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Now tell the poor young children, O my brothers,
To look up to Him and pray;
Will bless them another day.
While the rushing of the iron wheels is stirred ?
Pass by, hearing not, or answer not a word ;
Strangers speaking at the door :
Hears our weeping any more?
“ Two words, indeed, of praying we remember,
And at midnight's hour of harm,
We say softly for a charm.
And we think that, in some pause of angels' song, God may pluck them with the silence sweet to gather,
And hold both within His right hand which is strong. •Our Father! If He heard us, He would surely
(For they call Him good and mild) Answer, smiling down the steep world very purely,
• Come and rest with me, my child.'
“But no!” say the children, weeping faster,
“ He is speechless as a stone;
Who commands us to work on.
Dark, wheel-like, turning clouds are all we find.
We look up for God, but tears have made us blind." Do you hear the children weeping and disproving,
brothers, what ye preach ? For God's possible is taught by His world's loving
And the children doubt of each.
And well may the children weep before you !
They are weary ere they run :
Which is brighter than the sun :
They sink in man's despair, without its calm ;
Are martyrs, by the pang without the palm ; Are worn, as if with age, yet unretrievingly
The harvest of its memories cannot reap,-
Let them weep! let them weep!
And their look is dread to see,
With eyes turned on Deity ;-
Will you stand, to move the world, on a child's heart,Stifle down with a mailed heel its palpitation,
And tread onward to your throne amid the mart?
And your purple shows your path!
Than the strong man in his wrath !”
MRS. B.'S ALARMS.
BY JAMES PAYN.
MRS. B. is my wife, and her alarms are those produced by a delusion under which she labours, that there are assassins, gnomes, vampires, or what not, in our house at night, and that it is my bounden duty to leave my bed at any hour or temperature, and to do battle with the same, in very inadequate apparel. The circumstances which attend Mrs. Bi's alarms are generally of the following kind : I am awakened by the mention of my baptismal name in that peculiar species of whisper which has something uncanny in its very nature, besides the dismal associations which belong to it, from the fact of its being used only in melodramas and sick-rooms.
“ Henry, Henry, Henry.”
How many times she had repeated this I know not; the sound falls on my ears like the lapping of a hundred waves, or as the “Robin Crusoe, Robin Crusoe," of the parrot smote upon the ear of the terrified islander of Defoe; but at last, I wake to view, by the dim fire-light, this vision : Mrs. B. is sitting up beside me, in a listening att tude of the very intensest kind; her night-cap (one with cherry-coloured ribbons, such as it can be no harm to speak about) is tucked back behind each ear, her hair
-in paper—is rolled out of the way upon each side like a banner furled; her eyes are rather wide open, and her mouth very much so; her fingers would be held up to command attention, but that she is supporting herself in a somewhat absurd manner upon her hands.
“ Henry, did you hear that?
The disturbance referred to is that caused by a mouse nibbling at the wainscot; and I venture to say so much in a tone of the deepest conviction.
“No, no, Henry ; it's not the least like that: it's a file working at the bars of the pantry window. I will stake my existence, Henry, that it is a file.'
Whenever my wife makes use of this particular form of words, I know that opposition is useless. I rise, therefore, and put on my slippers and dressing-gown. Mrs. B. refuses to let me have the candle, because she will die of terror, if she is left alone without a light. She puts the poker into my hand, and with a gentle violence is about to expel me from the chamber, when a sudden thought strikes her.
“Stop a bit, Henry,” she exclaims, “ until I have looked into the cupboards and places,” which she proceeded to do most minutely, investigating even the short drawers of a foot-and-a-half square. I am at length dismissed upon my perilous errand, and Mrs. B. locks and double
locks the door behind me with a celerity that almost catches my retreating garment. My expedition therefore combines all the dangers of a sally, with the additional disadvantage of having my retreat into my own fortress cut off.
Thus cumbrously, but ineffectually caparisoned, I perambulate the lower stories of the house in darkness, in search of the disturber of Mrs. B.'s repose, which, I am well convinced, is behind the wainscot of her own apartment, and nowhere else. The pantry, I need not say, is as silent as the grave, and about as cold. The great clock in the kitchen looks spectral enough by the light of the expiring embers, but there is nothing there with life except black beetles, which crawl in countless numbers over my naked ankles. There is a noise in the cellar such as Mrs. B. would at once identify with the suppressed converse of anticipated burglars, but which I recognize in a moment as the dripping of the small beer cask, whose tap is troubled with a nervous disorganization of that kind.
What a scream that was ! There it comes again, and there is no doubt this time as to who is the owner of that terrified voice. Mrs. B.'s alarms have evidently taken some other direction. Henry, Henry,” she cries in tones of a very tolerable pitch. A lady being in the case, I fly upon the wings of domestic love. I arrive at my wife's chamber; the screams continue, but the door is locked.
"Open, open!" shout I.“What on earth is the matter?"
There is silence: then a man's voice—that is to say, my wife's voice in imitation of a man's—replies in tones of indignant ferocity, to convey the idea of a life-preserver being under the pillow of the speaker, and ready to his hand :
“Who are you—what do
“ You very silly woman,” I answered, not from unpoliteness, but because I find that that sort of language recovers and assures her of my identity better than any other, “why, it's I.”
The door is then opened about six or seven inches, and I am admitted with all the precaution which attends the entrance of an ally into a besieged garrison.
Mrs. B., now leaning upon my shoulder, dissolves into
copious tears, and points to the door communicating with my attiring-chamber.
- There's sur-sur-somebody been snoring in your dressing-room ,” she sobs, “all the time you were away."
This statement is too much for my sense of humour, and although sympathising very tenderly with poor Mrs. B., I cannot help bursting into a little roar of laughter. Laughter and fears are deadly enemies, and I can see at once that Mrs. B. is all the better for this explosion.
Consider, my love," I reason, “consider the extreme improbability of a burglar or other nefarious person making such a use of the few precious hours of darkness as to go to sleep in them! Why, too, should be take a bedstead without a mattress, which I believe is the case in this particular supposition of yours when there were feather-beds unoccupied in other apartments ? Moreover, would not this be a still greater height of recklessness in such an individual, should he have a habit of snoring.”
A slight noise in the dressing-room, occasioned by the venetian blind tapping against the window, here causes Mrs. B. to bury her head with extreme swiftness, ostrichlike, beneath the pillow, so that the peroration of my argument is lost upon her. I enter the suspected chamber —this time with a lighted candle—and find my trousers, with the boots in them, hanging over the bedside something after the manner of a drunken marauder, but nothing more. Neither is there anybody reposing under the shadow of my boot-tree upon the floor. All is peace there, and at sixes and sevens as I left it upon retiringas I had hoped to rest.
Once more I stretch my chilled and tired limbs upon the couch, sweet sleep once more begins to woo my eyelids, when “ Henry, Henry," again dissolves the dim and half-formed dream.
“ Are you certain, Henry, that you looked in the shower-bath? I am almost sure that I heard somebody pulling the string.'
On one memorable night, and on one only, have I found it necessary to use that formidable weapon which habit