In a large old house, with two kind aunts,
The little Marian dwelt;
And a happy child she was, I ween,
For though at times she felt
That playmates would be better far
Than either birds or flowers;
Yet her kind aunts and story books
Soothed many lonely hours.
Her favourite haunt in summer time
Was a large old apple tree,
And oft amidst its boughs she sat,
With her pet book on her knee.
"The Pilgrim's Progress" was its name,
And Marian loved it much;
It is, indeed, a precious book;
There are not many such.
She read it in her little bed,
And by the winter fire;
And in summer, in the apple tree,
As though she ne'er would tire.
But, unexplained, 'tis just the book
To puzzle the young brain;
And she, poor child, had no kind friend
The meaning to explain.
For though her aunts were very kind,
They were not very wise;
They only said, "Don't read so, child;
I'm sure you'll hurt your eyes."
But Marian read, and read again,
And visions strange and wild
Began to fill the little head
Of the lovely dreaming child.
She thought that Christian and his wife,
And all their children too,
Had left behind their earthly home,
And done what she must do.
"I'll take my Bible," said the child,
"And seek the road to heaven;
I'll try to find the Wicket Gate,
And hope to be forgiven.
"I wish my aunts would go with me;
But 'tis no use to ask,
They are so deaf, and rather lame,
They'd think it quite a task.
"Yes, I must go alone, I see,
And I shall not let them know;
Or, like poor Christian's friends they'll say,
'My dear, you must not go.'
"But I must wait till some grand scheme
Can all their thoughts engage,
And then I'll leave my pleasant home,
And go on pilgrimage."
She had not waited long before,
One fine autumnal day,
She saw the huge old coach arrive,
To take her aunts away.
"We are going out to spend the day,"
The two old ladies said;
"We mean to visit Mrs. Blair;
Poor soul, she's ill in bed.
"But, Marian, you must stay at home,
For the lady's ill, you see;
You may have your dinner, if you like,
In the large old apple tree,
"And play in the garden all the day,
Quite happy and content."
A few more parting words were said,
And off the ladies went.
The servants, too, were all engaged;
"The day is come at last,"
Said Marian; "but, oh! I wish
My pilgrimage were past."
She knelt beneath the apple tree,
And for assistance prayed;
Then, with her basket in her hand,
Forth went the little maid.
Behind the house where Marian dwelt,
Far in the distance, lay
A high, steep hill, on which the sun
Shone forth with cheering ray.
That Difficulty was its name,
The child had often thought;
And towards that hill she turned her head,
With hopeful visions fraught.
The flowers seemed to welcome her,
'Twas a lovely autumn morn,
The little lark sang merrily
About the rising corn.
"Ah! little lark, you sing," she said,
"On your early pilgrimage;
I too will sing, for pleasant thoughts
Should now my mind engage."
In clear, sweet tones she sung a hymn,
And tripp'd lightly on her way,
Until a pool of thick, soft mud
Across her pathway lay.
"This is the Slough of Despond," she cried,
Yet she bravely ventured through,
And safely reached the other side,
But she lost one little shoe.
On an old gray stone she sat awhile,
And ate some fruit and bread,
Then took her little Bible out,
And a cheering Psalm she read.
Then with fresh hopes she wander'd on,
For many miles away;
But she reached the bottom of the hill
Before the close of day.
She clamber'd up the steep ascent,
Though faint and weary too;
But firmly did our Marian keep
Her purpose still in view.
"I'm glad at least the arbour's past,"
Said the little tired soul;
"I'm sure I should have stopp'd to rest,
And lost my little roll."
On the high hill top she stands at last,
And our weary Pilgrim sees
A porter's lodge of ample size,
Half hid by shelt'ring trees.
She clasps her hands with joy, and cries,
"O there's the Wicket Gate!
And I must seek admission now,
Before it is too late."
Gently she knocks—'tis answer'd soon,
And at the open door
Stands a tall stout man; poor Marian felt
As she never felt before.
