It was a dreadful night in winter,
The snow was falling fast.
And the way seemed, oh, so dreary,
As the wind went whistling past.
The night now coming on will be
A long cold night for those
Who wander daily through the street,
With scanty fare and shabby clothes.
Far the poor unfortunate beings,
Cast upon the world tonight,
With no home, no friends, no welcome:
What have they to make life bright?
And I know, for sense has told me
Ah! too plainly of the pain,
Borne by people in the city,
Who can scarcely stand the strain.
As I close my shutters tightly,
Barring out the winterís blast,
I can only stop and listen
At the wind as it moans past,
And I draw my chair up closer
To the glowing embers there;
And while I enjoy their warmth,
My heart goes up to God in prayer,
While I think of anxious mothers,
And the hungry children too,
Who tonight are freezing, starving,
I wonder what good I can do?
I look about me at the comforts,
Which at times I think are small:
Then rebuke my one short-comings,
I am thankful for them all.
Hark! I think I hear a signal,
Someone calling this wild night,
As I turn the shutters softly,
This scene comes before my sight,
Standing near among the snowdrifts,
Almost senseless with the cold,
Is a poor and half-clothed mortal,
'Tis a child not ten years old.
Straight-way to the door I hasten
To discover if I can,
On what errand in this snowstorm
Comes this child? I ask, and then
A little voice spoke, oh, so timid,
"Please may I came in and warm?
I've no home, my clothes are tattered,
I can't keep warm in such a storm."
What a pitiful sight to see!
A little girl but ten,
Cast alone upon life's sea,
From whence, and how and when.
I quickly bade her to come in,
And near the fire I placed a seat.
She took the chair, then looked at me
With eyes which seemed divinely sweet.
She brought to mind a little sunbeam,
Which not many years before,
Made my home a home of sunshine.
But alas! She is no more.
Sickness came and soon my darling,
Weary, with her feverish breath,
Told me softly she was going,
Then she closed her eyes in death.
Do you wonder when I tell you,
That it seemed so strange to me,
But perhaps the Spirit whispered,
"I am coming back to thee."
And that little face before me,
Wearing then a look of pain,
Seemed to speak to me so plainly,
"Now I have come back again."
Then I warmed those aching feet,
Gently pressed her to my heart,
And to God I made the promise,
"While we live we will not part."
Many years have left their traces,
Now my hair is snowy white,
But I never yet regretted
My resolve I made that night.
Mary as I learned was lonely.
Mother dead, and father where?
She never knew, it did not matter
For he had no love for her.
As the days and weeks soon ended,
And the months soon came to years,
Mary always proved a blessing;
Oft she thanked me with her tears.
Of her early childhood, listen.
Her mother was a lady kind,
Happy while she done her duty,
Always glad to aid mankind.
But her early choice proved fruitless,
Of the good she dreamed and planned,
For the one she chose to aid her
Proved no help. A fallen man!
And when Mary came to claim
A father's care and love,
He left that home and ne'er returned,
His manliness to prove.
Her mother struggled on for years,
Trying to do her best,
But death at last, must claim its own.
And you have heard the rest.
Today when Mary speaks the name
Of her mother, long since dead,
She softly sighs, then thanks her Maker
For the path in which He led.