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Watermans, who had joined us, and who,
though only ninety years of age, was much
more feeble than Jankens.

"I learned from the latter that he had had
fifteen children; but that of all his large
family, only one survived, though most of
them had lived to a goodly age. His memory
was stored with recollections of events
connected with the marriage of Louis the
Sixteenth; for, when a soldier in the Austrian
service, he had formed one of the military
escort which conducted Marie Antoinette
into France. He sang me an old song, which
had been composed in honour of the Royal
nuptials, and which he said was very popular
at the time. It was in the usual style of such
effusions; a mere string of hyperbolic
compliments, in praise of the ' beauteous Princess,'
and the ' illustrious Prince.' It sounded like
an echo from the grave of old French loyalty.
Jankens sang this song in a remarkably
clear, strong voice; but nevertheless, the
performance did not give satisfaction to old
Watermans, who, thrusting his fingers into
his ears, said peevishly, ' What a croaking
noise! '

"Heedless of this discouraging remark, the
venerable centenarian was preparing to favour
me with another specimen of his vocal ability,
when the great bell in the court-yard rang for
supper. ' Pardon, Sir,' said Jankens, with an
apologetic bow, 'butsupper.' Whereupon
he hurried off in the direction of the
refectory, with that sort of eager yearning with
which it might be imagined he turned to
his mother's breast one hundred and nine
years before.

"' It is amazing that that old fellow should
have so sharp an appetite,' observed the
petulant Watermans, hobbling after him in
a way which showed that he too was not
altogether unprepared to do honour to the
evening meal."

This Hospital for the Aged is a sort of
National Almshouse not solely peculiar to
Belgium. Private munificence does in England
what is done abroad by Governments; but it
is to be deplored that a more general provision
for the superannuated does not exist in this
country. Workhouses are indeed asylums for
the old; but for those who are also decayed
in worldly circumstances, they cannot afford
those comforts which old age requires.
Except Greenwich Hospital for sailors, and
Chelsea Hospital for soldiers, we have no
national institution for old people.


A TRAVELLER, from journeying
   In countries far away,
Re-passed his threshold at the close
   Of one calm Sabbath day;
A voice of love, a comely face,
   A kiss of chaste delight,
Were the first things to welcome him
   On that blest Sabbath night.

He stretched his limbs upon the hearth,
   Before its friendly blaze,
And conjured up mixed memories
   Of gay and gloomy days;
And felt that none of gentle soul,
   However far he roam,
Can e'er forego, can e'er forget,
   The quiet joys of home.

"Bring me my children!" cried the sire,
   With eager, earnest tone;
"I long to press them, and to mark
   How lovely they have grown;
Twelve weary months have passed away
   Since I went o'er the sea,
To feel how sad and lone I was
   Without my babes and thee."

"Refresh thee, as 'tis needful," said
   The fair and faithful wife,
The while her pensive features paled,
   And stirred with inward strife;
"Refresh thee, husband of my heart,
   I ask it as a boon;
Our children are reposing, love;
   Thou shalt behold them soon."

She spread the meal, she filled the cup,
   She pressed him to partake;
He sat down blithely at the board,
   And all for her sweet sake;
But when the frugal feast was done,
   The thankful prayer preferred.
Again affection's fountain flowed;
   Again its voice was heard.

"Bring me my children, darling wife,
   I'm in an ardent mood;
My soul lacks purer aliment,
   I long for other food;
Bring forth my children to my gaze,
   Or ere I rage or weep,
I yearn to kiss their happy eyes
   Before the hour of sleep."

"I have a question yet to ask;
   Be patient, husband dear.
A stranger, one auspicious morn,
   Did send some jewels here;
Until to take them from my care,
   But yesterday he came,
And I restored them with a sigh:
  Dost thou approve, or blame?"

"I marvel much, sweet wife, that thou
   Shouldst breathe such words to me;
Restore to man, resign to God,
   Whate'er is lent to thee;
Restore it with a willing heart,
   Be grateful for the trust;
Whate'er may tempt or try us, wife,
   Let us be ever just."

She took him by the passive hand,
   And up the moonlit stair,
She led him to their bridal bed,
   With mute and mournful air;
She turned the cover down, and there,
   In grave-like garments dressed,
Lay the twin children of their love,
   In death's serenest rest.

"These were the jewels lent to me,
    Which God has deigned to own;
The precious caskets still remain,
    But, ah, the gems are flown;