THE GAMBLER’S WIFE.
BY REYNELL COATES.
Dark is the night! How dark! No light! No fire!
Cold on the hearth, the last faint sparks expire;
Shivering she watches by the cradle side
For him who pledged her [love -- last year a bride!]
Hark! ‘Tis his footstep! No! — ‘Tis past! — ‘Tis gone!”
Tick! — Tick! — “How wearily the time crawls on!
Why should he leave me thus? — He once was kind!
And I [believed] ‘twould last! — How mad! How blind!
“Rest thee, by babe! — Rest on! — ‘Tis hunger’s cry!
Sleep! for there is no food; the found is dry!
Famine and cold their wearying work have done!
My heart must break! — and thou!” — The clock strikes one.
“Hush! ’tis the dice-box! Yes, he’s there, he’s there!
For this! — for this, he leaves me to despair!
Leaves love! leaves truth! his wife! his child! for what?
The wanton’s smile — the villain — and the sot!
“Yet I’ll not curse him. No! ’tis all in vain!
‘Tis long to wait, but sure he’ll come again!
And I could starve and bless him but for you,
My child! — [his] child! O fiend!” The clock strikes two.
“Hark! How the sign-board creaks! The blast howls by!
Moan! moan! A dirge swells through the cloudy sky!
Ha! ’tis his knock! He Comes! — he comes once more! —-
‘Tis but the lattice flaps! The hope is o’er!
“Can he desert up thus? He knows I stay
Night after night in loneliness to pray
For his return — and yet he sees no tear!
No! no! It cannot be! He will be here!
“Nestle more closely, dear one, to my heart;
Thou’rt cold! Thou’rt freezing! But we will not part!
Husband! — I lie! — Father! — It is not he!
Oh, God. protect my child!” The clock strikes three!
They’re gone, they’re gone! The glimmering spark hath fled!
The wife and child are number’d with the dead.
On the cold hearth, outstretched in solemn rest,
The babe lay frozen on its mother’s breast;
The gambler came at last, but all was o’er –
Dread silence reigned around — the clock struck four!
Republican Compiler (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) Dec 7, 1846
From the Patriot Order Sons of America website:
The Order of the Junior Sons of America was founded December 10, 1847 in Philadelphia, PA, by Dr. Reynell Coates (December 10, 1802 – April 27, 1886). Dr. Coates was a surgeon, scientist, statesman, naturalist, teacher, poet, lecturer and essayist, and wished to found a fraternity for American boys to serve as a “High School of American Patriotism.”
The organization was open to American boys aged sixteen to twenty-one years of age. Upon turning twenty-one, their membership would be transferred to the United Sons of America, the parent organization of the Junior Sons. Dr. Coates was the organizer and chief promoter of the Junior Sons of America, wrote the constitution and by-laws, the ritual and ceremonies, and chose the Order’s songs which still remain in use.
Dr. Reynell Coates was the editor of “Leaflets of Memory,” of which two editions can be found on Google Books:
Included in Dr. Godman’s “Rambles of a Naturalist,” is Dr. Coates’ essay, A Voyage to India.