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A THANKFUL PARSON Author Unknown
A pious parson, good and true, Was crossing o'er the seas, When suddenly there fiercely blew A wild and sweeping breeze. He feared the storm the ship would wreck, His heart was sore afraid, He sought the captain on the deck And found him undismayed.
The captain saw his awful fear And led him up to where The servant of the Lord could hear The sailors loudly swear. "You clearly see," the captain said, "If danger hovered nigh, They'd all be on their knees instead And asking grace to die."
The parson felt his words were true, And when the skies grew fair, He marveled how the sailors knew Just when to pray or swear. But when the seas which wildly flowed Had ceased to plunge and spout, Unto himself he said, "It showed They know what they're about."
But later on another storm Came fiercer than before, The parson heard with wild alarm The ocean's angry roar. He sought the deck in awful dread To near the sailors get, He listened-then he bowed his head- "Thank God, they're swearing yet."
THE BRIDGE BUILDER Author Unknown
An old man traveling a lone highway Came at the evening, cold and gray, To a chasm, vast and deep and wide Through which was flowing a sullen tide. The old man crossed in the twilight dim- The sullen stream held no fear for him- But he turned when he reached the other side And built a bridge to span the tide.
"Old man," said a fellow pilgrim near, "You are wasting your strength in building here. Your journey will end with the ending day- You never again will pass this way. You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide. Why build you this bridge at the eventide?"
The builder lifted his old gray head. "Good friend, in the path I have come," he said "There followeth after me today A youth whose feet must pass this way. This chasm that has been naught to me, To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be. He, too, must cross in the twilight dim. Good friend, I am building the bridge for him."
THE CREMATION OF SAM McGEE Robert Service
There are strange things done in the midnight sun By the men who moil for gold; The Artic trails have their secret tales That would make your blood run cold; The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, But the queerest they ever did see Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge I cremated Sam McGee.
Now Sam McGee was from Tennessee, Where the cotton blooms and blows. Why he left his home in the South to roam 'Round the Pole, God only knows. He was always cold, but the land of gold Seemed to hold him like a spell; Though he'd often say in his homely way That he'd "sooner live in Hell."
On a Christmas Day we were mushing our way Over the Dawson trail. Talk of your cold! Through the parka's fold It stabbed like a driven nail. If our eyes we'd close, then the lashes froze Till sometimes we couldn't see. It wasn't much fun, but the only one To whimper was Sam McGee.
And that very night, as we lay packed tight In our robes beneath the snow, And the dogs were fed, and the stars o'erhead Were dancing heel and toe, He turned to me, and "Cap," says he, "I'll cash in this trip I guess; And if I do, I'm asking you Won't refuse my last request." Well, he seemed so low that I couldn't say no; Then he says with a sort of moan, "It's the cursed cold, and it's got right hold Till I'm chilled clean through to the bone. Yet 'taint being dead - it's my awful dread Of the icy grave that pains; So I want you to swear that, foul or fair, You'll cremate my last remains."
A pal's last need is a thing to heed, So I swore I would not fail; And we started on at the streak of dawn; But God! He looked ghastly pale. He crouched on the sleigh, and he rave all day Of his home in Tennessee; And before nightfall a corpse was all That was left of Sam McGee.
There wasn't a breath in that land of death, And I hurried horror-driven, With a corpse half hid that I couldn't get rid, Because of a promise given; It was lashed to the sleigh, and it seemed to say: "You may tax your brawn and brains, But you promised true, and it's up to you To cremate these last remains."
Now a promise made is a debt unpaid, And the trail has its own stern code. In the days to come, though my lips were dumb, In my heart how I cursed that load! In the long, long night, by the lone firelight, While the huskies, round in a ring, Howled out their woes to the homeless snows - Oh God, how I loathed the thing!
And every day that quiet clay Seemed to heavy and heavier grow; And on I went, though the dogs were spent And the grub was getting low. The trail was bad, and I felt half-mad, But I swore I would not give in; And I'd often sing to the hateful thing, And it hearkened with a grin.
Till I came to the marge of Lake Lebarge And a derelict there lay; It was jammed in the ice, but I saw in a trice It was called the Alice May. And I looked at it, and I thought a bit, And I looked at my frozen chum; Then "Here," said I, with a sudden cry, "Is my cre-ma-tor-eum!"
