Mother And Child
One night a tiny dewdrop fell
Into the bosom of a rose,--
"Dear little one, I love thee well,
Be ever here thy sweet repose!"
Seeing the rose with love bedight,
The envious sky frowned dark, and then
Sent forth a messenger of light
And caught the dewdrop up again.
"Oh, give me back my heavenly child,--
My love!" the rose in anguish cried;
Alas! the sky triumphant smiled,
And so the flower, heart-broken, died.
To Mary Field French
A dying mother gave to you
Her child a many years ago;
How in your gracious love he grew,
You know, dear, patient heart, you know.
The mother's child you fostered then
Salutes you now and bids you take
These little children of his pen
And love them for the author's sake.
To you I dedicate this book,
And, as you read it line by line,
Upon its faults as kindly look
As you have always looked on mine.
Tardy the offering is and weak;--
Yet were I happy if I knew
These children had the power to speak
My love and gratitude to you.
(FROM THE GERMAN OF MARTIN LUTHER)
O heart of mine! lift up thine eyes
And see who in yon manger lies!
Of perfect form, of face divine--
It is the Christ-child, heart of mine!
O dearest, holiest Christ-child, spread
Within this heart of mine thy bed;
Then shall my breast forever be
A chamber consecrate to thee!
Beat high to-day, O heart of mine,
And tell, O lips, what joys are thine;
For with your help shall I prolong
Old Bethlehem's sweetest cradle-song.
Glory to God, whom this dear Child
Hath by His coming reconciled,
And whose redeeming love again
Brings peace on earth, good will to men!
Garden And Cradle
When our babe he goeth walking in his garden,
Around his tinkling feet the sunbeams play;
The posies they are good to him,
And bow them as they should to him,
As fareth he upon his kingly way;
And birdlings of the wood to him
Make music, gentle music, all the day,
When our babe he goeth walking in his garden.
When our babe he goeth swinging in his cradle,
Then the night it looketh ever sweetly down;
The little stars are kind to him,
The moon she hath a mind to him
And layeth on his head a golden crown;
And singeth then the wind to him
A song, the gentle song of Bethlem-town,
When our babe he goeth swinging in his cradle.
The Sleeping Child
My baby slept--how calm his rest,
As o'er his handsome face a smile
Like that of angel flitted, while
He lay so still upon my breast!
My baby slept--his baby head
Lay all unkiss'd 'neath pall and shroud:
I did not weep or cry aloud--
I only wished I, too, were dead!
My baby sleeps--a tiny mound,
All covered by the little flowers,
Woos me in all my waking hours,
Down in the quiet burying-ground.
And when I sleep I seem to be
With baby in another land--
I take his little baby hand--
He smiles and sings sweet songs to me.
Sleep on, O baby, while I keep
My vigils till this day be passed!
Then shall I, too, lie down at last,
And with my baby darling sleep.
At The Door
I thought myself indeed secure,
So fast the door, so firm the lock;
But, lo! he toddling comes to lure
My parent ear with timorous knock.
My heart were stone could it withstand
The sweetness of my baby's plea,--
That timorous, baby knocking and
"Please let me in,--it's only me."
I threw aside the unfinished book,
Regardless of its tempting charms,
And opening wide the door, I took
My laughing darling in my arms.
Who knows but in Eternity,
I, like a truant child, shall wait
The glories of a life to be,
Beyond the Heavenly Father's gate?
And will that Heavenly Father heed
The truant's supplicating cry,
As at the outer door I plead,
"'T is I, O Father! only I"?
The Dead Babe
Last night, as my dear babe lay dead,
In agony I knelt and said:
"0 God! what have I done,
Or in what wise offended Thee,
That Thou should'st take away from me
My little son?
"Upon the thousand useless lives,
Upon the guilt that vaunting thrives,
Thy wrath were better spent!
Why should'st Thou take my little son -
Why should'st Thou vent Thy wrath upon
Last night, as my dear babe lay dead,
Before mine eyes the vision spread
Of things that might have been:
Licentious riot, cruel strife,
Forgotten prayers, a wasted life
Dark red with sin!
Then, with sweet music in the air,
I saw another vision there:
A Shepherd in whose keep
A little lamb - my little child!
Of worldly wisdom undefiled,
Lay fast asleep!
Last night, as my dear babe lay dead,
In those two messages I read
A wisdom manifest;
And though my arms be childless now,
I am content - to Him I bow
Who knoweth best.
Beard And Baby
I say, as one who never feared
The wrath of a subscriber's bullet,
I pity him who has a beard
But has no little girl to pull it!
