Beechenbrook Part 4

Web Novel Beechenbrook Part 4. If you are looking for Beechenbrook Part 4 you are coming to the right place.
Beechenbrook is a Webnovel created by Margaret Junkin Preston.
This lightnovel is currently completed.

Oh! sirs!–there lurks a fiercer foe, Than this that treads your soil, Who springs from unseen ambuscades, To drag you as his spoil.

He drugs the heedless conscience, till, No wary watch it keeps, And parleys with the treacherous heart, While fast the warder sleeps.

He captive leads the wavering will With specious words, and fair, And enters the beleaguered soul, And rules, a conqueror there.

Will ye who fling defiance forth, Against a temporal foe, And rather die, than stoop to wear The chains that gall you so,–

Will ye succ.u.mb beneath a power, That grasps at full control, And binds its helpless victims down In servitude of soul?

Nay,–act like brave men, as ye are,– Nor let the despot, sin, Wrest those immortal rights away, Which Christ has died to win.

For Heaven–best home–true fatherland, Bear toil, reproach and loss, Your highest honor,–holiest name,– The soldiers of the Cross!

VIII.

“My Dougla.s.s! my darling!–there once was a time, When we to each other confessed the sublime And perfect sufficiency love could bestow, On the hearts that have learned its completeness to know; We felt that we too had a well-spring of joy, That earthly convulsions could never destroy,– A mossy, sealed fountain, so cool and so bright, It could solace the soul, let it thirst as it might.

“‘Tis easy, while happiness strews in our path, The richest and costliest blessings it hath, ‘Tis easy to say that no sorrow, no pain, Could utterly beggar our spirits again; ‘Tis easy to sit in the sunshine, and speak Of the darkness and storm, with a smile on the cheek!

“As hungry and cold, and with weariness spent, You droop in your saddle, or crouch in your tent; Can you feel that the love so entire, so true, The love that we dreamed of,–is all things to you?

That come what there may,–desolation or loss, The p.r.i.c.k of the thorn, or the weight of the cross– You can bear it,–nor feel you are wholly bereft, While the bosom that beats for you only, is left?

While the birdlings are spared that have made it so blest, Can you look, undismayed, on the wreck of the nest?

“There’s a love that is tenderer, sweeter than this– That is fuller of comfort, and blessing, and bliss; That never can fail us, whatever befall– Unchanging, unwearied, undying, through all: We have need of the support–the staff and the rod;– Beloved! we’ll lean on the bosom of G.o.d!

“You guess what I fain would keep hidden:–you know, Ere now, that the trail of the insolent foe Leaves ruin behind it, disastrous and dire, And burns through our Valley, a pathway of fire.

–Our beautiful home,–as I write it, I weep, Our beautiful home is a smouldering heap!

And blackened, and blasted, and grim, and forlorn, Its chimneys stand stark in the mists of the morn!

“I stood in my womanly helplessness, weak– Though I felt a brave color was kindling my cheek– And I plead by the sacredest things of their lives– By the love that they bore to their children,–their wives, By the homes left behind them, whose joys they had shared, By the G.o.d that should judge them,–that mine should be spared.

“As well might I plead with the whirlwind to stay As it crashingly cuts through the forest its way!

I know that my eye flashed a pa.s.sionate ire, As they scornfully flung me their answer of–fire!

“Why harrow your heart with the grief and the pain?

Why paint you the picture that’s scorching my brain?

Why speak of the night when I stood on the lawn, And watched the last flame die away in the dawn?

‘Tis over,–that vision of terror,–of woe!

Its horrors I would not recall;–let them go!

I am calm when I think what I suffered them for; I grudge not the quota _I_ pay to the war!

“But, Dougla.s.s!–deep down in the core of my heart, There’s a throbbing, an aching, that will not depart; For memory mourns, with a wail of despair, The loss of her treasures,–the subtle, the rare, Precious things over which she delighted to pore, Which nothing,–ah! nothing, can ever restore!

“The rose-covered porch, where I sat as your bride– The hearth, where at twilight I leaned at your side– The low-cushioned window-seat, where I would lie, With my head on your knee, and look out on the sky:– The chamber all holy with love and with prayer, The motherhood memories cl.u.s.tering there– The vines that _your_ hand has delighted to train, The trees that _you_ planted;–Oh! never again Can love build us up such a bower of bliss; Oh! never can home be as hallow’d as this!

“Thank G.o.d! there’s a dwelling not builded with hands, Whose pearly foundation, immovable stands; There struggles, alarms, and disquietudes cease, And the blissfulest balm of the spirit is–peace!

