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She told how Peter, bound with chains,
Lay in the prison-ward, How God's good angel freed him straight, And the strong prison's iron gate
Oped of its own accord.
“God knows our wants," said Marien
“ And in our sorest need, Puts forth his arm to rescue us, For he is merciful, and thus
It is that thou art freed.”
"Let us go hence!" the old man said,
And o'er the forest sod, They, hand in hand, with quiet steps,
Went forward praising God.
Ere noontide, to a forest grange
They came, a sylvan place, Where trooped, no longer fearing man,
The forest's native race, The white doe and the antlered stag,
And every beast of chase.
'Twas joy to see them drawing near
The old man as he came; And this he stroked, and that he called
By some familiar name.
'Twas joy unto the little child
This little pleasant place to see; “ This is my home,” he said, “and here
Thou shalt abide with me.”
"I have no child to be mine heir,
And I am growing old ; –
And heir of all my gold.
And here within this wood, 'Mongst faithful, gentle things, shalt thou
Grow up to womanhood !”
Within the forest wild,
Was dearer than a child.
Through the wild wood went Marien,
For many a weary day;
The forest-turf she lay.
By moorlands dry and brown;
Into a little town.
A cross stood by the way,
A little prayer to say.
And soon beside her crept,
And all the while she wept. “Why weep you, child," asked Marien,
" What troubleth you so sore ?" At these words spoken tenderly,
The child wept more and more. “I have not heard," at length he said,
“Kind words this many a year, My mother is dead - -and
Is a hard man and severe. "I sit in corners of the house
Where none can see me weep; And in the quiet of the day
"Tis here I osten creep. “The kid leaps by his mother's side,
The singing birds are glad : But when I play me in the sun,
My heart is ever sad. “They say this blessèd book can heal
All trouble, and therefore
For I of learning have no store !"
The child drooped down his head;
And of the Saviour read.
Of poverty and scorn ;
The night that he was born.
To hail that Christmas night, And shepherd people with their flocks
Beheld the glorious sight.
His parents he obeyed,
There dwelt the lovely Marien;
Yet not long dwelt she there ;The old man died ; -- and then came forth
A kinsman for the heir.
A lean and rugged man of pelf,
In wickedness grown old ;
And seized upon the gold ;
The forest-grange he sold.
Away the child he sent :
But through the forest went.
Then how he grew to man's estate
And wandered up and down,
And in the busy town.
Page after page she read;
And how he raised the dead.
Even of low degree;
And set them on his knee.
He spoke in accents low,
To have been blessèd so !"
Said Marien kind and mild,
Thee, even now, poor child!"
Until the closing day,
Rose up to go their way.
An ancient church, and here
“For the organ pealeth over head, And that sweet strain of holy sound Like a heavenly vesture wraps me round,
And my heavy heart doth cheer.”
Into the church they stole ;
To soothe a troubled soul.
The pealing organ ceased,
Passed chorister and priest.
Went forward hand in hand Adown the chancel aisle, and then
At once they made a stand. Over the altar hung a piece
With holy influence fraught,
By some old painter wrought.
Was there like life expressed,
Were thronging to be blessed.
And weeping, tenderly
Or let me go to thee!"
Anon his little head dropped low,
And his white lips 'gan to say, “Oh kiss me gentle one, for now
Even I am called away
It calleth me away!"
His meek arms on his breast,
Thus God had given him rest!
Sate down beside the dead,
As in a kingly bed.
When came the father there,
To say a morning prayer.
When, heart-struck, he surveyed
In his dead beauty laid.
His softened soul was torn
That little child had borne.
The footstep faint and low,
The look of hopeless woe.
Of harsh rebuke and blow.
As was his wont, he said,
He stood before the dead.
Ten long days' travel Marien went,
O'er woodland and o'er wold, Teaching and preaching by the way,
Like Jesus Christ of old.
A lodging she would find,
But blessings staid behind;
And plenteous peace of mind. With shepherd people on the hills ;
With toiling peasant men, She sate ; with women dwelling lone,
On mountain or in glen. By wayside wells she sate her down,
With pilgrims old and bent; Or, hand in hand, with children small, To the village school she went.