When wife and I have finished tea,
Our baby woos me with her prattle,
And, perching proudly on my knee,
She gives my petted whiskers battle.
With both her hands she tugs away,
While scolding at me kind o' spiteful;
You'll not believe me when I say
I find the torture quite delightful!
No other would presume, I ween,
To trifle with this hirsute wonder,
Else would I rise in vengeful mien
And rend his vandal frame asunder!
But when her baby fingers pull
This glossy, sleek, and silky treasure,
My cup of happiness is full -
I fairly glow with pride and pleasure!
And, sweeter still, through all the day
I seem to hear her winsome prattle -
I seem to feel her hands at play,
As though they gave me sportive battle.
Yes, heavenly music seems to steal
Where thought of her forever lingers,
And round my heart I always feel
The twining of her dimpled fingers!
Child And Mother
O mother-my-love, if you'll give me your hand,
And go where I ask you to wander,
I will lead you away to a beautiful land,-
The Dreamland that's waiting out yonder.
We'll walk in a sweet posie-garden out there,
Where moonlight and starlight are streaming,
And the flowers and the birds are filling the air
With the fragrance and music of dreaming.
There'll be no little tired-out boy to undress,
No questions or cares to perplex you,
There'll be no little bruises or bumps to caress,
Nor patching of stockings to vex you;
For I'll rock you away on a silver-dew stream
And sing you asleep when you're weary,
And no one shall know of our beautiful dream
But you and your own little dearie.
And when I am tired I'll nestle my head
In the bosom that's soothed me so often,
And the wide-awake stars shall sing, in my stead,
A song which our dreaming shall soften.
So, Mother-my-Love, let me take your dear hand,
And away through the starlight we'll wander,-
Away through the mist to the beautiful land,-
The Dreamland that's waiting out yonder.
Sing, Christmas bells!
Say to the earth this is the morn
Whereon our Saviour-King is born;
Sing to all men,-the bond, the free,
The rich, the poor, the high, the low,
The little child that sports in glee,
The aged folk that tottering go,-
Proclaim the morn
That Christ is born,
That saveth them and saveth me!
Sing, angel host!
Sing of the star that God has placed
Above the manger in the east;
Sing of the glories of the night,
The virgin's sweet humility,
The Babe with kingly robes bedight,
Sing to all men where'er they be
This Christmas morn;
For Christ is born,
That saveth them and saveth me!
Sing, sons of earth!
O ransomed seed of Adam, sing!
God liveth, and we have a king!
The curse is gone, the bond are free,-
By Bethlehem's star that brightly beamed,
By all the heavenly signs that be,
We know that Israel is redeemed;
That on this morn
The Christ is born
That saveth you and saveth me!
Sing, O my heart!
Sing thou in rapture this dear morn
Whereon the blessed Prince is born!
And as thy songs shall be of love,
So let my deeds be charity,-
By the dear Lord that reigns above,
By Him that died upon the tree,
By this fair morn
Whereon is born
The Christ that saveth all and me!
As I was going to Bethlehem-town,
Upon the earth I cast me down
All underneath a little tree
That whispered in this wise to me:
'Oh, I shall stand on Calvary
And bear what burthen saveth thee!'
As up I fared to Bethlehem-town,
I met a shepherd coming down,
And thus he quoth: 'A wondrous sight
Hath spread before mine eyes this night,--
An angel host most fair to see,
That sung full sweetly of a tree
That shall uplift on Calvary
What burthen saveth you and me!'
And as I gat to Bethlehem-town,
Lo! wise men came that bore a crown.
'Is there,' cried I, 'in Bethlehem
A King shall wear this diadem?'
'Good sooth,' they quoth, 'and it is He
That shall be lifted on the tree
And freely shed on Calvary
What blood redeemeth us and thee!'
Unto a Child in Bethlehem-town
The wise men came and brought the crown;
And while the infant smiling slept,
Upon their knees they fell and wept;
But, with her babe upon her knee,
Naught recked that Mother of the tree,
That should uplift on Calvary
What burthen saveth all and me.
Again I walk in Bethlehem-town
And think on Him that wears the crown.
I may not kiss His feet again,
Nor worship Him as did I then;
My King hath died upon the tree,
And hath outpoured on Calvary
What blood redeemeth you and me!
The Sugar-Plum Tree
Have you ever heard of the Sugar-Plum Tree?
'T is a marvel of great renown!
It blooms on the shore of the Lollipop sea
In the garden of Shut-Eye Town;
The fruit that it bears is so wondrously sweet
(As those who have tasted it say)
That good little children have only to eat
Of that fruit to be happy next day.
