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A piece of bread between them lay,
Which neither seemed inclined to take, I STOOD, one Sunday morning,
And yet they looked so much a prey
To want, it made my heart to ache.
“My little children, let me know From one out stepped a lady
Why you in such distress appear, I oft had seen before.
And why you wasteful from you throw
That bread which many a one might cheer?" Her hand was on a prayer-book,
The little boy, in accents sweet, And held a vinaigrette;
Replied, while tears each other chased, The sign of man's redemption
“Lady! we've not enough to eat, Clear on the book was set, —
· Ah! if we had, we should not waste. But above the Cross there glistened A golden Coronet.
“But Sister Mary's naughty grown,
And will not eat, whate'er I say, For her the obsequious beadle
Though sure I am the bread's her own,
For she has tasted none to-day."
“Indeed," the wan, starved Mary said, There might be good thoughts in her
“ Till Henry eats, I 'll eat no more, For all her evil pride.
For yesterday I got some bread,
He's had none since the day before." But after her a woman
My heart did swell, my bosom heave, Peeped wistfully within,
I felt as though deprived of speech; On whose wan face was graven
Silent I sat upon the grave, Life's hardest discipline, –
And clasped the clay-cold hand of each. The trace of the sad trinity Of weakness, pain, and sin.
With looks of woe too sadly true,
With looks that spoke a grateful heart, The few free-seats were crowded
The shivering boy then nearer drew,
And did his simple tale impart:
“Before my father went away, “God's house holds no poor sinners,"
Enticed by bad men o'er the sea,
Sister and I did naught but play, She sighed, and crept away.
RICHARD MONCKTON MILNES. I We lived beside yon great ash-tree.
I clasped the prattlers to my breast,
And cried, “Come, both, and live with me; I'll clothe you, feed you, give you rest,
And will a second mother be. "And God shall be your Father still,
'T was he in mercy sent me here, To teach you to obey his will, Your steps to guide, your hearts to cheer.”
ALL that is like a dream. It don't seem true !
Father was gone, and mother left, you see,
To work for little brother Ned and me; And up among the gloomy roofs we grew, Locked in full oft, lest we should wander out,
With nothing but a crust o' bread to eat, While mother chared for poor folk round about,
Or sold cheapodds and ends from street to street. Yet, Parson, there were pleasures fresh and fair, To make the time pass happily up there, — A steamboat going past upon the tide,
A pigeon lighting on the roof close by,
THE ORPHAN BOY'S TALE. Stay, lady, stay, for mercy's sake,
And hear a helpless orphan's tale ;
It's, O, to be a slave
Along with the barbarous Turk, Where woman has never a soul to save,
If this is Christian work!
“Work — work — work !
Till the brain begins to swim ! Work — work — work
Till the eyes are heavy and dim ! Seam, and gusset, and band,
Band, and gusset, and seam, Till over the buttons I fall asleep,
And sew them on in a dream!
The sparrows teaching little ones to fly, The small white moving clouds, that we espied, I
And thought were living, in the bit of sky, With sights like these right glad were Ned and
Pattering, pattering, upon the tiles,
Making the house-tops white for miles on miles,
And one cold day, in winter-time, when mother Had gone away into the snow, and we
Sat close for warmth and cuddled one another, He put his little head upon my knee, And went to sleep, and would not stir a limb,
But looked quite strange and old ; And when I shook him, kissed him, spoke to him,
He smiled, and grew so cold. Then I was frightened, and cried out, and none
Could hearme; while I sat and nursed his head, Watching the whitened window, while the sun
Peeped in upon his face, and made it red. And I began to sob, -- till mother came, Knelt down, and screamed, and named the good
God's name, And told me he was dead. And when she put his nightgown on, and, weep- '
ing, Placed him among the rags upon his bed, I thought that Brother Ned was only sleeping,
And took his little hand, and felt no fear. But when the place grew gray and cold and
drear, And the round moon over the roofs came creeping,
And put a silver shade
“O men with sisters dear !
