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Close clinging, as they looked from him, to spy
“Now, mind and bring The answering language of the mother's eye. Jenny safe home," the mother said, — “don't There was denial, and she shook her head :
stay “Nay, nay, - no harm will come to them," she To pull a bough or berry by the way : said,
| And when you come to cross the ford, hold fast “ The mistress lets them off these short dark days / Your little sister's hand, till you 're quite past, – An hour the earlier ; and our Liz, she says, That plank 's so crazy, and so slippery May quite be trusted — and I know 't is true -|(If not o'erflowed) the stepping-stones will be. To take care of herself and Jenny too.
| But you 're good children — steady as old folk And so she ought, – she's seven come first of I'd trust ye anywhere.” Then Lizzy's cloak, May, —
A good gray duffle, lovingly she tied, Two years the oldest ; and they give away And amply little Jenny's lack supplied The Christmas bounty at the school to-day.” With her own warmest shawl. “Be sure," said
she, The inother's will was law (alas, for her
“ To wrap it round and knot it carefully That hapless day, poor soul !) — she could not err, | (Like this), when you come home, just leaving Thought Ambrose ; and his little fair-haired Jane
free (Her namesake) to his heart he hugged again, l One hand to hold by. Now, make haste away When each had had her turn; she clinging so | Good will to school, and then good right to play.” As if that day she could not let him go. But Labor's sons must snatch a hasty bliss In nature's tenderest mood. One last fond kiss,
Was there no sinking at the mother's heart “God bless my little maids !" the father said,
When, all equipt, they turned them to depart?
When down the lane she watched them as they And cheerly went his way to win their bread.
went Then might be seen, the playmate parent gone,
Till out of sight, was no forefeeling sent What looks demure the sister pair put on, —
Of coming ill? In truth I cannot tell : Not of the mother as afraid, or shy,
Such warnings have been sent, we know full well Or questioning the love that could deny;
| And must believe — believing that they are — But simply, as their simple training taught,
In mercy then – to rouse, restrain, prepare. In quiet, plain straightforwardness of thought (Submissively resigned the hope of play) Towards the serious business of the day.
| And now I mind me, something of the kind
Did surely haunt that day the mother's mind, To me there's something touching, I confess, | Making it irksome to bide all alone In the grave look of early thoughtfulness, By her own quiet hearth. Though never known Seen often in some little childish face
For idle gossipry was Jenny Gray, Among the poor. Not that wherein we trace Yet so it was, that morn she could not stay (Shame to our land, our rulers, and our race !) At home with her own thoughts, but took her The unnatural sufferings of the factory child,
way But a staid quietness, reflective, mild,
To her next neighbor's, half a loaf to borrow,Betokening, in the depths of those young eyes,
Yet might her store have lasted out the morSense of life's cares, without its miseries.
And with the loan obtained, she lingered still. So to the mother's charge, with thoughtful brow, Said she, “My master, if he'd had his will, The docile Lizzy stood attentive now,
Would have kept back our little ones from school Proud of her years and of imputed sense, This dreadful morning; and I'm such a fool, And prudence justifying confidence,
Since they've been gone, I've wished them back. And little Jenny, more demurely still,
But then Beside her waited the maternal will.
| It won't do in such things to humor men, So standing hand in hand, a lovelier twain Our Ambrose specially. If let alone Gainsborough ne'er painted: no — nor he of He'd spoil those wenches. But it's coming on, Spain,
That storm he said was brewing, sure enough, Glorious Murillo !--- and by contrast shown Well! what of that? To think what idle stuff More beautiful. The younger little one, Will come into one's head! And here with you With large blue eyes and silken ringlets fair, I stop, as if I'd nothing else to do – By nut-brown Lizzy, with smooth parted hair, And they 'll come home, drowned rats. I must Sable and glossy as the raven's wing,
be gone And lustrous eyes as dark,
To get dry things, and set the kettle on.”
