|The woman ceased, and closed her eyes,
And long she lay, as if at rest,
Then opened wide her feeble arms,
And clasped her children to her breast.
And then aloft her hands she raised,
And heavenward gazed with beaming eyes,
“I see, I see, the Angel come,
I see him coming from the skies.”
“Good bye – good bye, my children dear,
My happy soul is caught away;
I hear, I hear, my Saviour call,
He calls me up, I cannot stay.”
Then soared her soul from that dark room,
Above the crowd of toiling folk,
Above the cross upon St. Paul’s,
Above the fog, above the smoke.
And higher, higher, up she went,
Until she saw the golden gate,
Where night and day, in shining bands.
The holy angels watch and wait.
And she went in and saw the King.
And heard the gracious words He spoke
To her, who in this sinful world,
Had meekly borne her daily yoke.
But sadly sobbed the little boys,
As from the bed of death they crept;
Upon the floor they sat them down,
And long and piteously they wept.
The dreary walls around them closed,
No father came to share their grief,
No friendly neighbour heard their cry,
None came with pity or relief.
They cried, until their tears were spent,
And darker still the chamber grew;
And then said little Christopher,
“Now, mother’s dead, what shall we do?”
Then John rose up, and with his sleeve,
He wiped away the last sad tear,
“Well, we must go, as mother said,
And tell the parish overseer.”
“But won’t the Angel come to us?”
“I cannot tell you,” John replied;
“I think he will, said Christopher,
My mother saw him, when she died.”
|They stumbled up the broken stairs,
And pushed their way along the street,
Whilst out of sight, an Angel bright,
Walked close behind, with shining feet.
He stood beside them at the door,
And heard the growling Overseer,
Then touched his heart with sudden smart,
And brought an unexpected tear.
“Here, lads,” he said, “divide this bread,
You both look hungry, any way,
We’ll see about the body, child,
And bury it on Wednesday.”
The hungry children ate the loaf,
And then the younger brother said
“Our mother told us right, you see,
That was all true about the bread.”
“It does seem so,” was John’s reply;
“I say, Chris, shan’t you be afraid
To go and sleep at home to-night,
All in the dark there with the dead?
“Why should we, John? dead folks don’t hurt,
She would not hurt us, if she could;
And as she laid upon the bed,
She looked so happy and so good.”
“Well, come down then – I’m no afraid.”
They entered in, and shut the door.
And made a bed, as best they could.
And laid them down upon the floor.
And soundly slept those little boys,
And dreamt about a far-off land,
With shining bowers, and lovely flowers.
And angels flying at command.
They’d never been beyond the town.
To see the beauteous works of God,
Not even seen the daisies spring
By thousands on the level sod.
They had not seen a robin’s nest,
Nor plucked a violet in the shade.
Nor stood beside a running brook,
And heard the pleasant sound it made.
They had not seen young lambs at play,
Nor gleaned among the autumn sheaves,
Nor listened to the pattering sound
Of falling rain upon the leaves.