O men with mothers and wives ! It is not linen you 're wearing out, But human creatures' lives !
Stitch ----stitch - stitch, In poverty, hunger, and dirt, — Sewing at once, with a double thread,
A shroud as well as a shirt !
“But why do I talk of death,
That phantom of grisly bone ? I hardly fear his terrible shape,
It seems so like my own, It seems so like my own Because of the fasts I keep; . O God ! that bread should be so dear,
And flesh and blood so cheap!
“Work — work — work !
My labor never flags; And what are its wages ? A bed of straw,
A crust of bread — and rags,
A table-a broken chair —
For sometimes falling there !
THE SONG OF THE SHIRT.
“Work — work — work!
From weary chime to chime ! Work -- work - work
As prisoners work for crime! Band, and gusset, and seamn,
Seam, and gusset, and band, — Till the heart is sick and the brain benumbed,
As well as the weary hand.
With fingers weary and worn,
With eyelids heavy and red,
Stitch ! stitch ! stitch!
And still with a voice of dolorous pitch She sang the “Song of the Shirt !".
“Work - work — work !
In the dull December light! And work -- work — work
When the weather is warm and bright! While underneath the eaves
The brooding swallows cling,
And twit me with the Spring.
“Work! work! work!
While the cock is crowing aloof! And work — work -- work
Till the stars shine through the roof!
"O but to breathe the breath
of presents for the new year, for father or for Of the cowslip and primrose sweet, —
mother. With the sky above my head,
But no one talks to Gretchen, and no one hears And the grass beneath my feet!
her speak, For only one short hour
No breath of little whisperers comes warmly to To feel as I used to feel,
her cheek. Before I knew the woes of want And the walk that costs a meal !
Her home is cold and desolate ; no smile, no food,
no fire, " but for one short hour, –
But children clamorous for bread, and an A respite, however brief !
impatient sire. No blesséd leisure for love or hope,
So she sits down in an angle where two great But only time for grief!
houses meet, A little weeping would ease my heart; And she curleth up beneath her for warmth her But in their briny bed
little feet; My tears must stop, for every drop
And she looketh on the cold wall, and on the Hinders needle and thread !”
colder sky, With fingers weary and worn,
And wonders if the little stars are bright fires up
on high. With eyelids heavy and red,
She hears the clock strike slowly, up in a churchA woman sat, in unwomanly rags,
tower, Plying her needle and thread,
With such a sad and solemn tone, telling the Stitch ! stitch ! stitch ! In poverty, hunger, and dirt;
midnight hour. And still with a voice of dolorous pitchWould that its tone could reach the rich !
And she remembered her of tales her mother used
to tell, She sang this “Song of the Shirt !”
| And of the cradle-songs she sang, when summer's
Who was cradled in a manger when winter was LITTLE Gretchen, little Gretchen wanders up and
most wild ; down the street;
Who was poor, and cold, and hungry, and desoThe snow is on her yellow hair, the frost is on
late and lone ; her feet.
And she thought the song had told he was ever The rows of long, dark houses without look cold
with his own ; and damp,
And all the poor and hungry and forsaken ones By the struggling of the moonbeam, by the flicker
are his, – of the lamp.
“How good of him to look on me in such a place The clouds ride fast as horses, the wind is from as this !”
the north, But no one cares for Gretchen, and no one looketh Colder it grows and colder, but she does not feel forth.
it now, Within those dark, damp houses are merry faces For the pressure on her heart, and the weight bright,
upon her brow; And hapny hearts are watching out the old year's But she struck one little match on the wall so latest night.
cold and bare,
That she might look around her, and see if he With the little box of matches she could not sell were there.
And the thin, tattered mantle the wind blows There were blood-drops on his forehead, a spear. every way,
wound in his side, She clingeth to the railing, she shivers in the And cruel nail-prints in his feet, and in his hands gloom,
spread wide. There are parents sitting snugly by the firelight And he looked upon her gently, and she felt that in the room;
he had known And children with grave faces are whispering one Pain, hunger, cold, and sorrow, – ay, equal to another