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!