Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Day Is Done

The day is done, and the darkness
Falls from the wings of Night,
As a feather is wafted downward
From an eagle in his flight.
I see the lights of the village
Gleam through the rain and the mist,
And a feeling of sadness comes o'er me,
That my soul cannot resist:
A feeling of sadness and longing,
That is not akin to pain,
And resembles sorrow only
As the mist resembles rain.
Come, read to me some poem,
Some simple and heartfelt lay,
That shall soothe this restless feeling,
And banish the thoughts of day.
Not from the grand old masters,
Not from the bards sublime,
Whose distant footsteps echo
Through the corridors of Time.
For, like strains of martial music,
Their mighty thoughts suggest
Life's endless toil and endeavor;
And tonight I long for rest.
Read from some humbler poet,
Whose songs gushed from his heart,
As showers from the clouds of summer,
Or tears from the eyelids start;
Who through long days of labor,
And nights devoid of ease,
Still heard in his soul the music
Of wonderful melodies.
Such songs have power to quiet
The restless pulse of care,
And come like the benediction
That follows after prayer.
Then read from the treasured volume
The poem of thy choice,
And lend to the rhyme of the poet
The music of thy voice.
And the night shall be filled with music~
And the cares that infest the day
Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs,
And as silently steal away.

HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW

Animal Crackers

Animal crackers, and cocoa to drink,
That is the finest of suppers, I think;
When I'm grown up and can have what I please,
I think I shall always insist upon these.
What do you choose when you're offered a treat?
When Mother says, "What would you like best to eat?"
Is it waffles and syrup, or cinnamon toast?
It's cocoa and animals that I love the most!
The kitchen's the coziest place that I know:
The kettle is singing, the stove is aglow,
And there in the twilight, how jolly to see
The cocoa and animals waiting for me.
Daddy and Mother dine later in state,
With Mary to cook for them, Susan to wait;
But they don't have nearly as much fun as I
Who eat in the kitchen with Nurse standing by;
And Daddy once said he would like to be me
Having cocoa and animals once more for tea!

CHRISTOPHER MORLEY

Courage

Dare to be true;
 Nothing can need a lie;
The fault that needs one most
 Grows two thereby.

GEORGE HERBERT

The Knight's Leap

So the foemen have fired the gate, men of mine,
And the water is spent and gone?
Then bring me a cup of the red Ahr-wine:
I never shall drink but this one:
And reach me my harness, and saddle my horse,
And lead him me round to the door:
He must take such a leap tonight perforce
As horse never took before.

I have fought my fight, I have lived my life,
I have drunk my share of wine;
From Trier to Coin there was never a knight
Led a merrier life than mine.
I have lived by the saddle for years two score;
And if I must die on tree,
Then the old saddle-tree, which has borne me of yore,
Is the properest timber for me.
So now to show Bishop, and burgher, and priest,
How the Altenahr hawk can die;
If they smoke the old falcon out of his nest,
He must take to his wings and fly!

He harnessed himself by the clear moonshine,
And he mounted his horse at the door;
And he drained such a cup of the red Ahr-wine
As man never drained before.
He spurred the old horse, and he held him tight,
And he leapt him out over the wall
Out over the cliff, out into the night,
Three hundred feet of fall.
They found him next morning below in the glen,
With never a bone in him whole.
A mass or a prayer, now, good gentlemen,
For such a bold rider's soul.

CHARLES KINGSLEY

On a Quiet Conscience

Close thine eyes, and sleep secure;
Thy soul is safe, thy body sure.
He that guards thee, He that keeps,
Never slumbers, never sleeps.
A quiet conscience in thy breast
Has only peace, has only rest.
The wisest and the mirth of kings
Are out of tune unless she sings:
Then close thine eyes in peace and sleep secure,
No sleep so sweet as thine, no rest so sure.

CHARLES THE FIRST

Recompense

I never have had a look at the sea,
I who would love it so.
I never have watched from the surf-drenched shore
The brave ships come and go.
I do not know how the silent tides
Unfailingly ebb and flow.

God who is wise to his children's needs,
Gives me the wide low plain,
He gives me the wondrous, whispering grass,
The kildeer's sweet refrain,
And my reed-fringed pools are myriad seas,
After the last long rain.

I never have been where the mountains stand
Majestic - aloof - apart
But nightly the infinite star-crowned heights
Speak to my waiting heart,
And mine are the winds that are mountain-born,
And of seas they are a part.


GRACE NOLL CROWELL

Sea Fever

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a gray mist on the sea's face and a gray dawn breaking.
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the seagulls crying.
I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.

