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“What Father Takes”

From Ailenroc’s Book, by Cornelia Alexander

They drew around the festal board,
Where hearts beat high with mirth and joy,
And bubbles danced on beaker’s brim—
‘Twas fairyland to that fair boy.

Old age was there, and manhood’s prime,
And smiling beauty fresh and fair,
Who bowed to toasts of flashing eyes,
To smiling lips and flowing hair.

“What will you take?” the waiter asked,
And paused to hear the youth’s reply,
Who, all unused to such gay scenes,
Upon his father turns his eye;

And as the waiter smiling stands,
His sweet, young voice the silence breaks
In flutelike music on the air:
“I’ll take whatever father takes.”

A thrill ran through the father’s heart,
A thrill of pain, and yet of joy.
He saw a way to guide the feet
Of his bright, trusting boy.

A nobler look grew on his brow,
Even as the ruby wine went by.
“Waiter,” he said, “bring water pure
For this my boy and I.”

O, fathers, will you stop and think,
Lest some day your sad heart should break
Because a son has gone to ruin
From taking what he saw his father take?

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