The Judge leaned stern from His Judgment Throne:
"I gave thee—where is thy littte one?"
Wildly the culprit caught his breath:
“Lord, I have sinned. My doom be death.”
He hung his head with a broken sob.
There sprang a child from the rosy mob—
“Daddy!” it cried, with a joyful shriek;
Leapt to his arms and kissed his cheek.
But he put it from him with bursting sighs,
And looked on the Judge with swimming eyes;
Stood abashed in his bitter shame,
Waiting the sentence that never came.
From the Throne spoke out the thundered Word:
"This be thy doom!" No more he heard,
For a chime of laughter from baby throats
Took up those crashing organ notes,
Mixed with; silenced them; made them void—
And the children’s laughter was unalloyed,
“This be thy doom,” came a little squeak,
“To play with us here at ’hide-and-seek’!”
Thrice did the Judge essay to frown;
Thrice did the children laugh Him down—
Till at the last, He caught and kissed
The maddest of all and the merriest;
Turned to the sinner, with smiling face:
“These render futile the Judgment Place.
“Sunniest rascals, imp and elf,
Who think they can better the Judge Himself.
“Sinner—whatever thy sins may be,
Theirs is the sentence—go from Me!”
TAKEN FROM THE Q—— REGISTER OF LOCAL
EVENTS, AS COMPILED FROM AUTHENTIC
Now I am to tell you of a thing that befell in the year 1665 of the Great Plague, when the hearts of certain amongst men, grown callous in wickedness upon that rebound from an inhuman austerity, were opened to the vision of a terror that moved and spoke not in the silent places of the fields. Forasmuch as, however, in the recovery from delirium a patient may marvel over the incredulity of neighbours who refuse to give credence to the presentments that have been ipso facto to him, so, the nation being sound again, and its constitution hale, I expect little but a laugh for my piety in relating of the following incident; which, nevertheless, is as essential true as that he who shall look through the knot-hole in the plank of a coffin shall acquire the evil eye.
For, indeed, in those days of a wild fear and confusion, when every condition that maketh for reason was set wandering by a devious path, and all men sitting as in a theatre of death looked to see the curtain rise upon God knows what horrors, it was vouchsafed to many to witness sights and sounds beyond the compass of Nature, and that as if the devil and his minions had profited by the anarchy to slip unobserved into the world. And I know that this is so, for all the insolence of a recovered scepticism; and, as to the unseen, we are like one that traverseth the dark with a lanthorn, himself the skipper of a little moving blot of light, but a positive mark for any secret foe without the circumference of its radiance.