Darkness had been upon the earth for a long time. It was a period of war and bloodshed, crime and disaster.

The old earth seemed draped in habiliments of mourning; and there was cause for aching hearts, for out of many homes had gone unto battle sons, fathers, and husbands, who would return no more. They fell in service; and kind mothers and wives could not take one farewell look at their still, white faces, but must go about their homes as though life had lost none of its helps.

“The poor, sad earth!” said one of a glad band, belonging to a starry sphere above. “I long to comfort its people; but my mission is given me to guide souls through the death valley, and bear them to their friends in the summer-land. I must not leave my post of duty. Who will go?”

“I will,” said Love, in sweet, silvery tones.

“You are too frail to descend into such darkness as at present envelops the earth; beside, they need another, a different element just now, to prepare the way for better things.”

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“Who shall it be?” they all said, and looked from one to the other.

“Hope,” said their leader, the queen of the starry band.

There was to be high festival that night, in a temple dedicated to the Muses; and it was quite a sacrifice for any of their number to leave their happy sphere, for one so dark as that of earth.

Hope came forward at the mention of her name, holding in her hand the half-finished garland which she had been twining for one of the Graces.

“Wilt thou go to earth to-night, fair Hope?” asked the queen.

The star on her fair brow glittered brighter as she said unhesitatingly, “I will.”

“Your mission will be to carry garlands to every habitation which has a light within. The others you cannot, of course, discern. Come now, and let me clasp this strong girdle about thy waist, to which I shall attach a cord, by which to let you down to earth.”

They filled her arms with garlands, and flung some about her neck, till she was laden and ready to go.

“Now,” said their leader, “descend on this passing cloud; and while you are gone we will sing anthems for you, to keep your heart bright and linked to ours.”

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Then she fastened the cord to her golden girdle, and let her down gently from the skies.

In a little cottage by a roadside sat Mary Deane and her sister, reading. They were two fair orphans whose father and brother were lost in battle.

“Let’s put out the light, and look at the stars awhile,” said the youngest.

“Not yet, dear, it’s too early. There may be some passer-by, and a light is such a comfort to a traveler on the road. Many a time our neighbor’s light has sent a glow over me which has enabled me to reach home much sooner, if not in better humor.”

“As you like, sister,—but hark! I thought I heard footsteps.”

They listened, and, hearing nothing more, finished their reading and retired to rest.

On opening their door the next morning, their eyes were gladdened by a lovely garland which hung on the knob. The flowers were rich in, perfume and color—unlike anything they had seen on earth.

Much they marveled, and wondered from whence they came, and still greater was their joy to find they did not fade.

Hope found a great many dwellings with lights in them, but had to pass many, as there was no lamp to signal them. At the door of the former she left garlands to gladden the inmates.

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“It’s no use to waste our oil: we have nothing to read or interest us,” said one of two lonely women, on the night Hope came to the earth. So they sat down gloomily together, the darkness adding to their cheerlessness, while a bright glow within would have gladdened them and all without.

Hope went by, laden with garlands, just as they took their seats in the shadows. She would gladly have left them, for she had enough and to spare; but, seeing no sign of a habitation, walked on.

The two women talked of the dreary world until they went to rest. What was their surprise, in the morning, to find their neighbors rejoicing over their mysterious gifts.

“Why had we none?” they said again and again. “The poor never have half as much given them as the wealthy,” they cried, and went back to their gloom and despair.

“Did you find a wreath on your doorstep this morning?” inquired a bright, hopeful woman at noon, who had brought them a part of her dinner.

“No, indeed!” they answered. “Did you find one on yours?”

“The handsomest wreath I ever saw. Who ever could have made one so lovely? But”—she stopped suddenly, on seeing their sad faces. “You shall have part of mine: I will cut it in two.”

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“Never!” said the eldest quickly. “There is some reason why we were omitted; and, until we can know the cause, you must keep your wreath unbroken.”

It was very noble of her to come out of herself and refuse to accept what she instinctively felt did not belong to her.

A week passed away. A child in the village had had strange dreams concerning the gifts, which, in substance, was that a beautiful angel had come from the stars above, and brought flowers to every house in which a light was seen.

“We did not have any light that night,—don’t you remember?” remarked the eldest of the women, as their neighbor told them of the strange dream.

“There must be something in it,” answered the little bright-eyed woman. “For all the dwellings had flowers which were lighted.”

“I suppose we ought always to be more hopeful,” said the women together. “The lamps of our houses should typify the light of hope, which should never be dim, nor cease burning.”

Hope was taken up, by a golden cord, to her abode. The starry group sang heavenly anthems to refresh her, and Love twined a fresh garland for her brow. They held another festival in the temple, in honor of her and her safe return from the earth.

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Ever since she has been the brightest light in the group; and at night, when the clouds rising from the earth obscure all the others, the star on the brow of Hope is shining with a heavenly lustre, and seen by all whose gaze is upward.


Hope by J. S. Adams in Allegories of Life

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