Page images

“ There was no kindness in my heart,

Save for one living thing-
A child! Oh, God! that unto me

Aught innocent could cliug !

“ It was my child—my little son,

That in my soul had place;One lone affection, that in sin

Made a redeeming trace.

“ I loved him-cursed him with my love!

And could one thing have wrought To save my soul, it had been he

And yet he saved me not!

“I dragged him with me night and day,

Poor child! through scorn and shame; I hid him with me in the haunts

Where but the wicked came :

“I never taught him holy things,

Yet was he pure and meekAnd my blood raged if any dared

To taunt him for my sake!

“ There were three of us bound in a dreadful oath,

To do a deed of blood, -
In the Church of Christ we pledged ourselves

To that vile brotherhood.

“I took the little child with me,

In my affection desperate-hearted ; I bound him in my oath, that we

In any chance might not be parted !

“ Nor were we parted we were cast

Into a horrid dungeon-place;
I could not see my hand at noon,

Nor look upon my loved one's face.

“ And yet I felt it mattered not,

While he was with me, where we lay; Nor had I grieved, but that he pined

For the sweet light of day.

At length, when many weeks were gone,

And his complainings chafed my blood, How shall I tell thee ! — day by day

Went on, and yet they brought no food!

“In hell my torment has been great,

My misery inexpressible,
And yet the torment of that time

Was fiercer than all pangs of hell !

“I raved for help-1 clasped the child

I smote my breast, and fiercely cursed, — And, in my madness of despair,

I strove my prison walls to burst.

“For me, I heeded not my pangs

I bared my arm, and bade him eat! Life was a boon I did not prize

But for the weak thing at my feet.

"Many days went on, many dreadful days,

And on the dungeon floor at length, I lay as in a deadly dream;

My rage had spent my strength.

“My utterest, hopeless misery

I knew not for a space, Until I felt his trembling hand

Passed lightly o'er my face ;

“ Then in a changed and feeble tone

I heard him whispering, and he said A little prayer, ‘Father in heaven,

Give us our daily bread!

Where got you, child, that prayer? I cried,

And he answered with a tranquil air, • From a little child that went to school,

Oh, father dear! I got that prayer.'

“This was the one pang that I lacked,

The crowning to my misery given, Wretch that I was! for one so pure

Could only have a place in heaven!

“And we must part,-Oh God! oh God!

And at that time I tried to pray; But I was not a sinless child;

I could not find a word to say.

"Another frenzy seized my brain,

A tenfold madness in me burned And who died first I never knew,

For memory ne'er in life returned.'

“My doom it is a dreadful one,

And yet this grace is in my heart, That I thank God my blessed child

Hath not with me eternal part.

“But hark! the second cock doth crow--

I feel the freshness of the day; I hear a call I dare not shun;

Farewell-farewell! I must not stay.”

With this the widow clasped her hands,

And “Woe's me!” in her grief she said, “ Woe's me! woe's me, that I'm a mother

That I have looked upon the dead!

“My sons! my pride—my sinful boast !

My earliest thought each coming morn, My latest joy each parting eve!

Would God, that ye had ne'er been born! “Was it for this ye grew in strength?

For this, to comely manhood grew ?
My loved, my lost!-my lost! woe's me!

Oh that I might have died for you!"

“Peace! peace !” the youngest spake, “mother,

And let thy wailing ended be!--
If the third cock crow, I must away,

And I am come from heaven to thee.

“They sinned — alas! they darkly sinned !

And the angels of bliss shed tears for them; Their place in heaven is empty still,

And all unwon their diadem!

“Of their penal doom I may not speak,

With the secrets of God it resteth still ; And though thou mourn, yet murmur not,

But place thy hope in the Righteous Will!~

“For me, when I left my pleasant home,

To the city I too sped,
And with the young, for many a year,

An idle life I led.

“We lived with the world's most beautiful; .

We raised the wine-cup high ; We crowned ourselves with the summer's rose,

And let no flower pass by.

« PreviousContinue »