The Little Pilgrim
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In a large old house, with two kind aunts,
- The little Marian dwelt;
And a happy child she was, I ween,
- For though at times she felt
That playmates would be better far
- Than either birds or flowers,
Yet her kind old aunts, and story books,
- Soothed many lonely hours.
Her favorite haunt, in the summer-time,
- Was a large old apple-tree;
And oft amid the boughs she sat,
- With her pet book on her knee.
The "Pilgrim's Progress" was its name,
- And Marian loved it much;
It is, indeed, a glorious book,
- There are not many such!
She read it in her little bed,
- Beside the winter fire,
And in summer-time in the apple-tree,
- As though she would never tire.
But, unexplained, 'tis just the book
- To puzzle the young brain;
And the poor child had no kind friend,
- Its meaning to explain.
For though her aunts were very kind,
- They were not overwise,
And only said, "Don't read so, child,
- I'm sure you'll spoil your eyes."
But Marian still went reading on,
- And visions strange and wild
Began to fill the little head
- Of the lonely, dreaming child;
For she thought that Christian and his wife,
- And all their children too,
Had left behind their pleasant home,
- And done what she must do.
"I'll take my Bible," said the child,
- "And seek the road to heaven;
I'll try to find the Wicket Gate,
- And hope to be forgiven.
I wish my aunts would go with me,
- But 'tis in vain to ask;
They are so deaf and rather lame,
- They'd think it quite a task.
No! I must go alone, I see,
- So I'll not let them know;
Or, like poor Christian's friends, they'll say,
- 'My dear, you must not go.'
But I must wait till some grand scheme
- Can all their thoughts engage;
And then I'll leave my pleasant home,
- And go on pilgrimage."
She had not waited long, before,
- On fine autumnal day,
She saw the large old coach arrive,
- To take her aunts away.
"We're going out to spend the day,"
- The two old ladies said;
"We mean to visit Mrs. Blair--
- Poor soul!--she's ill in bed.
"But, Marian, you must stay at home,
- For the lady's ill, you see;
You can have your dinner, if you like,
- In the large old apple-tree,
And play in the garden all the day,
- Quite happy and content."
A few more parting words were said,
- And off the ladies went.
The servants, too, were all engaged;
- "The day is come at last,"
Said Marian, "but oh, I wish,
- My pilgrimage was past."
She knelt beside the apple-tree,
- And for God's assistance prayed;
Then, with her basket in her hand,
- Forth tripped the little maid.
Behind the house where Marian dwelt,
- Far off in the distance, lay
A high steep hill, which the sun at morn
- Tinged with its earliest ray.
"Difficulty" was its rightful name,
- The child had often thought;
Towards this hill she turned her steps,
- With hopeful visions fraught.
The flowers seemed to welcome her,
- 'Twas a lovely autumn morn,
The little lark sang marrily,
- Above the waving corn.
"Ah, little lark, you sing," said she,
- "On your early pilgrimage;
I, too, will sing, for pleasant thoughts
- Should now my mind engage."
In clear sweet strains she sung a hymn,
- And tripped lightly on her way;
Until a pool of soft thick mud
- Across her pathway lay.
"This is the Slough of Despond," she cried,
- But she bravely ventured through;
And safely reached the other side,
- But she lost one little shoe.
On an old gray stone she sat her down,
- To eat some fruit and bread;
Then took her little Bible out,
- And a cheering psalm she read.
Then with fresh hope she journeyed on,
- For many miles away;
And she reached the bottomm of the hill,
- Before the close of day.
She clambered up the steep ascent,
- Though faint and weary too;
But firmly did our Marian keep
- Her purpose still in view.
"I'm glad, at least, the arbor's past,"
- Said the little tired soul;
"I'm sure I should have sat me down,
- And lost my little roll!"
On the high hill-top she stands at last,
- And our weary Pilgrim sees
A porter's lodge, of ample size,
- Half hid by sheltering trees,
She clapped her hands with joy, and cried,
- "Oh, there's the Wicket Gate,
And I must seek admittance there,
- Before it is too late."
Gently she knocks--'tis answered soon,
- And at the open door
Stands a tall, stout man--poor Marian felt
- As she ne'er had felt before.
With tearful eyes, and trembling hand,
- Flushed cheek, and anxious brow,
She said, "I hope you're Watchful, Sir,
- I want Discretion now."
"Oh yes, I'm watchful," said the man,
- "As a porter ought to be;
I s'pose you've lost your way, young Miss,
- You've lost your shoe, I see.
"Missus," he cried to his wife within,
- Here's a child here, at the door,
You'll never see such a one again,
- If you live to be fourscore.
She wants discretion, so she says,
- Indeed I think 'tis true;
But I know some who want it more,
- Who will not own they do."
"Go to the Hall," his wife replies,
- "And take the child with you,
The ladies there are all so wise,
- They'll soon know what to do."
The man complied, and led the child
- Through many a flowery glade;
"Is that the Palace Beautiful?"
- The little Pilgrim said,
"There, to the left, among the trees?
- Why, Miss, 'tis might grand;
Call it a palace, if you please,
- 'Tis the finest in the land.
Now we be come to the fine old porch,
- And this is the Marble Hall;
Here, little lady, you must stay,
- While I the servants call."
Tired and sad he left the child,
- But he quickly re-appeared,
And with him the lady of the house--
- Poor Marian's heart was cheered.
