The Step Mother by Susanna Strickland Moodie

Well I recall my Father’s wife,
The day he brought her home.
His children looked for years of strife,
And troubles sure to come —
Ungraciously we welcomed her,
A thing to scorn and blame;
And swore we never would confer
On her, a Mother’s name

I see her yet — a girl in years,
With eyes so blue and mild;
She greeted us with smiles and tears,
How sweetly too she smiled —
She bent to kiss my sullen brow,
With woman’s gentle grace;
And laid her tiny hand of snow
On my averted face —

“Henry — is this your son? She said —
“Dear boy — he now is mine —
What not one kiss? –” I shook my head,
“I am no son of thine! –”
She sighed — and from her dimpled cheek
The rosy colour fled;
She turned away and did not speak,
My thoughts were with the dead —

There leaped from out my Father’s eyes
A jet of swarthy fire;
That flashed on me in fierce surprise —
I fled before his ire
I heard her gentle voice entreat —
“Forgiveness for her sake” —
Which added swiftness to my feet,
A sad and strange mistake —

A year had scarcely rolled away
When by that hated bride;
I loved to linger half the day,
In very joy and pride;
Her voice was music to mine ear,
So soft its accent fell;
“Dear Mother now” — and oh, how dear
No words of mine can tell —

She was so gentle, fair and kind,
So pure in soul and free from art;
That woman with her noble mind,
Subdued my rebel heart —
I just had learned to know her worth,
My Father’s second choice to bless;
When God removed her from the earth,
And plunged us all in deep distress —

Hot fever smote with burning blight
Stretchd on a restless bed of pain;
I moaning lay from morn till night
With aching limbs and throbbing brain —
Four weary weeks beside my bed,
She sat within a darkened room;
Untiring held my aching head,
Nor heeded silence — cold and gloom —

And when my courage quite gave way,
And fainter grew my struggling breath;
She taught my stricken soul to pray
And calmly meet approaching death —
“Fear not God’s angel, sent by Him,
The weary spirit to release;
Before the mortal eyes grow dim,
Floats down the white winged dove of peace” —

There came a change — but fingers small,
No longer smoothed my matted hair;
She sprang not to my feeble call,
Nor helped to lift me to my chair —
And I arose as from the dead,
A life for her dear life was given;
The angel who had watched my bed
Had vanished into Heaven! —

Author: Susanna Strickland Moodie

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