+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

The kindly sounds have reached her there;
   Have roused a feeling dim,
Amid the lonesomeness of death,
That some one, on a prayerful breath,
   Her passing soul might bear;
Perhaps through her exhausted frame
Some strong, mysterious impulse came
   From Him who brought her there.
And, in its strength, she dragged her feet
Round to a struggling village street,
   And reached a house of prayer.
She saw not how red men and white,
(The sudden glow, the glare of light,
   Those heavy eyes made blind),
Were stirring, 'neath the breath intense
Of one young preacher's eloquence
   Like corn before the wind.
At last the listless ear was met
   By one consoling word:
"A mother; yes, she,may forget:
will not, saith the Lord."
And, from the preacher's lips there sprung
The grand poetic Indian tongue,
The while his reaching fancy strove
To paint that holiest earthly love
A mother's; and he told a tale
So like her own it made her veil
Her eyes, lest, with a look at him,
She might dispel a blissful dream.
And, as her ear the rich voice drank,
A wild hope, with it, rose and sank,
And thus unto an end he drew:
"Her fate, oh, would to God I knew !
   Alive, or dead, I cannot tell;
But well I know that mother's love
Here pining, or at peace above,
   Hath not forgotten Claude d'Estrelle!"
She made no cry, she heard the name;
   A little lower sank her head:
A gentle pause of being came,
   And well it did, or life had fled.
No other words, nor prayer, nor hymn,
   Nor gathering feet the long trance broke,
Till, with each sense confused and dim,
   At last upon his arm she woke,
And saw compassion soft and warm
   Rain o'er her from his full dark eye,
And felt as one beneath a charm,
   Content for ever thus to lie:
Her heart so weak with the excess
Of its unspoken happiness.
Yet, from her lips his own words fell
"Hath not forgotten Claude d'Estrelle."
And then her shaking hand did seek
To part his hair, to touch his cheek;
The voice, the touch, the loving eyes,
Did link up broken memories
   That could not be withstood;
His life with Nature and with Heaven
To him had quick perceptions given:
   His heart was at the flood;
It moved him on, he could not speak,
But, with strong weeping clasped her neck.
And sobbing women, at the scene,
Dropped tear for tear with hardened men;
And e'en the Indians of the wood
Like weeping children round them stood
Till one old thankful heart did stay
The whirl of joy, with "Let us pray!"

But oh, that quiet, joyful night,
   While Claude and his fair girlish wife
Moved round her with such proud delight;
   Now stopped to weep at her past life,
Now gently chafed the blistered feet,
Anon between them moved her seat;
Now, as they sat, the way-worn brow
   Was pressed against the golden hair
Or to the blooming cheek; and now
   Claude's glowing lips were meeting there.
Of Christmas hearths there never shone
A brighter, dearer, happier one.

I heard this story when I came
   In part from Claude, in part from one
Who called upon her mother's name
With deep remorse and burning shame,
   When friend and hireling all were gone,
And he, who but her gold had wed,
Approached not her infected bed.
Oh, for that one kind face that she
   So harshly drove away!
That sad, heart-breaking melody
   Did haunt her while she lay.
I went for Leena, and she came
(Hers the true love that does not blame,
   That "suffers and is kind")—
Touched the parched lips, and knew no fear,
Though Death was kissing them with her;
   Poured on the fevered mind
The dew of her forgiving love,
Till there Heaven's olive branch and dove
   A resting-place did find.
And but one fancy did remain
To hear that cradle hymn again.
And Leena would not that she died
With her last wish ungratified;
Sotrembling, through that silent room,
Amid Death's deeply gathering gloom
Sang with calm lips her fav'rite strain,
But with a heavy heart again:
Full well we knew the closing ear
   Would lose it all too soon;
That she, as its last notes drew near,
   Was dying with the tune.
And when the lullaby had ceased,
We saw she had been sung to rest.

Leena and I met once again.
A pleasant evening, after rain
And storm, her latter life hath been;
I watched her bend her eyes serene
   Upon the Book of Life,
And asked myself could they have seen
   So much of pain and strife?
And children's children unto her
As loving little teachers were;
A very presence from above,
That simple woman's faith and love.

For 1850 and 1851
May be had of all Booksellers
Price 2d. each