "I cannot go just yet.
There is some work I am not through.
I'll finish it and then — now let
Me see — I may go home with you."
She smiled, "Oh do ; that will be fine.
I dared not think that pleasure mine."
He did not hear all that she said.
He left the room, and up the stair
She heard him nervously now tread.
She was alone, left standing-there.
Abrupt indeed, but that was "Ray."
She turned to Sis. Brown who came.
"Is Bro. Stone done gone away?"
"O just upstairs," now answ^ered Mame.
"And now, Aunt Hannah, won't you please
Just let me have the chapel keys."
"Yes, chile; you fin' um hangin' thah
Upon that nail aside the doah.
It ain't too high, well I declah,
You's tall as Bro. Stone I'm suah."
Mame saw the keys and took them down,
Went out and hurried on toward
The chapel. Maybe Sifter Brown
Saw not the tears which Mame found hard
To keep from creeping down her cheeks.
The little chapel there she seeks
A STRANGE STORY. 23 t
To cry, as she has oft before,
In thinking of the days that were,
Days, happy days, forever o'er,
Yet bright in memory to her.
Why had he come into her hfe?
Why should he still have poWer o'er
Her, though she was another's wife?
Ah, did she love him as of yore ?
And if she did was he to blame?
No, 'twas herself alone, thought Mame.
But, as before the organ she
Sat to run o'er the music, sweet.
Beneath her touch the melody
Came to her, and when one complete
She'd played, the passion just before
Had vanished and left nought behind.
When Rev. Stone passed in the door
And hither at the organ joined.
She merely turned and at him smiled
As sweet and simple as a child^
Then went on with her playing. He
Stood by as in the former days
And turned the leaves most gallantly.
'Twas once she turned to find his gaze
Straight down upon her. It was so queer
She trembled but continued still.
Just stopping long enough to hear
His praises of her magic skill,
Until at last her work was through.
She'd know now what he'd have her do.
2,^2 BROWN CHAPEt
Thus on the organ stool she wheeled.
Close to her side a chair he drew.
She was excited, but concealed
As best she could her feeling. ''You
Made me a vow some time ago."
''Yes," 'she assented, calm and soft.
His voice was measured, grave and slow.
"A vow which I have thought of oft."
She nodded, restlessly her foot
Into a dozen postures put.
"A vow, you know, of sympathy."
"O, yes ; go on, don't linger, Ray,"
'Twas now she said impatiently.
"I will, but please don't hurry me, May-
You said, whenever I should need
Advice or counsel you would give."
"I did, and meant it then, indeed,
And now," she said, "long as I live.'*
"You know," he said, "I'm here alone."
There was a sadness in his tone.
She nodded, "Certainly, go on."
"You are the only one that knows.
Or that I know full well," said Stone.
"Mame, I am deep in love with Rose !"
She did not speak, she did not move;
She sat erect as statue there.
To hear him say he was in love,
Was not so strange .to her, 'twa-s clear ;
But why should he in her confide?
She waited long ere she replied.
A STRANGE STORY. 233
''I did not think that when 1 made
The vow that such as this should be;
I did not think that my small aid
Should in this channel run," said she.
''How can I help you if you are,
You've let her go from out your grip ;
From what I heard she is too far,
Except, perhaps, you take a trip
To where she is — that would not do,
Except, some one invited you."
He sat there like a great big boy.
His face no longer drawn and stern.
She really felt a thrill of joy
In seeing things take just this turn.
She knew not what was coming; he
Had but apprised her of his love
For Rose. Upon her sympathy
Had wished that she his aid might prove.
''What part in this am I to play?"
*'Find out how long she intends to stay."
"Why, that is easy ; why not you ?"
"I do not want it to be known
That I have missed her, since 'tis true
I did not know that she had gone."
"But as her pastor can't you know ?"
"Yes, as her pastor, but, you see,
I fear I've made her even go ;
I was so stupid. List to me,
Mame. You must help me out of this
Or the acme of my life I'll miss.
"Now, find out where she is and write;
Say anything you wish to say,
Write in a manner to excite
Her to return. You'll do it. May?"
He pleaded. "What I can," she said.
I think I have Miss Wright's address,
If somewhere I have not mislaid.
You know, Ray, that your happiness
Despite of everything 'shall be
My own; don't you think that of me?"
"I do," he said and pressed her hand.
"I do, may heaven bless you, Mame.
And now we better understand
Each other, do we not? Our aim
To make each other happy — thus?"
"Yes, Ray, as long as life shall last —
Ah, heaven, it was that guided us !
I now can see, within the past
You did not love me as you do
This girl. I knew it Ray, I knezv!"
She rase, and tears welled from her eyes.
He caught her hands in his again.
"There, Mame, don't, don't, it is not wise;
And would you have me thus remain ?"
"No, no," she said, "that selfish were.
'Twere better that you had a wife,
A woman gentle and sincere
To brighten up your lonely life.
But, Ray, have you not, you not heard
What others say — not that a word
A STRANGE STORY. 235
*'Is true," she hastened then to add,
As on his brow she saw the frown.
"I do not think at all she's bad,
But people try to drag her down,
By talking. Do you care for this?"
"I do not," now he answered, stern.
''About her I saw nought amiss.
Had all the chance I wished to learn.
'Tis all a pack of jealousy
That follows the whole family."
"The same way with her sister, too,
Before she married," Mame now said,
''But after that as Rosie grew,
'Twas at her door the talk was laid." ,
"Yes, so I understand," said Stone,
"And I'm disgusted with it all.
These folks must let this child alone,
Or else a halt I'll have to call."
And here he thought 'twas time to stop.
And therefore let the matter drop.
"I guess," said Stone, "but here, 'tis four.
I promised to accompany you.
I'm glad you came to-day, I'm sure.
This talk has made me feel brand new."
"A different man, I guess," 'she smiled.
"Well, yes, perhaps, I'm somewhat so."
"You look just like a great big child.
The child you were ten years ago.
They say love makes us young again."
"Then henceforth I shall young remain.'*
She sighed, ''O Ray, do you not know,
I've wished I had a brother, and
To-day I feel that it is so.
Somehow, when you took hold my hand
I felt a thrill so very strange —
No, not like what I used to feel.
'Twas different, a sudden change,
And now my soul doth too reveal
That thrill, must be the tenderness
One mother's children may possess."
She stopped, her hand ran o'er her brow.
She seemed as if she would recall
Some secret of the past. "And now,"
She quickly said, "Ray, now that all
Is clear between us, to my mind
There comes a dream that I have had
At least three times, in which I find
Myself a child, and there's a lad
With whom I played, I thought my brother.
But foolish, why should I now bother
"You with such superstitious things?
'Twas but a dream, a dream that's all.
Despite the longing that it brings,
'Tis folly that I should recall
It at this instant. Let me, Ray,
Be your true sister, anyhow;
Just always call me 'Sister May,'
Then I can better keep my vow.
I am so lonely here, you see.
Could you not brother be to me?"
A STRANGE STORY. 237
She gazed up at him where he stood.
His eyes were watery, look was grave.
To her he never seemed so good,
So noble, princely and so brave.
"Yes, Ray," she whispered, ''all alone,
Except my husband, nor kit nor kin.
My brother, could you not be one,
Were it too much love to win?"
*'No, no, my child," he tenderly said.
And gently on her shoulders laid
His hand. "Mame, I a story might
Relate to you if you will hear,
But as 'tis getting toward night
I cannot tell it now, I fear.
We'll slowly walk along the way *
And I w^ill tell it briefly then.
Somehow, I feel like it to-day,
And I may ne'er feel so again.
I'll go and tell Aunt Hannah, see?
To-night she need not wait for me."
"All right, Mel. will be glad also
To have you with us there at tea.
Of course, to-day he had to go
To town, and, may be, late 'twill be
Ere he returns, but how some'er.
He will be glad when he gets home
To find you there, you need not fear.
He's always glad to have you come.
He's always asking if I've been
And all about your larder seen."
They left the chapel, locked the door,
And Stone unto the parsonage went.
She waited for him, and when o'er
Five minutes waiting had been spent,
'Twas then he in appearance put,
But not as he had left her there.
For now dressed in another suit
Of lightish gray, slick brushed his hair,
A heavy walking stick, he came
All smiles to where stood waiting, Mame.
*'How foppish!" she exclaimed, "and then
To leave me waiting here for you."
He smiled. They started dowji the lane.
Aunt Hannah stood to see the two,
There on the porch, and waved farewell.
As Mary shook her slender hand,
She holloed gayly, "Now, don't tell;
Just keep it mum, you understand."
And with one last mischievous look,
'Twas at Ray's side her place she took.
''Your story, Ray." ''O yes," he said,
''The story is my history.
Somehow, your words to-day have made
It all come back to memory.
You know I was an orphan, but
You never knew my life in full.
For years a seal I've ever put
Upon it. Yet when hours are dull
I often think of one beside
Whose bed I stood until she died,
A STRANGE STORY. 239
'That was my mother, Mame. I was
But eight years old when that occurred.
I felt, however, all, alas,
A boy could feel, and with no word
To tell it. Father went away
Somewhere, I do not really know.
It was a year up to that day,
And mother had been very low.
Beside her sister stood with me,
My only sister, scarcely three.
''And sister was a wee small thing,
Just like my father, so they said.
Ma sang until too weak to sing;
And that day, lying on the bed.
She called us to her. Tenderly
She told us that she 'Soon would leave.