His day's work done, three mortal miles, and | Darkening the doorway; and a smaller sprite, more,
And then another, peered into the night, Lay between Ambrose and his cottage-door. Ready to follow free on Tinker's track, A weary way, God wot, for weary wight! But for the mother's hand that held her back : But yet far off the curling smoke in sight And yet a moment - a few steps — and there, From his own chimney, and his heart felt light. Pulled o'er the threshold by that eager pair, How pleasantly the humble homestead stood, He sits by his own hearth, in his own chair ; Down the green lane, by sheltering Shirley wood! Tinker takes post beside with eyes that say, How sweet the wafting of the evening breeze, “Master, we've done our business for the day.” In spring-time, from his two old cherry-trees, The kettle sings, the cat in chorus purrs, Sheeted with blossom! And in hot July, The busy housewife with her tea-things stirs ; From the brown moor-track, shadowless and dry, The door 's made fast, the old stuff curtain How grateful the cool covert to regain
drawn ; Of his own avenue, — that shady lane,
How the hail clatters! Let it clatter on ! With the white cottage, in a slanting glow How the wind raves and rattles! What cares he ? Of sunset glory, gleaming bright below,
Safe housed and warm beneath his own roof-tree, And jasmine porch, his rustic portico !
With a wee lassie prattling on each knee.
With what a thankful gladness in his face, Such was the hour - hour sacred and apart-
broke, Of his two little ones. How fondly swells And the strong arms dropt nerveless. What of The father's heart, as, dancing up the lane,
that? Each clasps a hand in her small hand again, There was a treasure hidden in his hat, — And each must tell her tale and “say her say,” A plaything for the young ones. He had found Impeding as she leads with sweet delay
A dormouse nest; the living ball coiled round (Childhood's blest thoughtlessness !) his onward For its long winter sleep; and all his thought, way.
As he trudged stoutly homeward, was of naught
But the glad wonderment in Jenny's eyes, And when the winter day closed in so fast; And graver Lizzy's quieter surprise, Scarce for his task would dreary daylight last; When he should yield, by guess and kiss ar And in all weathers — driving sleet and snow
prayer Home by that bare, bleak moor-track must he go, Hard won, the frozen captive to their care. Darkling and lonely. O, the blessed sight (His polestar) of that little twinkling light ’T was a wild evening, — wild and rough. “I From one small window, through the leafless knew," trees,
Thought Ambrose, “those unlucky gulls spoke Glimmering so fitfully ; no eye but his
true, — Had spied it so far off. And sure was he, And Gaffer Chewton never growls for naught, — Entering the lane, a steadier beam to see, I should be mortal 'mazed now if I thought Ruddy and broad as peat-fed hearth could pour, My little maids were not safe housed before Streaming to meet him from the open door. That blinding hail-storm, -- ay, this hour and Then, though the blackbird's welcome was un more, heard, —
Unless by that old crazy bit of board, Silenced by winter, - note of summer bird They 've not passed dry-foot over Shallow ford, Still hailed him from no mortal fowl alive, That I'll be bound for, — swollen as it must But from the cuckoo clock just striking five.
be And Tinker's ear and Tinker's nose were keen, Well ! if my mistress had been ruled by me - " Off started he, and then a form was seen | But, checking the half-thought as heresy,
He looked out for the Home Star. There it Mocked by the sobbing gust. Down, quick as shone,
thought, And with a gladdened heart he hastened on. Into the stream leapt Ambrose, where he caught
Fast hold of something, - a dark huddled heap, He's in the lane again, – and there below, Half in the water, where 't was scarce knee-deep Streams from the open doorway that red glow, For a tall man, and half above it, propped Which warms him but to look at. For his prize by some old ragged side-piles, that had stopt Cautious he feels, — all safe and snug it lies. --- Endways the broken plank, when it gave way “ Down, Tinker! down, old boy !-- not quite so With the two little ones that luckless day! free,
"My babes ! - my lambkins !” was the father's The thing thou sniffest is no game for thee. —
cry. But what's the meaning ? no lookout to-night! One little voice made answer, “ Here am I !" No living soul astir ! Pray God, all's right! i'T was Lizzy's. There she crouched with face as Who's flittering round the peat-stack in such white, weather ?
More ghastly by the flickering lantern-light Mother!" you might have felled him with a Than sheeted corpse. The pale blue lips drawn feather,
tight, When the short answer to his loud “Hillo !" Wide parted, showing all the pearly teeth, And hurried question, “ Are they come ?" was And eyes on some dark object underneath, "No."