JOHN MASEFIELD

Theme in Yellow

I spot the hills
With yellow balls in autumn
I light the prairie cornfields
Orange and tawny gold clusters
And I am called pumpkins.
On the last of October
When dusk is fallen
Children join hands
And circle round me
Singing ghost songs
And love to the harvest moon;
I am a jack-o'-lantern
With terrible teeth
And the children know
I am fooling.

CARL SANDBURG

Pirate Don Durk of Dowdee

Ho, for the Pirate Don Durk of Dowdee!
He was as wicked as wicked could be,
But oh, he was perfectly gorgeous to see!
The Pirate Don Durk of Dowdee.
His conscience, of course, was as black as a bat,
But he had a floppety plume on his hat
And when he went walking it jiggled - like that!
The plume of the Pirate Dowdee.

His coat it was crimson and cut with a slash,
And often as ever he twirled his mustache
Deep down in the ocean the mermaids went splash,
Because of Don Durk of Dowdee.
Moreover, Dowdee had a purple tattoo,
And stuck, in his belt where he buckled it through
Were a dagger, a dirk, and a squizzamaroo,
For fierce was the Pirate Dowdee.
So fearful he was, he would shoot at a puff,
And always at sea when the weather grew rough
He drank from a bottle and wrote on his cuff,
Did Pirate Don Durk of Dowdee.

Oh, he had a cutlass that swung at his thigh
And he had a parrot called Pepperkin Pye,
And a zigzaggy scar at the end of his eye
Had Pirate Don Durk of Dowdee.
He kept in a cavern, this buccaneer bold,
A curious chest that was covered with mould,
And all of his pockets were jingly with gold!
Oh jing! went the gold of Dowdee.

His conscience, of course, it was crook'd like a squash,
But both of his boots made a slickery slosh,
And he went through the world with a wonderful swash,
Did Pirate Don Durk of Dowdee.
It's true he was wicked as wicked could be,
His sins they outnumbered a hundred and three,
But oh, he was perfectly gorgeous to see!
The Pirate Don Durk of Dowdee.

MILDRED PLEW MERRYMAN

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Dukite Snake

Well, mate, you’ve asked about a fellow
You met today, in a black-and-yellow
Chain-gang suit, with a peddler’s pack,
Or with some such burden, strapped to his back.
Did you meet him square? No, passed you by?
Well, if you had, and had looked in his eye,
You’d have felt for your irons then and there;
For the light in his eye is a madman’s glare.
Ay, mad, poor fellow! I know him well,
And if you’re not sleepy just yet, I’ll tell
His story, a strange one as ever you heard
Or read; but I’ll vouch for it, every word.

You just wait a minute, mate: I must see
How that damper’s doing, and make some tea.
You smoke? That’s good; for there’s plenty of weed
In that wallaby skin. Does your horse feed
In the hobbles? Well, he’s got good feed here,
And my own old bush mare won’t interfere.
Done with that meat? Throw it there to the dogs,
And fling on a couple of banksia logs.

And now for the story.

 That man who goes
Through the bush with the pack and the convict’s clothes
Has been mad for years; but he does no harm,
And our lonely settlers feel no alarm
When they see or meet him. Poor Dave Sloane
Was a settler once, and a friend of my own.
Some eight years back, in the spring of the year,
Dave came from Scotland, and settled here.
A splendid young fellow he was just then,
And one of the bravest and truest men
That I ever met: he was kind as a woman
To all who needed a friend, and no man—
Not even a convict—met with his scorn,
For David Sloane was a gentleman born.
Ay, friend, a gentleman, though it sounds queer:
There’s plenty of blue blood flowing out here,
And some younger sons of your “upper ten”
Can be met with here, first-rate bushmen.
Why, friend, I—Bah! curse that dog! you see
This talking so much has affected me.

Well, Sloane came here with an axe and a gun;
He bought four miles of a sandal-wood run.
This bush at that time was a lonesome place,
So lonesome the sight of a white man’s face
Was a blessing, unless it came at night,
And peered in your hut, with the cunning fright
Of a runaway convict; and even they
Were welcome, for talk’s sake, while they could stay.

Dave lived with me here for a while, and learned
The tricks of the bush, how the snare was laid
In the wallaby track, how traps were made,
How ’possums and kangaroo rats were killed,
And when that was learned, I helped him to build
From mahogany slabs a good bush hut,
And showed him how sandal-wood logs were cut.
I lived up there with him days and days,
For I loved the lad for his honest ways.

