O love is like an untamed steed!--
So hot of heart and wild of speed,
And with fierce freedom so in love,
The desert is not vast enough,
With all its leagues of glimmering sands,
To pasture it! Ah, that my hands
Were more than human in their strength,
That my deft lariat at length
Might safely noose this splendid thing
That so defies all conquering!
Ho! but to see it whirl and reel--
The sands spurt forward--and to feel
The quivering tension of the thong
That throned me high, with shriek and song!
To grapple tufts of tossing mane--
To spurn it to its feet again,
And then, sans saddle, rein or bit,
To lash the mad life out of it!
A Letter To A Friend
The past is like a story
I have listened to in dreams
That vanished in the glory
Of the Morning's early gleams;
And--at my shadow glancing--
I feel a loss of strength,
As the Day of Life advancing
Leaves it shorn of half its length.
But it's all in vain to worry
At the rapid race of Time--
And he flies in such a flurry
When I trip him with a rhyme,
I'll bother him no longer
Than to thank you for the thought
That 'my fame is growing stronger
As you really think it ought.'
And though I fall below it,
I might know as much of mirth
To live and die a poet
Of unacknowledged worth;
For Fame is but a vagrant--
Though a loyal one and brave,
And his laurels ne'er so fragrant
As when scattered o'er the grave.
Three Dead Friends
Always suddenly they are gone--
The friends we trusted and held secure--
Suddenly we are gazing on,
Not a _smiling_ face, but the marble-pure
Dead mask of a face that nevermore
To a smile of ours will make reply--
The lips close-locked as the eyelids are--
Gone--swift as the flash of the molten ore
A meteor pours through a midnight sky,
Leaving it blind of a single star.
Tell us, O Death, Remorseless Might!
What is this old, unescapable ire
You wreak on us?--from the birth of light
Till the world be charred to a core of fire!
We do no evil thing to you--
We seek to evade you--that is all--
That is your will--you will not be known
Of men. What, then, would you have us do?--
Cringe, and wait till your vengeance fall,
And your graves be fed, and the trumpet blown?
You desire no friends; but _we_--O we
Need them so, as we falter here,
Fumbling through each new vacancy,
As each is stricken that we hold dear.
One you struck but a year ago;
And one not a month ago; and one--
(God's vast pity!)--and one lies now
Where the widow wails, in her nameless woe,
And the soldiers pace, with the sword and gun,
Where the comrade sleeps, with the laureled brow.
And what did the first?--that wayward soul,
Clothed of sorrow, yet nude of sin,
And with all hearts bowed in the strange control
Of the heavenly voice of his violin.
Why, it was music the way he _stood_,
So grand was the poise of the head and so
Full was the figure of majesty!--
One heard with the eyes, as a deaf man would,
And with all sense brimmed to the overflow
With tears of anguish and ecstasy.
And what did the girl, with the great warm light
Of genius sunning her eyes of blue,
With her heart so pure, and her soul so white--
What, O Death, did she do to you?
Through field and wood as a child she strayed,
As Nature, the dear sweet mother led;
While from her canvas, mirrored back,
Glimmered the stream through the everglade
Where the grapevine trailed from the trees to wed
Its likeness of emerald, blue and black.
And what did he, who, the last of these,
Faced you, with never a fear, O Death?
Did you hate _him_ that he loved the breeze,
And the morning dews, and the rose's breath?
Did you hate him that he answered not
Your hate again--but turned, instead,
His only hate on his country's wrongs?
Well--you possess him, dead!--but what
Of the good he wrought? With laureled head
He bides with us in his deeds and songs.
Laureled, first, that he bravely fought,
And forged a way to our flag's release;
Laureled, next--for the harp he taught
To wake glad songs in the days of peace--
Songs of the woodland haunts he held
As close in his love as they held their bloom
In their inmost bosoms of leaf and vine--
Songs that echoed, and pulsed and welled
Through the town's pent streets, and the sick child's room,
Pure as a shower in soft sunshine.