Some planks I tore from the cabin floor, And I lit the boiler fire; Some coal I found that was lying around, And I heaped the fuel higher; The flames just soared, and the furnace roared- Such a blaze you seldom see, And I burrowed a hole in the glowing coal, And I stuffed in Sam McGee.
Then I made a hike, for I didn't like To hear him sizzle so; And the heavens scowled, and the huskies howled And the wind began to blow. It was icy cold, but the hot sweat rolled Down my cheeks, and I don't know why; And the greasy smoke in an inky cloak Went streaking down the sky.
I do not know how long in the snow I wrestled with grisly fear; But the stars came out and they danced about Ere again I ventured near; I was sick with dread, but I bravely said, "I'll just take a peep inside. I guess he's cooked, and it's time I looked." Then the door I opened wide.
And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm, In the heart of the furnace roar; And he wore a smile you could see a mile, And he said, "Please close that door. It's fine in here, but I greatly fear You'll let in the cold and storm - Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, It's the first time I've been warm."
There are strange things done in the midnight sun By the men who moil for gold; The Arctic trails have their secret tales That would make you blood run cold; The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, But the queerest they ever did see Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge I cremated Sam McGee.
THE FACE ON THE BAR-ROOM FLOOR H. Antoine D'Arcy
'Twas a balmy summer evening And a goodly crowd was there, Which well nigh filled Joe's barroom, On the corner of the square; And as songs and witty stories Echoed through the open door, A vagabond crept slowly in And poised upon the floor.
"Where did it come from?" someone said. "The wind must have blown it in." 'What does it want?" another cried, "Some whiskey, rum, or gin?" "Here, Toby, seek him, If your stomach's equal to the work- I wouldn't touch him with a fork, He's as filthy as a Turk."
This badinage the poor wretch took With stoical good grace; In fact, he smiled as tho' he thought He'd struck the proper place. "Come boys, I know there's kindly hearts Among so good a crowd- To be in such good company Would make a deacon proud.
Give me a drink-that's what I want- I'm out of funds you know; When I had cash to treat the gang, This hand was never slow. What? You laugh as if you thought This pocket never held a sou; I once was fixed as well, my boys, As any one of you.
There, thanks, that braced me nicely; God bless you one and all. Next time I pass this good saloon, I'll make another call. Give you a song? No, I can't do that, My singing days are past; My voice is cracked, my throat's worn out, And my lungs are going fast.
Say! Give me another whiskey, And I"ll tell you what I'll do- I'll tell you a funny story, And a fact I promise, too. That I was ever a decent man, Not one of you would think; But I was some four or five years back. Say, give us another drink.
Fill her up, Joe, I want to put Some life into my frame- Such little drinks, to a bum like me, Are miserably short, and tame. Five fingers-there, that's the scheme- And corking whiskey, too, Well, here's luck, boys, and landlord, My best regards to you.
You've treated me pretty kindly, And I'd like to tell you how I came to be the dirty sot You see before you now. As I told you, once I was a man With muscle, frame, and health, And, but for a blunder, Ought to have made considerable wealth.
I was a painter- Not one who daubed on bricks and wood, But an artist, and, for my age, Was rated pretty good;
I worked hard at my canvas, And was bidding fair to rise, For gradually I saw the star Of fame before my eyes.
I made a picture perhaps you've seen, 'Tis called the 'Chase of Fame' It brought me fifteen hundred pounds, And added to my name. And then I met a woman - Now comes the funny part- With eyes that petrified my brain And sunk into my heart.
Why don't you laugh? 'Tis funny that the vagabond you see Could ever love a woman And expect her love for me; But 'twas so, and for a month or two Her smiles were freely given, And when her loving lips touched mine, It carried me to heaven.
Boys, did you ever see a woman For whom your soul you'd give, With a form like Milo Venus, Too beautiful to live; With eyes that would beat the Koh-I-noor, And a wealth of chestnut hair? If so 'twas she, for there never could be Another half so fair.
I was working on a portrait, One afternoon in May, Of a fair haired boy, a friend of mine, Who lived across the way; And Madeline admired it, And much to my surprise, Said she'd like to know the man That had such dreamy eyes.
It didn't take long to know him, And before the month had flown, My friend had stole my darling And I was left alone; And ere a year of misery Had passed above my head, The jewel that I had treasured so Was tarnished and was dead.
