One of the Least of These.

A poem by Hattie Howard

'Twas on a day of cold and sleet,
A little nomad of the street
With tattered garments, shoeless feet,
And face with hunger wan,
Great wonder-eyes, though beautiful,
Hedged in by features pinched and dull,
Betraying lines so pitiful
By sorrow sharply drawn;

Ere yet the service half was o'er,
Approached the great cathedral door
As choir and organ joined to pour
Their sweetness on the air;
Then, sudden, bold, impelled to glide
With fleetness to the altar's side,
Her trembling form she sought to hide
Amid the shadows there,

Half fearful lest some worshiper,
Enveloped close in robes of fur,
Had cast a scornful glance at her
As she had stolen by,
But soon the swelling anthem, fraught
With reverence, her spirit caught
As rapt she listened, heeding not
The darkness drawing nigh.

'Mid novelty and sweet surprise
Her soul, enraptured, seemed to rise
And tread the realms of Paradise;
Her shivering limbs grew warm,
And as the shadows longer crept
Across the chancel, angels kept
Their vigils o'er her as she slept
Secure from cold and storm.

No sound her peaceful slumber broke,
But one, whose gentle face bespoke
True goodness, took her costly cloak
In tender, thoughtful way,
And as the sleeper sweetly smiled,
Perchance by dreams of Heaven beguiled,
O'erspread the passive, slumbering child,
And softly stepped away.

So rest thee, child! since Sorrow's dart
Has touched like thine the Saviour's heart,
Thou hast a nearer, dearer part
In his great love for thee;
And when life's shadows all are gone,
May Heaven reveal a brighter dawn
To thee who, unaware, hast drawn
Our hearts in sympathy.

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