Rose Hartwick Thorpe

(1850 - 1939)

In Answer

'Madam, we miss the train at B_____.'
'But can't you make it, sir?' she gasped.
'Impossible! it leaves at three,
And we are due a quarter past.'
'Is there no way? Oh! tell me, then,
Are you a Christian?''I am not.'
'And are there none among the men
Who run the train?''No ― I forgot ―
I think this fellow over here,
Oiling the engine, claims to be.'
She turned upon the engineer
A fair face white with agony.

'Are you a Christian?''Yes, I am.'
'Then, O, sir! won't you pray with me,
All the long way, that God will stay,
That God will hold the train at B_____?'
''Twill do no good. It leaves at three,
And ―''Yes, but God can hold the train;
My dying child is calling me,
And I must see her face again.
Oh! won't you pray?''I will!' a nod
Emphatic, as he takes his place.
When Christians grasp the arm of God
They grasp the power that rules the race.

Out from the station swept the train
On time, ― swept on past wood and lea;
The engineer, with cheeks aflame,
Prayed, 'O Lord, hold the train at B____!'
Then flung the throttle wide, and like
Some giant monster of the plain,
With panting sides and mighty strides,
Past hill and valley swept the train.

A half, ― a minute, ― two are gained;
Along those burnished lines of steel
His glances leap, each nerve is strained,
And still he prays with fervent zeal.
Heart, hand, and brain with one accord
Work while his prayer ascends to Heaven:
'Just hold the train eight minutes, Lord,
And I'll make up the other seven.'

With rush and roar through meadow lands,
Past cottage homes and green hillsides,
The panting thing obeys his hands,
And speeds along with giant strides.
They say an accident delayed
The train a little while; but He
Who listened while His children prayed,
In answer held the train at B______.

Submitted: Monday, July 21, 2014
Edited: Monday, July 21, 2014


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Poet's Notes about The Poem

Ringing Ballads
Copyright 1887
D Lothrop Company,Franklin And Hawley Streets,Boston

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