We were a bakerís dozen in the house-six women and six men Besides myself; and all of us had known Those benefits supposed to come from school and church and brush and pen, And opportunities of being thrown In contact with the cultured and the gifted people of the day. Being the thirteenth one among six pairs I deemed it wise to keep apart and let the others have their say: And from my vantage-place upon the stairs, Or in a corner, where I seemed to read, I listened for some word That would make life seem sweeter, or cast light Upon the goal toward which all footsteps wend: and this was what I heard Throughout each day and half of every night. The men talked business, politics, and trade; They told of safe investments, and great chances For speculation. (One man who had made Pleasure his art, described the newest dances And dwelt upon each chass√©, glide, and whirl As lovers dwell upon the charms of some fair girl.) They talked of war, and tried to find its cause, And quite deplored the fact that wars must come. But since this desperate condition was, They carefully computed what the sum Of profit might be to a land of peace, And wondered if times would be harder should war cease. They spoke of games and sports; told many a story That made the listeners laugh; then back from these Always they harked to money, or the gory And savage drama playing overseas. Then there were tales from club and smoking-room- The submarines of gossip, bringing some name doom. The women talked of fashions and of plays, But more of players and their private lives; Related tittle-tattle of their words and ways, Their lightning change of husbands and of wives. And there was chat of garments and their price, Of operas and balls and all that gives life spice. Some talk there was of music, pictures, books, But of musicians, painters, authors, more. The way they lived-their methods and their looks- The colour of their eyes-the clothes they wore; And whether it was true, as had been stated, That gifted people were quite sure to be mis-mated. They talked of servants, menus, and disease, And operations. Each one came in line With some astounding tale to tell of these, And of her surgeonís skill, which seemed divine. But of that vast Domain where live our dead And where we all are hurrying, no word was said. When we know that goal awaits each one of us a little farther on, When we know how an ever-increasing company of friends is gathered there, Why do we not speak of it in our daily conversation? Why do we not familiarise our minds with thoughts of worlds unseen? There are many beautiful things to be learned of that country. There are sacred books of great travellers, whose souls have cried, íHail across the borderí; There are truths which have been learned in visions and by revelations: All the revelations were not given to St. John alone, All the wise men of the world did not die two thousand years ago! Why do we not talk of these eternal truths, Instead of wasting all our words on the evanesent, the ever-changing, the trivial, and the unimportant? There is but one important theme, and that is Life Immortal.
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