When you 've got to the tree, you would have a hard time
To capture the fruit which I sing;
The tree is so tall that no person could climb
To the boughs where the sugar-plums swing!
But up in that tree sits a chocolate cat,
And a gingerbread dog prowls below- -
And this is the way you contrive to get at
Those sugar-plums tempting you so:
You say but the word to that gingerbread dog
And he barks with such terrible zest
That the chocolate cat is at once all agog,
As her swelling proportions attest.
And the chocolate cat goes cavorting around
From this leafy limb unto that,
And the sugar-plums tumble, of course, to the ground- -
Hurrah for that chocolate cat!
There are marshmallows, gumdrops, and peppermint canes,
With stripings of scarlet or gold,
And you carry away of the treasure that rains
As much as your apron can hold!
So come, little child, cuddle closer to me
In your dainty white nightcap and gown,
And I 'll rock you away to that Sugar-Plum Tree
In the garden of Shut-Eye Town.
Bambino (Corsican Lullaby)
Bambino in his cradle slept;
And by his side his grandam grim
Bent down and smiled upon the child,
And sung this lullaby to him,--
This 'ninna and anninia':
'When thou art older, thou shalt mind
To traverse countries far and wide,
And thou shalt go where roses blow
And balmy waters singing glide--
So ninna and anninia!
'And thou shalt wear, trimmed up in points,
A famous jacket edged in red,
And, more than that, a peakèd hat,
All decked in gold, upon thy head--
Ah! ninna and anninia!
'Then shalt thou carry gun and knife,
Nor shall the soldiers bully thee;
Perchance, beset by wrong or debt,
A mighty bandit thou shalt be--
So ninna and anninia!
'No woman yet of our proud race
Lived to her fourteenth year unwed;
The brazen churl that eyed a girl
Bought her the ring or paid his head--
So ninna and anninia!
'But once came spies (I know the thieves!)
And brought disaster to our race;
God heard us when our fifteen men
Were hanged within the market-place--
But ninna and anninia!
'Good men they were, my babe, and true,--
Right worthy fellows all, and strong;
Live thou and be for them and me
Avenger of that deadly wrong--
So ninna and anninia!'
The Three Kings Of Cologne
From out Cologne there came three kings
To worship Jesus Christ, their King.
To Him they sought fine herbs they brought,
And many a beauteous golden thing;
They brought their gifts to Bethlehem town,
And in that manger set them down.
Then spake the first king, and he said:
'O Child, most heavenly, bright, and fair!
I bring this crown to Bethlehem town
For Thee, and only Thee, to wear;
So give a heavenly crown to me
When I shall come at last to Thee!'
The second, then. 'I bring Thee here
This royal robe, O Child!' he cried;
'Of silk 'tis spun, and such an one
There is not in the world beside;
So in the day of doom requite
Me with a heavenly robe of white!'
The third king gave his gift, and quoth:
'Spikenard and myrrh to Thee I bring,
And with these twain would I most fain
Anoint the body of my King;
So may their incense sometime rise
To plead for me in yonder skies!'
Thus spake the three kings of Cologne,
That gave their gifts, and went their way;
And now kneel I in prayer hard by
The cradle of the Child to-day;
Nor crown, nor robe, nor spice I bring
As offering unto Christ, my King.
Yet have I brought a gift the Child
May not despise, however small;
For here I lay my heart to-day,
And it is full of love to all.
Take Thou the poor but loyal thing,
My only tribute, Christ, my King!
Mother And Sphinx
Grim is the face that looks into the night
Over the stretch of sands;
A sullen rock in a sea of white--
A ghostly shadow in ghostly light,
Peering and moaning it stands.
"Oh, is it the king that rides this way--
Oh, is it the king that rides so free?
I have looked for the king this many a day,
But the years that mock me will not say
Why tarrieth he!"
'T is not your king that shall ride to-night,
But a child that is fast asleep;
And the horse he shall ride is the Dream-horse white--
Aha, he shall speed through the ghostly light
Where the ghostly shadows creep!
"My eyes are dull and my face is sere,
Yet unto the word he gave I cling,
For he was a Pharaoh that set me here--
And, lo! I have waited this many a year
For him--my king!"
Oh, past thy face my darling shall ride
Swift as the burning winds that bear
The sand clouds over the desert wide--
Swift to the verdure and palms beside
The wells off there!
"And is it the mighty king I shall see
Come riding into the night?
Oh, is it the king come back to me--
Proudly and fiercely rideth he,
With centuries dight!"