Claim them, Death; yet their fame endures,
What friend next will you rend from us
In that cold, pitiless way of yours,
And leave us a grief more dolorous?
Speak to us!--tell us, O Dreadful Power!--
Are we to have not a lone friend left?--
Since, frozen, sodden, or green the sod,--
In every second of every hour,
_Some one_, Death, you have left thus bereft,
Half inaudibly shrieks to God.
An Out-Worn Sappho
How tired I am! I sink down all alone
Here by the wayside of the Present. Lo,
Even as a child I hide my face and moan--
A little girl that may no farther go;
The path above me only seems to grow
More rugged, climbing still, and ever briered
With keener thorns of pain than these below;
And O the bleeding feet that falter so
And are so very tired!
Why, I have journeyed from the far-off Lands
Of Babyhood--where baby-lilies blew
Their trumpets in mine ears, and filled my hands
With treasures of perfume and honey-dew,
And where the orchard shadows ever drew
Their cool arms round me when my cheeks were fired
With too much joy, and lulled mine eyelids to,
And only let the starshine trickle through
In sprays, when I was tired!
Yet I remember, when the butterfly
Went flickering about me like a flame
That quenched itself in roses suddenly,
How oft I wished that _I_ might blaze the same,
And in some rose-wreath nestle with my name,
While all the world looked on it and admired.--
Poor moth!--Along my wavering flight toward fame
The winds drive backward, and my wings are lame
And broken, bruised and tired!
I hardly know the path from those old times;
I know at first it was a smoother one
Than this that hurries past me now, and climbs
So high, its far cliffs even hide the sun
And shroud in gloom my journey scarce begun.
I could not do quite all the world required--
I could not do quite all I should have done,
And in my eagerness I have outrun
My strength--and I am tired....
Just tired! But when of old I had the stay
Of mother-hands, O very sweet indeed
It was to dream that all the weary way
I should but follow where I now must lead--
For long ago they left me in my need,
And, groping on alone, I tripped and mired
Among rank grasses where the serpents breed
In knotted coils about the feet of speed.--
There first it was I tired.
And yet I staggered on, and bore my load
Right gallantly: The sun, in summer-time,
In lazy belts came slipping down the road
To woo me on, with many a glimmering rhyme
Rained from the golden rim of some fair clime,
That, hovering beyond the clouds, inspired
My failing heart with fancies so sublime
I half forgot my path of dust and grime,
Though I was growing tired.
And there were many voices cheering me:
I listened to sweet praises where the wind
Went laughing o'er my shoulders gleefully
And scattering my love-songs far behind;--
Until, at last, I thought the world so kind--
So rich in all my yearning soul desired--
So generous--so loyally inclined,
I grew to love and trust it.... I was blind--
Yea, blind as I was tired!
And yet one hand held me in creature-touch:
And O, how fair it was, how true and strong,
How it did hold my heart up like a crutch,
Till, in my dreams, I joyed to walk along
The toilsome way, contented with a song--
'Twas all of earthly things I had acquired,
And 'twas enough, I feigned, or right or wrong,
Since, binding me to man--a mortal thong--
It stayed me, growing tired....
Yea, I had e'en resigned me to the strait
Of earthly rulership--had bowed my head
Acceptant of the master-mind--the great
One lover--lord of all,--the perfected
Kiss-comrade of my soul;--had stammering said
My prayers to him;--all--all that he desired
I rendered sacredly as we were wed.--
Nay--nay!--'twas but a myth I worshipped.--
And--God of love!--how tired!
For, O my friends, to lose the latest grasp--
To feel the last hope slipping from its hold--
To feel the one fond hand within your clasp
Fall slack, and loosen with a touch so cold
Its pressure may not warm you as of old
Before the light of love had thus expired--
To know your tears are worthless, though they rolled
Their torrents out in molten drops of gold.--
God's pity! I am tired!
