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Unbroken Alabaster

I met a woman one day in the roadway. She was very pale, and on her face was a look of unutterable anguish and sorrow; and her dry eyes glowed with unspeakable and awful regret. We were near the parting of the ways, and she hesitated as though she did not know which road to take. It was the opportunity I longed for, so stepping up to her I said, “May I be of any use to you? You do not seem to know your way; perhaps you are a stranger here.” Her great hollow eyes were fastened upon me for a moment as though she would read my very soul before she spoke to answer my question, and, no doubt reading the pity and sympathy in my face, for I could not hide it, she answered, “I had a friend. He was good to me, and I loved him, but—“I never told him so.”

While she spoke she pressed her hand upon her heart, and swayed, and thinking she would fall I took her hands in mine and drew her with me, supporting her trembling body with my strength.

“Why did you not tell him so?” I asked, for I had made the mistake once in my life of trying to make people forget their sorrow before the time, and of thinking it best not to let the suffering soul talk of its anguish, and I am not likely to make that mistake again. For the sorrow is healed by expression, and the fire of anguish but smolders and burns the fiercer when smothered.

“I was silent because I was conventional. I did as the world did. I took all, I gave all, and I was dumb.”

“But why not speak now?” I asked. “Is there not yet time?”

Then she wrapped her face in her mantle and shuddered, saying, “He died yesterday.”

I met a little child. Her hands were full of flowers. She had woven them into a rough cross. Some of them had sharp thorns, and her hands were torn and bleeding. I noticed, too, that her face bore the traces of recent tears; for the young may weep, and, weeping, find blessed relief, but the old weep tears of blood, and every one as it falls scorches the heart of one.

“Can I do anything for you, little maid?” I asked.

“No, nothing; nobody can help me,” she said.

“Dear little heart,” I cried, “you are in trouble; perhaps I could help you if you would only tell me.”

“Little sister died last Week,” she said, and the tears burst forth again, “and I am going to her grave with these pretty flowers.”

“Then little sister will be glad,” I said, “for she will see you from her home in heaven, and she loves you now.”

“Go away,” said the child; “you do not understand. The last time I saw little sister she asked me to let her nurse my dolly, and I said no. Oh, can’t you understand! I can never give her my dolly now!”

It was almost dark, and my way took me through the lonely churchyard—God’s quiet acre. A sudden impulse made me turn from the beaten path, and there, hidden among the graves, I saw a man. His face was pale and tense, and his eyes were full of unshed tears.

"Are you ill?” I inquired kindly, for something in the man’s mute despair moved my heart to tenderness.

“Not ill in body,” he answered, “ but ill of heart and sick of soul, for under this green sod lies the woman I loved as my own soul, but—I never told her so.”

I bowed my head in silent sympathy, and went my way. What could I say? Why, oh, why, my sisters and brothers, do we keep our alabaster boxes until those we love are dead? Why do we keep our love until it is too late? Why? Why?

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Lily L. Allen

  • Born on December 30th, 1867 at Burrishoole, Eire
  • Wife of author James Allen
  • Wrote many books of her own

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