That's why I took to drink, boys. Why I never saw you smile, I thought that you would be amused And laughing all the while. Why! What's the matter, friend? There's a teardrop in your eye, Come, laugh like me, 'tis only babes And women that should cry.
Say, boys, if you give me Just another whiskey, I'll be glad And I'll draw, right here, a picture Of the face that drove me mad. Here, friend, give me the chalk With which you mark the baseball score- You shall see the lovely Madeline Upon the bar-room floor."
Another drink, and chalk in hand, The vagabond began To sketch the face that well might buy The soul of any man. Then, as he placed another lock Upon the shapely head, With fearful shriek he leaped and fell Across the picture, dead.
THE LEGEND OF THE ORGAN-BUILDER Julia C. R. Dorr
Day by day the Organ-Builder in his lonely chamber wrought. Day by day the soft air trembled to the music of his thought Till at last the work was ended and no organ-voice so grand Ever yet had soared responsive to the master's magic hand.
Ay, so rarely was it builded that whenever groom and bride, Who in God's sight were well pleasing, in the church stood side by side. Without touch or breath the organ of itself began to play, And the very airs of heaven through the soft gloom seemed to stray.
He was young, the Organ-builder, and o'er all the land his fame Ran with fleet and eager footsteps like a swiftly rushing flame. All the maidens heard the story. All the maidens blushed and smiled, By his youth and wondrous beauty and his great renown beguiled.
So he sought and won the fairest, and the wedding day was set. Happy day -- the brightest jewel in the glad year's coronet! But when they the portal entered, he forgot his lovely bride-- Forgot his love, forgot his God, and his heart swelled high with pride.
"Ah!" thought he; "how great a master am I, when the organ plays, How the vast cathedral arches will re-echo with my praise!" Up the aisle the gay procession moved. The altar shone afar With every candle gleaming through soft shadows like a star.
But he listened, listened, listened, with no thought of love or prayer For the swelling notes of triumph from his organ standing there. All was silent. Nothing heard he save the priest's low monotone, And the bride's robe trailing softly o'er the floor of fretted stone.
Then his lips grew white with anger. Surely God was pleased with him Who built the wondrous organ for His temple vast and dim! Whose the fault, then? Hers, the maiden standing meekly at his side! Flamed his jealous rage, maintaining she was false to him, his bride.
Vain were all her protestations, vain her innocence and truth. On that very night he left her to her anguish and her ruth. Far he wandered to a country wherein no man knew his name; For ten weary years he dwelt there, nursing still his wrath and shame.
Then his haughty heart grew softer, and he thought by night and day Of the bride he had deserted, till he hardly dared to pray. Thought of her, a spotless maiden, fair and beautiful and good, Thought of his relentless anger that had cursed her womanhood.
Till his yearning, grief, and penitence at last were all complete, And he longed, with bitter longing, just to fall down at her feet. Ah! How throbbed his heart when after many a weary day and night, Rose his native towers before him, with the sunset glow alight!
Through the gates into the city, on he pressed with eager tread; There he met a long procession--mourners following the dead. "Now, why weep ye so, good people? And whom bury ye today? Why do yonder sorrowing maidens scatter flowers along the way?
Has some saint gone up to heaven?" "Yes," they answered, weeping sore; "For the Organ-Builder's saintly wife our eyes shall see no more; And because her days were given to the service of God's poor, From his church we mean to bury her. See, yonder is the door!"
No one knew him; no one wondered when he cried out, white with pain. No one questioned when, with pallid lips, he poured his tears like rain. " 'Tis someone whom she has comforted who mourns with us," they said, As he made his way unchallenged and bore the coffin's head;
Bore it through the open portal, bore it up the echoing aisle, Let it down before the altar where the lights burned clear the while. When, Oh, hark! The wondrous organ of itself began to play Strains of rare, unearthly sweetness never heard until that day!
All the vaulted arches rang with the music sweet and clear. All the air was filled with glory as of angels hovering near. And ere yet the strain was ended; he who bore the coffin's head, With the smile of one forgiven, gently sank beside it, dead. They who raised the body knew him, and they laid him by his bride. Down the aisle and o'er the threshold they were carried, side by side, While the organ played a dirge that no man ever heard before And then softly sank to silence -- silence kept for evermore.