Small trial ‘twill seem when our perils are past, And we enter the house of our Father at last,– Light trouble, that here, in the night of our stay, The blast swept our wilderness lodging away!

“The children–dear hearts!–it is touching to see My Beverly’s beautiful kindness to me; So buoyant his mein–so heroic–resigned– The boy has the soul of his father, I find!

Not a childish complaint or regret have I heard,– Not even from Archie, a petulant word: Once only–a tear moistened Sophy’s bright cheek: ‘_Papa has no home now!_’–‘twas all she could speak.

“A stranger I wander midst strangers; and yet I never,–no, not for a moment forget That my heart has a home,–just as real, as true, And as warm as if Beechenbrook sheltered me too.

G.o.d grant that this refuge from sorrow and pain– This blessedest haven of peace, may remain!

And, then, though disaster, still sharper, befall, I think I can patiently bear with it all: For the rarest, most exquisite bliss of my life Is wrapped in a word, Dougla.s.s … I am your wife!”

IX.

When fierce and fast-thronging calamities rush Resistless as destiny o’er us, and crush The life from the quivering heart till we feel Like the victim whose body is broke on the wheel– When we think we have touched the far limit at last, –One throe, and the point of endurance is pa.s.sed– When we shivering hang on the verge of despair– There still is capacity left us to bear.

The storm of the winter, the smile of the Spring, No respite, no pause, and no hopefulness bring; The demon of carnage still breathes his hot breath, And fiercely goes forward the harvest of death.

Days painfully drag their slow burden along; And the pulse that is beating so steady and strong, Stands still, as there comes, from the echoing sh.o.r.e Of the winding and clear Rappahannock, the roar Of conflict so fell, that the silvery flood Runs purple and rapid and ghastly with blood.

–Grand army of martyrs!–though victory waves Them onward, her march must be over _their_ graves: They feel it–they know it,–yet steadier each Close phalanx moves into the desperate breach: Their step does not falter–their faith does not yield,– For yonder, supreme o’er the fiercely-fought field, Erect in his leonine grandeur, they see The proud and magnificent calmness of LEE!

‘Tis morn–but the night has brought Alice no rest: The roof seems to press like a weight on her breast; And she wanders forth, wearily lifting her eye, To seek for relief ‘neath the calm of the sky.

The air of the forest is spicy and sweet, And dreamily babbles a brook at her feet; Her children are ‘round her, and sunshine and flowers, Try vainly to banish the gloom of the hours.

With a volume she fain her wild thoughts would a.s.suage, But her vision can trace not a line on the page, And the poet’s dear strains, once so soft to her ear, Have lost all their mystical power to cheer.

The evening approaches–the pressure–the woe Grows drearer and heavier,–yet she must go, And stifle between the dead walls, as she may, The heart that scarce breathed in the free, open day.

She reaches the dwelling that serves as her home; A horseman awaits at the entrance;–the foam Is flecking the sides of his fast-ridden steed, Who pants, over-worn with exhaustion and speed; And Alice for support to Beverly clings, As the soldier delivers the letter he brings.

Her ashy lips move, but the words do not come, And she stands in her whiteness, bewildered and dumb: She turns to the letter with hopeless appeal, But her fingers are helpless to loosen the seal: She lifts her dim eyes with a look of despair,– Her hands for a moment are folded in prayer; The strength she has sought is vouchsafed in her need: –“I think I can bear it now, Beverly … read.”

The boy, with the resolute nerve of a man, And a voice which he holds as serene as he can, Takes quietly from her the letter, and reads:–

“Dear Madam,–My heart in its sympathy bleeds For the pain that my tidings must bear you: may G.o.d Most tenderly comfort you, under His rod!

“This morning, at daybreak, a terrible charge Was made on the enemy’s centre: such large And fresh reinforcements were held at his back, He stoutly and stubbornly met the attack.

“Our cavalry bore themselves splendidly:–far In front of his line galloped Colonel Dunbar; Erect in his stirrups,–his sword flashing high, And the look of a conqueror kindling his eye, His silvery voice rang aloft through the roar Of the musketry poured from the opposite sh.o.r.e: –‘Remember the Valley!–remember your wives!

And on to your duty, boys!–on–with your lives!’

“He turned, and he paused, as he uttered the call– Then reeled in his seat, and fell,–pierced by a ball.

“He lives and he breathes yet:–the surgeons declare, That the balance is trembling ‘twixt hope and despair.

In his blanket he lies, on the hospital floor,– So calm, you might deem all his agony o’er; And here, as I write, on his face I can see An expression whose radiance is startling to me.

His faith is sublime:–he relinquishes life, And craves but one blessing,–_to look on his wife!_”

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