Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

And wept and railed because religion seemed

Only the thin ascending smoke of words,

The jangling rule of inharmonious chords;
Until - my false inductions to disprove-

Across my vision streamed
The glory of a life aflame with love.
One who was silent while his brethren taught,

And showed me not the beauties of his creed,

But went before me, sowing silent seed
That made the waste and barren desert glad ;

Whose hand in secret brought
Healing and comfort to the sick and sad.
Aglow, I cried, “Here all my questionings end;

Oh, what is thy religion, thy belief?”

Smiling, he shook his head with answer brief-
This man so swift to act, so slow to speak--

"In deeds not creeds, my friend,
Lives the religion that I humbly seek.”
And soft and sweet upon my spirit stole

The rest and peace so long and vainly sought;

And though I mourn the graces I have not
If I may help my brother in his need,

And love him as my soul, -
I trust God's pardon if I have no creed.

A RAILROAD CAR SCENE. On the road from Springfield to Boston, I ran across what first struck me as a very singular genius. This was a stout, black-whiskered man who sat immediately in front of me, and who indulged from time to time, in the most strange and unaccountable maneuvers. Every now and then he would get up, and hurry away to the narrow passage which leads to the door in these drawingroom cars, and when he thought himself secure from observation would fall to laughing in the most violent manner, and continue the healthful exercise until he was as red in the face as a lobster.

As we neared Boston these demonstrations increased

[ocr errors]

in violence save that the stranger no longer ran away to laugh; but kept his seat and chuckled to himself, with his chin down deep in his shirt collar. But the changes that those portmanteaus underwent! He moved them here, there—he put them behind him. He was evidently getting ready to leave, but as we were twenty-five miles from Boston, the idea of such early preparations was ridiculous. If we had entered the city then, the mystery would have remained unsolved, but the stranger became so excited that he could keep his seat no longer. Some one must help him, and as I was the nearest to him he selected me. Suddenly turning as if I had asked a question, he said, rocking himself to and fro in his chair in the meantime, and slapping his legs together and breathing hard :

Been gone three years!” "Ah!”

“Yes, been in Europe. Folks don't expect me for three months yet, but I got through and started. I telegraphed them at the last station--they've got it by this time.”

As he said this he rubbed his hands, and changed the portmanteau on his left to the right, and the one on the right to the left again.

“ Got a wife?” said I.
“Yes, and three children,” he returned.

He then got up and folded his overcoat anew, and hung it over the back of the seat.

“ You are pretty nervous over the matter, aint you ?” I said, watching his fidgety movements.

"Well, I should think so," he replied, "I haint slept soundly for a week. And do you know,” he went on, glancing around at the passengers and speaking in a low tone, “I am almost certain this train will run off the track and break my neck before I get to Boston. Well, the fact is, I have had too much good luck for one man lately. The thing can't last; taint natural that it should, you know. I've watched it. First it rains, then it shines,

1

ther it rains again. It rains so hard you

think it's never going to stop; then it shines so bright you think it's always going to shine ; and just as you are settled in either belief, you are knocked over by a change, to show that you know nothing about it."

“Well, according to the philosophy,” I said, “you will continue to have sunshine, because you are expecting a storm."

" It's curious," he returned, “but the only thing which makes me think I will get through safe is, because I think I wont.”

“Well! this is curious," said I.

“Why, yes!” he replied. “I am a machinist-made a discovery--nobody believed in it-spent all my money trying to bring it out-mortgaged my home-all went. Everybody laughed at me-everybody but my wifespunky little woman-said she would work her fingers off before I should give it up. Went to England--no better there-came within an ace of jumping off London bridge. Went into a workshop to earn money enough to come home with—there I met the man I wanted. To make a long story short, I've brought fifty thousand pounds home with me, and here I am.”

“Good for you," I exclaimed.

Yes,” said he, "fifty thousand pounds, and the best of it is she don't know anything about it. I've fooled her so often, and disappointed her so much, that I just concluded I would say nothing about this. my money though, you better believe I struck a bee line for home.” “And now,

I

suppose, you will make her happy ?” Happy!” he replied, “why you don't know anything about it. She's worked like a dog since I have been gone, trying to support herself and the children decer They paid her thirteen cents apiece for making white shirts, and that is the way she'd live half the time. She'll come down there to the depot to meet me in a gingham dress, and a shawl a hundred years old, and she'll think

When I got

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

she's dressed up. Oh, she wont have no clothes after this-oh, no, I guess not!”

And with these words, which implied that his wife's wardrobe would soon rival Queen Victoria's, the stranger tore down the passage way again, and getting in his old corner, where he thought himself out of sight, went through the strangest pantomime,- laughing, putting his mouth into the drollest shape, and then swinging himself back and forth in the limited space as if he were "walking down Broadway" a full-rigged Metropolitan belle. So on we rolled into the depot, and I placed myself on the other car, opposite the stranger, who, with a portmanteau in his hand, descended, and was standing on the lowest step, ready to jump to the platform. I looked from his face to the faces of the people before us, but saw no sign of recognition. Suddenly he cried :

“ There they are!”

Then he laughed outright, but in a hysterical sort of way, as he looked over the crowd. I followed his

eye, and saw some distance back, as if crowded out and shouldered away by the well-dressed and elbowing throng, a little woman in a faded dress, and a well-worn hat, with a face almost painful in its intense but hopeful expression, glancing rapidly from window to window as the coaches glided in.

She had not yet seen the stranger, but a moment after she caught his eye, and in another instant he had jumped to the platform with his two portmanteaus, and making a hole in the crowd, pushing one here and there, and running one of his bundles plump into the well-developed stomach of a venerable looking old gentleman in spectacles, he rushed towards the place where she was standing. I think I never saw a face assume so many different expressions in so short a time as did that of the little woman while her husband was on his way to her,

She didn't look pretty; on the contrary, she looked very plain, but somehow I felt a big lump rise in my throat as I watched her. She was trying to laugh, but, God bless her, how completely she failed in the attempt ! Her mouth got into the position, but it never moved after that save to draw down at the corners and quiver, while she blinked her eyes so fast that I suspect she only caught occasional glimpses of the broad-shouldered fel. low who elbowed his way so rapidly toward her. And then, as he drew close and dropped those everlasting portmanteaus, she just turned completely round, with her back toward him, and covered her face with her hands. And thus she was when the strong man gathered her

up in his arms as if she had been a baby, and held her, sobbing, to his breast.

There were enough gaping at them, Heaven knows, and I turned my eyes away a moment, and then I saw two boys in threadbare roundabouts standing near, wiping their eyes and noses on their little coat sleeves, and bursting out anew at every fresh demonstration on the part of their mother.

When I looked at the stranger again, he had his hat drawn over his eyes ; but his wife was looking up at him and it seemed as if the pent-up tears of those weary months of waiting were streaming through her eyelids.

COMPENSATION.*
You think I'm nervous, stranger? Well, I am!

If 'twa’n’t for making silly people talk,

I'd get right off this pokish train and walk
From here to where I'm going, - Amsterdam.
That's where I live, you see. As for Lacrosse-

Excuse me, neighbor, I must talk or bust

Since I've been there, it's three years certain, just; And now to laugh or cry is just a toss. “Married ?” Why, yes, that's where it is, you see;

I've telegraphed her I was strong and well,

And coming to her; but I didn't tell

That I was rich. I thought I'd let that be. *In the preceding article the same story is told in pruse.

« ElőzőTovább »