ACROSS the bleak prairie the winter wind came, 

The roofs of the settlement nearing; 

It whistled and roared from the smithy's low door 

To the barn at the end of the clearing; 

It rattled the door of the minister's house, 

At the window it whimpered and worried, 

Then fought with the poor little column of smoke 

That away from the rough chimney hurried. 

Away from the hearth and a sorrowful group, 

To the glow of its low embers creeping—

A father grown gray, a mother work-worn, 

In the cradle a baby was sleeping; 

While pitiful Jack, with a cheek thin and white, 

Dried a boot, with the snow-water sodden, 

That told its own tale of its frostbitten foot 

And the wearisome way it had trodden. 

From the care-tended coat on the minister's back 

To the wee baby's sock mended lying, 

Grim Poverty spoke in her forcible way, 

As the pastor, with sorrowful sighing, 

His purse counted over against his account, 

Finding lack for the hearth and the table,— 

No money to shoe little Jack yet awhile, 

E'en the wolf at the door not a fable. 

There was bitter temptation to faithless distrust, 

There was fierce human bitterness growing, 

As Paul Allan glanced at his wife, 

So thin in the fitful light showing— 

Poor Annie! The fair, happy darling at home, 

The bride whom he vowed at the altar 

To shelter and love— 

Well, God knoweth best 

How a good man may waver and falter. 

With a slow, quiet step, Annie came to his side, 

As she whispered a word brave and cheery: 

"You know, dearest Paul, when the friends of our Lord, 

With the toils of their mission grew weary, 

They went and told Jesus. 

Shall not you and I 

So tell him? 

The firelight was paling 

So, close by the cradle, they told Jesus all, 

And anew heard his promise unfailing 

* * * * * * * * 

A glow of warmth and light and cheer — 

A rich man's house at evening—

A rich man's dreaming busy dreams 

And golden tissues weaving. 

A dancing sprite of, summers few 

Exhausting childish pleasures 

From out a hidden nook had brought 

A host of by-gone treasures. 

Just in the glimmer of the grate 

She held a picture higher; 

"Tell me, papa, of Uncle Paul, 

Who saved you from the fire. 

"I know he lives away out West,' 

And preaches to the people; 

But then you said the little church 

Had neither bell nor steeple. 

"So I'm afraid he must be poor. 

Is Uncle Paul your brother? 

And did you say, Our Father,' once 

At night, to one dear mother?" 

Out from the world of stocks and gold 

The rich man's soul came peeping, 

And glanced adown the whirling years, 

Life's later scenes o'erleaping. 

"God help me, Paul, I did forget." 

The words were softly spoken, 

When through the rust which riches bring 

The childish voice had broken. 

* * * * * * * 

Good, loving words, and magic lines 

That turned to gold when wanted, 

Sped o'er the railway westward bound, 

By love and memory haunted. 

Was it a ray of stupid chance 

That dim, old picture showing—

So prompting help for yonder home, 

Where prairie winds were blowing? 

O Jesus! Could we tell thee all, 

And trust thy promise better, 

But feel thy hand a helping one 

And not a clasping fetter. 

Content to hold that scar-marked hand 

For guidance still forever, 

The roughest winds of surly care 

Should shake our dwelling never. 

Ethel Lynn.