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A Word of Cheer

This continues the series of poems and short stories taken from Ailenroc’s Book, by Cornelia Alexander.
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鈥淎ll here?鈥 the anxious father cries,
And scans each frightened face
Turned, in mute terror, to the flames
That wrapt their dwelling place.
鈥淎ll here?鈥 he asks. The mother wakes
From her deep swoon to find
Her infant son鈥擮, torturing thought!鈥
Sleeping, was left behind.

鈥淲hat, ho!鈥 the chief shouts. 鈥淟adders up!
Though fierce the flames, and wild,
Some gallant soul will brave their wrath
To save that precious child.鈥
But, lo! he must give back;
A fiery wall of scorching flame
Flashes across the track.

And, as he stood, there came a voice
Up from the gazing throng:
鈥淭he man will fail, the child will die;
Good people, cheer him on!鈥
鈥橳is done. From every lip below
Rises a deaf鈥檔ing cheer;
A burst of tender sympathy
Falls on the fireman鈥檚 ear.

He turns again, and through the flame
Leaps, with a purpose true;
And soon, while yet they cheer below,
He reappears to view.
Bearing aloft the frightened babe;
And now the wild hurrahs
Ring out in loudest, gladdest peals
A 鈥渢orrent of applause.鈥

He is safe again, and soon the babe
Forgets its sore alarms.
Cradled upon his mother鈥檚 breast
And sheltered in her arms.

Our upward path is rough and steep,
And oft the rugged track
Is so begirt with smoke and flames
The tired heart gives back.
Then always lend a helping hand,
If your own heart be strong;
And if you pass a fainting soul,
In pity cheer him on.

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