« AnteriorContinua »
FOUR SCENES.—Millie C. POMEROY.
Far in a valley of peace and resi
Riseth a mansion of wealth and ease;
And beauty there the hand has wrought,
And proud and stately ships have brought
From beautiful lands beyond the seas.
Within a room, by a snowy couch,
A mother kneeleth, and her low prayer
Softly riseth to God above,
On tremulous wings of hope and love,
For her dear one kneeling there:
“Father in heaven, I pray thee keep
My darling boy from paths of sin;
Wherever in life his feet may stray,
Guard him, Father, well, I pray,
From foes without and foes within.
"And, Father," — what agony settled here,
What passionate pleading rose in her prayer!
As her jeweled hand was tenderly laid
Amid his clustering hair:
" In his father's steps may he never stray;
Keep him, God, in the narrow way.
May he shun the demon's maddening bowl
That fires the brain and dooms the soul.”
A youthful company round a board,
Grown merry with beer, and wine, and song;
And jests they would scorn in sober hours
Were passed with laugh and shout along.
Faces where Deity once had shone
Flushed and flamed with the demon's breath,
For he was there with the merry throng,
Joining, unheard, in the drunken song;
And with him his warrior, Death.
Only one youth looks long at the glass,
One hand trembles beneath the wine;
Does his mind go back to a little room
Where his mother's prayer rose through the gloom,
Linking his soul to things divine?
Does he feel his mother's kiss on his brow,
And her soft hand mid his clustering hair,
While her life went out through the twilight dim,
With a passionate, fervent prayer for him
Still lingering on the air?
Only an instant his hand is stayed,
Only a moment his eye grows dim,
Then he hastily drains the brimming cup,
And a laugh from the deinons goes shrilly up,
Though all unheard by him.
Far in the valley of peace and rest,
Where once was the mansion of wealth and ease,
Crumble the stones in the sinking wall,
And the boding night-birds shrilly call
From the haunted, creaking trees.
The night-wind rises, and leaves are whirled,
Brushed red and gold by Autumn's wand,
Through the broken panes and the fallen door,
Lying in heaps on the shaking floor,
Or fluttering round like a fairy band.
The night is chill, and a small fire burns,
Sluggish and low, in the rusty grate;
And far in the corner an old man stands,
Moaning and wringing his shrunken hands,
Like a victim of vengeful fate.
His voice is weak, but it rises now,
Piping and shrill, with the moaning breeze, -
Then mutters away to a desolate groan,
As the night-wind dies, in a shattered moan,
In the rists of the ragged trees.
A bottle is standing by his side,
And he eagerly drinks, and drinks again,
Till the last is gone; then he cries like a child,
Wringing his hands in his anguish wild,
And smiting his fevered brain !
“Go away!” he moans; “I will not hear!
My mother is dead and cannot know
How I have lived-nor how I die.
Yes, even now the moments fly,
And life's tide ebbeth low.
" 'Tis long, long years since I thought of her;
Would God I could banish her image now!
Once I could have followed where she has led,
But virtue, and hope, and faith have fled, -
Gone with my broken vow.
“Aye, laugh, ye demons, and do your worst,-
I see your burning eye-balls glare ;
You've come for the life you doomed and cursed;
I faint-give me wine!-İ burn, I thirst!
Who is praying my mother's prayer?”
Softly the wings of coming day
Tremble and wave in the balmy air,
Fluttering down in the valley low,
Struggling noiselessly to and fro,
Making all things seem fair;
Creeping on with a wavering tread,
Peering at last through the open door,
Gazing aghast on the form of the dead,
With staring eyes and hands outspread,
Lying prone on the broken floor.
Only the bottle is left to tell
How he has lived and how he died;
His only dirge is the wild wind's wail,
And his mourners are the spectres pale
That hover about his side.
WASTE NOT, WANT NOT. Hans, what keepit you oud so late to-night?” “Well, Katrina, I vas at dot teeyayder. I med Yon Biber, und we hat some beer mit each one anoder both togedder, unt Yon says: 'Hans, I vants you to come in my teeyayder und see Lew Raddler und dem fellers sing a liddle song. Very well, I goes in mid him, und it don't cost me something at all,- he yoost tole dot toorkeeper. Das all righd,” und I bass in. I vas a hed-dead, like doze noozpaper fellers.” “Well, Hans, how was you like it?” “Like it! It was schkeplendit, Katrina. Dere vas de pootiest song you nefer heard in all my life. It begins down at de boddom like dis way:
You defer miss dot vasser dill dot well don't got some more in it. It's a fine sendiment in dot song, Katrina. I got it all in my head, but I vas so pleased und oxcited about it I haf forgot it again once. It was like dis way (sings]:
Don'd you waste dot vasser:
Das de moddo I teach you.
