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A lamp of life, a beacon ray,
A monitory flame.
A watch-fire on the hill;
And cheers the valley still.
A nameless man, amid a crowd
That thronged the daily mart,
Unstudied from the heart;
A transitory breath-
It saved a soul from death.
O thought at random cast !
Anon., N. Y. Magazine.
EBEN REXFORD'S DISCHARGE
It was Convention Day for the G. A. R. in the State of --(we'll say South Dakota). Eben Rexford was a prominent candidate for State Commander, but his opponents had whispered around that Eben had no discharge to show. There must be something crooked in his record.
On the day of the election, Eben arose in his place and addressed the chair as follows:
"Mr. Chairman,—It has been stated that I have no discharge, and as my name has been mentioned for Commander,
I wish to make an explanation. It is true that I have no discharge.
"When the President's call for troops reached my home in a little village back in New Hampshire, my older brother Samuel happened to be in the village that evening, and enlisted. When he got home, out on the farm a few miles, he told father and mother, and the matter was talked over. Samuel was the support of the family, father and mother being aged people, and as he understood the farm work better than I did, being only sixteen years old at that time, it was decided that Samuel should stay at home and I should go in his place. I went, and answered to his name at every roll-call all through the war. No, Mr. Chairman, I have no discharge, but Samuel has one.'
Eben sat down, the tears rolling down his cheeks, and there was not a dry eye in that gathering of battle-scarred veterans. He was unanimously elected Department Commander.
BREAK, BREAK, BREAK
Break, break, break,
On thy cold gray stones, O sea!
The thoughts that arise in me.
That he shouts with his sister at play:
That he sings in his boat on the bay!
To their haven under the hill;
And the sound of a voice that is still!
Break, break, break,
At the foot of thy crags, O sea!
The conference meeting through at last,
We boys around the vestry waited To see the girls come tripping past
Like snowbirds willing to be mated.
Not braver he that leaps the wall
By level musket-flashes litten, Than I, who stepped before them all
Who longed to see me get the mitten.
But no, she blushed and took my arm!
We let the old folks have the highway, And started toward the Maple Farm
Along a kind of lovers' by-way.
I can't remember what we said,
'Twas nothing worth a song or story, Yet that rude path by which we sped
Seemed all transformed and in a glory.
The snow was crisp beneath our feet,
The moon was full, the fields were gleaming; By hood and tippet sheltered sweet,
Her face with youth and health was beaming.
The little hand outside her muff
O sculptor, if you could but mold it! So lightly touched my jacket-cuff,
To keep it warm, I had to hold it.
To have her with me there alone
'Twas love and fear and triumph blended, At last we reached the foot-worn stone
Where that delicious journey ended.
The old folks, too, were almost home;
Her dimpled hand the latches fingered, We heard the voices nearer come,
Yet on the doorstep still we lingered.
She shook her ringlets from her hood,
And with a "Thank you, Ned," dissembled, But yet I knew she understood
With what a daring wish I trembled.
A cloud passed kindly overhead,
The moon was slying peeping through it, Yet hid its face, as if it said,
"Come, now or never, do it, do it!"
My lips till then had only known
The kiss of mother and of sister, But, somehow, full
her own Sweet, rosy, darling mouth-I kissed her!
Perhaps 'twas boyish love, yet still,
O listless woman! weary lover!
Edmund Clarence Stedman.
FOR THOSE WHO FAIL
"All honor to him who shall win the prize,"
The world has cried for a thousand years, But to him who tries and who fails and dies,
I give great honor and glory and tears.
Give glory and honor and pitiful tears
To all who fail in their deeds sublime, Their ghosts are many in the van of years,
They were born with Time in advance of Time.
Oh, great is the hero who wins a name,
But greater many and many a time Some pale-faced fellow who dies in shame
And lets God finish the thought sublime.
And great is the man with a sword undrawn,
And good is the man who refrains from wine; But the man who fails and who still fights on, Lo, he is the twin-brother of mine.
NOW I LAY ME DOWN TO SLEEP
Now I lay me down to sleep,