Forth from the tent sped Marien ;
And many a summer's day Throughout a blessed land of peace She journeyed on her way.
Was blessed exceedingly; their store
Grew daily, weekly, more and more ; And peace so multiplied around, The very hearth seemed holy ground, As if once more on earth was found
The Paradise of God.
At length after long travel past,
She came as it grew late,
To a vast city gate.
Rose dome, and tower, and spire,
Like glittering points of fire.
Whose thronging multitude
Strong as the ocean-flood.
Toil, pleasure, pain, delight,
Ceased not by day or night.
Passed ever, never spent ; A busy mingling human tide
Of those who came and went "T was a proud city and a rich ;
A city fair and old ; Filled with the world's most costly things, –
of precious stones and gold; Of silks, fine woods, and spiceries ;
And all that's bought and sold.
Came there as it grew late,
Unto the city gate.
Returning from his trade,
Her weary form surveyed.
Shalt go: and of my bread,
Her weary steps he led.
'Mong dwellings of the poor
Unto his lowly door.
" And though our fare is scant,
It is not thou shalt want!"
In the great city, cherished so,
Nor would they let her go.
And that while their abode
"T was she that blessed the bread they ate,
"T was she soothed all their cares; They knew not that they entertained
An angel unawares.
They of the Saviour heard;
Believed and blessed each word.
With plenteous food was spread;
The famished thousands fed.
Their kindling bosoms burned,
To teach what they had learned.
The sinner vile, was sent;
A weeping penitent.
Unjudged before his face;
Repentant to his place;
He said, thou art forgiven,
In the paradise of Heaven.
Tumed from their evil ways,
And Christian hymns of praise.
And to the proud, 't was told, How many of the meaner sort
Lived like the saints of old.
How holy, blameless, were their lives;
And how poor craftsmen vile, Amid their fellows, tool in hand,
The gospel preached the while. "T was told of Marien; how she came
A wanderer none knew whence ;
A child in innocenco;
But others took offence. “Why," said they, “ should this simple child,
These men of low degree, Thus preach and practise? what new faith Is there, or need there be ?
“ Bishops have taught a thousand years,
And learned men are they ;
Devised to lead astray."
To a full synod brought,
And for the faith they taught.
To see them fearless stand,
And language at command.
They answered, “ let alone All pride of rank; Christ chose the poor,
To make his gospel known.
For whom Christ's blood was shed;
As God shall judge the dead !"
By sophistries perplexed ;
Their simple souls be vexed.
As taught the holy book ;
Upon its page to look.
And they were judged blasphemers dire, And doomed, their daring heresies
To expiate in fire.
Throughout the city rang the tale
Of this divinest child ;
Many were reconciled.
And “here let her be brought,
" And suffer as she ought.” As Christ among the doctors stood,
So she among these men,
In parchment and in pen;
Reviling not again.
Rather of love than lore,
Pled youthful tongue before.
And straightway spoke each one Unto his neighbour, “ Through this child
May mighty things be done !" Then threatening words anon grew soft,
“And thou with us shalt go," They said, “and with the poor and vile,
No longer suffer woe. “Thou shalt be clothed in purple robes,
In gold and linen fine; Shalt eat the daintiest food; shalt drink
The spirit-gladdening wine. “And with us in proud palaces
A crowned queen shalt be ; Leave but these men, for they are poor,
And can do nought for thee! “ Behold the stake at which they burn
The iron-rack behold
With silver and with gold ?
And in our places high,
Will deck thee royally!" “ Nay,” said sweet Marien, " as a queen
It is not I may bide;
Nor aught of human pride.
Will clothe me, even as they ;
Will feed me day by day!"
And “ Come away,” they said,
With royal pomp was led. They showed her all that palace proud ;
They showed her store of gold; They told her of a hundred realms, And wealth a hundred-fold.
So perished for their faith in Christ,
This righteous couple; for their foes Beseeching pardon; blessing God
That they were reckoned among those Worthy to die for Christ, whose place Is with the Holiest face to face. Beside the pile stood Marien
Weeping sad human tears,
And soothing all their fears.
With heavenly lustre beamed,
Celestial beauty streamed. Men Inoked on her with wondering awe,
As on an angel's face, And pity, and love, and sweet remorse,
In every heart had place.