And I must rest.--Yet do not say 'She _died_,'
In speaking of me, sleeping here alone.
I kiss the grassy grave I sink beside,
And close mine eyes in slumber all mine own:
Hereafter I shall neither sob nor moan
Nor murmur one complaint;--all I desired,
And failed in life to find, will now be known--
So let me dream. Good night! And on the stone
Say simply: She was tired.
New Castle, July 4, 1878
or a hundred years the pulse of time
Has throbbed for Liberty;
For a hundred years the grand old clime
Columbia has been free;
For a hundred years our country's love,
The Stars and Stripes, has waved above.
Away far out on the gulf of years--
Misty and faint and white
Through the fogs of wrong--a sail appears,
And the Mayflower heaves in sight,
And drifts again, with its little flock
Of a hundred souls, on Plymouth Rock.
Do you see them there--as long, long since--
Through the lens of History;
Do you see them there as their chieftain prints
In the snow his bended knee,
And lifts his voice through the wintry blast
In thanks for a peaceful home at last?
Though the skies are dark and the coast is bleak,
And the storm is wild and fierce,
Its frozen flake on the upturned cheek
Of the Pilgrim melts in tears,
And the dawn that springs from the darkness there
Is the morning light of an answered prayer.
The morning light of the day of Peace
That gladdens the aching eyes,
And gives to the soul that sweet release
That the present verifies,--
Nor a snow so deep, nor a wind so chill
To quench the flame of a freeman's will!
Days of toil when the bleeding hand
Of the pioneer grew numb,
When the untilled tracts of the barren land
Where the weary ones had come
Could offer nought from a fruitful soil
To stay the strength of the stranger's toil.
Days of pain, when the heart beat low,
And the empty hours went by
Pitiless, with the wail of woe
And the moan of Hunger's cry--
When the trembling hands upraised in prayer
Had only the strength to hold them there.
Days when the voice of hope had fled--
Days when the eyes grown weak
Were folded to, and the tears they shed
Were frost on a frozen cheek--
When the storm bent down from the skies and gave
A shroud of snow for the Pilgrim's grave.
Days at last when the smiling sun
Glanced down from a summer sky,
And a music rang where the rivers run,
And the waves went laughing by;
And the rose peeped over the mossy bank
While the wild deer stood in the stream and drank.
And the birds sang out so loud and good,
In a symphony so clear
And pure and sweet that the woodman stood
With his ax upraised to hear,
And to shape the words of the tongue unknown
Into a language all his own--
'Sing! every bird, to-day!
Sing for the sky so clear,
And the gracious breath of the atmosphere
Shall waft our cares away.
Sing! sing! for the sunshine free;
Sing through the land from sea to sea;
Lift each voice in the highest key
And sing for Liberty!'
'Sing for the arms that fling
Their fetters in the dust
And lift their hands in higher trust
Unto the one Great King;
Sing for the patriot heart and hand;
Sing for the country they have planned;
Sing that the world may understand
This is Freedom's land!'
'Sing in the tones of prayer,
Sing till the soaring soul
Shall float above the world's control
In freedom everywhere!
Sing for the good that is to be,
Sing for the eyes that are to see
The land where man at last is free,
O sing for liberty!'
A holy quiet reigned, save where the hand
Of labor sent a murmur through the land,
And happy voices in a harmony
Taught every lisping breeze a melody.
A nest of cabins, where the smoke upcurled
A breathing incense to the other world.
A land of languor from the sun of noon,
That fainted slowly to the pallid moon,
Till stars, thick-scattered in the garden-land
Of Heaven by the great Jehovah's hand,
Had blossomed into light to look upon
The dusky warrior with his arrow drawn,
As skulking from the covert of the night
With serpent cunning and a fiend's delight,
With murderous spirit, and a yell of hate
The voice of Hell might tremble to translate:
When the fond mother's tender lullaby
Went quavering in shrieks all suddenly,
And baby-lips were dabbled with the stain
Of crimson at the bosom of the slain,
And peaceful homes and fortunes ruined--lost
In smoldering embers of the holocaust.