I had only one fault to find: at first
Dave worked too hard; for a lad who was nursed,
As he was, in idleness, it was strange
How he cleared that sandal-wood off his range.
From the morning light till the light expired
He was always working, he never tired;
Till at length I began to think his will
Was too much settled on wealth, and still
When I looked at the lad’s brown face, and eye
Clear open, my heart gave such thought the lie.
But one day—for he read my mind—he laid
His hand on my shoulder: “Don’t be afraid,”
Said he, “that I’m seeking alone for pelf.
I work hard, friend; but ’tis not for myself.”

And he told me then, in his quiet tone,
Of a girl in Scotland, who was his own,
His wife,—’twas for her: ’twas all he could say,
And his clear eye brimmed as he turned away.
After that he told me the simple tale:
They had married for love, and she was to sail
For Australia when he wrote home and told
The oft-watched-for story of finding gold.

In a year he wrote, and his news was good:
He had bought some cattle and sold his wood.
He said, “Darling, I’ve only a hut, but come.”
Friend, a husband’s heart is a true wife’s home;
And he knew she’d come. Then he turned his hand
To make neat the house, and prepare the land
For his crops and vines; and he made that place
Put on such a smiling and homelike face,
That when she came, and he showed her round
His sandal-wood and his crops in the ground,
And spoke of the future, they cried for joy,
The husband’s arm clasping his wife and boy.

Well, friend, if a little of heaven’s best bliss
Ever comes from the upper world to this,
It came into that manly bushman’s life,
And circled him round with the arms of his wife.
God bless that bright memory! Even to me,
A rough, lonely man, did she seem to be,
While living, an angel of God’s pure love,
And now I could pray to her face above.
And David he loved her as only a man
With a heart as large as was his heart can.
I wondered how they could have lived apart,
For he was her idol, and she his heart.

Friend, there isn’t much more of the tale to tell:
I was talking of angels awhile since. Well,
Now I’ll change to a devil,—ay, to a devil!
You needn’t start: if a spirit of evil
Ever came to this world its hate to slake
One mankind, it came as a Dukite Snake.

Like? Like the pictures you’ve seen of Sin,
A long red snake, as if what was within
Was fire that gleamed through his glistening skin.
And his eyes!—if you could go down to hell
And come back to your fellows here and tell
What the fire was like, you could find no thing,
Here below on the earth, or up in the sky,
To compare it to but a Dukite’s eye!

Now, mark you, these Dukites don’t go alone:
There’s another near when you see but one;
And beware you of killing that one you see
Without finding the other; for you may be
More than twenty miles from the spot that night,
When camped, but you’re tracked by the lone Dukite,
That will follow your trail like Death or Fate,
And kill you as sure as you killed its mate!

Well, poor Dave Sloane had his young wife here
Three months,—’twas just this time of the year.
He had teamed some sandal-wood to the Vasse,
And was homeward bound, when he saw in the grass
A long red snake: he had never been told
Of the Dukite’s ways,—he jumped to the road,
And smashed its flat head with the bullock-goad!

He was proud of the red skin, so he tied
Its tail to the cart, and the snake’s blood dyed
The bush on the path he followed that night.
He was early home, and the dead Dukite
Was flung at the door to be skinned next day.
At sunrise next morning he started away
To hunt up his cattle. A three hours’ ride
Brought him back: he gazed on his home with pride
And joy in his heart; he jumped from his horse
And entered—to look on his young wife’s corse,
And his dead child clutching his mother’s clothes
As in fright; and there, as he gazed, arose
From her breast, where ’twas resting, the gleaming head
Of the terrible Dukite, as if it said,
“I’ve had vengeance, my foe: you took all I had.”

And so had the snake—David Sloane was mad!
I rode to his hut just by chance that night,
And there on the threshold the clear moonlight
Showed the two snakes dead. I pushed in the door
With an awful feeling of coming woe:
The dead was stretched on the moonlit floor,
The man held the hand of his wife,—his pride,
His poor life’s treasure,—and crouched by her side.
O God! I sank with the weight of the blow.

I touched and called him: he heeded me not,
So I dug her grave in a quiet spot,
And lifted them both,—her boy on her breast,—
And laid them down in the shade to rest.
Then I tried to take my poor friend away,
But he cried so woefully, “Let me stay
Till she comes again!” that I had no heart
To try to persuade him then to part
From all that was left to him here,—her grave;
So I stayed by his side that night, and, save
One heart-cutting cry, he uttered no sound,—
O God! that wail—like the wail of a hound!