I know no king but my dark-eyed dear
That shall ride the Dream-Horse white;
But see! he wakes at my bosom here,
While the Dream-Horse frettingly lingers near
To speed with my babe to-night!
And out of the desert darkness peers
A ghostly, ghastly, shadowy thing
Like a spirit come out of the mouldering years,
And ever that waiting spectre hears
The coming king!
I.--TO MISTRESS BARBARA
There were three cavaliers, all handsome and true,
On Valentine's day came a maiden to woo,
And quoth to your mother: "Good-morrow, my dear,
We came with some songs for your daughter to hear!"
Your mother replied: "I'll be pleased to convey
To my daughter what things you may sing or may say!"
Then the first cavalier sung: "My pretty red rose,
I'll love you and court you some day, I suppose!"
And the next cavalier sung, with make-believe tears:
"I've loved you! I've loved you these many long years!"
But the third cavalier (with the brown, bushy head
And the pretty blue jacket and necktie of red)
He drew himself up with a resolute air,
And he warbled: "O maiden, surpassingly fair!
I've loved you long years, and I love you to-day,
And, if you will let me, I'll love you for aye!"
I (the third cavalier) sang this ditty to you,
In my necktie of red and my jacket of blue;
I'm sure you'll prefer the song that was mine
And smile your approval on your valentine.
II.--TO A BABY BOY
Who I am I shall not say,
But I send you this bouquet
With this query, baby mine:
"Will you be my valentine?"
See these roses blushing blue,
Very like your eyes of hue;
While these violets are the red
Of your cheeks. It can be said
Ne'er before was babe like you.
And I think it is quite true
No one e'er before to-day
Sent so wondrous a bouquet
As these posies aforesaid--
Roses blue and violets red!
Sweet, repay me sweets for sweets--
'Tis your lover who entreats!
Smile upon me, baby mine--
Be my little valentine!
Ballad Of The Jelly-Cake
A little boy whose name was Tim
Once ate some jelly-cake for tea--
Which cake did not agree with him,
As by the sequel you shall see.
'My darling child,' his mother said,
'Pray do not eat that jelly-cake,
For, after you have gone to bed,
I fear 't will make your stomach ache!'
But foolish little Tim demurred
Unto his mother's warning word.
That night, while all the household slept,
Tim felt an awful pain, and then
From out the dark a nightmare leapt
And stood upon his abdomen!
'I cannot breathe!' the infant cried--
'Oh, Mrs. Nightmare, pity take!'
'There is no mercy,' she replied,
'For boys who feast on jelly-cake!'
And so, despite the moans of Tim,
The cruel nightmare went for him.
At first, she 'd tickle Timmy's toes
Or roughly smite his baby cheek--
And now she 'd rudely tweak his nose
And other petty vengeance wreak;
And then, with hobnails in her shoes
And her two horrid eyes aflame,
The mare proceeded to amuse,
Herself by prancing o'er his frame--
First to his throbbing brow, and then
Back to his little feet again.
At last, fantastic, wild, and weird,
And clad in garments ghastly grim,
A scowling hoodoo band appeared
And joined in worrying little Tim.
Each member of this hoodoo horde
Surrounded Tim with fierce ado
And with long, cruel gimlets bored
His aching system through and through,
And while they labored all night long
The nightmare neighed a dismal song.
Next morning, looking pale and wild,
Poor little Tim emerged from bed--
'Good gracious! what can ail the child!'
His agitated mother said.
'We live to learn,' responded he,
'And I have lived to learn to take
Plain bread and butter for my tea,
And never, never, jelly-cake!
For when my hulk with pastry teems,
I must expect unpleasant dreams!'
There's a dear little home in Good-Children street -
My heart turneth fondly to-day
Where tinkle of tongues and patter of feet
Make sweetest of music at play;
Where the sunshine of love illumines each face
And warms every heart in that old-fashioned place.
For dear little children go romping about
With dollies and tin tops and drums,
And, my! how they frolic and scamper and shout
Till bedtime too speedily comes!
Oh, days they are golden and days they are fleet
With little folk living in Good-Children street.
See, here comes an army with guns painted red,
And swords, caps, and plumes of all sorts;
The captain rides gaily and proudly ahead
On a stick-horse that prances and snorts!
Oh, legions of soldiers you're certain to meet -
Nice make-believe soldiers - in Good-Children street.
And yonder Odette wheels her dolly about -
Poor dolly! I'm sure she is ill,
For one of her blue china eyes has dropped out
And her voice is asthmatic'ly shrill.
Then, too, I observe she is minus her feet,
Which causes much sorrow in Good-Children street.