Yet on and on, through years of gloom and strife,
Our country struggled into stronger life;
Till colonies, like footprints in the sand,
Marked Freedom's pathway winding through the land--
And not the footprints to be swept away
Before the storm we hatched in Boston Bay,--
But footprints where the path of war begun
That led to Bunker Hill and Lexington,--
For he who "dared to lead where others dared
To follow" found the promise there declared
Of Liberty, in blood of Freedom's host
Baptized to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!
Oh, there were times when every patriot breast
Was riotous with sentiments expressed
In tones that swelled in volume till the sound
Of lusty war itself was well-nigh drowned.
Oh, those were times when happy eyes with tears
Brimmed o'er as all the misty doubts and fears
Were washed away, and Hope with gracious mien,
Reigned from her throne again a sovereign queen.
Until at last, upon a day like this
When flowers were blushing at the summer's kiss,
And when the sky was cloudless as the face
Of some sweet infant in its angel grace,--
There came a sound of music, thrown afloat
Upon the balmy air--a clanging note
Reiterated from the brazen throat
Of Independence Bell: A sound so sweet,
The clamoring throngs of people in the streets
Were stilled as at the solemn voice of prayer,
And heads were bowed, and lips were moving there
That made no sound--until the spell had passed,
And then, as when all sudden comes the blast
Of some tornado, came the cheer on cheer
Of every eager voice, while far and near
The echoing bells upon the atmosphere
Set glorious rumors floating, till the ear
Of every listening patriot tingled clear,
And thrilled with joy and jubilee to hear.
'Stir all your echoes up,
O Independence Bell,
And pour from your inverted cup
The song we love so well.
'Lift high your happy voice,
And swing your iron tongue
Till syllables of praise rejoice
That never yet were sung.
'Ring in the gleaming dawn
Of Freedom--Toll the knell
Of Tyranny, and then ring on,
O Independence Bell.--
'Ring on, and drown the moan,
Above the patriot slain,
Till sorrow's voice shall catch the tone
And join the glad refrain.
'Ring out the wounds of wrong
And rankle in the breast;
Your music like a slumber-song
Will lull revenge to rest.
'Ring out from Occident
To Orient, and peal
From continent to continent
The mighty joy you feel.
'Ring! Independence Bell!
Ring on till worlds to be
Shall listen to the tale you tell
Of love and Liberty!'
O Liberty--the dearest word
A bleeding country ever heard,--
We lay our hopes upon thy shrine
And offer up our lives for thine.
You gave us many happy years
Of peace and plenty ere the tears
A mourning country wept were dried
Above the graves of those who died
Upon thy threshold. And again
When newer wars were bred, and men
Went marching in the cannon's breath
And died for thee and loved the death,
While, high above them, gleaming bright,
The dear old flag remained in sight,
And lighted up their dying eyes
With smiles that brightened paradise.
O Liberty, it is thy power
To gladden us in every hour
Of gloom, and lead us by thy hand
As little children through a land
Of bud and blossom; while the days
Are filled with sunshine, and thy praise
Is warbled in the roundelays
Of joyous birds, and in the song
Of waters, murmuring along
The paths of peace, whose flowery fringe
Has roses finding deeper tinge
Of crimson, looking on themselves
Reflected--leaning from the shelves
Of cliff and crag and mossy mound
Of emerald splendor shadow-drowned.--
We hail thy presence, as you come
With bugle blast and rolling drum,
And booming guns and shouts of glee
Commingled in a symphony
That thrills the worlds that throng to see
The glory of thy pageantry.