’Tis six long years since I heard that cry,
But ’twill ring in my ears till the day I die.
Since that fearful night no one has heard
Poor David Sloane utter sound or word.
You have seen to-day how he always goes:
He’s been given that suit of convict’s clothes
By some prison officer. On his back
You noticed a load like a peddler’s pack?
Well, that’s what he lives for: when reason went,
Still memory lived, for the days are spent
In searching for Dukites; and year by year
That bundle of skins is growing. ’Tis clear
That the Lord out of evil some good still takes;
For he’s clearing this bush of the Dukite snakes.

When Brownie Died

He was only a dog-and not a pedigreed dog, at that. Reckoned in dollars and cents, the loss occasioned by his death was inconsiderable. But he was a friendly dog, on speaking and romping terms with every child in the neighborhood, and to the tender heart of childhood his death was something akin to a calamity. At noon one day he darted in front of my car and both wheels passed over his body.

His front legs were broken, but by using his hind legs and his nose, he half dragged, half jerked his shattered frame to the parking, where he stretched out to die. School had just dismissed, and in a very short time a solemn circle of children formed about him. I shall never forget the picture; the noon-day sun shining down upon a mangled dog; the circle of sorrowing children who had romped with him but a few hours before, and who loved him as only children can love a canine friend; one of the little lads with his hat removed-an unconscious recognition of the presence of death; quivering lips and moistened eyes all about; truly, a tragedy of childhood.
 He was only a dog-but he loved the children, and his last act was to raise his head, gaze at the circle of pitying eyes, wag his tail as a token of friendship-and then the light went out. He was only a dog-but the grief of that group of children was inexpressible, and, though it was no fault of mine, I felt strangely like a criminal who had robbed childhood of one of its dearest possessions. Through her tears, my dark.eyed girl asked me to write something about "Brownie." It was my car that killed him. It shall be my pen to sing his requiem.

 No dog was he of pedigree-but when his mangled frame lay stretched beneath the noonday sun, the little children came And formed a silent circle 'round the spot where "Brownie's" breath was coming in convulsive gasps-the agony of death. And when the end approached, he raised his head from off the ground And turned a loving eye upon his playmates gathered 'round, And bade them all a mute farewell, and bravely, feebly tried to wag his friendly tail-and it was thus that "Brownie" died.

 No dog was he of pedigree-but when he lifeless lay, the silent band of children there dispersed and walked away. With bitter tears and heaving sobs, and sad, dejected air, and the glory of the noonday sun seemed clouded everywhere. And when the word went swiftly forth that "Brownie" met his end.

From blocks around the kiddies came to see their faithful friend, and gazed awhile in silent awe, and mutely turned aside to hide the covert tears that flowed the day that "Brownie" died. No dog was he of pedigree-but figures of the mart can not compute or value the affections of the heart; And some will say there's one dog less to clutter up the street, and just a dollar lopped from off the next year's tax receipt; but the loss to happy childhood, in whose heart he was enshrined ... is something that can never be computed or defined, and the measure of their grief was such that furtively, a tear that welled up from my heart the day that "Brownie" died.

No dog was he of pedigree-and theologians say the soul of him will not survive to greet the Judgment Day; But little children loved him, and his mission here on earth was to make the children happy-and he thereby proved his worth. And despite my churchly teachings, something whispers , that if children go to heaven, faithful dogs will go there too, and abiding love assures me that a soul all true and tried went to romp with heaven's children on the day that "Brownie" died!

-Phil Carspecken

Lady Paying Her Fare

Ladies, have you ever noticed one of your own sex paying her fare on a street car?
 I saw one today and here's what happened.
Woman with satchel enters car, sits down; enter conductor, asks fare; woman opens satchel, takes out purse, shuts satchel, opens purse, takes out dime, shuts purse, opens satchel, puts in purse, shuts satchel, offers dime, receives nickel, opens satchel, takes out purse, shuts satchel, opens purse, puts in nickel, closes purse, opens satchel, puts in purse, closes satchel. "Stop the car, please."

Guilty Or Not Guilty

She stood at the bar of justice,
A creature wan and wild;
In form, too small for a woman,
In features, too old for a child,
For a look, so worn, and pathetic,
Was stamped on her pale young face,
It seemed long years of suffering,
Must have left that silent trace.

"Your name," said the Judge, as he eyed her,
With a kindly look, yet keen,
"Is Mary McGuire, if you please, sir."
"And your age?" "I'm turned fifteen."
"Well, Mary," and from a paper he slowly and gravely read.
"Y ou are charged here, I am sorry to say it,
With stealing three loaves of bread.
You don't look like an old offender,
And I hope that you can show
The charge is false-Now tell me
Are you guilty of this or no?"

