LESSON 66 The ark and the dove
"Tell me a story, please," my little girl lisped from her cradle.
So I bent me down, and told her how it rained, and rained, and rained,
till all the flowers were covered, and the trees hid their tall heads,
and where the houses stood, and people dwelt, a fearful deluge rolled.
Because the world was wicked, and refused to heed the words of God.
But one good man, who long had warned the wicked to repent, obey, and live, taught by the voice of Heaven.
Had built an ark; and thither, with his wife and children, turned for safety.
Two and two, of beasts and birds and creeping things, he took, with food for all.
And, when the tempest roared and the great fountains of the sky poured out a ceaseless flood, till all beside were drowned.
They in their quiet vessel dwelt secure.
And so the mighty waters bore them up, and o'er the bosom of the deep they sailed for many days.
But then a gentle dove scaped from the casement of the ark, and spread her lovely pinion o'er that boundless wave.
All was desolation. Chirping nest, nor face of man, nor living thing she saw.
For all the people of the earth were drowned, because of disobedience.
Naught she spied, save wide, dark waters, and a frowning sky, nor found her weary foot a place of rest.
So, with a leaf of olive in her mouth, sole fruit of her drear voyage, which perchance upon some wrecking billow floated by,
with drooping wing the peaceful ark she sought.
The righteous man that wandering dove received,
and to her mate restored, who, with sad moans, had wondered at her absence.
Then I looked upon the child, to see if her young thoughts wearied with following mine.
But her blue eye was a glad listener, and the eager breath of pleased attention curled her parted lip.
And so I told her how the waters dried, and the green branches waved, and the sweet buds came up in loveliness,
and that meek dove went forth to build her nest.
While thousand birds awoke their songs of praise, and the tired ark upon the breezy breast of Ararat reposed.
And Noah with glad spirit reared an altar to his God.
Since, many a time, when to her rest, ere evening's earliest star,
that little one is laid, with earnest tone, and pure cheek pressed to mine, she fondly says, "Tell me the story of the Dove."