'T is so the dear children go romping about
With dollies and banners and drums,
And I venture to say they are sadly put out
When an end to their jubilee comes:
Oh, days they are golden and days they are fleet
With little folk living in Good-Children street!
But when falleth night over river and town,
Those little folk vanish from sight,
And an angel all white from the sky cometh down
And guardeth the babes through the night,
And singeth her lullabies tender and sweet
To the dear little people in Good-Children Street.
Though elsewhere the world be o'erburdened with care,
Though poverty fall to my lot,
Though toil and vexation be always my share,
What care I - they trouble me not!
This thought maketh life ever joyous and Sweet:
There's a dear little home in Good-Children street.
The Tin Bank
Speaking of banks, I'm bound to say
That a bank of tin is far the best,
And I know of one that has stood for years
In a pleasant home away out west.
It has stood for years on the mantelpiece
Between the clock and the Wedgwood plate--
A wonderful bank, as you'll concede
When you've heard the things I'll now relate.
This bank was made of McKinley tin,
Well soldered up at sides and back;
But it didn't resemble tin at all,
For they'd painted it over an iron black.
And that it really was a bank
'Twas an easy thing to see and say,
For above the door in gorgeous red
Appeared the letters B-A-N-K!
The bank had been so well devised
And wrought so cunningly that when
You put your money in at the hole
It couldn't get out of that hole again!
Somewhere about that stanch, snug thing
A secret spring was hid away,
But _where_ it was or _how it_ worked--
Excuse me, please, but I will not say.
Thither, with dimpled cheeks aglow,
Came pretty children oftentimes,
And, standing up on stool or chair,
Put in their divers pence and dimes.
Once Uncle Hank came home from town
After a cycle of grand events,
And put in a round, blue, ivory thing,
He said was good for 50 cents!
The bank went clinkety-clinkety-clink,
And larger grew the precious sum
Which grandma said she hoped would prove
A gracious boon to heathendom!
But there were those--I call no names--
Who did not fancy any plan
That did not in some wise involve
The candy and banana man.
Listen; once when the wind went 'Yooooooo!'
And the raven croaked in the tangled tarn--
When, with a wail, the screech-owl flew
Out of her lair in the haunted barn--
There came three burglars down the road--
Three burglars skilled in arts of sin,
And they cried: 'What's this? Aha! Oho!'
And straightway tackled the bank of tin.
They burgled from half-past ten p.m.,
Till the village bell struck four o'clock;
They hunted and searched and guessed and tried--
But the little tin bank would not unlock!
They couldn't discover the secret spring!
So, when the barn-yard rooster crowed,
They up with their tools and stole away
With the bitter remark that they'd be blowed!
Next morning came a sweet-faced child
And reached her dimpled hand to take
A nickel to send to the heathen poor
And a nickel to spend for her stomach's sake.
She pressed the hidden secret spring,
And lo! the bank flew open then
With a cheery creak that seemed to say:
'I'm glad to see you; come again!'
If you were I, and if I were you,
What would we keep our money in?
In a downtown bank of British steel,
Or an at-home bank of McKinley tin?
Some want silver and some want gold,
But the little tin bank that wants the two
And is run on the double standard plan--
Why, that is the bank for me and you!
The Vision Of The Holy Grail
_Deere Chryste, let not the cheere of earth,
To fill our hearts with heedless mirth
This holy Christmasse time;
But give us of thy heavenly cheere
That we may hold thy love most deere
And know thy peace sublime._
* * * * *
Full merry waxed King Pelles court
With Yuletide cheere and Yuletide sport,
And, when the board was spread,
Now wit ye well 'twas good to see
So fair and brave a companie
With Pelles at the head.
'Come hence, Elaine,' King Pelles cried,
'Come hence and sit ye by my side,
For never yet, I trow,
Have gentle virtues like to thine
Been proved by sword nor pledged in wine,
Nor shall be nevermo!'
'Sweete sir, my father,' quoth Elaine,
'Me it repents to give thee pain--
Yet, tarry I may not;
For I shall soond and I shall die
If I behold this companie
And see not Launcelot!
'My heart shall have no love but this--
My lips shall know no other kiss,
Save only, father, thine;
So graunt me leave to seek my bower,
The lonely chamber in the toure,
Where sleeps his child and mine.'
Then frowned the King in sore despite;
'A murrain seize that traitrous knight,
For that he lies!' he cried--
'A base, unchristian paynim he,
Else, by my beard, he would not be
A recreant to his bride!
'Oh, I had liefer yield my life
Than see thee the deserted wife
Of dastard Launcelot!
