The Trodden Path

GO to bed ? Not yet, for I want to think:
When one is in sorrow, one longs for peace;
And you know, since Sunday, the house has rung
With weary whispers that would not cease.
Good night, Amy dear .... How good it feels
To be freed from the watch of those loving eyes!
O kind, good friends, you would help me more
If you did not all try so to sympathize !
Let me turn the lamp, — so; now the light shines
Far down the hall, on the carpet old,
On the white path measured from east to west,
Over faded glories of brown and gold.
Fifteen years since he brought me home !
Choosing this carpet was first of my cares ;
And he teased me merrily all that spring
About my “ treasures of tables and chairs.”
“ Your heart is set on your spoons,” he said;
“ I shall steal them ; in truth, I do well to be vexed.
I wedded Minerva: lo, I find
Her soul in the tea-urn ! What change next ? ”
So he teased through the day ; but when twilight came,
His arm around me, we paced the hall,
And I heard the schemes about rods and wheels,
Acids and alkalies, each and all,
Till I won some share of my husband’s skill,—
Love makes apt pupils, you understand ;
For his tests and reckonings, an eager will
Made a ready brain and a dext’rous hand.
Ah, the path was the way to Fortune then !
The brown and the gold were gay and bright;
Our footsteps fell on no faded tints ;
The road to ruin was out of sight.
Things changed in time ; science kept us poor ;
What was the matter, ’t were hard to say ;
No one bought the books ; the lectures were dull ;
And the rich men wavered; “Would that scheme pay?”
“Practical science is all we want;
It is worth what it brings, sir, not one whit more ! Prove the risk nothing; or some of your friends
Might try,” — with a restless glance at the door.
Years were going and money was gone ;
And the keen, quick ardor too had paled ;
With the hopeful heart went the ready brain,
But I loved him better because he failed!
No complaint, no murmuring, even to me,—
Only the hall’s length measured alone
After each rebuff; while my heart knew well
That every footfall stifled a moan.
I was his comfort, his blessing, he said ;
The truest helper, his own dear wife.
I knew he meant it; and I knew too
No woman could fill the whole of his life.
His work would have rounded it out complete,
Could he have done it— Well, God knows best;
Our bitter is often His rarest sweet :
I thank Him for sending His servant rest.
For he kept Faith’s anchor firm and true;
His hand took a closer hold than mine
On the chain that the microscope would not show
Between things earthly and things divine.
So the restless feet went up and down,
Summer and winter, morn and eve,
Where I pace to-night, till last week he fell
Where I am standing— I will not grieve,
It is too selfish ! There, that shall do !
Am I not glad he has found release —
That pain passed by him ? thank God for that!
In the path of failure he met Heaven’s peace.
Yes, I am glad, or I shall be soon.
This loss makes changes; one thing I know,
No change comes hither; sacred I keep
The path where his heart broke, years ago.
B. W.