“Stay, mother, stay, for the storm is abroad,
And the tempest is very wild;
It’s a fearful night with no ray of light,
Oh stay with your little child!”
“Hush darling!” the mother, with white lips said–
“Lie still till I come again,
God’s angels blest will watch o’er thy rest
While I am abroad in the rain!
Thy father, child?–oh, I quake with fear
When I think where he may be,
And I dare not stay till the dawn of day–
I must hasten forth to see!”
Then the young child buried her tangled curls
In the ragged counterpane,
While the half-clad mother went forth alone
In the blinding wind and rain.
Down many a narrow, slippery lane,
Down many a long, dark street,
Went that shivering form thro’ the pelting storm
Of wind, and rain, and sleet;
Till, nearing a den where inebriate men,
With Bacchanal oath and yell,
And curse and jeer, spent the midnight drear,
She reeled in the gloom and fell;
For a prostrate form, in the pitiless storm
And inky darkness, lay
Helpless and prone on the pavement-stone,
Across her desolate way.
She knelt alone by the fallen one,
And murmured in accents low,
A name, how dear to her girlhood’s ear
In the beautiful long ago!
But no voice, no tone replied to her own,
And the cold hand fell like lead;
And her wailing cry brought back no reply,
As she shrieked “he is dead!–he’s dead!”
Aye, “dead!”–God pity thee, stricken wife!
God pity thee, orphan child!
Poor slave to wine, what a death was thine,
In that wintry tempest wild!
We know not how long that wild, drunken song
And those curses assailed her ear,
But the morning-ray found its early way
To one who no more could hear;
For the faithful heart that had borne its part
Awhile, through those watches lone,
Had grown still it last as the pitiless blast
Swept by her with wrathful tone;–
But the rumseller-he slept quietly
In his chamber of gilded pride,
For little he cared how his victims fared,
Or whether they lived or died!
Oh! the old, old strain with its old refrain,
Of agony, death, and woe!–
Oh! the bitter tears that, through all the years,
Have been flowing, and ever flow!
Must the ghastly tragedy never cease?
Will Manhood never awake?
And, by God’s great might made strong for the right.
Stand up for Humanity’s sake,
And wipe the horrible stain away
From his country and his home–
The dark, ensangnined, loathsome stain
Of the merciless monster, Rum?