MA'S OLD GALVANIZED WASHTUB Author Unknown
Did you ever have to take a Saturday bath An' try to wash an' scrub, While squattin' down on your haunches, In a galvanized washing tub? If not, than you ain't missed a thing, But now I'm tellin' you what's right, I done it 'til I wuz almost grown An' every doggone Saturday night!
In summer it was bad enough, But, in winter it was rough; Spreading papers, buckets and kettles An' all that sort of stuff. Getting' ready for that ordeal Was only half the rub Of takin' a bath on Saturday night In a galvanized washin' tub.
Did you ever stand there stripped to the skin, A wood stove bakin' your hide? A dreadin' to put your dern foot in Fer fear you'd be burned alive? Finally you'd git the' temperature right, An' you'd slink in the tub like a frog, That cold steel tank 'ud touch your skin An' you'd squeal like a fresh stuck hog!
Then you'd get outa that tub next to the stove And there drippin' and shakin', The front of your body is freezing to death While the back of your body is a bakin'. Shiverin' 'n shakin', burnin' 'n' bakin', That's the price I had to pay. That awful ordeal'll haunt me Until I'm old and gray.
THE MAN HE KILLED Thomas Hardy
Had he and I but met By some old ancient inn, We should have sat us down to wet Right many a nipperkin!
But ranged as infantry, And staring face to face, I shot at him as he at me, And killed him in his place.
I shot him dead because -- Because he was my foe, Just so: my foe of course he was; That's clear enough; although
He thought he'd 'list, perhaps, Off-hand - just as I - Was out of work - had sold his traps - No other reason why.
Yes; quaint and curious war is! You shoot a fellow down You'd treat if met where any bar is Or help to half-a-crown.
Faith Frances Berlin
As fine a man as ever
As ever a man alive,
Was my dear 'usband, Mr. McJones.
Long may 'is memory thrive.
For forty years the two
of us shared
A flat an' a small bathroom.
For forty years we managed, an' that
'E called our " 'oneymoon".
There was ten more years
of 'im belchin' 'is beers.
"I'm sure to see ninety," 'e said.
But 'e carried a chair from 'ere to there
One day, an' 'e dropped down dead.
So I props 'im up on the
chair right there
For I 'ated to see 'im sprawl
On the kitchen floor where a minute before
I'd seen a cockroach crawl.
I props 'im up with a
In 'is fist, like 'e'd sat all 'is nights,
An' the twelve-inch telly on top of 'is belly,
The channel tuned in to the fights.
And 'e looked so fine,
that 'usband of mine,
So fine that I tied 'im in.
While I had my tea and some cake, for we'd
Just opened a brand new tin.
An' 'e loved 'em
so. Sweet cakes, ya know;
Adored 'em when 'e was alive,
So I shoved one into 'is face in case
'E felt 'e was bein' deprived.
It crumbled a bit, but I
let 'im sit
With icing a-smear on 'is shirt
'Cause I knew 'ow 'e'd hate to be caught with a plate
Like some "fancy," for 'e preferred dirt.
Oh yes, but 'e
did! An' quite often 'e 'id
A sandwich inside of 'is pants
In 'is pocket an' when 'e got 'ungry again,
'E'd eat it . . . along with some ants.
'E wasn't the kind to be
stiff or refined
Drinkin' wine? No! 'E liked 'is cheap ales.
An' I never, by God, saw a mountain of sod
As was under that man's fingernails.
'E bathed now an' then,
but I can't think of when
Was the last time 'e 'onored the tub.
Must 'ave been last July when 'is buddies stopped by
For a beer, all 'is pals from the pub.
birthday, 'e said, an' I served
'Em all chicken an' spuds by the sack,
Wond'rin' all of the while where 'e'd got such a pile?
Robbed a bank? Won a bet at the track?
Well, 'e never
explained. When I later complained,
'E back-'anded me one, an' one more.
"I found it," 'e laughed, "in yer bag." Then 'e asks
What the 'ell I'd be needin' it for.
"Don' I pay all the
bills? Don' I buy all yer pills?
Don' I see there's a roof over'ead?
Don' ya take me to task, lovey duck, 'n don' ask
Me again or yer better off dead!"
Quite the gentleman,
'e. But 'e's through knockin' me
Now, said I, an' I whacked 'im a blow
As 'e sat in 'is chair dead as dust, and I swear
I'd of cried if I weren't laughin' so.
Then I left 'im to rest
in 'is gravy-stained vest
After stoppin' to open 'is eyes.
