Read WHAT DAY IS IT? of The Pedler of Dust Sticks, free online book, by Eliza Lee Follen, on

It is so still that, although it is midday, one can hear the sound of the soft spring shower as it falls on the young and tender leaves.

The crowing of the cock pierces the ear with his shrill note, as in the silent watches of the night.  The song of the wren is so undisturbed, it is so full, and is heard so distinctly that it only reminds one, with its sweet music, how unusual is the silence; it does indeed seem but the “echo of tranquillity.”

There are many people in the streets, but they have a different appearance from usual; they are all dressed in their holiday garments; they look happy, but they are very calm and serious.  The gentle shower does not seem to disturb them; it only affords an opportunity for reciprocal kindness.

I see a venerable-looking old lady who from infirmity is obliged to walk very slowly.  She is supported by a bright, rosy-cheeked girl who holds up the umbrella, and keeps back her light and joyous step to the slow time of her aged companion.

An elegant-looking woman is leading, with great care and tenderness, a little girl through the mud.  The lady puts her umbrella so low that the rain is kept from the child, but it falls upon her own gay clothes.  The little girl must be that lady’s daughter.  But see! they stop at the door of yonder miserable-looking house.  The lady cannot live there, surely.  She gives the child a little book.  The little girl enters alone.  I see her now in the house.  She is the daughter of the poor, sick woman who lives there.

There is a trembling old man tottering along:  he looks a little like Tipsy David, as the boys call him; but he has on a clean and respectable suit of black, and a weed on his hat; he is quite sober, but it is David; and one of the very boys that have laughed at and abused him when intoxicated, now respectfully offers him an umbrella.

A fashionable young man is gallanting a lady with the greatest care and most delicate respect; she must be his sister, or the lady he is engaged to marry, he is so careful to shelter her from every drop of rain.  No, I see her enter her door; it is my good neighbor, Miss ­; she is one of the excellent of the earth, but she is poor, old and forsaken by all but the few who seek for those whom others forget.  She has no beauty, no celebrity; there is no eclat in noticing her; there are those who will even laugh at him for his attention to her.

Stranger than all, there are two men, violent opponents in religion and politics, walking arm in arm with each other.  The Calvinist extends to him whom he considers his erring brother a kindness as if to a dear friend; for the Universalist is sick, and the Calvinist tries to protect him from the shower while exposing himself; see, he takes off his own cloak and puts it on him.

What does all this mean?  Whence is this holy stillness?  What day is it?

It is the Lord’s day!  All these people are returning from the house of prayer.  It is this thought that makes the laughing girl restrain her gayety, and teach her steps to keep time with her infirm old friend.

The sinful old man abstains from his vicious habit out of reverence for this holy day; he has lost his son too; and sorrow and the weight of an evil conscience have driven him to the mercy seat; and they who despised his drunkenness respect his misery.

The lady who led the little child so tenderly to its poor mother’s door is a teacher in the Sunday school; the book she gave tells of the wisdom and goodness of God; she has awakened in her little pupil’s soul that princi-pie which shall never die, and taught her to be a messenger of peace and joy to her poor, sick mother.

It is the influence of this blessed day that makes the usually frivolous and thoughtless prefer a work of charity to the gratification of vanity.

It is the Sabbath day, with its calm and elevated duties and holy repose, that subdues animosity, lays the restless spirit of vanity, checks habitual vice, and awakens all the charities and sweet courtesies of life.

This is the true rest of the Sabbath; the rest from vanity, from contention, from sin.  This is the true preaching, the practice of Christian duties, the performance of works of love, the exercise of the holiest affections of our nature.  This is the true service of God; doing good to His human family.  This is the true knowledge of Him, “that we love one another.”

Doubtless the instructions from the pulpit do, in many instances, enlighten the ignorant, quicken the languid and the cold-hearted, and alarm or persuade the sinful and the erring; and, on this account alone, the day is a great good, and should be welcomed.  However, were any one doubtful of the blessing that attends it, I would not reason with him, but I would, if it were possible, lead him, when he knew not what day it was, where he could witness, as I have, such a scene as I have just described; and when he exclaimed, “What does it all mean?  What day is it?” I would simply answer, “It is the Sabbath day.”