0And with thy praise, we breathe a prayer
That God who leaves you in our care
May favor us from this day on
With thy dear presence--till the dawn
Of Heaven, breaking on thy face,
Lights up thy first abiding place.
Squire Hawkins's Story
I hain't no hand at tellin' tales,
Er spinnin' yarns, as the sailors say;
Someway o' 'nother, language fails
To slide fer me in the oily way
That LAWYERS has; and I wisht it would,
Fer I've got somepin' that I call good;
But bein' only a country squire,
I've learned to listen and admire,
Ruther preferrin' to be addressed
Than talk myse'f--but I'll do my best:--
Old Jeff Thompson--well, I'll say,
Was the clos'test man I ever saw!--
Rich as cream, but the porest pay,
And the meanest man to work fer--La!
I've knowed that man to work one 'hand'--
Fer little er nothin', you understand--
From four o'clock in the morning light
Tel eight and nine o'clock at night,
And then find fault with his appetite!
He'd drive all over the neighberhood
To miss the place where a toll-gate stood,
And slip in town, by some old road
That no two men in the county knowed,
With a jag o' wood, and a sack o' wheat,
That wouldn't burn and you couldn't eat!
And the trades he'd make, 'll I jest de-clare,
Was enough to make a preacher swear!
And then he'd hitch, and hang about
Tel the lights in the toll-gate was blowed out,
And then the turnpike he'd turn in
And sneak his way back home ag'in!
Some folks hint, and I make no doubt,
That that's what wore his old wife out--
Toilin' away from day to day
And year to year, through heat and cold,
Uncomplainin'--the same old way
The martyrs died in the days of old;
And a-clingin', too, as the martyrs done,
To one fixed faith, and her ONLY one,--
Little Patience, the sweetest child
That ever wept unrickonciled,
Er felt the pain and the ache and sting
That only a mother's death can bring.
Patience Thompson!--I think that name
Must 'a' come from a power above,
Fer it seemed to fit her jest the same
As a GAITER would, er a fine kid glove!
And to see that girl, with all the care
Of the household on her--I de-clare
It was OUDACIOUS, the work she'd do,
And the thousand plans that she'd putt through;
And sing like a medder-lark all day long,
And drowned her cares in the joys o' song;
And LAUGH sometimes tel the farmer's 'hand,'
Away fur off in the fields, would stand
A-listenin', with the plow half drawn,
Tel the coaxin' echoes called him on;
And the furries seemed, in his dreamy eyes,
Like foot-paths a-leadin' to Paradise,
As off through the hazy atmosphere
The call fer dinner reached his ear.
Now LOVE'S as cunnin'a little thing
As a hummin'-bird upon the wing,
And as liable to poke his nose
Jest where folks would least suppose,--
And more'n likely build his nest
Right in the heart you'd leave unguessed,
And live and thrive at your expense--
At least, that's MY experience.
And old Jeff Thompson often thought,
In his se'fish way, that the quiet John
Was a stiddy chap, as a farm-hand OUGHT
To always be,--fer the airliest dawn
Found John busy--and 'EASY,' too,
Whenever his wages would fall due!--
To sum him up with a final touch,
He EAT so little and WORKED so much,
That old Jeff laughed to hisse'f and said,
'He makes ME money and airns his bread!--
But John, fer all of his quietude,
Would sometimes drap a word er so
That none but PATIENCE understood,
And none but her was MEANT to know!--
Maybe at meal-times John would say,
As the sugar-bowl come down his way,
'Thanky, no; MY coffee's sweet
Enough fer ME!' with sich conceit,
SHE'D know at once, without no doubt,
HE meant because she poured it out;
And smile and blush, and all sich stuff,
And ast ef it was 'STRONG enough?'
And git the answer, neat and trim,
'It COULDN'T be too 'strong' fer HIM!'
And so things went fer 'bout a year,
Tel John, at last, found pluck to go
And pour his tale in the old man's ear--
And ef it had been HOT LEAD, I know
It couldn't 'a' raised a louder fuss,
Ner 'a' riled the old man's temper wuss!