Yet, an' thou hast no mind to stay,
Go with thy damosels away--
Lo, I'll detain ye not.'
Her damosels in goodly train
Back to her chamber led Elaine,
And when her eyes were cast
Upon her babe, her tears did flow
And she did wail and weep as though
Her heart had like to brast.
The while she grieved the Yuletide sport
Waxed lustier in King Pelles' court,
And louder, houre by houre,
The echoes of the rout were borne
To where the lady, all forlorn,
Made moning in the toure,
'Swete Chryste,' she cried, 'ne let me hear
Their ribald sounds of Yuletide cheere
That mock at mine and me;
Graunt that my sore affliction cease
And give me of the heavenly peace
That comes with thoughts of thee!'
Lo, as she spake, a wondrous light
Made all that lonely chamber bright,
And o'er the infant's bed
A spirit hand, as samite pail,
Held sodaine foorth the Holy Grail
Above the infant's head.
And from the sacred golden cup
A subtle incense floated up
And filled the conscious air,
Which, when she breather, the fair Elaine
Forgot her grief, forgot her pain.
Forgot her sore despair.
And as the Grail's mysterious balm
Wrought in her heart a wondrous calm,
Great mervail 'twas to see
The sleeping child stretch one hand up
As if in dreams he held the cup
Which none mought win but he.
Through all the night King Pelles' court
Made mighty cheer and goodly sport.
Nor never recked the joy
That was vouchsafed that Christmass tide
To Launcelot's deserted bride
And to her sleeping boy.
_Swete Chryste, let not the cheere of earth
To fill our hearts with heedless mirth
This present Christmasse night;
But send among us to and fro
Thy Holy Grail, that men may know
The joy withe wisdom dight._
Away down East where I was reared amongst my Yankee kith,
There used to live a pretty girl whose name was Mary Smith;
And though it's many years since last I saw that pretty girl,
And though I feel I'm sadly worn by Western strife and whirl;
Still, oftentimes, I think about the old familiar place,
Which, someway, seemed the brighter for Miss Mary's pretty face,
And in my heart I feel once more revivified the glow
I used to feel in those old times when I was Mary's beau.
I saw her home from singing school--she warbled like a bird.
A sweeter voice than hers for song or speech I never heard.
She was soprano in the choir, and I a solemn bass,
And when we unisoned our voices filled that holy place;
The tenor and the alto never had the slightest chance,
For Mary's upper register made every heart-string dance;
And, as for me, I shall not brag, and yet I'd have you know
I sung a very likely bass when I was Mary's beau.
On Friday nights I'd drop around to make my weekly call,
And though I came to visit her, I'd have to see 'em all.
With Mary's mother sitting here and Mary's father there,
The conversation never flagged so far as I'm aware;
Sometimes I'd hold her worsted, sometimes we'd play at games,
Sometimes dissect the apples which we'd named each other's names.
Oh how I loathed the shrill-toned clock that told me when to go--
'Twas ten o'clock at half-past eight when I was Mary's beau.
Now there was Luther Baker--because he'd come of age
And thought himself some pumpkins because he drove the stage--
He fancied he could cut me out; but Mary was my friend--
Elsewise I'm sure the issue had had a tragic end.
For Luther Baker was a man I never could abide,
And, when it came to Mary, either he or I had died.
I merely cite this instance incidentally to show
That I was quite in earnest when I was Mary's beau.
How often now those sights, those pleasant sights, recur again:
The little township that was all the world I knew of then--
The meeting-house upon the hill, the tavern just beyond,
Old deacon Packard's general store, the sawmill by the pond,
The village elms I vainly sought to conquer in my quest
Of that surpassing trophy, the golden oriole's nest.
And, last of all those visions that come back from long ago,
The pretty face that thrilled my soul when I was Mary's beau.
Hush, gentle wife, there is no need a pang should vex your heart--
'T is many years since fate ordained that she and I should part;
To each a true, maturer love came in good time, and yet
It brought not with its nobler grace the power to forget.
And would you fain begrudge me now the sentimental joy
That comes of recollections of my sparkings when a boy?
I warrant me that, were your heart put to the rack,'t would show
That it had predilections when I was Mary's beau.
And, Mary, should these lines of mine seek out your biding place,
God grant they bring the old sweet smile back to your pretty face--
God grant they bring you thoughts of me, not as I am to-day,
With faltering step and brimming eyes and aspect grimly gray;
But thoughts that picture me as fair and full of life and glee
As we were in the olden times--as you shall always be.