That we should both good children be,
And after her w^e should not grieve.
Of course w-e could not understand,
But stood there as she pressed our hand."
He paused, and tears w^ere in his eyes,
And slowly coming dowai each cheek.
Mame glanced up to him, felt arise
A choking, but she did not speak.
Her slender arm slipped into his
A handkerchief stole to her face.
To her this silence sacred is.
Beside him she kept equal pace
And waited till he should resum^e
His story of those hours of gloom.
*'She said that father might return/
He went on, as they walked along.
''If not, that I should try to earn
Something for little sister. Strong,
I had been picking here and there
A coin or two at jobs at times,
And these had helped along to bear
Expenses. Carefully hoarded dimes
Had bought a many a pound of meat
For her and Sister Kate to eat.
**We lived in such an humble place,
A short street in two dowdy rooms
Where never a decent person's face
Was ever seen, and deadly fumes
Of gas oozed up from sewers so
That weak lunged people could not live.
Fve often thought, but do not know.
This was the very thing to give
Mother her death. But how some'er
It was not long she lingered there.
"When father went away we did
Not live in such a place, but when
All of our means were spent, and rid
Of our best furniture, some men
Came and told us that we must go,
Because ma could not pay the rent.
Of course we had to, since, you know,
We had used up our every cent,
And mother looked in vain to hear
From father, so we just moved there.
A STRANGE STORY. 24 1
''In turn she pressed irs to her breast,
And Sister Kate began to cry.
Then mother whispered, 'God knows best.
Trust Him, my children, now good-by.'
And then she hummed in whisper low,
A look of sweet peace on her brow,
'If my Lord calls me I must go
To meet Him in the promised land,' and now,
She sang, as she stretched out her hand,
Til away, I'll away to the promised land.'
"I did not know that 'she had gone.
I thought she simply went to sleep.
We stood beside the bed alone,
Too young to understand or weep.
She did not speak to us again.
Tho' still we lingered at her side.
I called her, called her louder then,
And little sister sobbed and cried.
Some people from the next house came
And led us from the bedside, Mame."
He stopped a moment as to take
A breath for strength, his arm she pressed,
But spoke not, did not need to speak,
That movement sympathy expressed.
"Somebody had her laid away,
A decent burial, they said.
I never knew who came to pay.
But all expenses soon were paid.
And sister, never could I tell
Who took her, but they said 'twas well.
"1 ? Well, I had no where to go.
Folks said that I was no account,
And thus I drifted, drifted so
None ever thought I would amount
To much at all. From that time on
I never saw my father or
My sister, such a wee young one.
I know not what became of her.
Sometimes I really think I shall
Meet her somewhere, yes, after all.
''Of course I was too hard to die.
I slept in whate'er place I could ;
Sold papers, learnt all trickery.
Was everything, I guess, but good.
And yet, it seemed, I got along.
Went through life like a little tough;
And yet, I fought against the wrong,
And, altho' others thought me rough,
I tried to be what mother said,
A good boy, 'spite the life I led.
"Of course, I was not all the time,
Mine a peculiar circumstance.
'Twas as one who must live in slime,
Who never had been given a chance
To get from out of it, you see.
Nobody thought me any good,
I found nobody's company
Except the rudest of the rude.
And I just could not live apart,
I had a kind of social heart,
A STRANGE STORY. 243
One day when I was seventeen
I stood on look-out for a job.
A lady, marketing had been,
I saw a man attempt to rob.
I knew not how it all was done,
But ere I knew it, I was there;
The fellow from one blow alone
Lay stretched out flat. Around us were
A crowd, and they all praising me
For quickness, strength and bravery.
*'Unto this lady, Mame, I owe
My education. She it was
First gave me means and bade me go
To school. This lady ever has
Kept me in correspondence e'en
Since I've been in the ministry,
And she my constant friend has been.
From her large gifts of charity
Have come to help the poor I have
Upon my work. To all she gave.
• " 'Tis true, ten years ago, well, I
Was not the man I should have been.
You knew me then. Well, I 'lived high,'
As runs the phrase. You might have seen
Just how I lived, and thought, I guess.
My folks w^ere rich, but no, 'twas she.
Who even now would give no less
If I one hour in need should be.
These fifteen years she's followed me
Wherever I might chance to be.
244 BROWN CHAPEL
*'My life has been a rugged one,
And yet God's hand in all I've seen.
I've not been perfect — always done
The good thing. What I might have been.
Have often failed to be; and yet
I've tried since I have had the Light
To do my duty, never let
One moment find me from the right.
How much I have 'succeeded, well,
God knows, and He some day will tell."
*Toor Ray," she sighed. Again she pressed
His arm to her fast throbbing side.
He felt the sympathy expressed
And tried in vain his tears to hide. •
*The story of my life I, too,
Will tell you if you wish it, Ray.
I see why I've admired you.
You were so 'strange in every way.
Now proud I am to have you be
My brother, / am your sister, see?"
''My sister — yes, I would you were
The wee small sister taken away."
He turned and gravely looked at her.
"I am, don't you believe it Ray?"
She laughed. "God gave you unto me
To be the brother I have seen
Within that dream, so can't you be?
Whatever now there might have been,
I am your sister now." And they
Into the gate turned from the way.
A strAnge story. 245
The sun had set, the 'sky was red,
And dark against it rose the wood.
''How beautiful the twihght," said
Mame, as for a while they stood
Inside the gate. "God's light it is.
No artist such can execute,"
Said gravely Stone. "I would not miss
This sight for aught." "It seems to suit
My mind also, but gracious me,
You know I must get ready tea.
"Let's to the house or 'twill be late."
"O pshaw ! and how abrupt you are !
My sister must not have that trait;
She must poetic be by far,"
He said. She laughed as now toward
The house they went. "Well, let it be ;
Somebody will be thinking hard
If when the time comes there's no tea;
Betwixt the two I think I'd take
The tea just for the stomach's sake."
2.\C) BROWN CHAPEL.
Two rivers, from the self >same source,
Divided on a mountain ridge,
And down the vaUeys rushed with force,
Spanned here and there by many a bridge.
On, on they wound, sometimes their flow
As gentle as a level lake,
When through the valleys gliding slow.
Their courses oceanward they take;
And many a hamlet they passed by
While onward flowing to the sea ;
And many a creaking wheel they turned ;
And many a miller's corn they ground;
By rriany a wind their waters churned ;
And many a wTCck on them was found.
When miles by them have traversed been
Through many a valley broad and deep ;
Through many a marsh land low and green,
Where lazy alligators sleep,
Ere either reached the boundless main
Their waters meet, unite again.
MAME^S StORV. O47
"Now, Reverend, make yourself at home;
Excuse me, I must haul to-day.
I'm always glad for you to come.
And hope you will not rush away.
The madam, she will treat you right,
Make up for what I fail to do,"
So Melville said next morning bright,
To Stone out in the barnyard, who
Had offered to go out that day
And help him get his corn away.
*'No ; go into the house and read,
Or take it easy while you can.
I don't believe that I have need
To-day for any extra man.
Besides, I fear, the work we do
You never would have power to 'stand.
'Twould kill you in a day or two,"
He smiled. "You see, to till the land
I do not think God called you, see?
Your general build is proof to me."
"I'm not afraid of work, you know."
"Of course you're not, but Bro. Stone,
You see, it don't become you, though.
'Tis best to let such work alone."
"Come, Reverend. Yiou're not strong enough,"
Called Mary from the kitchen door.
"I know you think yourself quite tough,
But you are not, now I'm quite sure."
She smiled and shook the table cloth.
"Come, or I'll have to Svhale' you both."
*'Go, Reverend, she will care for you,"
Said Melville as he drove away.
''So be it," Stone replied, ''since you
Have no need of my help to-day,"
And in the barnyard there he stood
Until Melville, his honest host,
Had disappeared behind the wood,
In deepest kind of revery lost.
Until a sweet voice from the door —
"Pray, now, what are you dreaming o'er?'
He turned to see Mame standing there.
The picture of fond sympathy.
"What is it now? Do come in here
And tell .your secrets all to me."
He smiled, "I thank you, but I need
To burden none with woes of mine.
You are, I own, a friend indeed.
But pardon me if I decline
To run to you with all my woes.
Whatever thing wrong with me goes."
"Come in the house; don't stand out there
And brood," she said impatiently.
"I've ^something I would like you hear.
If yofi w^ll only list to me."
She waited till he crossed the yard
And came and stood there at the door.
"Come, Ray, for it is very hard
For me to keep what I am sure
With interest you will listen to.
You know last night I promised you
mame^s story. 249
"The story of my life I'd tell."
(Him to the dining room she led.)
"There, make yourself comfortable —
You'll find it ver}^ long, Fm 'fraid.
Be seated." And herself she threw
Carelessly into the rocker there;
And for her feet a hassock drew,
Then pointed to a Morris chair.
He took the chair. In silence he
Sat there to hear her history.
"When I recall my childhood days.
Within the little village B — ,
There comes a gentle woman's face,
Fresh now upon my memory.
This was my mother, Ray, and one
Sweet as an angel from above.
Whose gentle heart, it seemed, alone
Was made that it might beat in love.
Here in a cottage near the sea
My childhood days passed merrily.
"My father was a man as kind
As any father e'er could be :
It seemed he ever bore in mind
The things that pleasure were to me.
And there was never a girl in town,
However rich her people were.
That ever wore a better gown
Than I. Nor ever did occur
The time that I had wished for aught
But what his kind indulgence sought.