He jest LIT in, and cussed and swore,
And lunged and rared, and ripped and tore,
And told John jest to leave his door,
And not to darken it no more!
But Patience cried, with eyes all wet,
'Remember, John, and don't ferget,
WHATEVER comes, I love you yet!'
But the old man thought, in his se'fish way,
'I'll see her married rich some day;
And THAT,' thinks he, 'is money fer ME--
And my will's LAW, as it ought to be!'
So when, in the course of a month er so,
A WIDOWER, with a farm er two,
Comes to Jeff's, w'y, the folks, you know,
Had to TALK--as the folks'll do:
It was the talk of the neighberhood--
PATIENCE and JOHN, and THEIR affairs;--
And this old chap with a few gray hairs
Had 'cut John out,' it was understood.
And some folks reckoned 'Patience, too,
Knowed what SHE was a-goin' to do--
It was LIKE her--la! indeed!--
All she loved was DOLLARS and CENTS--
Like old JEFF--and they saw no need
Fer JOHN to pine at HER negligence!'
But others said, in a KINDER way,
They missed the songs she used to sing--
They missed the smiles that used to play
Over her face, and the laughin' ring
Of her glad voice--that EVERYthing
Of her OLD se'f seemed dead and gone,
And this was the ghost that they gazed on!
Tel finally it was noised about
There was a WEDDIN' soon to be
Down at Jeff's; and the 'cat was out'
Shore enough!--'Ll the JEE-MUN-NEE!
It RILED me when John told me so,--
Fer _I_ WAS A FRIEND O' JOHN'S, you know;
And his trimblin' voice jest broke in two--
As a feller's voice'll sometimes do.--
And I says, says I, 'Ef I know my biz--
And I think I know what JESTICE is,--
I've read SOME law--and I'd advise
A man like you to wipe his eyes
And square his jaws and start AGIN,
FER JESTICE IS A-GOIN' TO WIN!'
And it wasn't long tel his eyes had cleared
As blue as the skies, and the sun appeared
In the shape of a good old-fashioned smile
That I hadn't seen fer a long, long while.
So we talked on fer a' hour er more,
And sunned ourselves in the open door,--
Tel a hoss-and-buggy down the road
Come a-drivin' up, that I guess John KNOWED,--
Fer he winked and says, 'I'll dessappear--
THEY'D smell a mice ef they saw ME here!'
And he thumbed his nose at the old gray mare,
And hid hisse'f in the house somewhere.
Well.--The rig drove up: and I raised my head
As old Jeff hollered to me and said
That 'him and his old friend there had come
To see ef the squire was at home.'
. . . I told 'em 'I was; and I AIMED to be
At every chance of a weddin'-fee!'
And then I laughed--and they laughed, too,--
Fer that was the object they had in view.
'Would I be on hands at eight that night?'
They ast; and 's-I, 'You're mighty right,
I'LL be on hand!' And then I BU'ST
Out a-laughin' my very wu'st,--
And so did they, as they wheeled away
And drove to'rds town in a cloud o' dust.
Then I shet the door, and me and John
Laughed and LAUGHED, and jest LAUGHED on,
Tel Mother drapped her specs, and BY
JEEWHILLIKERS! I thought she'd DIE!--
And she couldn't 'a' told, I'll bet my hat,
What on earth she was laughin' at!
But all o' the fun o' the tale hain't done!--
Fer a drizzlin' rain had jest begun,
And a-havin' 'bout four mile' to ride,
I jest concluded I'd better light
Out fer Jeff's and save my hide,--
Fer IT WAS A-GOIN' TO STORM, THAT NIGHT!
So we went down to the barn, and John
Saddled my beast, and I got on;
And he told me somepin' to not ferget,
And when I left, he was LAUGHIN' yet.