"Sweet little girl," the lady said,
- In accents soft and kind,
"I'm sure you sadly want some rest,
- And rest you soon shall find."
To a room where three young ladies sat,
- The child was quickly led;
"Piety, Prudence, and Charity,"
- To herself she softly said.
"What is your mane, my little dear?"
- Said the eldest of the three,
Whom Marian, in her secret thought,
- Had christened Piety.
"We'll send a servant to your friends,
- How uneasy they must be!"
Admiringlly she watched the child,
- Who, indeed, was fair to see;
Around her bright and lovely face
- Fell waves of auburn hair.
As modestly she told her name,
- With whom she lived and where.
"How did you lose your way, my love?"
- She gently raised her head,
"I do not think I've lost my way,"
- The little Pilgrim said.
"This is the Palace Beautiful,
- May I stay here to-night?"
They smiled and said, "We're glad our house
- Finds favor in your sight:--
"Yes, gladly will we keep you here,
- For many nights to come."
"Thank you," said Marian, "but I soon
- Must seek my heavenly home.
The valley of the Shadow of Death
- Is near this house, I know"--
She stopped, for she saw, with great surprise,
- Their tears began to flow.
She little thought the mourning dress,
- Which all the ladies wore,
Was for one whom they had dearly loved,
- And should see on earth no more.
Their brother had been called away,
- Their brightest and their best;
No wonder, then, that Marian's words
- Roused grief in every breast.
Sobs only for awhile were heard;
- At length the ladies said,
"My, love, you have reminded us
- Of our loved and early dead;
But this you could not know, my dear,
- And it indeed is true;
We are all near to Death's dark door,
- Even little girls like you."
"Yes," said the timid, trembling child,
- "I know it must be so;
But, ma'am, I hope that Piety
- May be with me when I go.
And will you show me your armory,
- When you have time to spare?
I hope you have some small enough
- For a little girl to wear."
No more she said, for Piety,
- As Marian called her, cast
Her arms around the Pilgrim's neck,
- The secret's out at last.
"You puzzled all," said Piety;
- "But now, I see, you've read
A glorious book, which, unexplained,
- Has turned your little head.
"Oh, dearly, when I was a child,
- I loved that Pilgrim Tale;
But then mamma explained it well--
- And if we can prevail
On your kind aunts to let you stay
- Some time with us, my dear,
You shall read that book with my mamma,
- And she will make it clear."
Now we'll return to Marian's home,
- And see what's passing there.
The servants all had company,
- And a merry group they were.
They had not missed our Pilgrim long,
- For they knew she oft would play
In that old garden, with a book,
- The whole of the livelong day.
"Betty," at last, said the housekeeper,
- "Where can Miss Marian be?
Her dinner was in the basket packed,
- But, sure, she'll come into tea!"
They sought her here, they sought her there,
- But they could not find the child;
And her poor ould aunts, when they came home,
- With grief were almost wild.
The coachman and the footman too,
- In different ways were sent;
But none thought of the narrow way
- In which the Pilgrim went.
"Perhaps she followed us to town,"
- Poor Aunt Rebecca said,
"I wish we had not left our home;
- I fear the child is dead."
And to the town the coachman went,
- For they knew not what to do;
And night drew on, when a country boy
- Brought Marian's little shoe.
With the shoe in her hand, the housekeeper
- Into the parlor ran,
"Oh, Mistress, here is all that's left
- Of poor Miss Marian.
It was found sticking in the mud,
- Just above Harlem Chase;
I fear the poor child's perished there,
- For 'tis a frightful place."
Then louder grew the ladies' grief;
- But soon their hearts were cheered,
When a footman grand, with a note in his hand,
- From the distant Hall appeared.
Aunt Ruth now read the note, and cried,
- "Oh, sister, all is well!
The child is safe at Brookland Hall,
- With Lady Arundel,
Who wants to keep her for a month;
- Why, yes; I think she may--
Such friends as Lady Arundel
- Are not met with every day.
"Our compliments, and thanks to her,
- When you return, young man;
We'll call to-morrow at the Hall,
- And see Miss Marian."
Then came a burst of grateful joy,
- That could not be suppressed,
And, with thankful hearts and many tears,
- The ladies went to rest.
We'll take a peep at our Marian now,
- There in her bed lies she;
How blissful were her dreams that night,
- In the arms of Piety.
Oh, that happy month at Brookland Hall,
- How soon it passed away!
Cheerful and good were Marian's friends,
- And who so kind as they?
And, more than all, while there she stayed,
- They did their best to bring
The little lamb to that blest fold
- Where reigns the Shepherd King.
For many a lesson ne'er forgot,
- The little Marian learned;
And a thoughtful and a happier child
- She to her home returned.
Years rolled away, the scene has changed,
- A wife and mother now,
Marian has found the Wicket Gate,
- She and her children too.
And oh! how sweet it is to see
- This littel Pilgrim band,
As on towards their heavenly home,
- They travel hand in hand.
When cloudy days fall to their lot,
- They see a light afar,
The light that shone on Bethlehem's plain,
- The Pilgrim's guiding star.
And now, dear children, whosoe'er,
- Or whereso'er you be,
Who ponder o'er this strange, true tale
- Of Marian's history,--
If to the flowers of your young hearts,
- Instruction's dews are given,
Oh! be earnest as our Marian was,
- To find the road to Heaven.