2^6 feROWN CHAPEL.
*'You see, there was but me alone,
No other that great love to share ;
I lived, as the swift years rolled on.
The only object of their care.
Perhaps, 'twas true that I was spoiled,
Was somewhat selfi'sh in my way,
But since I was the only child,
No fault can one against them lay.
They loved me far beyond my worth,
I was the happiest child on earth.
''My father was a fisherman.
He made his living from the sea.
And often for long weeks was gone
Far, far beyond the quiet bay
To seek the oily cod. 'Twas then
I often sat on the white sand
And watched day after day again
For his return. Along the ^strand
I gathered pebbles, or the shells
Strewed o'er the beach there by the swells.
"Glad was I when there came in sight
Most plainly 'gainst the eastern sky
My father's craft, her sails so white.
Spread to the breeze with colors high.
And never a heart like mine could beat
As when I holloed 'Boat ahoy !'
Or with affectionate ki'ss would greet,
In the heat of childish joy.
O happy days they were when we
Dwelt in the cottage by the sea.
mame's story. 251
" 'Twas true, when fearful storms came up,
And father was out on the deep,
And mother hoped against all hope,
At night for us was little sleep.
Once I remember how the wind
Had blown the breakers mountains high.
Along the beach the spray would blind
As dark and angry grew the sky.
We walked that beach that live-long night
To see each moment loom in sight
"My father''s vessel rent apart.
The sun came up, the storm had fled,
And there we stood with fearful heart
To see the dying and the dead.
There with the anxious company
Of fishermen's wives down on the sand,
As now and then the rolling sea
Brought broken mast heads to the land,
'Twas hard to hold our grief in check
When all beheld had been a wreck.
"But O the joy when cross the blue
And heaving waters was aspied
My father's ves'sel, staunch and true,
Sail homeward on the flooding tide!
And O the cheering cry that went
Up from that little crowd that stood
There on the beach, necks seaward bent^
All eyes upon the vessel glued !
O joyous was the hour when
My father landed with his men!
'Tather believed in learning, though
He was a simple seaman, rough,
Who had but little chance to know
The letter, yet he knew enough
To man a vessel, and could sail
Those waters on the darkest night ;
Nor feared to weather any gale.
He held that it was only right
That I 'should educated be
Off his snug living from the sea.
''And I learnt fast. The school to which
I went was mixed, of course, you know,
With white and black, the poor and rich.
Yet none a difference would show.
I soon passed out the common grade,
And father of me very proud
In seeing all the marks I made,
And hearing others praising loud.
Thought I should finish in some place
Built and conducted by our race.
"So I wa's just fifteen, you know.
Quite strongly built and athlete.
I really did not wi'sh to go
Into new places, there to meet
Strange faces, learn new manners, but
'Twas father's wish and I obeyed.
I held my peace, his plans he put
In operation. Soon were made
Trunks full of clothing, trinklets, all,
To make me quite comfortable.
mame's story. 253
"Ma grieved to see me go, but she
Too held her peace, nor said a word.
Of course, it was all plain to me,
I felt how deep her heart was stirred.
And noticed how she oft would sit
And look at me with such a gaze :
I knew not what to make of it.
Until it was in after days
That look came back to me and I
Had partly solved the mystery.
"Why tire you ? I took my leave
Of parents, cottage and the sea;
Of loving friends, I left to grieve,
Yet hoping best of things in me.
My father, smelling still of salt,
Down at the train to see me off.
He did not cry, 'twas not his fault ;
He said good-by and only coughed.
And kissed me as the warning bell
Bade him that he must 'say farewell.
"That morning at the station there
Was the last time I saw him, Ray.
One day, they said, when all was fair.
In his staunch craft he sailed away..
And then, it seems, that very night
A storm came up, an awful storm.
Folks on the beach swore that in sight
They saw the craft, my father's form.
Perhaps a phantom it had been,
But father never more was 'seen.
''Nor was the craft, nor was the crew,
Four brave young men with him went down
In those dark waters deep and blue,
The sturdiest fellows in the town.
You may remember when I went
Home from the school, well it was then.
Ma had the tidings to me sent
How he was lost with craft and men.
Poor mother, like a Christian should,
Bore up beneath the blow, and could
"Be of some comfort, too, to those
Who with herself sustained a loss.
Each morning after that, arose,.
Calm and serene, to take her cross :
And bravely through the live-long day,
When all within the house was done,
wShe went out on her mission, Ray,
The sick, the lowly, every one,
That needed consolation, there,
She was, with kindly word or prayer.
'* 'Return to school,' she said to me.
'It is his will, that we should keep.
I wish that he had lived to see
You graduate. Let us not weep,'
She added as the tears rolled down
My cheeks, as I recalled the day,
I saw him hardy, beaten, brown,
Just as the train had pulled away.
'God knows just what is best for us.
His will be done, it must be thus.'
mame's story. 255
"So I returned to school. You know
My little life within those walls.
You were my first, my only beau.
Tho'se happy moments one recalls,
The walks from chapel, and the teas.
My boarding mistress gave for you;
The pleasant nights when autumn breeze
In southern climates balmy blew.
Ah, you know all about them, Ray,
But let it buried be, you say.
"And when I graduated, I
Of course unto my home returned,
And there I taught, though privately,
And quite a little sum I earned.
We owned our cottage, and beside.
Pa left us quite a snug amount
In the town bank. I could provide
By teaching all that we should want
To spend for food, and so I spent
Two years within my home content.
"But some how, Fate had marked me for
Her own ; when I was happy, then
Another sadness must occur
To make me feel I lived in vain.
One day ma called me to her side,
Calm and serene as she had been
All through her life, so true and tried,
Through all the sorrow she had seen.
'My child,' she said, 'don't frightened be,
Your father calls me from the sea,
** 'And I must go to him.' I heard
The words as I have heard the knell
That sounded in the fog as 'stirred
By tossing waves, the buoy bell.
'No, mother, 'tis a dream,' I said,
'You need to leave this place and go
Down south with me a while. I'm 'fraid
You think too much of things,' but 'No,'
She answered, 'It is all too plain.
He calls, I must not here remain.
" 'There is a pain about my heart,
A pain which soon shall bring me to
Your father. Do I hate to part.
My dearest, dearest child, from you?
Don't ask me. I would go to him.
I've lived to see you graduate.
To realize your father'^s dream.
Why should he longer for me wait?
Yet daughter, ere I from you go, .
There is a secret you must know.-*
"Within the sitting room we were,
Where opened a window to the sea ;
The day was beautiful and fair.
'Twas spring, the birds sang merrily.
On a large sofa ma reclined,
A downy pillow 'neath her head.
Calm peace was in her face outlined.
Her eyes half closed. 'Twas soft she said
'Forgive me if I cause you pain.
Yet 'tis my duty to explain.'
MAME S STORY. 257
"And then she went on to relate
How I when but a child was brought
To her by father. That his mate
Within a Southern State had sought
Him with me, stating I had been
An old friend's daughter wdio was dead,
A struggling w^oman who had seen
Much better days. And thus he prayed
That I be cared for. Thus it came
To pass pa took me, called me Mame.
''So as their child they reared me, since
God had not blessed them with a child,
And sought no farther evidence
As to my parentage, but toiled
To make me happy. This 'same mate
Soon after disappeared, 'twas thought
Went back into this Southern State
And gave up sailing. I was brought
Up in the knowledge that alone
These were my parents. She was done.
''On that same night my mother died
Just as the hour of twelve drew on,
And roaring flooded in the tide
That joined me sobbing o'er her gt)ne.
So I was all alone. Just where
We used to sit and watch the sea
In all its rollings, 'twas out there
Within the church yard 'neath a tree
We buried her, her friends and mine.
Her body, for her soul must shine
258 • BROWN CHAPEL.
"Before God's bright and glorious throne.
Thus as she Hved, it seemed she died,
Calm and serene, my mother, none
But her I knew, and, Ray, beside.
None could a better mother prove.
She nourished, cherished me, what more?
Could any show a deeper love?
No ; never was a mother bore
A greater love for child than she
In her calm life bore, Ray, for me."
She ceased, arose and knelt beside
The chair, her arm upon his knee.
She gazed up to him wistful eyed,
In a childlike simplicity.
He looked and met her wistful gaze.
He took her trembling hands between
His own strong ones, as in the days
When they to each had different been.
"O, Life ! how strange, who understands !"
He murmured, pressing close her hands.
'*0h, take me as your sister, Ray!"
In pleading tones she softly cries,
**The tiny sister taken away
From you." But nothing he replies.
He simply sits and looks at her,
And tries to read the long ago.
He saw how strange their two lives were,
How much alike. Ah, could he know
The truth? — the truth alone to see,
To penetrate this mystery.
mame's story. 259
A bird was singing in the tree, I
Her silken web a spider w^ove; I
The gay corn-huiskers merrily
Raised on the air a song of love.
The hazy autumn day sped on, I
The creaking wagons on the road.
O'er which the day before had gone,
Too, many a wagon with its load,
Still went towards the distant town, \
With autumn's harvest ladened down. '
XL. ' j
And all the world was glad because
God had remembered to provide \
Man's winter store. And Nature's laws ■ ^
Went on, on in an even tide.
For there was food for man and beast.
And nothing lacked. Let winter's wind |
Blow as it might, or the nor'east ,
A blizzard send 'twould be to find !
In the most humble cabin food.