Washed by the turbid water, fixed as stone,
One arm and hand stretched out, and rigid To throw his tools down, hastily unhook
grown, The old cracked lantern from its dusty nook,
Grasping, as in the death-gripe, Jenny's frock. And, while he lit it, speak a cheering word, There she lay drowned. Could he sustain that That almost choked him, and was scarcely heard, 1
shock, Was but a moment's act, and he was gone
The doting father? Where's the unriven rock To where a fearful foresight led him on.
Can bide such blasting in its flintiest part Passing a neighbor's cottage in his way, —
As that soft sentient thing, - the human heart? Mark Fenton's, — him he took with short delay To bear him company, - for who could say They listed her from out her watery bed, What need might be? They struck into the track Its covering gone, the lovely little head The children should have taken coming back Hung like a broken snowdrop all aside ; From school that day ; and many a call and shout And one small hand, - the mother's shawl was Into the pitchy darkness they sent out,
tied, And, by the lantern light, peered all about, Leaving that free, about the child's small form, In every roadside thicket, hole, and nook, 1 As was her last injunction — “ fast and warm” – Till suddenly -- as nearing now the brook - Too well obeyed, - too fast! A fatal hold Something brushed past them. That was TinkAffording to the scrag by a thick fold er's bark,
That caught and pinned her in the river's bed, Unheeded, he had followed in the dark,
While through the reckless water overhead
“She might have lived, He's on the track," cried Ambrose. “Hold the 'Struggling like Lizzy," was the thought that light
rived Low down, - he's making for the water. Hark! The wretched mother's heart, when she knew all, I know that whine, – the old dog 's found them, ' “ But for my foolishness about that shawl ! Mark.”
And Master would have kept them back the day ; So speaking, breathlessly he hurried on
But I was wilful, — driving them away
Thus the tortured heart Was the black void and dark swollen stream below. Unnaturally against itself takes part, “Yet there's life somewhere, -- more than Tink. Driving the sharp edge deeper of a woe er's whine, —
| Too deep already. They had raised her now, That s sure," said Mark. “So, let the lantern And parting the wet ringlets from her brow, shine
To that, and the cold cheek, and lips as cold, Down yonder. There's the dog, – and, hark !” The father glued his warm ones, ere they relled “O dear !"
Once more the fatal shawl — her winding.sheet -And a low sob came faintly on the ear,
About the precious clay. One heart still beat,
Warmed by his heart's blood. To his only child | There were some that ran, and some that leapt
Pleasantly shone the setting sun
Over the town of Lynn.
And shouted as they ran,
As only boyhood can ;
A melancholy man!
His hat was off, his vest apart,
And his bosom ill at ease; (His neighbor bearing that which felt no cold), So he leaned his head on his hands, and read He clasped her close, and so, with little said,
The book between his knees. Homeward they bore the living and the dead.
Leaf after leaf he turned it o'er, From Ambrose Gray's poor cottage all that night! Nor ever glanced aside, Shone fitfully a little shifting light,
For the peace of his soul he read that book
And pale, and leaden-eyed.
At last he shut the ponderous tome:
With a fast and fervent grasp Piteously plaining like a wounded dove,
He strained the dusky covers close, With now and then the murmur, “She won't! And fixed the brazen hasp : move."
“O God ! could I so close my mind, And lo! when morning, as in mockery, bright | And clasp it with a clasp !" Shone on that pillow, passing strange the sight, That young head's raven hair was streaked with Then leaping on his feet upright, white !
Some moody turns he took, No idle fiction this. Such things have been,
Now up the mead, then down the mead, We know. And now I tell what I have seen.
And past a shady nook,
And, lo! he saw a little boy
“My gentle lad, what is 't you read, -
The young boy gave an upward glance,
“It is The Death of Abel.'”
THE DREAM OF EUGENE ARAM.
An evening calm and cool,
Came bounding out of school;
| The usher took six hasty strides,
As smit with sudden pain, -
Then slowly back again ;
And talked with him of Cain ;