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THE SILENT CHILDREN.
ELIZABETH STUART PHELPS.
HE light was low in the school-room,
The day before Christmas day,
Where the silent children play.
Throughout that House of Pity,
The soundless lessons said,
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.
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
THE SILENT CHILDREN.
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.
M. E. W. SHERWOOD.
F thou dost bid thy friend farewell,
Tho' but for one night that farewell may be,
Fate or caprice may lead his feet,
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.