Dead or not, 'e'd be sore if I touched 'im once more
So I stopped brushin' off all them flies.
Ah, 'e sat in that chair
like a wormy-eyed bear
'Til the smell of 'im knocked ya flat.
An' the neighbors all swore somewhere under the floor
Was the carcass of Fogarty's cat.
An' the days they went
past. . .an' each one was the last
I would say. . .but 'e still claimed the chair.
An' 'e started to rot, just a bit, but I got
Used to that an' 'is followin' stare.
An' I laughed at the
flies layin' eggs in 'is eyes.
An' I laughed at the nits in 'is nose.
An' I laughed at the bugs crawlin' out of the rugs
For a feast on the yeast in 'is toes.
When they dragged 'im
away in a body bag, say
They was pinchin' their lips an' their noses.
Oh, I'll tell you his mess could make pris'ners confess,
But to me 'twas the sweet smell of roses.
An' they made me go into
a ward where the Doc
Comes to talk, but I've nothin' to say.
All 'is friends, 'ow they grieved. An' they never believed
This ol' story I'm tellin' today.
For as fine a man as
ever there was,
As ever a man could be,
Was my dead 'usband, Mr. McJones.
Accordin' to them. . . Not me!
NEVER SPEND THE PRINCIPAL Rosalie Kramer
I hear it more now every day. From heaven above I hear him say, "Remember you promised dear old Ray, You'd never spend the principal."
I'm hearing his voice when in the shower. I even heard him in the Eiffel Tower, Repeating his warning on the hour, "Don't you dare spend the principal!"
My stock has tripled over the years, Yet I am constantly immersed in tears When dealing with my silly fears That I might spend the principal.
I want to give my children a gift And now my face sure needs a lift, But here I sit knowing he'd be miffed If he guessed I'd spent the principal.
After I'm gone I see it clear: A Corvette for my daughter dear, A Rolls Royce for my son, I fear, 'Cause I didn't spend the principal.
I hope my children will want to save Enough for flowers to cover my grave After they've spent every cent we made, Both the interest and the principal!
OUR TWO OPINIONS James Whitcomb Riley
Us two wuz boys when we fell out, Nigh to the age uv my youngest now; Don't rec'lect what 'twuz about, Some small difference, I'll allow. Lived next neighbors twenty years, A-hatin' each other, me 'nd Jim; He havin' his opinyin uv me, 'Nd I havin' mine uv him!
Grew up together 'nd wouldn't speak, Courted sisters, 'nd marr'd 'em, too; 'Tended same meetin'-house oncet a week, A-hatin' each other, through and through! But when Abe Linkern asked the West F'r soldiers, we answered, me and Jim, He havin' his opinyin uv me, 'Nd I havin' mine of him!
But down in Tennessee one night Ther wuz sound uv firin' ou' way. 'Nd the Sergeant allowed there'd be a fight With the Johnnie Rebs some time nex' day; 'Nd as I wuz thinkin' uv Lizzie 'nd home, Jim stood afore me, long 'nd slim; He havin' his opinyin uv me, 'Nd I havin' mine uv him!
Seemed like we knew there wuz gin' to be Serious trouble f'r me and him; Us two schuck hands, did Jim 'nd me, But never a word from Jim or me! He went his way, 'nd I went mine, 'Nd into the battle roar went we, I havin' my opinyin uv Jim, 'Nd he havin' his of me.
Jim never come back from the war again, But I hain't forgot that last, last night,. When waitin' f'r orders, us two men Made up 'nd schuck hands afore the fight. 'Nd after all, it's soothin' to know That here I be, 'nd yond'rs Jim, He havin' his opinyin uv me, 'Nd I havin' mine uv him!
RAGS Edmund Vance Cooke
We called him "Rags". He was just a cur, But twice, on the Western Line, That little old bunch of faithful fur Had offered his life for mine. And all that he got was bones and bread, Or the leavings of soldier-grub, But he'd give his heart for a pat on the head, Or a friendly tickle and rub.
And Rags got home with the regiment, And then, in the breaking away -- Well, whether they stole him, or whether he went, I am not prepared to say. But we mustered out, some to beer and gruel, And some to sherry and shad, And I went back to the Sawbones School, Where I still was an undergrad.