Without the ground reached high with wood.
26o BROWN CHAPEL.
THE WINTER NIGHT VISITOR.
O night of nights in the winter cold,
When how^ls the north wind thro' the trees !
And snow Hes thick in field and wold,
Who dares to face the chilling breeze ?
Who is it, when the ram and sleet
Transform the trees in icy sprays.
By some warm hearthstone scorns a seat
To watch the leaping of the blaze?
Cold comfort his on such a night
Away from such a fire bright.
To-night will Farmer Jones bring out
The walnuts, gathered in the fall.
And Sam and John and Jim^ no doubt,
Will try their best to crack them all ;
Or better still, the corn will pop.
Held over reeking coals of fire ;
Then eat, and eat, and never stop
Until they get their soul's desire;
Or roast large chestnuts by the quart,
'Midst stories that must cheer the heart,
THE WINTER NIGHT VISITOR. 26 1
To-night the back-log lately rolled
Into its place, is blazing bright;
Altho' without, 'tis sleet and cold,
Wi-thin, 'tis warmth and cheer to-night.
If Farmer John goes to the door,
Looks out into the cold and dark,
And hears the whistling rush and roar
Of wind and rain, 'tis to remark
In catching breaths of the chilled air,
The morrow would be hardly clear.
Before the fire-place to-night,
Contented with the ruddy glow.
And wishing for no other light.
As loud and wild the wind doth blow,
Within the living room sat Stone,
And watched the fire's fitful leap,
As burns the logs down, one by one.
Before he goes upstairs to sleep ;
And as he watched the dying blaze,
His fancy images portrays.
Who has not sat on such a night.
Before just 'such a blazing fire.
By Fancy's cunning aid caught sight
Of fort and castle, moat and spire ;
Of cliffs and grottoes, ancient piles
Of architecture, rising walls;
Or with their broad and spacious aisles,
Interiors of great cathedrals?
And so sat Stooe on such an hour
In the embrace of Fancy's power.
2'^'2 BROWN CHAPEL.
The wind blows cold, ah, cold without.
He does not know it, warm within.
He hears alone the trees about
Creak with the ice, the fall of rain.
He simply hears the doleful moan,
And thanks his God that he is there, —
There, yes, altho' he is alone.
With none his little home to share ;
There sheltered from the wintry blast,
With food and fuel, too, to last.
Brown Chapel members for him cared.
They would not let him be in want.
With him each one his larder shared,
And there was wood to great amount.
His lonely life they tried to cheer";
No day within the week went by
Except some one of them came there
To find just what he needed; aye,
If e'er a people did di'splay
Love for their pastor, surely they.
Three times that week had Hawkins been
To see him ; and the^e times had brought
Some dainty, or substantial, — seen
That he such times was out of nought.
And Melville, Gray and others came.
All with their little offerings,
A large fruit-cake sent him by Mame,
And many other dainty things ;
And so, despite the storm without,
Stone felt deep gratitude, no doubt.
THE WINTER NtdHT VISlTOft. 2^)3
And Rose, oh, where was Rose? Away
Attending school another year.
'Twas Dora's urging had her stay;
And country hfe had been so drear.
'Twas easy to get pa's consent,
And mother thought it very wise;
For, well she saw what Rosie meant,
And at her turn had no surprise;
Thus sent her what she wished them to,
And bade her well her course pursue.
And Stone, he bore it bravely ; all
In silence went along his way;
Approved the acts at his next call
Upon them, and took lunch that day.
Still when 'twas from the house he came
He did not turn into the lane.
But hastened that he might see Mame.
And when he left her house again
His heart was full of hope and cheer,
And deemed both women doubly dear.
To-night, as he sat here alone,
His feet against the fire-place,
That old-time grave, stern look is gone.
He has a calm but hopeful face.
When Christmas comes, himself he tells.
When Christmas comes, in two weeks' time.
Amidst the ringing of the bells.
Amidst the holidays' glad chime,
A letter written to Mame shows
That he should once more see his Rose.
2Ch\ BROWN CHAPEL.
That he should once more see his Rose?
He dared not call her his as yet.
Three months, a girl so quickly grows
Indifferent, he must not let
Himself too much presume when, too,
He had not written her a word ;
If anything at all he knew,
'Twas through Mame's writing he had heard.
A letter seldom came but spoke
Of him in some kind, playful joke.
One said, 'T trust our minister
Will not forget the wild, wild Rose
He plucked. Perhaps he might prefer
One that within a hot-house grows,
But strange, you'll say, quite 'strange, dear Mame,
If you should think of it alone,
However a wild rose became
To grow supported by a stone.
Poor nourishment I think, don't you?
Don't fail to write me soon, adieu ;"
Or in another, *T have thought
To-day so much about you all.
It seems within my life there's nought
But what I can this hour recall
Some sweet, bright moments I have spent
Right there within the parish, Mame.
And I have thought I'd be content,
If such again were mine to claim.
But, Dora, says, I should aspire
Unto a nobler desire.
tHE WINTER NIGHT VISITOR. 265
XV. ■ j
''And yet, what's nobler than to be I
Your simple self, and that alo'ne? \
There's too much shamming here for me, 1
Ah, too much given to the tone, i
The manner, while the heart, the heart , |
Is left uncultured, or at best * |
Is left to feed upon mere art ; j
And you must do your level best "
To make the most of nothing. 'Grace,'
That's what they call it in this place.
XVI. , \
'T want to be a woman, Mame, j
A woman, pure and simple; one
Who has as her most 'sacred aim
To live and love, to lean upon j
Some noble man. Am I not right? j
Where, may I ask, is happiness.
If 'tis not when two hearts unite
To make one life? Should I possess
This boon in life I ask no more.
Now, pray that such shall be my store.
"Last night we had our 'social.' ' ^
We give them monthly, don't you know.
All of the young men tO' the hall
Had been invited, and a beau
Of course, I chose. He was a bore! j
With not a bit of naturalness. ]
We talked, I think, an hour or more, j
Engaged in dominoes or chess; ' j
But all the time we played, my mind i
Was on the friends I'd left behind." I
266 6R0WN CHAPEL.
Thus ran the letters one by one,
These letters which Mame to him read.
These are the thoughts he dreams upon
To-night, as oak coals smothering red,
Make fancy's pictures in the fire,
As howl's the wind in puffs w'ithout,
And makes the fiame within leap higher.
Hark, did he hear just now a shout,
Or was it but some cracking limb
Which at that moment startled him?
*'Hello-oh !" what, a human voice —
A. traveller out on such a night?
And yet the wind doth make such noise
He can't believe he hears aright.
Yet to the door he goes at last.
And opening looks into the dark.
Sharp rushes in the wintry blast.
At first 'tis nothing he can mark.
"Who calls? Who is it calls?" he cried.
"Here, here we are," a voice replied.
*Ts this the parsonage?" Again,
"It is." He caught the dark outline
Of a sleigh down in the lane.
Just where the light began to shine,
Two figures. One is getting out
And coming now with bag and grip.
"Good night," he heard the other shout,
Of sudden give the horse the whip,
Dash off. The chime of bells was lost
Within the howling of the blast.
tHE WiKtER NIGHT VISITOR. 2,(^'^
The other figure onward came
In slow step to the parsonage,
A man it seemed of stalwart frame,
But bent by either weight or age.
Stone, simply with his slippers on,
Stood till the man came to the door. *
''Sir, and is this the Rev. Stone?"
"It is," said Stone, who looked him o'er.
'"Come in," the door he opened wide,
And bade the stranger step inside.
"Ah, thank you, sir," and in he came
And set hi's baggage in the hall.
While from the hearth the ruddy flame
Cast a bright cheeriness o'er all.
He smiled to -see the inviting glow.
And when Stone took his coat and hat.
And brushed from off his boots the snow,
Strode in and there contented sat
Before it, rubbing through his hair
His horny hands as he sat there.
He was quite tall, of massive si*ze.
And his complexion, lightish brown,
A lofty brow, a pair of eyes
Beneath thick shaggy eye brows shone.
His nose was sharp, slight aquiline.
His lips, which were somewhat close pressed,
The sign of will, were rather thin.
He wore no beard, was bald, and dressed
Somewhat becomingly ; he wore
Such clothes which showed him far from poor. - •
268 ' bROWI^ CHAPEL.
Stone who had been accustomed to
Such happenings, and kept prepared
A pot of tea or bowl of stew,
For istrangers, soon the stranger fared.
With a large cup of steaming tea.
' "Take this, perhaps 'twill stimulate?"
'Thanks," said the old man gratefully,
"Am sure that such will get me straight.
" 'Twas very cold out there, my lad,"
He said slow measured gulps between.
"Despite the fact that I am clad
In o'er thick flannels. I have seen
Cold weather — stormy weather, but
This beats me in some forty years.
Yet 'tis a promise of much fruit.
Should it continue thus. One hears.
However, in this climate of
Such sudden, changes, 'tis small proof."
"You are a stranger here?" asked Stone.
"O, yes, was never here before;
However, thirty years agone
I dwelt there on the western shore."
"Some 'pressing business brought you here,
I'm sure on such a stormy night.
Your mission may I ask?" " 'Tis clear
Your supposition is quite right ;
Ah, it is pressing business, son,"
He said, and gravely looked at Stone.
