Page:Pieces People Ask For.djvu/223

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105
THE READING-CLUB.

Man, remembering how yon sleeper
Once he held upon his knee,
Ere she loved the gallant soldier,
Ralph Vervair of Tennessee.

Still the south wind fondly lingers
'Mid the veteran's silver hair;
Still the bondman close beside him
Stands behind the old arm-chair,
With his dark-hued hand uplifted,
Shading eyes, he bends to see
Where the woodland, boldly jutting,
Turns aside the Tennessee.

Thus he watches cloud-born shadows
Glide from tree to mountain crest,
Softly creeping, aye and ever
To the river's yielding breast.
Ha! above the foliage yonder
Something flutters wild and free!
"Massa! Massa! Hallelujah!
The flag's come back to Tennessee!"

"Pompey, hold me on your shoulder;
Help me stand on foot once more,
That I may salute the colors
As they pass my cabin door.
Here's the paper signed that frees you;
Give a freeman's shout with me—
'God and Union' be our watchword
Evermore in Tennessee!"

Then the trembling voice grew fainter,
And the limbs refused to stand;
One prayer to Jesus—and the soldier
Glided to the better land.
When the flag went down the river,
Man and master both were free;
While the ring-dove's note was mingled
With the rippling Tennessee.

E. L. Beers.