A poem by Nora Pembroke

(Job iii. 26)

It was not that I lived a life of ease,
Quiet, secure, apart from every care;
For on the darkest of my anxious days
I thought my burden more than I could bear.
The shadow of a coming trouble fell
Across my pathway, drawing very near;
I walked within it awestruck, felt the spell
Trembled, not knowing what I had to fear.
The hand that held events I might not stay,
But creeping to His footstool I could pray.

With sad forebodings I kept watch and ward
Against the dreaded evil that must come;
Of small avail, door locked or window barred,
To keep the pestilence from hearth and home.
The dreadful pestilence that walks by night,
Stepping o'er barriers, an unwelcome guest,
Came, and with scorching touch to sear and blight,
Drew my fair child into her loathsome breast;
Nothing had ever parted us till then,
O child! when shall I hold thee once again?

As if the plague's red cross upon my door,
With "Lord have mercy!" scared the passers by,
So friends of mine that I had had before,
Fled from the face of my calamity.
Shut in, and yet shut out, my days went on,
Shut in with woe, shut out from human kind
Within my boundaries, watching sad and lone,
Hope with despair kept struggling in my mind.
It is not always human hearts can say
To Him who smites, "I trust Thee though Thou slay."

They're taught of God who say "Thy will be done,"
When in the presence of the thing they fear,
Both flesh and spirit fail when hope is gone,
And what we dread the most is drawing near;
I said, "an end comes to the darkest day,
And the bright, sunshine follows after rain,
This fearful pestilence will pass away,
And I can comfort those she holds in pain;
I'll take them to my heart, nor will I care,
That her touch marred the faces I thought fair"

I clung to hope I would not let it go--
And praying thoughts went up with every breath,
For when the sickness came I did not know
That with her came the angel they call Death.
My child will be restored to me I said,
Death took her hand-and almost unawares,
She slipped away from me and joined the dead
Back on my heart fell my unanswered prayers,
Stunned I took up my child that was so sweet
And wrapped her poor form in the winding-sheet

All desolate I bore her to her bier
With unaccustomed hands I laid her down,
With grief too hard and deep to shed a tear
We stood beneath the heavens gathering frown,
And then the storm burst on us in its might,
The loosened winds rushed round to moan and rave,
'Twas fittest so--they bore her from my sight,
Through the wild ram and laid her in her grave,
Then conscious only of a dreadful loss,
I sat with sorrow underneath my cross

The little ones whose mother's with the dead
Came with their many wants around my knee
And added, needless burden some one said,
But ah! they were God's messengers to me,
For here were duties that my hands must do,
Although my wound might only bleed and smart,
And so there came some solace to me through
The helpless hands that touched my aching heart
Ah! little children bringing everywhere
God's blessed comfort mingled in with care

And so I do my task, my daily task,
Working the work that's given me to do,
Getting the daily strength for which I ask,
The needed courage still to help me through;
And my great sorrow passes out of sight,
I have not time to sit and make my moan;
But in the solemn stillness of the night,
My woe comes back to me with heavy groan.
And yet our Father weaves His golden thread
Into the warp of duty's homespun web.

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