THE WINTER NIGHT VISITOR. ' 269
"You ask to know my mission, well,
I can't say it does not concern
Your parish, for the truth to tell,
I came to you to-night to learn
Where dwells a lady who was known
As Mary Brookins, who, I'm told
By many in your neighboring town
Taught school here. She w^as two years ola
When last I saw her ; thus you see
Should not be recognized by me."
Stone looked the stranger o'er. Perchance
This was the mate of whom she spoke.
Back to him came each circumstance •
Of that strange story. He awoke
From his long dreaming to reply,
*Vl think I know of whom you speak.
She now is married, lives quite nigh;
Iler husband has been here this wxek."
"So near, and married ? Well, of course/'
He chuckled in a voice quite hoarse.
"And may I ask what you should be
To her?" asked Stone, his mind made up.
The stranger having drank the tea
Upon the table placed the cup,
And tilting back within the chair.
Gaped, rubbed his eyes and looked at Stone.
"My son, to tell you this much, there
Is quite a story, such a one
Which, maybe, lyou would never care
To listen to. But since you share
Your bed with me this stormy night,
Somethings, of course, you ought to know.
So, if you give me leave, I might
As well make known. Some years ago,"
He went on, having Stone's consent,
^^I left home on my fortune bent,
''And sought to rough it in the west.
T left my wife and children two,
And one a babe upon her breast,
With some small savings well to do,
Till they might hear from me. My wife,
A lovely woman, good and true.
Accustomed to a better life,
Unw^illing saw me go. 'Twas two
Weeks or after that I wrote
To her that she might have some note
''Of how I fared. At first there came
Sweet letters full encouraging,
Av/akening in me the bright flame
To love and duty, firing
The husband's love, the father's pride;
And I was happy on the ranch,
Or the wild mustang's back astride,
Because of letters sweet from Blanche.'
What more? I must but send for her.
And that would make me happier.
"I sent a new crisp note, hard earned,
With loving messages to come.
And back tO' me her w^ord returned :
'No, I can never leave my home.
If you cannot return to me.
Then right here let the matter drop.
Despite our children, you are free.
Thanks for the money. You may stop
Your writing, lead your western life
Without me once for all. Your wife.'
THE WINTER NIGHT VISITOR. 2^1
''Such, parson, were the words that came
To me, a man whose love was pure.
Such water, cold to quench the flame,
To make disease time could not cure.
No more across the western plain
Happy, I rode my wild mustang;
My heart was crushed, it suffered pain.
No more the happy songs I sang.
Life seemed a dreary waste to me.
And still how different could it be?
"Perhaps I should have sought my home,
And seen my wife and family,
But had she not there told me come.
These were her words, yes, 'you are free,'
I did not go. I never prayed
Till then to God. 'Twas then I bowed,
And all my tribulations laid
Before Him. If it were His rod,
I asked for patience thus to bear.
And silent worked with all my care.
God blessed me. Soon I had secured
Enough to enter partnership
In cattle business. Still He poured
Upon me blessings; for each trip
Made to and fro but to me brought
A larger income and my hands
At last from growing fortune, bought
Broad stretching acres of farm lands,
And I became within the place
The richest ranchman of my race.
2^2 BROWN CHAPEL.
'Tive years ago while travelling
Within a western city, I
Met with a man who chanced to bring
Me from the East some news, and he
Revealed to me the truth. He said
He knew my wife and children two,
That she for many a year was dead.
My boy and girl were well to do,
Though separate they lived, to each
Unknown, yet either I could reach.
'That letter, lad, she never wrote.
The money never to her came.
'Twas intercepted, some one sought
To separate us — in the aim
Succeeded. 'Twas a blow to me ;
And yet within my heart I felt
Thankful to learn her constancy.
Despite the blow some one had dealt.
One thought alone took hold of me.
Come East and seek my family.
"I came, my lad, and high and low
Have hunted, and it seems success
Has come to me, for now I know
A loving father's happiness.
She is my daughter, whom I seek,
This Mary Brookins." All at once
Stone rose, looked at him, tried to speak,
But failed, sat down. Each circumstance
Was their two stories o'er Lgain.
A sudden flash, and all was plain,
THE WINTER NIGHT VISITOR. 273
"W!.o are you?" 'twas at la^t he broke;
The sleeping passion of his years
Within that manly breast awoke,
And waiting now, 'twixt hopes and fears.
To hear the answer. In a tore
Pathetic the old man replied,
*''My name, my son, is Raymond Stone."
"My father !" springing up, Stone cried,
And rushing there in tight embrace
Pressed face against his father's face.
The night wears on, the back log low
Burns to the hearth in living coals.
Without moans wind, and falls the snow,
' All through the wood the tempest rolls.
Yes, night of nights, in the wanter cold,
When howls the north wind thro' the trees,
And snow lies thick in field and wold.
Who is it dares to face the breeze?
A father searching for his son.
He bids the angry blast blow on.
WINTER MORNING CONFESSION.
And 'twas one of those ''candy days,"
So often in the winter seen,
When trees are decked in icy sprays
Instead of robes of summer's green.
\\^hen only snow birds hopped about
The yard in anxious search of crumbs ;
And he who dares to walk without,
Somewhat an acrobat becomes.
Unless he has been roughly shod
To stick into the icy sod ;
When cattle, huddled near the barn,
Beneath the hay and fodder ricks.
Slow crunching on the shucks of corn.
Or greedily the rock salt licks.
The horses waiting in the stalls.
For feed or water neighing shrill ;
Nor whit behind them in their calls,
The donkey's bray the air doth fill ;
And lustily the chanticleer
Doth crow that he himself might hear.
WINTER MORNING CONFESSION. 275
Behind the leaden clouds, the sun,
But two hours high strives to be seen.
Tree, roof and, sward, the ice thick on,
Now glistens in a silver sheen.
Down from the eaves in crystrals bright
The huge icicles melting hang,
But as the sun attains more height.
They fall in a tremendous bang,
And break in glittering gems below
Upon the deep hard frozen snow.
The Melville cottage is astir.
Last night had been so terrible,
Mame found but little sleep for her.
This morning she is feeling dull.
But up she was, her work about.
Melville the fires, long had made,
The house well heated, now was out
There in the barn. The cattle fed
And watered, to the house he came
To see what he could do for Mame.
Thus was his wont. He loved his wife,
He had no wish to see her slave.
That he might pleasant make her life,
Such help as this he always gave.
"You don't look well this morning, dear,"
She stood preparing biecuit dough.
Mame smiled, somehow 'twas sweet to hear
Him speak like that. She answered, *'No ;
Last night was such a terrible night
I did not rest well as I might."
2^6 BROWN CHAPEL.
"I noticed vou were restless," he
Replied, '*in fact, I was awake."
"And you awake, too?" questioned she,
*'I did not know a thing could break
Your rest. It could not be the storm?"
''Somehow it was, though not for me.
I wondered if 'twould any harm
Do to the parsonage. You see
The Reverend's up there all alone,"
He said in somewhat anxious tone.
"O no, I guess not," she replied.
"The house, of course, is staunch and tight.
It's sheltered from the stormy side,
There by the woods, so it's all right."
"And yet I had such funny dreams !"
"You funny dreams? and Mel., how queer,
I also had strange dreams, it seems,
That you and I were both up there,
And some one else was there also.
Someone it seemed I used to know."
"My dream was that the Doctor came
Down here," her husband slowly said,
"And ere I knew it kissed you, Mame."
"Kissed mcf she on the table laid
The pan she held surprisedly.
"Well that is certainly queer, I'm sure."
Her husband smiled. "Of course, tO' 'see
Him kiss you I could sleep no more.
So I awoke, as loudly blew
The winci, and lay there watching you."
WiNtEiR MORNING CONFESSION. 2^f
She gazed down on him as he sat
There at the table. "As you lay
There watching me, dear husband, what
Was in your mind about me, pray —
And could you think the dream was true?"
"No, wife, I could not," he replied, '
"For as I lay there watching you.
Indeed I took the deeper pride,
And felt a few like me possessed j
A wife like you, were truth confessed." j
"And yet," she stooped and kissed him then,
"Could you believe me capable
Of hiding ought from you?" Again
She kissed him. "Now, what if I tell
You something I have never told,
Something, I think, belongs to you,
And would your love for me grow cold ?
And would you think I w^as untrue?"
"I know not wife," the husband said,
"To know the facts I must be made."
"Then when we've breakfast had I'll tell
You one thing I have, from you kept ;
But don't feel disagreeable;
Enough that neither of us slept.
What I shall tell you now, believe,
Is caused because I love you more;
Because I will no more receive
Your own affection, firm and pure,
In happiness until I make
Confession to you — for love's sake."
He smiled, "O, well, do as you please,
You women I don't understand.
Don't think that I will ever tease
Myself about such. I demand
No more than I have seen in you;
And that is always pure and straight;
I shan't be questioning if true
Or false, 'twill only be my fate ;
And we will make of it the best
We can, so there, just let it rest."
He rose, went in the dining room
To stir the fire, blazing bright.
''No, dear, don't go," she 'said. ''Do come
And sit down here; it is all- right.
YiOu wait till after breakfast, see?
And you will make me happy then."
He came back. "Yes, you do love me,
And sweet, you do not love in vain.
Somehow to-day I feel that I
Could not live long were you to die."
And never had Melville before
Heard words like these come from his wife.
He looked at her surprised far more
Than ever yet since married life.
It was a revelation. Yes,
Contented he had been to see
Her in his house. His happiness
Was only that : to know that she,
This lovely woman was his wife,
To walk along with him through life.