One day they took us budding M.D.'s To one of those institutes Where they demonstrate every new disease By means of bisected brutes. They had one animal tacked and tied And slit like a full-dressed fish, With his vitals pumping away inside As pleasant as one might wish.
I stopped to look like the rest, of course, And the beast's eyes leveled mine His short tail thumped with a feeble force, And he uttered a tender whine. It was Rags, yes, Rags! Who was martyred there, Who was quartered and crucified, And he whined that whine which is doggish prayer And he licked my hand - and died.
And I was no better in part nor whole Then the gang I was found among, And his innocent blood was on the soul Which he blessed with his dying tongue. Well! I've seen men go to courageous death In the air, on sea, on land! But only a dog would spend his last breath In a kiss for his murderer's hand.
And if there's no Heaven for love like that, For such four-legged fealty -- well! If I have any choice, I tell you flat, I'll take my chance in Hell.
THE SAUSAGE COLORED DOG Joseph J. McDonough
The rain was pouring down that day As I arrived at work. The lightning flashed; the thunder clashed; The world seemed all berserk. Wind whistled through the building's halls As I made my way past art-hung walls. Then, through a storm-streaked door I saw A Sausage-Colored Dog.
He stood there looking in at me, That Sausage-Colored Dog. His brown and darkly-speckled fur All dripping in the fog. His eyes looked out so sorrowfully As though accusing me: "Please let me in!" he seemed to plea, That Sausage-Colored Dog.
My company is rich and strong With corporate power to spare. But, for a Sausage-Colored Dog, There's no room anywhere. The executive suite's replete with men Concerned with the quarterly dividend. Earnings, profits, ten times ten, But not a Sausage-Colored Dog.
This dog no assets has, nor will. This dog from who knows where? He buys no stocks or couponed bonds Nor has a market share. He probably sneaked out that day, A harmless jaunt across the way, But, alas, got lost -- got lost at play, That Sausage-Colored Dog.
And there but for the grace of God Goes someone you might know, Another time might we not find The indifference that we sow. For there but for the grace of God We all shall lose our way And once outside will we abide That Sausage-Colored Dog?
I turned the dog away that day, That Sausage-Colored Dog. I thought I could escape the eyes And lose him in the fog. But every night this dog I see. In piercing shrieks I hear his plea. "Cannot you invest one moment for me, A Sausage-Colored Dog?"
THE VABABOND AND HIS DOG Robert X. Leeds It was another Christmas day And God looked out to see What scriptured promise came to pass, What promise would not be. And turning aside, HE turned his eyes To those who'd dwell inside, To those who'd warm by Heaven's hearth And those who'd be denied.
And HE saw a man at St. Peter's gate, A mongrel dog at his feet, And a line that reached to the dark of night As far as the eye could see. And St. Peter looked at the disheveled two And challenged the wretch to say, What deeds he'd done, what praise he'd won To walk in Heaven's way.
And the vagrant stood in his shabby robe And not one word he spoke, As though he heard not a single word This man in the tattered cloak. "What deeds have you done to think you've won The grace of Heaven's line? What honors earned? What evils spurned? Pray help me be inclined."
But the wretched soul and his shepherd hound Stayed on without a sound As though no deed could come to mind, As though no reason found. "Can you not find one deed so fine, To merit entrance here? Can none attest some honored quest, A challenge still unclear?"
And still he stood and but held the leash That stayed the mongrel hound. Until he knelt to feel the ground And kiss the furry crown. As love was cast in skin and bone, He held the dog around, And Heaven watched and Heaven judged This vagabond and his hound.
"What seeds were sowed that a flower'd grow When you'd depart the scene? A single tree? One slave made free? One clean and shining sea? Was not one life made free of strife Along the path you strolled? Was not one child encouraged to smile? No good that can be told?"
And all looked on at the vagabond Who held the unkempt hound. But not one voice to sway the choice, No plaintiff voice was found. And when at last, his patience past, St. Peter bid unkind And motioned on to the dark beyond, "No reason you can find?"
"Not one but simple virtue be That all of us may see? Not one redeeming act of faith Did bring you here to me? In all your time can you not find One voice for yours to plea? In all your time can you not find One voice to vouch for thee?"
And now at last his time though past, The vagabond turned to speak; And his eyes were filled with tears that spilled And coursed the craggy cheeks. And from his heart the speech did start To argue not his sake, But to plead the cause of the mongrel dog, That lay in Heaven's wake.
