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The Stray Lamb – A Grandmother’s Story
by [?]


We had finished our pitiful morsel,
And both sat in silence a while;
At length we looked up at each other.
And I said, with the ghost of a smile,–
“Only two little potatoes
And a very small crust of bread–
And then?”–“God will care for us, Lucy!”
John, quietly answering, said.

“Yes, God will provide for us, Lucy!”
He said, after musing a while–
I’d been quietly watching his features
With a feeble attempt at a smile–
“For, ‘trust in the Lord, and do good,’
Our Father in Heaven has said,
So shalt thou dwell in the land,
And verily thou shalt be fed!
‘”

Scarcely the words had he spoken,
When a faint, little tap at the door
Surprised us,–for all the long morning
The rain had continued to pour.
I am sure I shall never remember
The pelting and pitiless rain
Of that desolate day in November,
Without a dull heart-throb of pain.

For work had grown scarcer and scarcer,
Till there seemed not a job to be done;
We had paid out our very last sixpence,
And of fuel and food we had none.
John had tried–no one ever tried harder–
For work, but his efforts were vain;
And I wondered all faith had not failed him
That morning when out in the rain.

“Come in!” said John, speaking quite softly.
And opening the door a small space,
For there stood a thin, little beggar
With such a blue, pitiful face!
“O sir, if you please sir, I’m hungry,
Do give me a small bit of bread!”
“Come in, then, you poor, little woman,
I am sure you are freezing!” John said.

We each caught a hand cold and dripping,
And drew the poor trembler in;
But she sank at our feet like a baby,
Half-frozen, and drenched to the skin.
John ran for our last bit of fuel;
And I, to an old box, where lay
Our own little Maggie’s warm clothing,–
Our Maggie–dead many a day!

I tore off her old, dripping tatters,
And rubbed her blue, shivering form;
And then put those precious clothes on her,
And made her all glowing and warm.
“O ma’am, if you please, I’m so hungry!”
Again the dear innocent said;
So John brought our two cold potatoes
And our one little morsel of bread.

“Here, take this,”–he said; and she snatched it,
And ate till the last bit was done;
And we two looked on, never grudging
Our all to the famishing one.
I looked up a half-minute after,
But John had slipped out in the rain;
And the wind was still howling and raging
Like some great, cruel monster in pain.

Soon the pale, little eyelids grew heavy,
And I watched till the weary one slept;–
Then I, a poor weak-hearted woman,
Held her closer, and oh, how I wept!
With our fire all burned out to black ashes,–
Our very last bit of food gone,–
Poor John, too, out facing the tempest,–
And I left there shiv’ring alone!

But the little, warm head on my bosom
Seemed so strangely like hers that I lost;
And the soft, little hands I was holding,
So like the dear hands that I crossed
In their last quiet rest,–and those garments–
Ah, those garments!–I mused till it seemed,
I had got back my own little Maggie;–
And then, for long hours. I dreamed.

* * * *