Winter morning confession. 279
She never was affectionate,
Her words she never seemed to waste.
Sometimes if he was very late
In coming home from town, she placed
Some dainty for him on the stove,
Some little token in this way,
Which he had always thought was love;
But here was something else to-day.
It was a revelation, yes.
Another phase of happiness.
And now when breakfast time was past,
Into the dining room they came,
Determined to tell all at last,
Sat close besides her husband, Mame.
There on the sofa with her arm
Thrown over his broad shoulders, she
In voice that failed not now to charm.
Told to him her whole history.
And he in silence sat and heard,
In silence sat, without one word.
Told him the 'story as to Stone,
Nor e'en left hid their love affair;
Then of Stone's own strange life, when done,
And as he as one lost sat there,
"And now," she said, ''if I've done wrong
To've kept this secret, Mel., from you,
Forgive me, that will make me strong.
Save this, and I've been always true.
'Twas he who said that I should prove
To you a noble woman's love."
-'^O BROWN CHAPEL.
"Wife," said the man, '1 thank you for
The truth that you have given me.
To me you now are nobler,
I higher place your purity,
And only hope it may turn out
That you, my dear, and Rev. Stone
Are one man's children. There's no doubt
But what to some one it is known.
Some one Avho yet may be alive,
The precious truth you seek to give."
And as they speak the merry ring
Of sleigh bells coming down the drive
Doth both to the front window bring,
Where there before them doth arrive
The Rev. Stone, and with him, too.
Another gentleman unknowm.
Quick to the hall, wide open threw
The door, Melville met Rev. Stone.
"Good morning; leave the horse to me;
Go in the house," to both said he.
Around the drive the horse Mel. drove
As Stone and the old gentleman
Into the house now went. The stove
Was bright and cheering. Mary ran
Into the hall to meet them. "Oh,
Come in, am very glad to see
You safe and sound to-day, to know
That you are still alive. Dear me,
Last night was such a stormy one,
We both thought of you. Elder Stone."
Winter morning confession. 281
She gave no notice now as yet
Unto the old man save to point
Him out a seat, and went to get
Some coffee for them ; 'twas the wont
Of th2 whole parish thus to do
In times like this. Thus soon it was
With gracious smiles she came into
The parlor. "Gentlemen, just pass
Into the room now, if you please,
And take 'some coffee. Did you freeze
"In coming here?" "No," answered Stone,
Who with his father, for it was,
Arose to enter, "but I own
I got quite cold. The weather has
Been quite severe. Excuse me, Mame,
This is my father," as they took
Their seats. That moment Melville came
Also into the room. A look
Upon the stranger, and at once
Mame sees the strong resemblance.
"Your father, Doctor, can it be?"
She asked in animated tone.
"My father, now come back to me,"
Most joyfully now answered Stone.
"Your father, Doctor?" Melville 'said
As he toward the stranger came,
"Am glad to see you, sir, indeed."
"Of course we are," assented Mame,
For so surprised she knew not what
To say. Down at the table sat
282 teROVVN CHAPEL.
All four, for Melville never knew
The time he coffee would refuse ;
So joined his cup in with the two
And asked to know the outside news.
Snow storms, trains blocked and crimes galore,
And Congress there at Washington,
Small-pox astride in Baltimore,
Hard times the cry of every one,
Such were the news that was made known
To' them by the good elder Stone.
''You may be anxious just to know
How father found me," ventured Stone,
Just as they ceased and rose to go
Into the parlor. ''To you 'tis' known
(To Mame he turned) about my past.
Perhaps, if father would, 'tis well
That he relate the story. Last
Night, though it was terrible.
He came to find his long lost son.
And found him dwelling all alone."
"Because he will's it to be so,"
Laughed Mame and Melville. ''Let us hear,
I'm sure we both would like to know,"
The former added. "Doctor, dear,
Just take that seat, and Mr. Stone,
Draw near the fire. Melville, do
Not leave ; just let the corn alone.
And take your rest. I fear that you
Will never rest until, until
You must get sick. Sit down, Melville."
WINTER Morning confession. 283
Such were her words upon one breath,
And Mary Melville saw her guests
Well seated. Hassock underneath
Her dainty feet, lay back to rest
Within her willow^ rocker. Stone
Unto his father made a sign,
The old man cleared his throat. His tone
Was deep and grave. " 'Tis not my line
At story telling, but I see
That Ray will have it all from me.
"So I'll begin." And he went o'er
The story, with but little change.
He told his son the night before;
And more than once Mame murmured, ''Strange/'
For he was telling how the child
Was taken by a fisherman,
A mate he was, a fellow wild.
Who along the coast his vessel ran.
"He gave her to his captain, who,
He heard, was lost with all his crew
"Years after that. This fellow came
To me when but a pauper and,
Of course I could not know his aim,
But helped him, now a favorite hand
Out on my ranch. I followed up
The clues he gave me, and I see
He told the truth. I find the cup
Of blessings overflows for me.
I have not only found my son,
I've found my daughter. She was known — "
2^4 BROWN CHAPEL.
(Mame, who had heard him up to this,
Began her own hfe to recall;
How well it would compare with his
Strange story of the mate. O'er all
Quick as an instant doth she go,
And now as he doth this declare
It seems that daughter she must know.
And in the old man sitting there
She saw, could she her senses gather,)
*'As Mary Brookins." 'Twas her father!
Joy hath its sobs as well as grief,
For oft emotion is the 'same
In demonstration. 'Tis relief
The pent-up feelings seek. The flame
Was once the smouldering ashes there.
But fanned by sudden breeze doth spring
High up into a fearful flare,
A fierce, a threatening, dangerous thing.
Behold such scenes ! But let us stop
And gently let the curtain drop.
CHRISTMAS EVE SURPRISE PARTY. 285
CHRISTMAS EVE SURPRISE PARTY.
The sleigh bells rang quite merrily,
And all along the public way.
In voices of hilarity,
Sped the light-hearted, young and gay;
For every lad and every lass
Must speed them o'er the frozen ground,
And let their voice ring as they pass.
Re-echo all the wood around.
With far and near the joyful strain
Of Christmas times now come again.
Ay, ''Christmas comes but once a year,''
So listen to the rhyme he makes,
"And every man must have his cheer,"
Do witness now the ale he takes;
Or as they speed along the snow,
Do see the laddie ki'ss his lass.
As 'round the bend they shouting go,
Hard bent some other team to pass.
Aye, "Christmas comes but once a year,
And every rnan rnusj; have his cheer.*'
Hark, to the blowing of a horn,
But to be answered by a toot !
No heart this Christmas eve forlorn,
For lass and lad will trip the foot,
For lad and lass the foot must trip.
Aye, ''trip the light fantastic toe,"
As whirling 'round the room they go.
While love be told by lash and lip,
Then early morning off to church
There as the best of saints to perch.
"No harm except you cross your foot!'
Alas, what difference does it make?
It cometh from the self same r,oot,
'Tis all at heart for dancing's sake.
But better let the question pass.
And leave it to each man alone.
As long as there be lad and lass
Thi's dancing surely will be done.
Despite our rulings and our creeds.
Men do as they see fit their deeds.
Brown Cliapel parish all about
Is filled with high hilarity,
As one may tell by every shout
That rings from some gay company.
And lovers who have disagreed,
To-night are being reconciled ;
And they will now the cake-walk lead,
Made up of antics queer and wild.
There're bowls of egg-nog, cider sweet,
All kinds of cake and nuts to eat.
CHRISTMAS EVE SURPRISE PARTY. 287
And turkeys, but few days ago
Had proudly 'strutted in the yard,
Are hanging thither in a row
Well picked to figure on the card.
And the 'possum, lately treed.
Outside some cabin door to freeze,
On the spread table takes the lead
In all the serving, if you please.
Ay, sweet potatoes from the pit
Are brought to go along with it.
The parsonage streams forth its light
And might be seen from the highway
By merry-makers, as to-night
They speed along in many a sleisfh.
Aunt Hannah in the kitchen sat
In company with her daughter, w^ho
Was now engaged in idle chat
Upon the little that 'she knew.
Within the living room before
The blazing hearth, conversing o'er
The past, Stone and his father sat.
The old man telling of the home
That he had left out West, how at
His hearing all the truth had come
To seek his son and daughter East.
The weary searching in five years.
How all his trouble had increased,
But how pressed on 'twixt hopes and fears
Until he got the proper clue,
Which led him here, where least he knew
That he should find them living near
Each other all unknown. To know
That they were lovers ; seemed so queer
That she should jilt Stone years ago.
*'But, ah!" he said, ''God ruled it, son.
'Twas just as he intended it."
"Yes, father," gravely answered Stone,
His eyes with tender light now. lit,
'*He guided us on every side,
And wisely all we wished denied."
''But, son," the old man gravely said,
''Think you that you should married be?"
"I married?" Stone replied, "What maid,
My father, now would marry me?"
The old man looked at him in pride.
"Who would the chance I reckon miss.
Ay, there could be no luckier bride,
And even in a place like this.
But what's this talk with Katherine?
I'm sure the secret is not mine."
And Stone now blushed. "I may not tell.
I trust you'll know ere many hours."
"Then, boy," he said, "I'll watch you well.
I vow you have some winning powers."
*'Not many, father, rather slow,
But at my heart I love the gay.
I used to live it years ago,
But 'tis my life no more. I may
But turn my back on't, say, 'Thy will
Lord, be done and lead me still,'
CHRISTMAS EVE SURPRISE PARTY. 289
''And yet," his father said, ''you long
Not for the Hfe that once you led?"