Think of me ever, Mary, as the boy you used to know
When time was fleet, and life was sweet, and I was Mary's beau.
Dear hills of old New England, look down with tender eyes
Upon one little lonely grave that in your bosom lies;
For in that cradle sleeps a child who was so fair to see
God yearned to have unto Himself the joy she brought to me;
And bid your winds sing soft and low the song of other days,
When, hand in hand and heart to heart, we went our pleasant ways--
Ah me! but could I sing again that song of long ago,
Instead of this poor idle song of being Mary's beau.
The mountain brook sung lonesomelike, and loitered on its way
Ez if it waited for a child to jine it in its play;
The wild-flowers uv the hillside bent down their heads to hear
The music uv the little feet that had somehow grown so dear;
The magpies, like winged shadders, wuz a-flutterin' to an' fro
Among the rocks an' holler stumps in the ragged gulch below;
The pines an' hemlocks tosst their boughs (like they wuz arms) and made
Soft, sollum music on the slope where he had often played;
But for these lonesome, sollum voices on the mountain-side,
There wuz no sound the summer day that Marthy's younkit died.
We called him Marthy's younkit, for Marthy wuz the name
Uv her ez wuz his mar, the wife uv Sorry Tom,--the same
Ez taught the school-house on the hill, way back in '69,
When she marr'd Sorry Tom, wich owned the Gosh-all-Hemlock mine!
And Marthy's younkit wuz their first, wich, bein' how it meant
The first on Red Hoss Mountain, wuz truly a' event!
The miners sawed off short on work ez soon ez they got word
That Dock Devine allowed to Casey what had just occurred;
We loaded up an' whooped around until we all wuz hoarse
Salutin' the arrival, wich weighed ten pounds, uv course!
Three years, and sech a pretty child!--his mother's counterpart!
Three years, an' sech a holt ez he had got on every heart!
A peert an' likely little tyke with hair ez red ez gold,
A-laughin', toddlin' everywhere,--'nd only three years old!
Up yonder, sometimes, to the store, an' sometimes down the hill
He kited (boys is boys, you know,--you couldn't keep him still!)
An' there he'd play beside the brook where purpul wild-flowers grew,
An' the mountain pines an' hemlocks a kindly shadder threw,
An' sung soft, sollum toons to him, while in the gulch below
The magpies, like strange sperrits, went flutterin' to an' fro.
Three years, an' then the fever come,--it wuzn't right, you know,
With all us old ones in the camp, for that little child to go;
It's right the old should die, but that a harmless little child
Should miss the joy uv life an' love,--that can't be reconciled!
That's what we thought that summer day, an' that is what we said
Ez we looked upon the piteous face uv Marthy's younkit dead.
But for his mother's sobbin', the house wuz very still,
An' Sorry Tom wuz lookin', through the winder, down the hill,
To the patch beneath the hemlocks where his darlin' used to play,
An' the mountain brook sung lonesomelike an' loitered on its way.
A preacher come from Roarin' Crick to comfort 'em an' pray,
'Nd all the camp wuz present at the obsequies next day;
A female teacher staged it twenty miles to sing a hymn,
An' we jined her in the chorus,--big, husky men an' grim
Sung "Jesus, Lover uv my Soul," an' then the preacher prayed,
An' preacht a sermon on the death uv that fair blossom laid
Among them other flowers he loved,--wich sermon set sech weight
On sinners bein' always heeled against the future state,
That, though it had been fashionable to swear a perfec' streak,
There warn't no swearin' in the camp for pretty nigh a week!
Last thing uv all, four strappin' men took up the little load
An' bore it tenderly along the windin', rocky road,
To where the coroner had dug a grave beside the brook,
In sight uv Marthy's winder, where the same could set an' look
An' wonder if his cradle in that green patch, long an' wide,
Wuz ez soothin' ez the cradle that wuz empty at her side;
An' wonder if the mournful songs the pines wuz singin' then
Wuz ez tender ez the lullabies she'd never sing again,
'Nd if the bosom of the earth in wich he lay at rest
Wuz half ez lovin' 'nd ez warm ez wuz his mother's breast.
The camp is gone; but Red Hoss Mountain rears its kindly head,
An' looks down, sort uv tenderly, upon its cherished dead;
'Nd I reckon that, through all the years, that little boy wich died
Sleeps sweetly an' contentedly upon the mountain-side;
That the wild-flowers uv the summer-time bend down their heads to hear
The footfall uv a little friend they know not slumbers near;
That the magpies on the sollum rocks strange flutterin' shadders make,
An' the pines an' hemlocks wonder that the sleeper doesn't wake;
That the mountain brook sings lonesomelike an' loiters on its way
Ez if it waited for a child to jine it in its play.
