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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Adelaide Anne Procter 1825–64

The Requital

LOUD roared the tempest,

Fast fell the sleet;

A little Child Angel

Passed down the street,

With trailing pinions

And weary feet.

The moon was hidden;

No stars were bright;

So she could not shelter

In heaven that night,

For the Angels’ ladders

Are rays of light.

She beat her wings

At each windowpane,

And pleaded for shelter,

But all in vain;—

“Listen,” they said,

“To the pelting rain!”

She sobb’d, as the laughter

And mirth grew higher,

“Give me rest and shelter

Beside your fire,

And I will give you

Your heart’s desire.”

The dreamer sat watching

His embers gleam,

While his heart was floating

Down hope’s bright stream;

…So he wove her wailing

Into his dream.

The worker toil’d on,

For his time was brief;

The mourner was nursing

Her own pale grief;

They heard not the promise

That brought relief.

But fiercer the tempest

Rose than before,

When the Angel paus’d

At a humble door,

And ask’d for shelter

And help once more.

A weary woman,

Pale, worn, and thin,

With the brand upon her

Of want and sin,

Heard the Child Angel

And took her in:

Took her in gently,

And did her best

To dry her pinions;

And made her rest

With tender pity

Upon her breast.

When the eastern morning

Grew bright and red,

Up the first sunbeam

The Angel fled;

Having kiss’d the woman

And left her—dead.