A passionate burst of weeping was,
at first, her sole reply,
But she dried her tears in a moment
and looked in the judge's eye.
"I will tell you just how it was, sir,
My father and mother are dead,
and my little brothers and sisters were hungry,
and asked me for bread.

At first I earned it for them,
by working hard all day,
But somehow the times grew hard, sir,
and work all fell away.
I could get no more employment,
the weather was bitter cold,
The little ones cried and shivered,
Little Johnnie's but four years old.

So what was I to do, sir,
I am guilty, but do not condemn,
I took, (0 God was it stealing)
the bread to give to them.
one so learned in such matters,
so wise in dealing with men,
seemed on a simple sentence,
sorely puzzled just then.

And no one blamed him or wondered,
when he went to her and smiled
And kindly led from the court room himself,
the Guilty Child.
Everyone in the courtroom,
grey-bearded and thoughtless youth,
Knew as they looked upon her,
that the prisoner spoke the truth.

Out from their pockets came handkerchiefs,
out from their eyes came tears,
And out from old, faded wallets,
treasures hoarded for years.
The judge's face was a study,
the strangest ever you saw,
As he cleared his throat and murmured
something about the law.

-Anonymous

If I Were Sending My Boy Afar

If I were sending my boy afar
To live and labor where strangers are,
I should hold him close till the time to go,
Telling him things which he ought to know;
I should whisper counsel and caution wise,
Hinting of dangers which might arise,
And tell him the things I have learned from life,
Of its bitter pain and its cruel strife
And the sore temptations which men beset,
And then add this: "Boy, don't forget
When your strength gives out and your hope grows dim,
Your father will help if you'll come to him."
If I were sending my boy away,
I should hold him close on the parting day
And give him my trust. Through thick and thin
I should tell him I counted on him to win,
To keep his word at whatever cost,
To play the man though his fight be lost.
But beyond all that I should whisper low;
"If trouble comes, let your father know;
Come to him, son, as you used to do
When you were little, he'll see you through.
I am trusting you in a distant land.
You trust your father to understand.
Trust me wherever you chance to be,
Know there is nothing to hide from me,
Tell me it all-your tale of woe,
The sting of failure that hurts you so.
Never, whatever your plight may be,
Think it something to hide from me;
Come to me first in your hour of need,
Come though you know that my heart will bleed;
Boy, when the shadows of trouble fall,
Come to your father first of all."

-Edgar A. Guest

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Two Church Spiders

Two spiders, so the story goes,
Upon a living bent,
Entered a church-building one day,
And hopefully were heard to say,
"Here we will have at least fair play,
With nothing to prevent."
Each chose his place and went to work
The light web grew apace;
One on the altar spun his thread,
But shortly came the sexton dread
And swept him off, and so, half dead,
He sought another place.
"I'll try the pulpit next," said he,
"There surely is a prize;
The desk appears so neat and clean,
I'm sure no spider there has been
Besides, how often have I seen
The pastor brushing flies."
He spun his threads, but alas!
His hopes proved visionary;
With dusting-brush the sexton came,
And spoiled his geometric game,
Nor gave him time or space to claim
The right of sanctuary.
At length, half starved, and weak and lean,
He sought his former neighbor,
Who now had grown so sleek and round,
He weighed a fraction of a pound,
And looked as if the art he'd found
Of living without labor.
"How is it, friend," he asked,
"That I endured such thumps and knocks
While you have grown so very gross?"
" 'Tis plain," he answered "not a loss
I've met, since first I spun across
The contribution box."

-Anonymous

Boy Or Girl

Some folks pray for a boy, and some
For a golden-haired little girl to come.
Some claim to think there is more of joy
Wrapped up in the smile of a little boy,
While others pretend that the silky curls
And plump, pink cheeks of the little girls
Bring more of bliss to the old home place
Than a small boy's queer little freckled face.
Now which is better, I couldn't say
If the Lord should ask me to choose to-day;
If He should put in a call for me,
And say: "Now, what shall your order be,
A boy or girl: I have both in store,
Which of the two are you waiting for?"
I'd say with one of my broadest grrins:
"Send either one, if it can't be twins."
I've heard it said to some people's shame
They cried with grief when a small boy came,

For they wanted a girl.
And some folks I know
Who wanted a boy just took on so,
When a girl was sent.
But it seems to me
That mothers and fathers should happy be
To think when 'the stork has come and gone
That the Lord would trust them with either one.
Boy or girl? There can be no choice;
There's something lovely in either voice,
And all that I ask the Lord to do
Is to see that the Mother comes safely through,
And guard the baby and have it well,
With a perfect form, and a healthy yell,
And a pair of eyes, and a shock of hair
The boy or girl-and its dad won't care.