"No, no," 'Said Stone, "that were all wrong.
I long for holiness instead.
But in me, father, sometimes are
The feelings of rebellion still;
And these against me daily war,
But by a consecrated will,
Through God Almighty's grace I crush
Them out when they upon me rush."
"So struggled Paul, am I not right?"
The old man asked. "From what some say,"
His son replied, "Yet there''s small light
Upon such texts, it seems, to-day.
Men still are found to disagree.
Some say the man of which Paul wTote
Was not himself, and could not be,
Since he was free from sin. They note
That he of whom Paul wrote was still
Sold under sin, despite his will."*
"His Thorn, and how about that then?
Surely somewhere that is brought in,"
Hi's father asked. "What say these men
On this, referred it not to sin?"
"They are not sure e'en in this case.
'Twas an affliction, some would say.
Which followed Paul from place to place,
But no temptation. Others lay
It to his body ; some his mind,
But none its true place seem to find."
*See Clark Cam, on Rom. 7ia4'
"Then, what's the use to preach, my son,
If there must ever be this rout
And contradiction to leave one
Forever in the pale of doubt?'*
The father asked in seriou's tone.
''O that, my father, does not rest
Our preaching," quickly answered Stone.
"Some things there are, be it confessed,
We may not know, yet every place
Makes known to us God's love and grace.
"And such we preach to dying men.
We tell them of the Christ who died.
We tell them He is risen again.
And there upon the right hand side
Of God, the Father, intercedes
For those who come to him in faith ;
That he who would be saved, but needs
To come in merit of that death ;
Here everything is clear and plain;
And thu's our preaching is not vain.
"No man has cause to hesitate.
Despite the arguments he hears;
But learn to labor, watch, and wait.
Do as God's Truth to him appears,
Work out his own soul's destiny,
Scattering through life the precious seeds;
Have faith, all things he may not see,
But knowing that the Master leads,
Let him go on what e'er men say,
That much before him, plain the way."
CHRISTMAS EVE SURPRISE PARTY. 29 1
The father heard the son with pride,
Gazed fondly at him sitting there.
"I see, I see," he now repHed,
And brushed away a creeping tear.
Restrained the lump that fain would rise,
''Religion's more than simple talk."
*'Yes, father, 'tis self-sacrifice.
'Tis seen in all our daily walk.
The only way that we can prove
Religion is to be filled with love."
And now they spoke of other things —
Of when he purposed to return.
Which gentle remonstrances brings
From Stone who did not wish to learn
He had a father, but to see
Him dwell in lands so far away.
And Katherine, his sister, she
Was always happy since the day
She found that she a father had :
To see him go she would be sad.
But business would, of course, demand.
His farms were let to^ strangers now.
They did not seem to understand
The soil as he did. Then to allow
His cattle interest to stand still.
Without his presence there 'twould be
Unfortunate, and brood him ill.
Thus he must go. He'd like to see
Stone, Katherine and her husband, too,
All settled there some day, 'twas true.
And as they talk within this 'strain
Without the stars are shining bright.
Along the road and up the lane
Come teams of merry-makers light.
Each lad, his lassie, snuggly wrapped
In heavy robes, warm from the wind ;
And they, stout-coated, w^ell as capped,
Nought but the sweetest pleasure find ;
But not the young alone, the old
Do not to-night fear facing cold.
And merrily the sleigh bells rang,
The sleigh bells rang quite merrily.
Thus mingled with the songs they sang,
As up the hill this company,
In single file now drove along
Over the hard, firm frozen snow.
Each taking up some favorite song.
Along the way they swiftly go.
And at the parsonage alight.
Whose windows now are streaming bright.
"Rose," some one whispered, 'President,
We think you'd better take the lead."
There is a conference. When spent.
Rose is decided to be head.'
"Now, fellows, let us all divide.
You, Maurice, better take the boys,
And enter on the kitchen side, —
Hush! Cease tbnt making so much noise!
We girls shall enter at the front.
When in, make all the noise you want."
CHRISTMAS EVE SURPRISE PARTY. 2C)^
This said the members of the guild,
The other members sHght behind,
Now came. The little grove soon filled
With these marauders, of one mind.
Here were the leaders of each class;
Here were the stewards and trustees ;
Here was each laddie with his lass,
Here were the faithful stewardesses,
And trampling o'er the frozen groimd.
The parsonage they now^ surround. "
"Did we hear voices?" the elder Stone
Now from his conversation turned.
"Perhaps 'twas, father. Every one
Who has a little money earned
Is frolicking to-night, I guess,"
Said Stone, "about the parish round.
I do not blame them. Happiness
Should now in every place abound.
I heard them singing 'while ago.
They take advantage of the snow."
And now they sit and gaze into
The fire blazing on the hearth,
Each left his own thoughts to pursue
As how to celebrate the birth
Of Christ. And thus in silence they
Are 'sitting in the living room.
Aunt Hannah and her daughter, May,
Who had not yet, it seemed, gone home.
Sat in the kitchen, when without
Was heard the most ear-piercing shout.
Then from the front and from the rear,
With lads and lassies of the guild,
Just as the men sprang up with fear,
The little cottage now is filled,
And singing, shouting, laughing, thus
They take their pastor by surprise.
But as they vie in making fus's
They struggle with their great supplies.
So as they shouted loud and wild.
The table is with presents piled.
There was everything one wished to eat,
Most everything one wished to wear.
Which one had in a Christmas treat
From such as only lived to cheer.
A great fat turkey, ready dressed,
And everything with it to go;
Then fruits and nuts and cakes, the best.
Those bundles on that table show.
Aye, many things, too great for thought.
These kindly people to him brought.
Shirts, underwear from head to foot,
In several pairs in bundles came;
Two suits, a heavy overcoat,
The present from his sister Mame.
A set of commentaries, rare.
Without a doubt to- go, it shows.
That no one thought about him there
Except it was that 'sweet maid Rose,
Who from the Guild, in language terse.
Presented him a well-filled purse.
CHRISTMAS EVE SURPRISE PARTY. 295
Then Melville for the classes spoke
To the chief leader in a tone
Which an enthusiasm awoke
Within the breast of every one.
And Hawkins for the stewards made,
Beyond all doubt, a glowing speech;
And at the close of it he said,
*'Sir, since you here the Gospel preach,
Here you shall never be denied
What by our hands may be supplied."
To represent the Trustees, there,
In all his force stood Bro. Brow^n.
He stood to give the trustees' share,
These men all loved the Rev. Stone.
They hoped this Christmas would not be
The last that he w^ould with them spend;
"And," he concluded, *'as for me,
I've found you, sir, a brother, friend,
A grave, a noble counsellor,
A high-toned. Gospel minister."
Then Mrs. Hawkins, who was there,
Spoke for each faithful stewardess.
Her voice, as usual, calm and clear.
They hoped the pastor happiness.
They found in him a man of God;
Nor feared to follow _ where he led.
He went the path the Master trod,
And pointed to the living Head.
The women of the church would prove
How nobly Christian women love.
2«;6 BROWN CHAPEL.
Then after speeches made by each,
Arose the pastor tO' respond.
He must confess, there was no speech
To manifest his feeHngs ; found
This was too much ; their words, their deeds,
Had overwhelmed him, — alone,
In answering, he but succeeds
In saying in a choking tone,
Whatever had been done in th' past
Continued would be to the last.
Then falling on his knees he prayed
That God might bless these servants here,-
The gifts that they before him laid, —
That they have success everywhere.
And asjie prayed 'tis many an eye
Is filled with tears, and wet the cheeks.
And even among the young and shy,
A tremor of emotion breaks.
And when they got upon their feet
All felt they had their spiritual treat.
And now 'tis for a feast they spread.
From baskets that had hidden been
They bring it on ; and there are laid
All kinds of dainties ever seen.
Aunt Hannah, who before had known,
Had each leaf in the table put;
And thus her good forethought had shown.
For ladened with cakes, nuts and fruit,
'Twas little space that there should be
When crowded by this company.
CHRISTMAS EVE SURPRISE PARTY. ^9/
And now they feast, and then they sing,
As fly the hours merrily.
The elder Stone could scarcely bring
Himself to think that this was he —
Mame was his daughter, Stone his son.
And here he sat with all this folk.
'Twas some wild dream, it must be one.
And as they eat and as they talk,
He turns from one then tO' the other,
And thinks about his childrens' mother.
And Stone, he occupied the head,
And Rosie, bless her little soul.
Was on his right. Few words he said
But 'twas a battle to control
His feelings. Now and then his eyes
Would meet hers. Once their feet had met.
If spoken to, her soft replies
About her school life seemed to set
His heart abeating more, and he
Longed for her separate company.
At last they rose, and he was glad.
'Twas soon exchanging here and there
Some little word. ( Slight time he had.
If he her company would share.)
He went to find her occupied
By several young men whom she held
In conversation at her side.
And finding this he was compelled
To seek his sister's kindly aid,
If ever be would see the maid.
298 feROWN CliAPfiL.
"You goose!" said Maine, or Katherine.
*'In such things you must bolder be.
Why, look at her ; 'tis plainly seen
She does not want her company."
He looked, he saw her furtive glance
O'er to the corner where they sat.
"She's only watching now her chance,"
Said Mame, "tO' get where we are at — "
"O, Katherine! Such grammar, dear,"
Stone laughed, "forgive me, call her here."