With tearful eye and trembling heart,
Flush'd cheek and anxious brow,
She said, "I hope you're Watchful, Sir;
I want Discretion now."
"O yes, I'm watchful!" said the man,
"As a porter ought to be;
I s'pose you've lost your way, young Miss?
You've lost your shoe, I see.
"Misses!" he call'd to his wife within,
"Here's a child come to our door;
You'll ne'er see such a one again,
If you live to be fourscore.
"She says she wants discretion,
And sure I think so too;
But I know some who want it more,
Who will not own they do."
"Go to the Hall," his wife replies,
"And take the child with you;
The ladies there are all so wise,
They'll soon know what to do."
The man complied, and led the child
Through many a flowery glade;
"Is this the Palace Beautiful?"
Enquired the little maid—
"There to the left, among the trees?"
"Why, Miss, 'tis very grand;
You may call it a palace, if you like,
'Tis the finest in the land.
"But see, we're come to the fine old porch,
And the wonderful marble hall;
Here, little lady, you must stay.
Whilst I the servants call."
Tired and sad he left the child,
But he quickly re-appear'd,
And with him the lady of the house;
Poor Marian's heart was cheer'd.
"Sweet little girl," the lady said,
In accents soft and kind,
"I'm sure you sadly want some rest,
And rest you here shall find."
To a room where three young ladies sat,
The child was quickly led;
To herself she softly said.
"What is your name, my little dear?"
Said the eldest of the three,
Whom Marian in her secret soul,
Had christen’d Piety.
Admiringly she watch'd the child,
Who indeed was passing fair;
Around her bright and lovely face
Fell waves of auburn hair.
"How did you lose your way, my love?"
Gently she raised her head,—
"I do not think I've lost my way,"
The Little Pilgrim said.
"This is the Palace Beautiful;
May I stay here to-night?"
She smiled and said, "We're glad our house
Finds favour in your sight.
"Yes, gladly will we lodge you here
For many nights to come."
"Thank you," she answered, "but I soon,
Must seek my heavenly home.
"The Valley of the Shadow of Death
Is near this house I know."
She stopp'd, for she saw, with great surprise,
Their tears begin to flow.
She little thought the mourning dress,
That all the ladies wore,
Was for one whom they had dearly loved,
And could see on earth no more.
Their brother had been called away,
Their brightest and their best;
No wonder then that Marian's word
Roused grief in every breast.
Sobs only for a while were heard;
At length the mother said,
"My child, you have reminded us
Of our loved and early dead.
"But this you could not know, my dear;
And, oh! indeed 'tis true,
We all are near to death's dark vale,
Even little girls like you."
"Yes," said the trembling, timid child,
"I knew it would be so;
But, ma'am, I hope that Piety
May be with me when I go.
"And will you show me your armoury,
When you have time to spare?
Oh! I hope there is some small enough
For a little girl to wear."
No more she said, for Piety,
As Marian call'd her, cast
Her arms around our Pilgrim's neck,—
"The secret's out at last!
"You've greatly puzzled us, my dear,
But now I see you've read
A precious book, that unexplain'd,
Has turn'd your little head.
"O dearly, when I was a child,
I loved that Pilgrim tale;
But dear mamma explain'd it well,
And if we can prevail
On your kind aunts to let you stay
Some time with us, my dear,
You shall read that book with dear mamma,
And she will make it clear."
Now we'll return to Marian's home,
And see what's passing there;
The servants all had company,
And a merry group they were.
They had not miss'd our Marian long,
For they knew she oft would stay
In that old garden with a book
The live long summer day.
"Betty!" at last said the housekeeper,
"Where can Miss Marian be?
Her dinner was in the basket pack'd,
But sure she'll come to tea."
They sought her here, they sought her there,
But nowhere found the child;
And her poor aunts, when they return'd,
With grief were almost wild.
The coachman and the footman too,
On a fruitless search were sent;
For no one thought of the narrow way
Through which our Marian went.
