THE PLAGUE

By Charles P. Ilsley

"And they that took the disease died suddenly; and immediately their bodies became covered with spots; and they were hurried away to the grave without delay: And the men who bore the corpse, as they went their way, cried with a loud voice, "Room for the dead!" and whosoever heard the cry, fled from the sound thereof with great fear and trembling."

Anon.
"Room for the dead!"—a cry went forth—
"A grave—a grave prepare!"
The solemn words rose fearfully
Up through the stilly air:
"Room for the dead!"—and a corse was borne
And laid within the pit;
But a mother's voice was sadly heard—
And a breaking heart was in each word—
"Oh, bury him not yet!"
The mother knelt beside the grave,
And prayed to see her son;
'Twas death to stop—but by her prayers
The wretched boon was won,
And they raised the coffin from the pit,
And then afar they fled—
For the once fair face was spotted now—
But the mother pressed her dead child's brow,
And in a faint voice said—
"Nor plague nor spots shall hinder me
From kissing thee, lost one!
For what, alas! is life or death
Since thou art gone, my son!"
And she bent and kissed the livid brow,
While tearless was her eye;
Then her voice rang wildly in the air—
"Widow and childless!—God, is there
Aught left me but—to die!"
The words were said, and there uprose
A low and stifled moan—
Then all was still—The spirit of
That stricken one had flown!

They widened the pit, and side by side
Mother and son were laid;
No mourning train to the grave went forth,
Nor prayer was said as they heaped the earth
Above the plague-struck dead!