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- Bitter-Sweet - 6/22 -


And will offend no more.

_David_.

Ruth, is it right To leave a brother in such a plight as this-- Either to imitate your courtesy, Or by your act to be adjudged a boor?

_Ruth_.

Heaven grant you never note a sin of mine Save of your own construction!

_Israel_.

Let it pass! I see the spell of thoughtfulness is gone, Or going swiftly. I will not complain; But ere these lads are fastened to their games, And thoughts arise discordant with our theme, Let us with gratitude approach the throne And worship God. I wish once more to lead Your hearts in prayer, and follow with my own The leading of your song of thankfulness. Then will I lease and leave you for the night To such divertisement as suits the time, And meets your humor.

[_They all arise and the old man prays_.]

_Ruth_.

[_After a pause_.]

David, let us see Whether your memory prove as true as mine. Do you recall the promise made by you This night one year ago,--to write a hymn For this occasion?

_David_.

I recall, and keep. Here are the copies, written fairly out. Here,--father, Mary, Ruth, and all the rest; There's one for each. Now what shall be the tune?

_Israel_.

The old One Hundredth--noblest tune of tunes! Old tunes are precious to me as old paths In which I wandered when a happy boy. In truth, they are the old paths of my soul, Oft trod, well worn, familiar, up to God.

THE HYMN.

[_In which all unite to sing_.]

For Summer's bloom and Autumn's blight, For bending wheat and blasted maize, For health and sickness, Lord of light, And Lord of darkness, hear our praise!

We trace to Thee our joys and woes-- To Thee of causes still the cause,-- We thank Thee that Thy hand bestows; We bless Thee that Thy love withdraws.

We bring no sorrows to Thy throne; We come to Thee with no complaint; In Providence Thy will is done, And that is sacred to the saint

Here on this blest Thanksgiving Night; We raise to Thee our grateful voice; For what Thou doest, Lord, is right; And thus believing, we rejoice.

_Grace_.

A good old tune, indeed, and strongly sung; But, in my mind, the man who wrote the hymn Had seemed more modest, had he paused a while. Ere by a trick he furnished other tongues With words he only has the heart to sing.

_David_.

Oh, Grace! Dear Grace!

_Ruth_.

You may well cry for grace, If that's the company you have to keep.

_Grace_.

I thought you convert to his sophistry. It makes no difference to him, you know, Whether I plague or please.

_Ruth_.

It does to you.

_Israel_.

There, children! No more bitter words like those! I do not understand them; they awake A sad uneasiness within my heart. I found but Christian meaning in the hymn; Aye, I could say _amen_ to every line, As to the breathings of my own poor prayer. But let us talk no more. I'll to my bed. Good-night, my children! Happy thoughts be yours Till sleep arrive--then happy dreams till dawn!

_All_.

Father, good-night!

[ISRAEL _retires_.]

_Ruth_.

There, little boys and girls-- Off to the kitchen! Now there's fun for you. Play blind-man's-buff until you break your heads; And then sit down beside the roaring fire, And with wild stories scare yourselves to death. We'll all be out there, by and by. Meanwhile, I'll try the cellar; and if David, here, Will promise good behavior, he shall be My candle-bearer, basket-bearer, and-- But no! The pitcher I will bear myself. I'll never trust a pitcher to a man Under this house, and--seventy years of age.

[_The children rush out of the room with a shout, which wakes the baby_.]

That noisy little youngster on the floor Slept through theology but wakes with mirth-- Precocious little creature! He must go Up to his chamber. Come, Grace, take him off-- Basket and all. Mary will lend a hand, And keep you company until he sleeps.

[GRACE _and_ MARY _remove the cradle to the chamber, and_ DAVID _and_ RUTH retire to the cellar_.]

_John_.

[_Rising and yawning_]

Isn't she the strangest girl you ever saw?

_Prudence_.

Queer, rather, I should say. Grace, now, is strange. I think she treats her husband shamefully. I can't imagine what possesses her, Thus to toss taunts at him with every word. If in his doctrines there be truth enough, He'll be a saint.

_Patience_.

If he live long enough.

_John_.

Well, now I tell you, such wild men as he,-- Men who have crazy crotchets in their heads,-- Can't make a woman happy. Don't you see? He isn't settled. He has wandered off From the old landmarks, and has lost himself I may judge wrongly; but if truth were told There'd be excuse for Grace, I warrant ye. Grace is a right good girl, or was, before She married David.

_Patience_.

Everybody says He makes provision for his family, Like a good husband.

_Peter_.

We can hardly tell. When men get loose in their theology The screws are started up in everything. Of course, I don't apologize for Grace. I think she might have done more prudently Than introduce her troubles here to-night,


Bitter-Sweet - 6/22

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