Page:All quiet along the Potomac and other poems.djvu/296

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2QO THE MIDNIGHT GUEST.

Then out into shadow and darkness fled, While the summer night soft and silent sped, Till the lamps were out, and the late moonlight Came to midnight mass in his stole of white, Bidding shadows kneel and their sins confess, Laying on white hands like a priest to bless, Touching light the dew on the shining spray Of the censers swung by the lily s sway.

From the tree-top down came the silver glow, Till it found a blotch on the summer snow Found a human life, hither brought to wait For the hap and chance of a rich man s gate. What remembered wrongs, what foreboding woe From a cruel world, made it " better so," That a lonely waif in its wrappings stirred With a sadder cry than a home-sick bird ?

Till the childless man from his slumber woke As the baby s cry through the silence broke. Ere the slippered feet and the lamp alight Through the doorway came to the haunted night, Came a rushing shape sounded sweet and low Little senseless words such as mothers know, As the baby crept to its mother s breast, While she murmured softly, " Nay, this is best."

As the oaken doorway was opened wide, Eager faces questioned on either side, But the sweet dark air of the night was still As the swift feet sped o er the dewy hill,

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