-Edgar A. Guest

Don't Quit

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you are trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh;
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must-but don't you quit.

Life is queer with' its twists and turns
As everyone of us sometimes learns,
And many a "failure" turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out';
Don't give up, though the pace seems slow,
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man;
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor's cup;
And he learned too late, when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.



Tell Him Now

If with pleasure you are viewing any work a man is doing,
If you like him or you love him, tell him now;
Don't withhold your approbation 'til the parson makes oration
As he lies with snowy lilies o'er his brow;
For no matter how you shout it, he won't really care about it;
He won't know how many tear drops you have shed;
If you think some praise is due him, now's the time to slip it to him,
For he cannot read his tombstone when he's dead!

More than fame and more than money is the comment kind and sunny,
And the hearty warm approval of a friend;
For it gives to, life a savor, and it makes you stronger, braver,
And it gives you heart and spirit to the end;
If he earns your praise, bestow it; if you like him let him know it;
Let the words of true encouragement be said;
Do not wait till life is over and he's underneath the clover,
For he cannot read his tombstone when he's dead.

Anonymous

Going Home For Christmas

He little knew the sorrow that was in his vacant chair;
He never guessed they'd miss him or he'd surely have been there;
He couldn't see his mother or the lump that filled her throat,
Or the tears that started falling as she read his hasty note;
And, he couldn't see his father, sitting sorrowful and dumb,
Or he never would have written, that he thought he couldn't come.
He couldn't see the fading of the cheeks that once were pink,
And the silver in the tresses; and he didn't stop to think
How the years are passing swiftly, and next Christmas it might be
There would be no-home to visit and no mother dear to see;
He didn't think about it-I'll not say he didn't care
He was heedless and forgetful or he'd surely have been there.
Are you going home for Christmas?
Have you written you'll be there?
Going home to kiss the mother and to show her that you care?
Going home to greet the father in a way to make him glad?
If you're not I hope there'll never come a time you'll wish you had.
Just sit down and write a letter-it will make their heart strings hum
With a tune of perfect gladness-if you'll tell them that you'll come.

-Edgar A. Guest

A Father's Confession To His Son

Listen, Son:
I am saying this to you as you lie asleep, one little paw crumpled under your cheek and the blond curls stickily wet on your damp forehead. I have stolen into your room alone. Just a few minutes ago, as I sat reading my paper in the library, a hot, stifling wave of remorse swept over me. I could not resist it. Guiltily I came to your bedside. These are the things I was thinking, son:
I had been cross to you. I scolded you as you were dressing for school because you gave your face merely a dab with a towel. I took you to task for not cleaning your shoes. I called out angrily when I found you had thrown some of your things on the floor.
At breakfast I found fault, too. You spilled things. You gulped down your food. You put your elbows on the table. You spread butter too thick on your bread. And as you started off to play and I made for my train, you turned and waved a little hand and called, "Goodbye!" and I frowned, and said, "Hold your shoulders back."
Then it began all over again in the late afternoon. As I came up the hill road I spied you down on your knees playing marbles. There were holes in your stockings. I humiliated you before your friends by making you march ahead of me back to the house. Stockings were expensive -and if you had to buy them you would be more careful! Imagine that, son, from a father! It was such stupid, silly logic.
Do you remember, later, when I was reading in the library, how you came in, softly, timidly, with a sort of hurt, hunted look in your eyes? When I glanced up over my paper, impatient at the interruption, you hesitated at the door. "What is it you want?" I snapped.
You said nothing, but ran across, in one tempestuous plunge; and threw your arms around my neck and kissed me, again and again, and your small arms tightened with an affection that God has set blooming in your heart and which even neglect could not wither. And then you were gone, pattering up the stairs.
Well, son, it was shortly afterwards that my paper slipped from my hands and a terrible sickening fear came over me. Suddenly I saw myself as I really was, in all my horrible selfishness, and I felt sick at heart.
What had habit been doing to me? The habit of complaining, of finding fault, of reprimanding-all of these were my rewards to you for being a boy. It was not that I did not love you, it was that I expected so much of youth. I was measuring' you by the yardstick of my own years.
And there was so much that was good, and fine, and true in your character. You did hot deserve my treatment of you, son. The little heart of you was as big as the dawn itself over the wide hills. All this was shown by your spontaneous impulse to rush in and kiss me good night. Nothing else matters tonight, so I have come to your bedside in the darkness, and I have knelt there, choking with emotion, and so ashamed! It is a feeble atonement. I know you would not understand these things if I told them to you during your waking hours, yet I must say what I am saying. I must burn sacrificial fires alone, here in your bedroom, and make free confession. And I have prayed God to strengthen me in my new resolve. Tomorrow I will be a real daddy! I will chum with you, and suffer when you suffer and laugh when you laugh. I'll be a real daddy.

