[Part of a week-long series about Cyrus Hubbard Wheelock and the poetry of Hannah Last Cornaby. See index here.]
“A True Story”
by Hannah Last Cornaby
An Elder was preaching the Gospel in Wales,
Without either purse or scrip,
And it happened sometimes that he had to feel
Hunger’s keen, unwelcome grip.
One day—‘twas past noon—he was trav’ling along,
Quite uncertain where to dine,
He was weary and faint, but his faith was strong,
Nor did he feel to repine.
His heart raised in prayer, still onward he went,
‘Till a house appeared to view,
With signs of much comfort and plenty around,
And smithy attached thereto.
Now, a blacksmith’s shop is a place of resort,
And hither he bent his way,
Very shortly a listening group had met,
To hear what he had to say.
With truth’s own eloquence, the Elder then spoke,
And the simple story told,
That God, in these great Latter-days had restored,
The Gospel, as ‘twas of old.
He was preaching repentance, baptism for sin,
When in came the blacksmith’s wife,
Full of anger toward this servant of God,
Like some spirit bent on strife.
Very wisely our Elder kept back the ire,
‘Twas impossible not to feel,
‘Till the blacksmith’s wife had expended her words
As well as anger and zeal.
“Now madam,” the Elder said, “I would enquire
“To what sect you may belong?”
“I am a Baptist, sir, and firmly believe
“All other religions wrong.”
“You do not believe in the Testament then?”
“Why, yes, most truly I do.”
“It seems rather strange, but allow me to ask
“If you keep it[s] precepts too?
“You called me your enemy only just now,
“I’m very hungry indeed,
“Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him,
“Is the way my Bible reads.”
A deafening shout broke from the gathered throng,
And loudly they cheer and clap,
“There now, woman,” the blacksmith laughingly said,
“You’re surely caught in a trap.”
My story is told, for the sequel soon proved
That Philip Sykes was winner,
Without even a murmur, she sat him down
To a substantial dinner.