The Delectable Ballad Of The Waller Lot
Up yonder in Buena Park
There is a famous spot,
In legend and in history
Yclept the Waller Lot.
There children play in daytime
And lovers stroll by dark,
For 't is the goodliest trysting-place
In all Buena Park.
Once on a time that beauteous maid,
Sweet little Sissy Knott,
Took out her pretty doll to walk
Within the Waller Lot.
While thus she fared, from Ravenswood
Came Injuns o'er the plain,
And seized upon that beauteous maid
And rent her doll in twain.
Oh, 't was a piteous thing to hear
Her lamentations wild;
She tore her golden curls and cried:
"My child! My child! My child!"
Alas, what cared those Injun chiefs
How bitterly wailed she?
They never had been mothers,
And they could not hope to be!
"Have done with tears," they rudely quoth,
And then they bound her hands;
For they proposed to take her off
To distant border lands.
But, joy! from Mr. Eddy's barn
Doth Willie Clow behold
The sight that makes his hair rise up
And all his blood run cold.
He put his fingers in his mouth
And whistled long and clear,
And presently a goodly horde
Of cow-boys did appear.
Cried Willie Clow: "My comrades bold,
Haste to the Waller Lot,
And rescue from that Injun band
Our charming Sissy Knott!"
"Spare neither Injun buck nor squaw,
But smite them hide and hair!
Spare neither sex nor age nor size,
And no condition spare!"
Then sped that cow-boy band away,
Full of revengeful wrath,
And Kendall Evans rode ahead
Upon a hickory lath.
And next came gallant Dady Field
And Willie's brother Kent,
The Eddy boys and Robbie James,
On murderous purpose bent.
For they were much beholden to
That maid - in sooth, the lot
Were very, very much in love
With charming Sissy Knott.
What wonder? She was beauty's queen,
And good beyond compare;
Moreover, it was known she was
Her wealthy father's heir!
Now when the Injuns saw that band
They trembled with affright,
And yet they thought the cheapest thing
To do was stay and fight.
So sturdily they stood their ground,
Nor would their prisoner yield,
Despite the wrath of Willie Clow
And gallant Dady Field.
Oh, never fiercer battle raged
Upon the Waller Lot,
And never blood more freely flowed
Than flowed for Sissy Knott!
An Injun chief of monstrous size
Got Kendall Evans down,
And Robbie James was soon o'erthrown
By one of great renown.
And Dady Field was sorely done,
And Willie Clow was hurt,
And all that gallant cow-boy band
Lay wallowing in the dirt.
But still they strove with might and main
Till all the Waller Lot
Was strewn with hair and gouts of gore -
All, all for Sissy Knott!
Then cried the maiden in despair:
"Alas, I sadly fear
The battle and my hopes are lost,
Unless some help appear!"
Lo, as she spoke, she saw afar
The rescuer looming up -
The pride of all Buena Park,
Clow's famous yellow pup!
"Now, sick'em, Don," the maiden cried,
"Now, sick'em, Don!" cried she;
Obedient Don at once complied -
As ordered, so did he.
He sicked'em all so passing well
That, overcome by fright,
The Indian horde gave up the fray
And safety sought in flight.
They ran and ran and ran and ran
O'er valley, plain, and hill;
And if they are not walking now,
Why, then, they're running still.
The cow-boys rose up from the dust
With faces black and blue;
"Remember, beauteous maid," said they,
"We've bled and died for you!"
"And though we suffer grievously,
We gladly hail the lot
That brings us toils and pains and wounds
For charming Sissy Knott!"
But Sissy Knott still wailed and wept,
And still her fate reviled;
For who could patch her dolly up -
Who, who could mend her child?
Then out her doting mother came,
And soothed her daughter then;
"Grieve not, my darling, I will sew
Your dolly up again!"
Joy soon succeeded unto grief,
And tears were soon dried up,
And dignities were heaped upon
Clow's noble yellow pup.
Him all that goodly company
Did as deliverer hail -
They tied a ribbon round his neck,
Another round his tail.
And every anniversary day
Upon the Waller Lot
They celebrate the victory won
For charming Sissy Knott.
And I, the poet of these folk,
Am ordered to compile
This truly famous history
In good old ballad style.
Which having done as to have earned
The sweet rewards of fame,
In what same style I did begin
I now shall end the same.
So let us sing: Long live the King,
Long live the Queen and Jack,
Long live the ten-spot and the ace,
And also all the pack.