-Author unknown.

Was Merely Whisperin' Bill

So you're takin' the census, mister?
There's three of us livin' still,
My wife and I, an' our only son,
that folks call Whisperin' Bill;
But Bill couldn't tell ye his name, sir,
an' so it's hardly worth givin' ,
For ye see a bullet killed his mind,
an' left his body livin'.

Set down for a minute, mister;
ye see Bill was only fifteen
At the time O' the war,
an' as likely a boy as ever this world has seen;
An' what with the news of battles lost,
the speeches an' all the noise,
I guess every farm in the neighborhood
lost a part of its crop O' boys.

'Twas the harvest time when Bill left home;
every stalk in the fields of rye
Seemed to stand tip-top to see him off
an' wave a fond good-bye;
His sweetheart was here with some other girls
-the sassy little miss!
An' pretendin' she wanted to whisper
in his ear, she gave him a rousin' kiss.

Oh, he was a handsome feller,
an' tender an' brave an' smart.
An' tho' he was bigger than I was,
the boy had a woman's heart.
I couldn't control my feelin's,
but I tried with all my might.
An' his mother an' me stood a-cryin'
till Bill was out o' sight.

His mother she often told him
 when she knew he was goin' away,
That God would take care o' him,
 maybe, if he didn't forgit to pray;
An' on the bloodiest battle-fields,
when bullets whizzed in the air
An' Bill was a-fightin' desperit,
 he used to whisper a prayer.

Oh, his comrades has often told me
that Bill never flinched a bit,
When every second a gap in the ranks
 told where a ball had hit.
An' one night when the field was covered
 with the awful harvest o' war.
They found my boy 'mongst the martyrs
 o' the cause he was fightin' for.

His fingers were clutched in the dewy grass
 — oh, no, sir, he wasn't dead,
But he lay sort of helpless an' crazy
 with a rifle-ball in his head ;
An' if Bill had really died that night
 I'd give all I've got worth givin';
For ye see the bullet had killed his mind
 an' left his body livin'.

An officer wrote an' told us how
 the boy had been hurt in the fight,
But he said that the doctors reckoned
 they could bring him round all right,
An' then we heard from a neighbor,
 dis- abled at Malvern Hill,
That he thought in the course of a week or so
he'd be comin' home with Bill.

We was that anxious t' see him
we'd set up an' talk o' nights
Till the break o' day had dimmed the stars
an' put out the northern lights;
We waited an' watched for a month or more,
an' the Summer was nearly past.
When a letter came one day that said
 they'd started for home at last.

I'll never forgit the day Bill came
 'twas harvest-time again
An' the air-bloom over the yellow fields
 was sweet with the scent o' the grain;
The door-yard was full o' the neighbors,
 who had come to share our joy,
An' all of us sent up a mighty cheer
 at the sight o' that soldier boy.

An' all of a sudden somebody said:
"My God! don't the boy know his mother?"
An' Bill stood a-whisperin', fearful like,
 an' starin' from one to another:
"Don't be afraid. Bill," said he to himself,
 as he stood in his coat o' blue,
"Why, God'll take care o' you, Bill;
 God'll take care o' you."

He seemed to be loadin' an' firin' a gun,
an' to act like a man who hears
 The awful roar o' the battle-field
a-soundin' in his ears;
I saw that the bullet had touched his brain
 an' somehow made it blind,
With the picture o' war before his eyes
 an' the fear o' death in his mind.

I grasped his hand, an' says I to Bill,
 "Don't ye remember me?
I'm yer father — don't ye know me?
 How frightened ye seem to be!"
But the boy kep' a-whisperin' to himself,
 as if 'twas all he knew,
"God'll take care o' you, Bill;
God'll take care o' you."

