NEARLY fifty years ago there lived in the pleasant valley of the Miami River, about eight miles north of Cincinnati, a farmer by the name of Robert Gary, with his wife and a large family of bright-eyed girls and boys. 

The farmhouse in which they lived has been pictured thus: 

"Low and little and black and old, 

With children as many as it could hold; 

All at the window open wide, 

Head and shoulders clear outside, 

And fair young faces all ablush; 

Perhaps you may have seen some day 

Roses crowding the self same way 

Out of a wilding wayside bush.”

On the north side of the house, was the shaded porch where the farmer and his sons could take their quiet nooning on the hot harvest days; there was the deep, cool well, with its old-fashioned sweep, its moss covered stones, and its never-failing spring of pure water; the beehives under the peach tree with their cheerful hum all the long summer day; the sweet-briar, where those dear little school girls gathered the garlands for their bright tresses; the old brick school-house, a mile and a quarter away, where the Gary children learned arithmetic, geography, and grammar, those noble foundation stones for all after excellences.

The father of this household was a tall, sad-eyed man, with a heart full of poetry and love, love of nature, love of family, and love of God, who went about his work singing hymns and repeating to himself the words of the grand old Hebrew poets; one of those beautiful unassuming spirits that are so little understood in this weary work-a-day world.

The mother, a gentle, blue-eyed woman, capable and true, was one who could supply with her own hands the wants of her large family, and yet find time for reading and reflection. 

One of her daughters said of her, "In my memory, she stands apart from all others, wiser, purer, doing more and living better than any other woman." 

Of the children, some were so gifted that their names have become household words throughout our land. 

Others equally gifted died young. Rhoda, who told such beautiful stories to her mates on her way home from school, continuing them on, day after day, her dark eyes lighting up with the inspiration that was upon her; her whole soul longing after the beautiful, and reaching out into the unseen, was the first to be called away; Little Lucy, the "household pet," with blue eyes like her mother's, died only a month later. Alice wrote of her in after years: 

"I can see her shining curls

All tremulously fair, 

Like fifty yellow butterflies,

A fluttering in the air, 

My angel little one."

And then the hard-working mother laid aside her tasks and went to rest; and another took her place, who had not the capacity to understand the hearts of these strangely gifted girls, and only added to the hardships of their lives.

Alice, now seventeen, and Phebe, thirteen, were beginning to write down in uncertain lines the spontaneous songs which from childhood had been singing in their hearts and brains. In their literary pursuits the girls found little sympathy from the hard, uncultured step-mother; but in spite of her persecutions they kept bravely on, studying and writing; for the music was there, and it must have vent. 

If they must work by day, they could study by night, even though their only light was a bit of rag in a dish of lard. 

Finally, when they were rewarded by seeing some of their poems published in the newspapers, they were glad even to tears. Phebe said, "When I saw my first verses in print, I laughed and cried over it. I did not care any more if I was poor or my clothes plain. 

Somebody cared enough for my verses to print them, and I was happy."

So the years went by, bringing with them some appreciation for the gifts of the patient singers. At last, in 1850, Alice, broken in health and shadowed with a great sorrow, which had almost crushed her young life, but with a will which no difficulty could daunt, left the scenes of her childhood, and started out alone to make for her- self a place and a home in the great city of New York. Her sisters, Phebe and Elmina, soon joined her. They hired two or three modest rooms, in an unfashionable neighborhood, and set to work resolutely to earn a living with the pen. Perseverance brings its own reward, but it was only after long years of unpaid effort that these true daughters of song found a place among the poets of the land, and still better, in the hearts of the people; but to the last, though long surrounded by friends and luxuries, theirs was the same busy life. Says one of her friends:  “I have never known any other woman so persistently industrious as Alice Gary. Hers was the genius of patience. No obstacle ever daunted it, no pain ever stilled it, no weariness overcame it till the weariness of death. The pen literally fell from her hand at last, and only then, because, in the valley of the shadow of death, which she had already entered, she could no longer see to trace the trembling, uncertain lines." 

 Their earthly work is ended now; but not until the books in Heaven are opened, will these gentle sisters ever know to how many tired souls they have brought rest, or how many have been made braver, stronger, and more patient, by their songs, so full of child- like faith and trust in a loving Father's guidance.

 E. B.