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     A frosty chill was in the air--

      How plainly I remember--

    The bright autumnal fires had paled,

      Save here and there an ember;

    The sky looked hard, the hills were bare,

    And there were tokens everywhere

      That it had come--November.



    I locked the time-worn school-house door,

      The village seat of learning.

    Across the smooth, well trodden path

      My homeward footstep turning;

    My heart a troubled question bore,

    And in my mind, as oft before,

      A vexing thought was burning.


    "Why is it up hill all the way?"

      Thus ran my meditations:

    The lessons had gone wrong that day

      And I had lost my patience.

    "Is there no way to soften care,

    And make it easier to bear

      Life's sorrows and vexations?"


    Across my pathway through the wood

      A fallen tree was lying;

    On this there sat two little girls,

      And one of them was crying.

    I heard her sob: "And if I could,

    I'd get my lessons awful good,

      But what's the use of trying?"


    And then the little hooded head

      Sank on the other's shoulder.

    The little weeper sought the arms

      That opened to enfold her.

    Against the young heart, kind and true,

    She nestled close, and neither knew

      That I was a beholder.


    And then I heard--ah! ne'er was known

      Such judgment without malice,

    Nor queenlier council ever heard

      In senate, house or palace!--

    "I should have failed there, I am sure,

    Don't be discouraged; try once more,

      And I will help you, Alice."


    "And I will help you." This is how

      To soften care and grieving;

    Life is made easier to bear

      By helping and by giving.

    Here was the answer I had sought,

    And I, the teacher, being taught

      The secret of true living.


    If "I will help you" were the rule.

      How changed beyond all measure

    Life would become! Each heavy load

      Would be a golden treasure;

    Pain and vexation be forgot;

    Hope would prevail in every lot,

      And life be only pleasure.