"Perhaps she followed us to town,"
Poor Aunt Rebecca said;
"Oh, I wish we had not left our home:
I fear the child is dead!"
And to the town the footman went,
For they knew not what to do;
But, as night came on, a country boy
Brought Marian's little shoe.
With shoe in hand, the housekeeper
Into the parlour ran;
"O ma'am!" she cried, "here's all that's found
Of poor Miss Marian.
"He found it sticking in the mud,
Just above Harlichase;
I fear she's smother'd there, poor child,
It's such a dreadful place!"
Then louder grew the ladies' grief,
But soon their hearts were cheer'd;
For a footman grand, with a note in hand,
From the distant Hall appear'd.
Aunt Ruth soon read the note, and said,
"O sister, all is well!
The child is safe at Brookland Hall,
With Lady Arundel,
"Who wants to keep her for a month,—
Why, yes, I think she may;
Such a friend as Lady Arundel
We don't meet every day.
"Our compliments and thanks to her
When you return, young man;
We'll call to-morrow at the Hall,
And see Miss Marian."
Then came a burst of grateful joy,
Which could not be repress'd;
And with thankful hearts, and many tears,
The ladies went to rest.
We'll take a peep at our Pilgrim now,—
There in the bed lies she;
How blissful were her dreams that night,
In the arms of Piety!
O that happy month at Brookland Hall,
How soon it passed away!
Cheerful and good were Marian's friends,
And who so kind as they?
And more than all, while there she stay'd,
They did their best to bring
The little lamb to that bless'd fold,
Where reigns the Shepherd King.
Yes, many a lesson ne'er forgot,
The little Marian learn'd;
And a thankful and far happier child
She to her home return'd.
Years roll'd away—the scene is changed,
A wife and mother view;
Marian has found the Wicket gate,
She and her children too.
And, oh! how pleasant 'tis to see
This little pilgrim band,
As onward to their heavenly home
They travel hand in hand.
When cloudy days fall to their lot,
They see a light afar
The light that shone o'er Bethlehem's plain
The pilgrim's guiding star.
And now, dear children, whosoe'er
Or wheresoe'er you be,
Who ponder on this true, strange tale
Of Marian's history,
If to the flowers of your young hearts
Instruction's dews are given,
Oh, be earnest, as our Marian was,
To find the road to heaven.
So may you, e'en in early life,
True Christian pilgrims be,
Believing in the Saviour's love,
Who died to set us free.
Most precious faith in God's dear Son
Such little ones must have,
And all who trust in Christ alone
Shall know His power to save.
For our offences to atone
He suffer'd and was slain,
And till this blessed truth is known,
All pilgrimage is vain.
Our heavenly Father sent His Son,
And Christ His life laid down,
That to the fallen sons of men
Salvation should be known.
Rejoice, then, in a Saviour's name,
Reject not love so great;
Remember how from heaven he came
And took our low estate.
A pilgrim and a stranger He
In this sad vale of woe,
"Behold the man!" nailed to the tree!
Say, could love further go?
He bowed His head upon the Cross,
The cup His Father gave
He drank, and cried, 'Tis finished!
And died the lost to save.
He burst the bands of death, and rose
Triumphant o'er the tomb;
JESUS, IMMANUEL, God with us,
Who was—and is to come.
Believe on Him—the sacred word,
Declares 'tis they alone
Who now confess the Saviour's name.
He will hereafter own.
Pilgrims and strangers these must be,
While yet on earth they roam,
Waiting their heavenly Saviour s voice
To call them to His home.
His home, and theirs because 'tis His,
Who graciously receives,
And in unfathomable love
Eternal glory gives.
'Tis faith alone in Jesu's name,
Takes sin and guilt away;
He bids you come and trust his grace,
Oh! come without delay.
So may you happy pilgrims be,
And know your sins forgiven;
And, "by a new and living way,"
Pursue the path to heaven.
Copied from The Little Pilgrim. New ed. London: W. H. Brown, [no date].
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