Let your watch words be dispatches,
Und practice like dem preachers.
Do not let a few moments
Like dot sunshine pass by,
For you nefer miss dot rasser
Until you get pooty dry sometimes
when dot well is all run oud! Now, Katrina, don'd you like dot sendiment ?” “Yes, I like dot sendiment, and I like it bedder if you don'd shtop oud till twelf o'clock at nighd like dis any more, und come home tryin' to play me off dot foolishness.”
FROM THE FRENCH OF FRANÇOIS COPPŘE. It was in eighteen hundred--yes—and nine, That we took Saragossa. What a day Of untold horrors! I was sergeant then. The city carried, we laid siege to houses, All shut up close, and with a treacherous look, Raining down shots upon us from the windows. "'Tis the priest's doing !" was the word passed round; So that, although since daybreak under arms,Our eyes with powder smarting, and our mouths Bitter with kissing cartridge-ends, - piff! paff'! Rattled the musketry with ready aim, If shovel hat and long black coat were seen Flying in the distance. Up a narrow street My company worked on. I kept an eye On every house-top, right and left, and saw From many a roof fames suddenly burst forth, Coloring the sky, as from the chimney-tops Among the forges. Low our fellows stooped, Entering the low-pitched dens. When they came out, With bayonets dripping red, their bloody fingers Signed crosses on the wall; for we were bound, In such a dangerous defile, not to leave Foes lurking in our rear. There was no drum-beat, No ordered march. Our officers looked grave; The rank and file uneasy, jogging elbows As do recruits when flinching.
All at once, Rounding a corner, we are hailed in French With cries for help. At double-quick we join Our hard-pressed comrades. They were grenadiers, A gallant company, but beaten back Inglorious from the raised and flag-paved square, Fronting a convent. Twenty stalwart monks Defended it, black demons with shaved crowns, The cross in white embroidered on their frocks, Barefoot, their sleeves tucked up, their only weapons Enormous crucitixes, so well brandished Our men went down before them. By platoons Firing we swept the place; in fact, we slaughtered This terrible group of heroes, no more soul Being in us than in executioners. The foul deed done-deliberately doneAnd the thick smoke rolling away, we noted Under the huddled masses of the dead, Rivulets of blood run trickling down the steps;
While in the background solemnly the church
Loomed up, its doors wide open. We went in.
It was a desert. Lighted tapers starred
The inner gloom with points of gold. The incense
Gave out its perfume. At the upper end,
Turned to the altar, as though unconcerned
In the fierce battle that had raged, a priest,
White-haired and tall of stature, to a close
Was bringing tranquilly the mass. So stamped
Upon my memory is that thrilling scene,
That, as I speak, it comes before me now,-
The convent built in old time by the Moors;
The huge brown corpses of the monks; the sun
Making the red blood on the pavement steam;
And there, framed in by the low porch, the priest;
And there the altar brilliant as a shrine;
And here ourselves, all halting, hesitating,
I, certes, in those days
Was a confirmed blasphemer. 'Tis on record
That once, by way of sacrilegious joke,
A chapel being sacked, I lit my pipe
At a wax candle burning on the altar.
This time, however, I was awed,-so blanched
Was that old man !
“Shoot him!” our captain cried.
Not a soul budged. The priest beyond all doubt
Heard; but, as though he heard not, turning round,
He faced us with the elevated Host,
Having that period of the service reached
When on the faithful benediction falls.
His lifted arms seemed as the spread of wings;
And as he raised the pyx, and in the air
With it described the cross, each man of us
Fell back, aware the priest no more was trembling
Than if before him the devout were ranged.
But when, intoned with clear and mellow voice,
The words came to us-
Vos benedicat Deus Omnipotens !
The captain's order Rang out again and sharply, “Shoot him down, Or I shall swear!” Then one of ours, a dastard, Leveled his gun and fired. Upstanding still, The priest changed color, though with steadfast look Set upwards, and indomitably stern. Pater et Filius!
Came the words. What frenzy, What maddening thirst for blood, sent froin our ranks Another shot, I know not; but 'twas done.