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HE light was low in the school-room,

The day before Christmas day,
Had ended. It was darkening in the garden,

Where the silent children play.

Throughout that House of Pity,

The soundless lessons said,
The noiseless sport suspended,

The voiceless tasks all said.

The little deaf-mute children,

As still as still could be, Gathered about the master,

Sepsitive, swift to see.

With their fine attentive fingers

And their wonderful, watchful eyes, What dumb joy he would bring them

For the Christmas eve's surprise!

The lights blazed out in the school-room:

The play-ground went dark as death; The master moved in a halo;

The children held their breath.

“I show you now a wonder--

The Audiphone,” he said.
He spoke in their silent language,

Like the language of the dead.

And answering spake the children,

As the dead might answer too; “But what for us, O master ?

This may be good for you;

“But how is our Christmas coming

Out of a wise machine ? For not like other children's

Have our happy hours been;

“And not like other children's

Can they now or ever be!" But the master smiled through the halo;

"Just trust a mystery.

"O my children, for a little

As those who suffer must! Great 'tis to bear denial,

But grand it is to trust."

Then to the waiting marvel

The listening children leant, Like listeners, the shadows

Across the school-room bent.

Quick signalled then the master,

Sweet sang the hidden choirTheir voices, wild and piercing,

Broke like a long desire



That to content has strengthened,

Glad the clear strains outrang: .“ Nearer to Thee, oh, nearer !

The pitying singers sang. “ Nearer to Thee, oh, nearer,

Nearer, my God, to thee!Awestruck, the silent children

Hear the great harmony.

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F thou dost bid thy friend farewell,

Tho' but for one night that farewell may be,
Press thou his palm with thine!—how canst

thou tell
How far from thee

Fate or caprice may lead his feet,
Ere that to-morrow comes ? Men have been known
To lightly turn the corner of a street,

And days have grown

To months, and months to lagging years,

Before they looked in loving eyes again, Parting, at best, is underlaid with tears,

With tears and pain.

Therefore, lest sudden death should come between,

Or time or distance, clasp with pressure true, The hand of him who goeth forth;unseen,

Fate goeth, too.

Yea, find thou alway time to say

Some earnest word between the idle talk; Lest with thee henceforth, ever, night and day,

Regret should walk.

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