This section is from the book "Hill's Manual Of Social And Business Forms: A Guide To Correct Writing", by Thos. E. Hill. Also available from Amazon: Hill's Manual Of Social And Business Forms: The How-To-Do-Everything Book Of Victorian America.
BY ETHEL LYNN BEERS.
WHICH shall it be? which shall it be? I looked at John - John looked at me (Dear patient John, who loves me yet As well as though my locks were jet,) And when I found that I must speak, My voice seemed strangely low and weak. " Tell me again what Robert said; " And then I listening bent my head. "This is his letter: "
"I will give A house and land while you shall live, If, in return, from out your seven, One child to me for aye is given."
I looked at John's old garments worn,
I thought of all that John had borne
Of poverty and work and care,
Which I, though willing, could not share;
I thought of seven mouths to feed,
Of seven little children's need,
And then of this.
" Come, John," said I, " We'll choose among them, as they lie Asleep; so walking hand in hand, Dear John and I surveyed our band. First to the cradle lightly stepped Where the new, nameless baby slept. " Shall it be baby?" whispered John. I took his hand, and hurried on To Lily's crib. Her sleeping grasp Held her old doll within its clasp; Her dark curls lay like gold alight, A glory 'gainst the pillow white. Softly her father stooped to lay His rough hand down in a loving way. When dream or whisper made her stir, And, huskily, John said, " Not her - not her."
We stooped beside the trundle-bed, And one long ray of lamp-light shed
Across the boyish faces, three, In sleep so pitiful and fair; I saw, on Jamie's rough, red cheek, A tear undried. Ere John could speak, "He's but a baby too," said L And kissed him as we hurried by. Pale, patient Robbie's angel face, Still in sleep bore suffering's trace. "No, for a thousand crowns, not him," We whispered while our eyes were dim. Poor Dick! bad Dick! our wayward son, Turbulent, reckless, idle one-Could he be spared? " Nay, He, who gave, Bids us befriend him to his grave; Only a mother's heart can be Patient enough for such as he; And s0," said John, " I would not dare To send him from her bedside prayer." Then stole we 8oftly up above, And knelt by Mary, child of love. "Perhaps for her 'twould better be," I said to John. Quite silently He lifted up a curl that lay Across her cheek, in willful way, And he shook his head, " Nay, love, not thee," The while my heart beat audibly. Only one more, our oldest lad, Trusty and thoughtful, good and glad-So like his father. " No, John, no - I cannot, will not, let him go."
And so we wrote, in courteous way,
We could not give one child away;
And after that, toil lighter seemed,
Thinking of that of which we dreamed,
Happy, in truth, that not one face
Was missed from its accustomed place;
Thankful to work for all the seven.
Trusting the rest to One in Heaven.