The First Step by M. E. B.

Tonight as the tender gloaming

Was sinking in evening's gloom,

And only the glow of the firelight

Brightened the dark'ning room,

I laughed with the gay heart-gladness

That only to mothers is known,

For the beautiful brown-eyed baby

Took his first step alone!

Hurriedly running to meet him

Came trooping the household band,

Joyous, loving and eager

To reach him a helping hand,

To watch him with silent rapture,

To cheer him with happy noise,

My one little fair-faced daughter

And four brown romping boys.

Leaving the sheltering arms

That fain would bid him rest

Close to the love and the longing,

Near to the mother's breast;

Wild with laughter and daring,

Looking askance at me,

He stumbled across through the shadows

To rest at his father's knee.

Baby, my dainty darling,

Stepping so brave and bright

With flutter of lace and ribbon

Out of my arms to-night,

Helped in thy pretty ambition

With tenderness blessed to see,

Sheltered, upheld, and protected—

How will the last step be?

See, we are all beside you

Urging and beckoning on,

Watching lest aught betide you

Till the safe near goal is won,

Guiding the faltering footsteps

That tremble and fear to fall—

How will it be, my darling,

With the last sad step of all?

Nay! Shall I dare to question,

Knowing that One more fond

Than all our tenderest loving

Will guide the weak feet beyond!

And knowing beside, my dearest,

That whenever the summons, 'twill be

But a stumbling step through the shadows,

Then rest—at the Father's knee!