Page images
PDF
EPUB

stirred. The thin shawl had dropped from her shoulders unheeded. Simmons turned over and drew his blanket more closely about him.

Oh, how cold! Only one lamp remained, burning dimly; the other two had gone out for want of oil. I could hardly see, it was so dark.

At last she became quieter and ceased to moan. Then I grew drowsy, and kind of lost the run of things after I had struck twelve, when some one entered the depot with a bright light. I started up. It was the brightest light I ever saw, and seemed to fill the room full of glory. I could see 'twas a man. He walked to the kneeling figure and touched her upon the shoulder. She started up and turned her face wildly around. I heard him say:

'Tis train time, ma'am. Come!”
A look of joy came over her face.
"I am ready," she whispered.
“Then give me your pass, ma'am.”

She reached him a worn old book, which he took, and from it read aloud:

“Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest."

“That's the pass over our road, ma'am. Are you ready?

The light died away, and darkness fell in its place. My hand touched the stroke of one. Simmons awoke with a start and snatched his lantern. The whistle sounded down brakes; the train was due. He ran to the corner and shook the old

woman.

Wake up, marm; 'tis train time.”

But she never heeded. He gave one look at the white set face, and, dropping his lantern, fled.

The up train halted, the conductor shouted “All aboard,” but no one made a move that way.

The next morning, when the ticket agent came, he found her frozen to death. They whispered among themselves, and the coroner made out the verdict “apoplexy,” and it was in some way hushed up.

But the last look on the sweet old face, lit up with a smile so unearthly, I keep with me yet; and when I think of the occurrence of that night, I know she went out on the other train, that never stopped at the poorhouse.

THE PANSY

ANONYMOUS

Of all the bonny buds that blow,

In bright or cloudy weather,
Of all the flowers that come and go,

The whole twelve moons together,
This little purple pansy brings,
Thoughts of the sweetest, saddest things.
I had a little lover once,

Who used to give me posies;
His eyes were blue as hyacinths,

His lips were red as roses;
And everybody loved to praise
His pretty looks and winsome ways.
The girls that went to school with me

Made little jealous speeches,
Because he brought me royally

His biggest plums and peaches,
And always at the door would wait,
To carry home my books and slate.
They couldn't see — with pout and fling -

“The mighty fascination
About that little snub-nosed thing,

To win such admiration;

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

"Am I your little heart's-ease, then?"

I asked with blushing pleasure. He answered “Yes !” and “Yes !” again

“Heart's-ease and dearest treasure;' That the round world and all the sea Held nothing half so sweet as me!

.

I listened with a proud delight,

Too rare for words to capture, Nor ever dreamed what sudden blight,

Would come to chill my rapture.

Could I foresee the tender bloom
Of pansies round a little tomb?

Life holds some stern experience,

As most of us discover,
And I've had other losses since

I lost my little lover;
But still this purple pansy brings
Thoughts of the sweetest, saddest things.

“THE REVENGE”

A BALLAD OF THE FLEET, 1591

ALFRED LORD TENNYSON

a

At Flores in the Azores Sir Richard Grenville lay,
And a pinnace, like a flutter'd bird, came flying from far away:
“Spanish ships of war at sea! we have sighted fifty-three!”
Then spake Lord Thomas Howard: “Fore God I am no

coward;
But I cannot meet them here, for my ships are out of gear,
And the half my men are sick. I must fly, but follow quick,
We are six ships of the line; can we fight with fifty-three?"

Then spake Sir Richard Grenville: “I know you are no

coward;
You fly them for a moment to fight with them again.
But I've ninety men and more that are lying sick ashore;
I should count myself the coward if I left them, my Lord

Howard,
To these Inquisition dogs and the devildoms of Spain."

So Lord Howard passed away with five ships of war that day,
Till he melted like a cloud in the silent summer heaven;
But Sir Richard bore in hand all his sick men from the land

a

Very carefully and slow,
Men of Bideford and Devon,
And we laid them on the ballast down below;
For we brought them all aboard,
And they blest him in their pain, that they were not left to

Spain,
To the thumbscrew and the stake, for the glory of the Lord.

He had only a hundred seamen to work the ship and to fight,
And he sailed away from Flores till the Spaniard came in sight
With his huge sea castles heaving upon the weather bow.
“Shall we fight or shall we fly?
Good Sir Richard, let us know,
For to fight is but to die !
There'll be little of us left, by the time this sun be set.”
And Sir Richard said again: “We be all good Englishmen;
Let us bang these dogs of Seville, the children of the devil,
For I never turned my

back
upon

Don or Devil yet.”

Sir Richard spoke and he laugh’d, and we roar'd a hurrah, and

a

[ocr errors]

SO

The little “Revenge” ran on, sheer into the heart of the foe, With her hundred fighters on deck and her ninety sick below; For half of their fleet to the right and half to the left were seen, And the little "Revenge" ran on, thro' the long sea-lane

between.

Thousands of their soldiers looked down from their decks and

laugh'd, Thousands of their seamen made mock at the mad little craft Running on and on, till delay'd By their mountain-like “San Philip,” that, of fifteen hundred

tons, And up-shadowing high above us with her yawning tiers of guns, Took the breath from our sails and we stay’d.

« PreviousContinue »