Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Too faint to row, no signal brought

An answer, far or nigh ;
Father, have mercy; leave them not

Alone, on the deep, to die!
And the gaunt crew prayed on the decks above,

And the women prayed below;
“One drop of rain for Heaven's great love!

O Heaven, for a breeze to blow!”
But never a shower from the skies would burst,

And never a breeze would come;
O God! to think that man can thirst,

And starve, in sight of home!
But out to sea with the drifting tide

The vessel drifted away;
Till the far-off shore, like the dim cloud, died,

And the wild crew ceased to pray.
Like fiends they glared, with their eyes aglow;

Like beasts with hunger wild-
But a mother prayed in the cabin below,

By the bed of her little child.
It slept, and lo! in its sleep it smiled-

A babe of summers three,
“O Father, save my little child,

Whatever comes to me!”
Calm gleamed the sea, calm gleamed the sky;

No cloud, no sail, in view;
And they cast them lots for who should die

To feed the starving crew.
Like beasts they glared with burger wild,

And their red glazed eyes aglow,
And the death-lot fell on the little child

That slept in the cabin below.
And the mother shrieked in wild despair-

"O God! my child—my son!
They will take his life; it is hard to bear;

Yet, Father, Thy will be done.”

[ocr errors]

And she waked the child from its happy sleep,

And she kneeled by the cradle bed; “We thirst, my child, on the lonely deep;

We are dying; my child, for bread.
“On the ļone, lone sea, no sail, no breeze;

Not a drop of rain in the sky;
We thirst, we starve, on the lonely seas,

And thou, my child, must die!
She wept; what tears her wild soul shed

Not I, but Heaven knows best;
And the child rose up from its cradle bed,

And crossed its hands on its breast.
“Father," he lisped, "so good, so kind,

Have pity on mother's pain;
For mother's sake, a little wind-

Father, a little rain.”
And she heard them shout for the child from the deck,

And she knelt on the cabin stairs-
“The child !” they cry—"the child! Stand back,
And a curse on your idiot

prayers !” And the mother rose in her wild despair,

And she bared her throat to the knife“Strike !_strike, mé-me! But spare,

0

spare
My child, my dear son's life ! ”
O God, it was a ghastly sight;

Red eyes, like flaming brands,
And a hundred belt-knives flashing bright

In the clutch of skeleton hands!
“Me-me-strike-strike, ye fiends of death !”

But soft—thro' the ghastly air
Whose falling tear was that?-whose breath

Waves thro' the mother's hair?
A flutter of sail—a ripple of seas-
A speck on the cabin

pane; O God! it is a breeze-a breezeAnd a drop of blessed rain!

[ocr errors]

And the mother rushed to the cabin below,

And she wept on the babe's bright hair;
“The sweet rain falls, the sweet winds blow,

Father has heard thy prayer!”
But the child had fallen asleep again,

And lo! in its sleep it smiled; 66 Thank God," she cried, " for His wind and His rain;

Thank God for my little child!" By kind permission of the Author.

HOW WE ELECTED OUR MINISTER.

A DEACON'S STORY.

BY ROBERT OVERTON.

yer see what I

Which I don't belong to the 'Stablished Church myself, sir, as am a Independent, a-beggin' your pardon, as I know for to be a Church parson. But

says is this; you take a lot o' men like us fisher folk, as works 'ard all the week, and mostly under command, a-doin' what the skipper tells us—’aulin' in ropes, settin' sail, draggin' nets, and one thing and another as you naturally don't know nothing about, with nobody for to feel authority over like, 'ceptin' maybe a boy or two what nobody can knock about; well, now, if so be as we chaps go in for the 'Stablished Church, we ain't nobody no more at Church than aboard the boats; we ain't got no woice in what's to be done, and we ain't got no sort of power or command like. But if we goes in for the Methodies or the Baptists,

why we get made a lot of—some being stooards, some deacons, and some a-takin'round the 'at. You should see me and old Cockles foller our minister out o' the westry o' Sundays, or a-makin' the collection afterwards, and our names called out sometimes from the pulpit : “ Brother Cockles and Brother Coleman."

