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LXXXV

THE MINISTRY OF ANGELS

AND is there care in Heaven, and is there love
In heavenly spirits to these creatures base,
That may compassion of their evils move?

There is, — else much more wretched were the case
Of men than beasts. But O the exceeding grace
Of highest God that loves His creatures so,

And all His works with mercy doth embrace,
That blessed Angels He sends to and fro
To serve to wicked man, to serve His wicked foe.

How oft do they their silver bowers leave,

To come to succor us who comfort want; How oft do they with golden pinions cleave

The flitting skies like flying pursuivant,

Against foul fiends to aid us militant.
They for us fight, they watch and duly ward,

And their bright squadrons round about us plant, And all for love, and nothing for reward:

O, why should heavenly God to man have such regard?

E. Spenser

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LITTLE CHRISTEL

'Be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only"

GOING home from the House of God,
The flower at her foot, and the sun overhead,
Little Christel so thoughtfully trod,
Pondering what the preacher had said.

"Even the youngest, humblest child,
Something may do to please the Lord."

"Now what," thought she, and half sadly smiled, "Can I, so little and poor, afford?"

"Never, never a day should pass
Without some kindness, kindly shown."

Little Christel looked down at the grass
Rising like incense before the throne.

"Well, a day is before me now,

Yet what," thought she, "can I do if I try? If an angel of God should show me how,

But silly am I, and the hours they fly."

Then a lark sprang singing up from the sod,
And Christel thought, as he rose to the blue,

"Perhaps he will carry my prayer to God,
But who would have thought the little lark
knew?"

II.

Now she entered the village street,
With book in hand, and face demure,

And soon she came, with sober feet,
To a crying babe at a cottage door.

The child had a windmill that would not move,
It puffed with its round red cheeks in vain,

One sail stuck fast in a puzzling groove,
And baby's breath could not stir it again.

Poor baby beat the sail, and cried,

While no one came from the cottage door;

But little Christel knelt down by its side,
And set the windmill going once more.

Then babe was pleased, and the little girl
Was glad when she heard it laugh and crow;

Thinking, happy windmill, that has but to whirl,
To please the pretty young creature so.

IIL

No thought of herself was in her head,
As she passed out at the end of the street,

And came to a rose-tree, tall and red,
Drooping and faint with the summer heat .

She ran to a brook that was flowing by;

She made of her two hands a nice round cup, And washed the roots of the rose-tree high,

Till it lifted its languid blossoms up.

"O happy brook!" thought little Christel,

"You have done some good this summer's clay,

You have made the flower look fresh and well ";
Then she rose, and went on her way.

IV.

But she saw, as she walked by the side of the brook,
Some great rough stones that troubled its course,

And the gurgling water seemed to say, "Look!
I struggle, and tumble, and murmur hoarse!

"How these stones obstruct my road!

How I wish they were off, and gone; Then I could flow, as once I flowed,

Singing in silvery undertone."

Then little Christel, as light as a bird,

Put off the shoes from her young white feet;

She moves two stones, she comes to the third, The brook already sings, "Thanks to you, sweet!"

O, then she hears the lark in the skies,

And thinks, "What is it to God he says?"

And she stumbles, and falls, and cannot rise,
For the water stifles her downward face.

The little brook flows on, as before,

The little lark sings with as sweet a sound;

The little babe crows at the cottage door;

And the red rose blooms, but Christel lies drowned.

V.

Come in softly, this is the room;

Is not that an innocent face?
Yes, those flowers give a faint perfume, —

Think child, of Heaven, and the Lord His grace.

Three at the right, and three at the left,
Two at the feet, and two at the head,

The tapers burn. The friends bereft,

Have cried till their eyes are swollen and red.

Who would have thought it when little Christel
Pondered on what the preacher had told?

But the good wise God does all things well,
And the fair young creature lies dead and cold.

Then a little stream crept into the place,
And rippled up to the coffin's side,

And touched the corpse on its pale round face,
And kissed the eyes till they trembled wide:

Saying, "I am a river of joy from Heaven;

You helped the brook, and I help you,
I sprinkle your brow with life-drops seven,

I bathe your eyes with healing dew."

Then a rose-branch in through the window came, And colored her cheeks and lips with red;

"I remember, and Heaven does the same," Was all that the faithful rose-branch said.

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