The Household Jewels.

A traveller, from journeying1
In countries far away,2
Re-passed his threshold at the close3
Of one calm Sabbath day ;4
A voice of love, a comely face,5
A kiss of chaste delight,6
Were the first things to welcome him7
On that blest Sabbath night.8
He stretched his limbs upon the hearth,9
Before its friendly blaze,10
And conjured up mixed memories11
Of gay and gloomy days ;12
And felt that none of gentle soul,13
However far he roam,14
Can e’er forego, can e’er forget,15
The quiet joys of home.16
Bring me my children !” cried the sire,17
With eager, earnest tone ;18
I long to press them, and to mark19
How lovely they have grown ;20
Twelve weary months have passed away21
Since I went o’er the sea,22
To feel how sad and lone I was23
Without my babes and thee.”24
Refresh thee, as ’tis needful,” said25
The fair and faithful wife,26
The while her pensive features paled,27
And stirred with inward strife ;28
Refresh thee, husband of my heart,29
I ask it as a boon ;30
Our children are reposing, love ;31
Thou shalt behold them soon.”32
She spread the meal, she filled the cup,33
She pressed him to partake ;34
He sat down blithely at the board,35
And all for her sweet sake ;36
But when the frugal feast was done,37
The thankful prayer preferred,38
Again affection’s fountain flowed ;39
Again its voice was heard.40
Bring me my children, darling wife,41
I’m in an ardent mood ;42
My soul lacks purer aliment,43
I long for other food ;44
Bring forth my children to my gaze,45
Or ere I rage or weep,46
I yearn to kiss their happy eyes47
Before the hour of sleep.”48
I have a question yet to ask ;49
Be patient, husband dear.50
A stranger, one auspicious morn,51
Did send some jewels here ;52
Until to take them from my care,53
But yesterday he came,54
And I restored them with a sigh :55
—Dost thou approve, or blame ?”56
I marvel much, sweet wife, that thou57
Shouldst breathe such words to me ;58
Restore to man, resign to God,59
Whate’er is lent to thee ;60
Restore it with a willing heart,61
Be grateful for the trust ;62
Whate’er may tempt or try us, wife,63
Let us be ever just.”64
She took him by the passive hand,65
And up the moonlit stair,66
She led him to their bridal bed,67
With mute and mournful air ;68
She turned the cover down, and there,69
In grave-like garments dressed,70
Lay the twin children of their love,71
In death’s serenest rest.72
These were the jewels lent to me,73
Which God has deigned to own ;74
The precious caskets still remain,75
But, ah, the gems are flown ;76
But thou didst teach me to resign77
What God alone can claim ;78
He giveth and he takes away,79
Blest be His holy name !”80
The father gazed upon his babes,81
The mother drooped apart,82
Whilst all the woman’s sorrow gushed83
From her o’erburdened heart ;84
And with the striving of her grief,85
Which wrung the tears she shed,86
Were mingled low and loving words87
To the unconscious dead.88
When the sad sire had looked his fill,89
He veiled each breathless face,90
And down in self-abasement bowed,91
For comfort and for grace ;92
With the deep eloquence of woe,93
Poured forth his secret soul,94
Rose up, and stood erect and calm,95
In spirit healed and whole.96
Restrain thy tears, poor wife,” he said,97
I learn this lesson still,98
God gives, and God can take away,99
Blest be His holy will !100
Blest are my children, for they live101
From sin and sorrow free,102
And I am not all joyless, wife,103
With faith, hope, love, and thee.”104