James Madison Bell

Eliza Harris' Parental Love

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When February's chilling winds
Swept through the forest glen,
And nothing, save the smoking hut,
Marked the abodes of men,
I through my lattice chanced to peep;
And far amid the storm
A slender female shape advanced
With something in her arms.


An unexpected sight like this
Won my attention o'er,
And wistfully I stood, till she
Rapped lightly at the door.
She entered, bearing in her arms
A little sportive boy,
Whose jetty locks, though all disheveled,
Revealed a face of joy.


Can I be ferried o'er the stream?
Sad news I've heard of late
About one of my children, sir,
I'm fearful of his fate.
She spoke this so imploringly
That loath I felt to say,
The perils of the ice-gorged stream
I cannot brave today.


At length I said, if possible
Most freely I would go,
The floating ice is so condensed
The boat cannot pass through.
'Twas evening, and the sun sank fast
Toward the western mound,
And ere an hour could have past
Night's gloom would spread around.


She lay her babe upon the bed
And threw her bonnet by,
Then from the center of the soul
Came one despairing sigh.
The tramp of horses' feet was heard
Upon the frozen ground.
She stood aghast, then seized her child
And made a fearful bound.


'Tis he, 'tis he, she wildly cried,
Oh! save my darling child;
While towards the water's edge she ran
Like one far more than wild.
She saw the tyrant pressing hard,
Her Harry was his slave;
She then resolved to cross the stream
Or perish 'neath the wave.


From slab to slab of floating ice
She leaped amid its roar,
Till with her Harry in her arms
She reached the other shore.
While he, who caused this fearful scene,
Stood speechless as a plank,
And saw the object of his chase
Borne safely up the bank.


She's free, and nobly has she won
The boon by nature given.
May she be blest while here on earth,
And doubly blest in heaven.

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James Madison Bell