« ZurückWeiter »
Gaze on-'tis lovely! — childhood's lip and cheek,
And fragile things, as but for sunshine wrought?
O joyous creatures! that will sink to rest
Though fresh within your breasts the untroubled springs
Her lot is on you - silent tears to weep,
And patient smiles to wear through suffering's hour, And sumless riches, from affection's deep,
To pour on broken reeds - a wasted shower!
Her lot is on you- to be found untired,
And take the thought of this calm vesper-time,
With its low murmuring sounds and silvery light,
THE DROWNED CHILD.
OLD the light
Low down-he's making for the water. Hark!
Toward the old crazy foot-bridge. It was gone!
And all his dull contracted light could show
Was the black, void, and dark swollen stream below.
"Yet there's life somewhere- more than Tinker's whineThat's sure," said Mark. "So, let the lantern shine
Down yonder. There's the dog-and hark!"
And a low sob came faintly on the ear,
'Twas Lizzy's. There she crouch'd, with face as white,
Than sheeted corpse― the pale blue lips drawn tight,
And eyes on some dark object underneath,
Wash'd by the turbid water, fix'd like stone-
Grasping, as in the death-gripe, Jenny's frock.
There she lay drown'd. . . . .
They lifted her from out her watery bed
Its covering gone, the lovely little head
Hung like a broken snow-drop, all aside,
And one small hand. The mother's shawl was tied,
Too well obey'd-too fast! A fatal hold
That caught and pinn'd her to the river's bed:
DEATH OF PAUL DOMBEY.
LOY," said Paul, "what is that?" "Where, dearest?" "There! at the bottom of the bed." "There's nothing there except papa!" The figure lifted up its head and rose, and, coming to the bedside, said, "My own boy, don't you know me?” Paul looked it in the face, and thought, Was this his father? But the face, so altered to his thinking, thrilled while he gazed, as if it were in pain; and, before he could reach out both his hands to take it between them and draw it toward him, the figure turned away quickly from the little bed, and went out at the door. Paul looked at Florence with a fluttering heart; but he knew what she was going to say, and stopped her with his face against her lips. The next time he observed the figure sitting at the bottom of the bed, he called to it, "Don't be so sorry for me, dear papa; indeed, I am quite happy!" His father coming, and bending down to him—which he did quickly, and without first pausing by the bedside-Paul held him round the neck, and repeated these words to him several times, and very earnestly; and Paul never saw him again in his room at any time, whether it were day or night, but he called out, "Don't be so sorry for me; indeed, I am quite happy." This was the beginning of his always saying in the morning that he was a great deal better, and that they were to tell his father so.
How many times the golden water danced upon the wallhow many nights the dark, dark river rolled toward the sea in spite of him- Paul never counted, never sought to know. If their kindness, or his sense of it, could have increased, they were more kind, and he more grateful, every day; but whether they were many days or few, appeared of little moment now to the gentle boy. One night he had been thinking of his mother and her picture in the drawing-room down stairs, and had thought she must have loved sweet Florence better than his father did, to
have held her in her arms when she felt that she was dying; for even he, her brother, who had such dear love for her, could have no greater wish than that. The train of thought suggested to him to inquire if he had ever seen his mother; for he could not remember whether they had told him yes or no-the river running very fast, and confusing his mind. "Floy, did I ever see mamma?" "No, darling: why?" "Did I never see any kind face, like mamma's, looking at me when I was a baby, Floy?" he asked, incredulously, as if he had some vision of a face before him. "Oh, yes, dear." "Whose, Floy?" "Your old nurse's, often." "And where is my old nurse?" said Paul. "Is she dead, too? Floy, are we all dead, except you?"
There was a hurry in the room for an instant-longer, perhaps, but it seemed no more then all was still again; and Florence, with her face quite colorless, but smiling, held his head upon her arm. Her arm trembled very much. "Show me that old nurse, Floy, if you please!" "She is not here, darling. She shall come to-morrow." "Thank you, Floy."
"And who is this? Is this my old nurse?" said the child, regarding with a radiant smile a figure coming in. Yes, yes! No other stranger would have shed those tears at sight of him, and called him her dear boy, her pretty boy, her own poor blighted child. No other woman would have stooped down by his bed, and taken up his wasted hand and put it to her lips and breast, as one who had some right to fondle it. No other woman would have so forgotten everybody there but him and Floy, and been so full of tenderness and pity. "Floy, this is a kind, good face!" said Paul. "I am glad to see it again. Don't go away, old nurse! Stay here!"
"Now lay me down," he said; "and, Floy, come close to me and let me see you!" Sister and brother wound their arms around each other, and the golden light came streaming in and fell upon them, locked together. "How fast the river runs between its green banks and the rushes, Floy! But it's very near the sea. I hear the waves! They always said so." Presently he told her that the motion of the boat upon the stream was lulling him to rest. How green the banks were now! how bright the flowers growing on them! and how tall the rushes! Now the boat was out at sea, but gliding smoothly on; and now there was a shore before them. Who stood on the bank? He put his
hands together, as he had been used to do at his prayers. He did not remove his arms to do it; but they saw him fold them so, behind her neck. "Mamma is like you, Floy: I know her by the face! But tell them that the print upon the stairs at school is not divine enough. The light about the head is shining on me as I go!"
The golden ripple on the wall came back again, and nothing else stirred in the room. The old, old fashion! The fashion that came in with our first garments, and will last unchanged until our race has run its course, and the wide firmament is rolled up like a scroll. The old, old fashion-Death! Oh, thank God, all who see it, for that older fashion yet, of Immortality! And look upon us, angels of young children, with regards not quite estranged when the swift river bears us to the ocean!
THE SOLDIER'S FUNERAL.
THE muffled drum rolled on the air,
Warriors with stately step were there;
For it was a soldier's funeral.
That soldier had stood on the battle-plain,
But the brand and the ball had passed him by,
And he came to his native land to die!