"Perhaps it ain't for me to see The paradise within. I was a simple soul on earth This hound my only kin. But if the children's smiles count, His cup's filled to the brim. Oh, I can vouch for this hound, your grace. I can vouch for him.
You should'a seen them laugh and run When he was all their game. You should'a seen the love he gave And never once complain. And when the tide of time arose And naught was there to eat, He shared the taste of an empty plate And stayed at these failing feet.
It ain't for me," he whispered soft, "It ain't for me I ask. But don't deprive this poor old hound For what his master lacks. If caring and sharing and loyalty Are virtues of your size, Consider one who lacks of none, Let Heaven be his prize.
It matters not what comes of me, Or what may come about. But it just ain't fair. It wouldn't be fair To keep my poor hound out. No friend has ever been so true. No man has walked a line, Who never strayed, but not this dog, This hound that I call mine."
His fingers stroked the shaggy coat And the dog licked back the hand; And as much was said in the silence there, Than since God's quest began. And then abrupt, the hound looked up And labored with its head To lick this face of human grace, This man of tattered thread.
And suddenly a calm would be That tethered every sound. And a warm breeze blew that embraced the two, This vagabond and his hound. And St. Peter turned to the mist beyond And paused with uplifted head. To heed the voice of Almighty God And to do as HE has said.
"I've set the task and I have asked For virtues held and shared. To dwell in a world of every kind And for every kind have cared. And now I've seen dimensions dreamed That seldom I've seen before, A simple man and his faithful hound, Denied at my own door?"
With pen in hand, St. Peter began To enter on his list, The names of those whom God had chose To dwell in Heaven's bliss. And one belonged to a vagabond And the other he called his kin; The man who vouched for an old hound dog And the hound dog who vouched for him.
THE VOLUNTEER ORGANIST S. W. Foss
The great big church wuz crowded Full uv broadcloth an' uv silk, An' satins rich as cream that grows On ol' brindle's milk; Shined boots, biled shirts, stiff dickeys An' stove-pipe hats were there, An' doods 'ith troousrloons so tight They cou'dn't kneel down in prayer.
The elder in his poolpit high, Said, as he slowly riz: "Our organist is kep' to hum, Laid up 'ith roomatiz. An as we have no substitoot, As brother Moore ain't here, Will some'un in the congregation Be so kin's to volunteer?
An' then a red-nosed, drunken tramp, Of low-toned, rowdy style, Give an interductory hiccup, An' then staggered up the aisle. Then thro' thet holy atmosphere There crep' a sense er sin, An thro' thet air of sanctity The odor uv ol' gin.
Then Deacon Purington he yelled, His teeth all sot on edge: "This man purfanes the house er God! W'y this is sacrilege!" The tramp didn't hear a word he said, But slouched 'ith stumblin feet, An' sprawled an' staggered up the steps, An' gained the organ seat.
He then went pawrin' thro' the keys, An' soon there rose a strain, Thet seemed to jest bulge out the heart, An' lectrify the brain. An' then he slapped down on the thing 'Ith hands an' head an' knees, He slam dashed his hull body down Kerflop upon the keys.
The organ roared, the music flood Went sweepin' high an' dry. It swelled into the rafters And bulged out into the sky. The ol' church shook an' staggered An' seemed to reel an' sway An' the elder shouted, "Glory!" an' I yelled out "Hooray!"
An' then he tried a tender strain That melted in our ears, That brought up blessed memories And drenched 'em down 'ith tears. An' we dreamed uv ol' time kitchens, 'Ith Tabby on the mat, Uv home, an' luv, an' baby-days, An' mother, an' all that!
An' then he struck a streak uv hope- A song from souls forgiven- Thet burst from prison bars, uv sin, An' stormed the gates uv Heaven. The morning stars they sung together -- No soul was left alone, We felt the universe was safe An' God wuz on His throne!
An' then a wail uv deep despair An' darkness come again, An' a long, black crape hung on the doors Uv all the homes uv men; No luv, no light, no joy, no hope, No songs of glad delight. An' then-the tramp, he staggered down And reeled into the night!
But we knew he'd tol' his story, Tho' he never spoke a word, An' it wuz the saddest story that Our ears had ever heard. He hed tol' his own life history, An' no eye was dry thet day, W'en the elder rose an' simply said: "My brethren, let us pray."