He's never known us since that day,
nor his sweetheart, an' never will:
Father an' mother an' sweetheart-
 are all the same to Bill.
An' many's the time his mother
 sets up the whole night through,
An' smooths his head, and says:
"Yes, Bill, God'll take care o' you."

Unfortunit? Yes, but we can't complain.
It's a livin' death more sad
 When the body chngs to a life o' shame
 an' the soul has gone to the bad;
An' Bill is out o' the reach
o'' harm an' danger of every kind.
We only take care of his body,
 but God takes care of his mind.

The Diet Squad

Ten plump and chubby matrons started out to diet;
One chanced upon a custard pie and couldn't help but try it.
Nine tubbies had for dinner an olive on a plate!
One smelled the doughnuts cooking and then there were eight!
Eight roly-polies thought that slenderness was heaven;
One went to a picnic and then there were seven.
Seven struggled valiantly their waistlines for to fix;
One walked by a baker's shop and then there were six.
Six chewed their lonesome carrots and tried to Jeep alive;
One attended a bridge luncheon and then there were five.
Five breakfasted on watered bran and vainly longed for more;
Her hubby brought home chocolate creams and then there were four.
Four gnawing, hollow stomachs, courageous as could be;
One day the maid made waffles and then there were three.
Three, stuck to counting calories 'till hollow-eye and blue;
One choked on pie with "a la mode" and then there were two.
Two survived on spinach soup and wished they'd ne'er begun;
A cheese souffle took one away and then there was but one.
One lone survivor weighed herself to see how well she'd done;
She found she'd gained a pound or two-and then there were none!


The Boy Who Scoffed At Santa Claus

"I don't believe in Santa Claus,
There ain't no such a man!
It's all a fairy tale, because
I know from Cousin Dan"
'Twas thus spoke Henry Lucius Stout,
A boy aged eight I knew.
His mother said, "You'd best watch out
You're standin' near the flue."

Now, Santa happened just to be
Upon the roof, right pat,
A-peekin' down if he could see
What Lucius Stout was at.
He heard those words with angry frown
And up and shook his head,
And took his book and wrote 'em down,
Exactly what he said.

When Christmas mornin' came around,
And Lucius ran to see
What he had got, alas! he found
His stockin' quite M.T.,
Except a note that he pulled out
Instead of some fine toy:
"I don't believe in Lucius Stout
There ain't no such a boy!"

-W illiam Wallace Whitelock

Why Is It?

Why is it the tenderest feet must tread the roughest road?
Why is it the weakest back must carry the heaviest load?
While the feet that are surest and firmest have the smoothest paths to go,
And the back that is straightest and strongest has never a burden to know.
Why is it the brightest eyes are the ones soon dimmed with tears?
Why is it the lightest heart must ache and ache for years?
While the eyes that are hardest and coldest shed never a bitter tear,
And the heart that is meanest and smallest has never an ache to fear.
Why is it those who are saddest have always the gayest laugh?
Why is it those who need not have always the biggest half?
While those who know never sorrow have never a smile to give,
And those who want just a little must strive and struggle to live.
Why is it the sweetest smile has for its sister sigh?
Why is it the strongest love is the love we always pass by?
While the smile that is cold and indifferent is the one for which we pray,
And the love we kneel and worship is only common clay.
Why is it the noblest thoughts are the ones never expressed?
Why is it the finest deeds are the ones never confessed?
While the thoughts that are lie all others are the ones we always tell,
And deeds worth little praise are the ones published well.
Why is it the friends we trust are the ones who always betray?
Why is it the lips we wish to kiss are the ones so far away?
While close by our side (if we knew it) is a friend who loyal would be,
And the lips we might have kissed are the lips we never see.
Why is it the things we all can have are the ones, we always refuse?
Why is it none of us live the lives (if we could) we'd choose?
While the things we all can have are the ones we always hate,
And life seems never complete no matter how long we wait.

-Author unknown.

Kittens and Babies

There were two little kittens, a black and a gray
And grandmama said, with a frown,
"It will never do to keep them both,
The black one we'd better drown."

"Don't cry, my dear," to tiny Bess
"One kitten's enough to keep;
Now, run to nurse, for it is growing late
And time you were fast asleep.

The morrow dawned, rosy and sweet
Came little Bess from her nap
The nurse said, "Go on down to momma's room
And look in grandmas lap."

"Come here," said grandma, with a smile,
from the rocking-chair where she sat,
"God has sent you two little sisters;
Now! What do you think about that?"

Bess looked at the babies a moment,
with their wee heads, yellow and brown,
And then to grandma soberly said,
"Which one are you going to drown?"