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The old man laid his hand on her head,
With a tear on his wrinkled face;
He thought how often her mother, dead,
Had sat in the self-same place.
As the tear stole down from his half-shut eye,
"Don't smoke!" said the child; "how it makes
The house-dog lay stretched out on the floor, Where the shade after noon used to steal; The busy old wife, by the open door,
Was turning the spinning-wheel;
And the old brass clock on the mantel-tree Had plodded along to almost three.
Still the farmer sat in his easy-chair,
While close to his heaving breast
The moistened brow and the cheek so fair
Of his sweet grandchild were pressed;
His head, bent down, on her soft hair lay:
Fast asleep were they both, that summer day!
CHARLES GAMAGE EASTMAN.
NOT ONE TO SPARE.
"WHICH shall it be? Which shall it be?"
John looked at me
I looked at John
(Dear, patient John, who loves me yet
As well as though my locks were jet);
And when I found that I must speak,
My voice seemed strangely low and weak:
"Tell me again what Robert said.”
And then I, listening, bent my head.
"This is his letter: 'I will give
A house and land while you shall live,
If, in return, from out your seven,
One child to me for aye is given.'
I looked at John's old garments worn,
I thought of all that John had borne
Of poverty and work and care,
Which I, though willing, could not share;
I thought of seven mouths to feed,
Of seven little children's need,
And then of this. "Come, John," said I,
"We'll choose among them as they lie
Asleep;" so, walking hand in hand,
Dear John and I surveyed our band.
First to the cradle lightly stepped,
Where Lilian, the baby, slept,
A glory 'gainst the pillow white.
Softly the father stooped to lay
His rough hand down in a gentle way,
When dream or whisper made her stir,
And huskily he said, "Not her, not her!"
We stopped beside the trundle-bed,
And one long ray of lamplight shed
Athwart the boyish faces there,
In sleep so pitiful and fair;
I saw on Jamie's rough, red cheek
A tear undried. Ere John could speak,
"He's but a baby, too," said I,
And kissed him as we hurried by.
Pale, patient Robbie's angel face
Still in his sleep bore suffering's trace.
"No, for a thousand crowns, not him! !"
He whispered, while our eyes were dim.
Poor Dick! bad Dick! our wayward son,
Turbulent, reckless, idle one
Could he be spared? Nay; He who gave,
Bid us befriend him to his grave;
Only a mother's heart can be
Patient enough for such as he;
"And so," said John, "I would not dare
To send him from our bedside prayer."
Then stole we softly up above
And knelt by Mary, child of love.
"Perhaps for her 't would better be,'
I said to John. Quite silently
He lifted up a curl that lay
Across her cheek in wilful way,
And shook his head: "Nay, love; not thee,"
The while my heart beat audibly.
Only one more, our eldest lad,
Trusty and truthful, good and glad
So like his father. No, John, no-
I cannot, will not, let him go."
And so we wrote, in courteous way,
We could not drive one child away ;
And afterward toil lighter seemed,
Thinking of that of which we dreamed,
Happy in truth that not one face
Was missed from its accustomed place;
Thankful to work for all the seven,
Trusting the rest to One in heaven.
WHEN the lessons and tasks are all ended, And the school for the day is dismissed, And the little ones gather around me,
To bid me good night and be kissed; O the little white arms that encircle
My neck in their tender embrace! O the smiles that are halos of heaven, Shedding sunshine of love on my face!
And when they are gone, I sit dreaming
Of my childhood, too lovely to last; Of love that my heart will remember When it wakes to the pulse of the past,