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a web of many textures

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'T was in the summer season of the year,
In some town somewhere near to Lebanon,
One Sabbath afternoon serene and clear,
The Shaking Quaker meeting being done,
That Hezekiah Drab and Ruth his sister
Left the conventicle and homeward went;
The service had been a tremendous “twister” —
Three mortal hours of sleep and silence blent.


Page 397
And Hez., to make the distance somewhat shorter,
Proposed to Ruth to cut across the field,
And she, as an obedient sister ought to,
Said but “Yea, verily,” and round they wheeled.
They wandered on in silence, Hezekiah
With his broad brim substantially put on,
Whilst Ruth, straight down, in simplest of attire,
Looked like a chest of drawers, the brasses gone.
And on they went across the fields of fern,
And on through meadows drest in greenest guise;
Not to the right or left did either turn,
But kept right on, just as the wild bee flies.
At last they neared a brook of wide expanse,
No bridge or ford to cross its turbid flood.
“Verily,” quoth Hezekiah, in advance,
“It seemeth me we 're stopped, as clear as mud.
“But yet the distance is but small, forsooth,
And when a boy I 've jumped far more than that.” —
“Yea, but, my brother,” said the prudent Ruth,
“Now thou art older grown, and round, and fat.” —
“Thou talkest like a very foolish woman,
And thou shalt see my speediness of limb;
So stand aside and give me ample room in
Which to run, and o'er the pool to skim!” —
“Thee cannot, Hezekiah,” urged the maid;
But Hezekiah's pluck, 't was vain to stump it!
He looked broad at her, saying, “Who 's afraid?
I tell thee, Ruth, assuredly I 'll jump it.”
He threw his broad brim on the turfy ground,
Then walked away a distance from the brook,
Then started onward with a mighty bound,
The while his fat form like a jelly shook.
He leaped — O, cruel Fate, that thus will dash
The finest hopes that ever yet did spring! —
Down went the Quaker in the pool, “ker-splash,”
Just like a brick, or such ignoble thing.


Page 398
And Ruth's clear voice rang out right merrily;
O, laughed she with unquaker freedom stout!
“Thou well hast proved thy great agility —
Come hither, brother, and I 'll help thee out!
Then Hezekiah, with a doleful look,
Cooled the ambitious fever of his blood,
Crawled from the bottom of the turbid brook,
And from his face wiped the obscuring mud.
“Now, sister Ruth,” cried he, “this brook is wide;
And though my foot is firm and fleet my bound,
I must confess that I am satisfied
'T is best not jump upon uncertain ground.”
All ye who, like the Quaker, choose to leap,
Be sure at first that you can clear the flood,
Lest, like the Quaker, you may come off cheap,
And find your fortunes floundering in the mud.