"I ^han't, now just for that, big boy!"
She said and pushed him half away.
"No, dear," she cried, "I can't destroy
Your joy to-night, so there, you may
Not look like that ; and don't be sad,"
She beckoned c[uickly now to Rose.
"She comes," she whispered, "are you glad?"
Now see that you no moment lose."
All blushing unto them Rose came.
"You wish to speak with me?" to Mame.
"We both would speak with you," she 'said,
"But brother here, I think, the most.
Come let us go upstairs (she led
The way) for pa will play the host;
Already he is talking to
The leading people of the place.
I'm sure they will not look for you,
E'en if they chance to miss your face."
Her arms around Rose's waist, she led
The way upstairs, as this she said.
Christmas eve surprise party. 299 -j
Within the room a dim light shone.
''How cozy now it feels up here,"
She whispered in a coaxing tone.
"This is the room you furnished, dear."
"O, yes," said Rose, a little sigh, 1
''I well remember all to-night." |
She looked at Stone, who stood near by,
But turned to brighter make the light.
''Sit down," said Mame, "and tell us how
You 'spent your hours in school." And now
All seated. Rose calm and sedate, ^ ,
Yes, even more than e'er before,
Began her school life to relate.
And went on till there was no more
To tell. Somehow Mame disappeared
Within the next room where she'd sleep '
That night, as it had been declared
By Stone that she next day should keep
With him, she and her husband, too;
Thus this her to the next room drew. 1
There is a time when left alone
With those wdiom we mo'st dearly love,
No long draw^n sigh, no tender tone
But what our feelings then must prove.
But oft the glance outspeeds the word,
The sudden grasping of the hand.
No need of sighs or tones be heard, .
The sight, the touch w'ill understand. \
Love needs no heralds more than these . j
To set its beating heart at ease.
300 iJROVVN CHAPEL.
What tho' some word most commonplace
Them for a moment occupy,
Look on the glowing, blushing face.
Look at the soft light in the eye,
The heaving of the bosom, see,
The anxious feeling ill concealed,
The vain attempt just to be free
In voice and subject is revealed;
And all declare they speak not on
The subject they would fain have known.
Sometimes a silence may precede.
An awful silence, too, to bear,
A silence from which to be freed
One oft has found him in despair.
When nothing w^ill itself suggest
And each goes floating on the sea
Of thought with not a place to rest.
No land in sight, alone the sky
And water as each floats around
One little circle set as bound.
And thus with Stone. These two alone,
A silence for awhile ensued ;
A silence now which seemed to Stone
Too painful far for any good.
He tried to speak, in fact he did.
He told her of his life since when
She left the place, but well he hid
From her that night of fearful pain.
However, he would ask her why
She had not stopped to say good-bye.
CHRISTMAS EVE SURPRISE PARTY. 301
"I did on Sunday," she replied,
''But you were 'so engaged, you know, ;
I had to leave, although I tried ;
To Start in time in order to ,
Stop on the way, but 'twas in vain.
In starting it was that I found |
I'd but short time to make the train ; '
And father, he, of course, was bound -
To count for mishaps on the way.
So you can judge my plight that day."
XLIX. . '
"And then you really tried to get
A chance to see me ere you went?"
He whispered, and 'twas then he let
His voice fall low. " 'Twas my intent, -
After my pleasant times with 3^ou,
And all your noble advice given,
I felt it was my duty to.
And pa can tell you how I'd striven
With him to turn into the lane.
He was afraid we'd miss the train. i
"He did not tell me," Stone replied.
"Well, he forgot it, that was all.
Not that he meant to," and she sighed. i
"He wondered why you did not call
The day before." "I wish I had,"
He said in a regretful tone. ;
"And I would certainly have been glad. i
You should have known that. Rev. Stone." \
"Why should I ?" he now questioned low. \
"Because my actions told yow so." ]
He stopped, she stopped. Below the stair
Still, voices of the folks they heard.
At last, "They pleasure have down there,"
She whispered, "should it not be shared?"
"Not yet, not yet," he quickly said.
"My daughter, I have words for you.
Too long already I've delayed
In speaking; now I'm ready to
Let you know all, and learn my fate.
I but upon your answer wait."
'Tis said a woman generally knows
When comes that hour, her greatest prize.
An honest lover will propose
By the deep flashings of his eyes ;
And be she young, or be 'she old,
Be it the first, or be it not.
And be he timid, be he bold.
When e'er it falls unto her lot
To sit alone with such a man,
She knows as none but woman can.
I've gazed upon the feathered throng,
And wondered how they understood
Love's language; listened to their song,
And sat entranced in lonely wood.
For when the time arrived, I found
Them side by side, and watched them build
Their cozy mansions, saw them bound
By tender ties, which but instilled
Them so to labor, and to rear
A brood to fill the world with cheer.
CHRISTMAS EVE SURPRISE PARTY. 3O.3
Who mated them? Or did they find
By their own skill each other out ?
Or did they fall together ? Mind,
As to their reason, there is doubt.
I simply ask, was it direct
Decision, while within a throng.
Which caused them seeking to select,
And know each other's love? Let song
Express that love? Enough to see
They seem to love — enough for me.
"Do you remember our first walk?"
"I do," she whispered as her breast
Began to rise and fall. "Our talk?"
"Yes," softly, "it must be confessed."
"And the advice I gave you then?"
"I can't forget one word," she said.
"Then how the storm came up?" Again,
"Yes, all remembered," said the maid.
To her he closer drew his chair.
Her eyes half closed, she still 'sat there.
And now a roguish smile stole o'er
Her features. With a quick sly glance
Into his face, which more and more
Burned in deep passion's eloquence.
She said, "But such a wild, wild girl,
Now tell me wdiat you thought of me."
And he recalled that same dark curl.
The eyes that danced mischievously.
He said, "I thought 'so much that day
I never shall have words to say."
''You thought that I was very bold,"
She said, and gave another look.
"I thought that you were very cold."
(And here it was her hand he took.)
''You thought that I was what, they say.
So senseless, wayward, and so wild —
You have those very thoughts to-day — "
"Rose," he broke forth, "there, there, my child!
The only thought I have, God knows,
Is that I madly love you, Rose !"
She heard, and turned her head away,
She heard, and drew her hand from his.
O artful woman, at thy play.
None but thy self can do like this !
She knew her heart went "pitter-pat ;"
She knew her bo'som rose and fell ;
She knew that they too closely sat
Together, that each sign must tell;
Though even now about to yield.
She'd prove him smartly on the field.
"No, do not turn away from me,"
He said, and gently took her hand
Again. "Y'ou cannot fully see.
You cannot fully understand
How all these months since here I've been
Your form, your image filled my mind.
Speak, Rose, to me, have you not seen
Some little sign of this? Be kind,
And tell me, little one, that I
f^oye nof in vain. Speak, make replyr'^
CHRISTMAS EVE SURPRISE PARTY. 305
She does not draw her hand from his;
She does not look into his face;
She sits in silence; but it is
A silence sweet, a golden grace.
She loves him, deeply loves him, but
Can she give up her rights at once?
Herself 'neath his protection put?
Again into his face a glance
So quick he does not see it, and
A ofentle tremblins: of the hand
j^V,XXUX^ UX WX^.^^XX^j^
He held, which he fails not to feel,
Which thrills his very -soul, and he, —
"Speak, Rose, ; one word ; you can't conceal
The truth I long to know, from me,
You love me don't you, little one?"
And now she jerked her hand away,
**Do let me leave you. Rev. Stone.
It is not right for me to stay
Up here so long. Will you permit,
Or must I longer with you sit?"
She arose as if about to go.
''Be seated just a moment," he
Now interposed. ''My child you know
I love you, why not answer me?"
Again she took the chair, and sat.
Her head bowed down upon her breast.
She knew her heart went "pitter-pat;"
She dared not look up at him lest
He saw how much she loved him. No,
At last in voice, calm, swe^t and low,
3o6 BROWN CHAPEL.
She said, ''Love me? It cannot be."
(A tear was stealing down her cheek.)
"No, Rev. Stone, you can't love me,
For some one nobler you should seek ;
An older, w^ser one than I."
Enough, his arms around her thrown,
Her head was resting happily
On his broad breast. In gentle tone,
"And you will be my wife, my child?"
"Your Rose," she murmured, "tho' so wild.'
The sleigh bells rang out merrily.
As from the parsonage that night
Depart the merry company
Who'd spent such hours of delight.
And Christmas had already come
Ere many coaxing sleep had sought ;
Ere many reached an humble home
Where Santa Claus his work has wrought.
But lingered up, still Katherine,
Till she her Brother Ray had seen.
"Go, dear," she said to Melville, low,
"I wi'sh to speak with Brother Ray.
He has some joyful news I know.
His very countenance doth say."
"And now, what is it?" as they stood
Before the fire on the hearth.
Ray kissed his sister, "Good, ah, good !
I am the happiest man on earth."
"She loves you then? Of course she do^s.
I saw that long ago in Rose."
CHRISTMAS EVE SURPRISE PARTY. 307
"The time draws near the birth of Christ,
The moon is hid, the night is still,"
Love's ministry hath sacrificed;
The incense all the air doth fill.
Again on far Judea's plain
The vision suddenly appears,
And sounds from heaven that joyful strain
Which all the hearts of mankind cheers —
Hark ! hear it ringing once again,
"Peace, peace on earth, good will to men."