Theu, again, if we don't old with what our minister preaches, or if we seem to want a change, we can tell 'im to look out for a call to some other place; and afore we engage a hand, we have a lot down on trial. We pays our money and we takes our choice.

Now, gen’rally speaking, when we're on the look-out for a minister, we have one chap down one Sunday, another on the follerin' Sunday, and so on till we're satisfied—one done, t'other come on. But it so happen'd one time we wanted a minister, we all seemed most dreadful particular—we couldn't satisfy ourselves. We had six down runnin', but none of f 'em didn't suit. At last, by some little misunderstandin', we had three come down to preach their trial sermons on the same Sunday; and we arranged it that the Rev. Paul Duster should preach in the mornin', the Rev. Halgernon Sydney Crackles in the afternoon, and the Rev. John Brown in the evenin'.

When the Sunday came when we was to try 'em, we was all a-gog like.

“ You mark my words, mate," says Cockles to me in the westry, “ there'll be some close sailin'. I'm rather inclined,” he continners wery thoughtful, “ to bet on the old gentl'm'n wot's got the runnin' this mornin', as is strict orthodox, and appears to me to carry a deal o; canvas.”

“'Ere he comes," I says, and sure enough he were just tackin' across the road under convoy of Bill Tubbs, the butterman, as was understood to have took 'im in hand.

A dreadful severe-looking man were Mr. Duster, with a himmense head and face, both on 'em bald and shining, and 'is head all over bumps. He certainly were awful himpressive to look at. The sermon he preached were severe orthodox, and the language quite as uncommon as you could ha' got in a 'Stablished Church-Greek and Latin and all sorts. “'Ere's words," I says to Cockles.

Words, and sound doctrine too, mate," says Cockles -as was wery particular about doctrine.

And surelie we got enough about doctrine that mornin', for all the sermon was a-up-'oldin' of all as our sec' believes, and a-showin' 'ow all other sectises is wrong. The Latin quotations went down himmense, and I see

[ocr errors]

several ladies overcome by the Greek. The sermon, in fact, caused a tremenjious sensation, and Tubbs trotted 'is man away in high spirits, and lookin' proud and triumphant, as though the whole thing was finished and ’is man engoge.

In the arternoon we meets for to hear the second preacher, as turned out so wery poetical and 'eart-breakin' that he seemed fairly like takin' the wind out of the other's sails. His woice had a beautiful shivery-shakery in it, and he wep' that copious I thought sometimes we should have to bale the pulpit out, and ask 'im to weep over the side. Lor! how he shot about that blessed pulpit! first one side, then t'other, 'is eyes a-rollin' and 'is face purple, a-gurglin' and a-yellin', and a-whisperin' and a-shoutin'. He were a lean, pale man, regular poetical-lookin', with long hair, and a nose a trifle red at the knob.

At half-arter six,we meets for to hear the last preacher. Only a few on us saw 'im before he got into the pulpit; but we quite agreed that let alone 'is name, which were quite agin 'im, he wasn't the man for our money, and I see at once he didn't go down like with the congregation. He were only about twenty-five, and a trifle under-sized, and at first sight didn't look anything at all out o' the common; but somehow I fancied there was a something in 'is eye and hangin' about his mouth that showed he'd got good stuff in 'im. Howsomdever, I didn't think he'd do for us, whatever he'd got stowed away. Well, be preached his sermon—a short straightaway sermon, what everybody could understand. It wasn't doctrinal, nor it were not poetical, but just practical, a-tellin' us as how everybody in the world had dooties to perform, from queen to pauper, and then a-goin' on about our dooties, and how we should stick to 'em and “never say die like—sort o'standin' by the ship, however the winds might roar and the sea rage.

Arter the meetin' we had a little gatherin’in the westry -just a few on us to talk matters over, don't

yer

knowand the only question seemed to be, should we go in for doctrine and elect the doctrinal chap, or wote for the poetical bloke?

« AnteriorContinuar »