And, 'proachin' on to my journey's end,
The great big draps o' the rain come down,
And the thunder growled in a way to lend
An awful look to the lowerin' frown
The dull sky wore; and the lightnin' glanced
Tel my old mare jest MORE'N pranced,
And tossed her head, and bugged her eyes
To about four times their natchurl size,
As the big black lips of the clouds 'ud drap
Out some oath of a thunderclap,
And threaten on in an undertone
That chilled a feller clean to the bone!
But I struck shelter soon enough
To save myse'f. And the house was jammed
With the women-folks, and the weddin'stuff:--
A great, long table, fairly CRAMMED
With big pound-cakes--and chops and steaks--
And roasts and stews--and stumick-aches
Of every fashion, form, and size,
From twisters up to punkin-pies!
And candies, oranges, and figs,
And reezins,--all the 'whilligigs'
And 'jim-cracks' that the law allows
On sich occasions!--Bobs and bows
Of gigglin' girls, with corkscrew curls,
And fancy ribbons, reds and blues,
And 'beau-ketchers' and 'curliques'
To beat the world! And seven o'clock
Brought old Jeff;-and brought--THE GROOM,--
With a sideboard-collar on, and stock
That choked him so, he hadn't room
To SWALLER in, er even sneeze,
Er clear his th'oat with any case
Er comfort--and a good square cough
Would saw his Adam's apple off!
But as fer PATIENCE--MY! Oomh-OOMH!--
I never saw her look so sweet!--
Her face was cream and roses, too;
And then them eyes o' heavenly blue
Jest made an angel all complete!
And when she split 'em up in smiles
And splintered 'em around the room,
And danced acrost and met the groom,
And LAUGHED OUT LOUD--It kind o' spiles
My language when I come to that--
Fer, as she laid away his hat,
Thinks I, 'THE PAPERS HID INSIDE
OF THAT SAID HAT MUST MAKE A BRIDE
A HAPPY ONE FER ALL HER LIFE,
Er else a WRECKED AND WRETCHED WIFE!'
And, someway, then, I thought of JOHN,--
Then looked towards PATIENCE. . . . She was GONE!--
The door stood open, and the rain
Was dashin' in; and sharp and plain
Above the storm we heerd a cry--
A ringin', laughin', loud 'Good-by!'
That died away, as fleet and fast
A hoss's hoofs went splashin' past!
And that was all. 'Twas done that quick! . . .
You've heerd o' fellers 'lookin' sick'?
I wisht you'd seen THE GROOM jest then--
I wisht you'd seen them two old men,
With starin' eyes that fairly GLARED
At one another, and the scared
And empty faces of the crowd,--
I wisht you could 'a' been allowed
To jest look on and see it all,--
And heerd the girls and women bawl
And wring their hands; and heerd old Jeff
A-cussin' as he swung hisse'f
Upon his hoss, who champed his bit
As though old Nick had holt of it:
And cheek by jowl the two old wrecks
Rode off as though they'd break their necks.
And as we all stood starin' out
Into the night, I felt the brush
Of some one's hand, and turned about,
And heerd a voice that whispered, 'HUSH!--
THEY'RE WAITIN' IN THE KITCHEN, AND
YOU'RE WANTED. DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND?'
Well, ef my MEMORY serves me now,
I think I winked.--Well, anyhow,
I left the crowd a-gawkin' there,
And jest slipped off around to where
The back door opened, and went in,
And turned and shet the door ag'in,
And maybe LOCKED it--couldn't swear,--
A woman's arms around me makes
Me liable to make mistakes.--
I read a marriage license nex',
But as I didn't have my specs
I jest INFERRED it was all right,
And tied the knot so mortal-tight
That Patience and my old friend John
Was safe enough from that time on!
Well, now, I might go on and tell
How all the joke at last leaked out,
And how the youngsters raised the yell
And rode the happy groom about
Upon their shoulders; how the bride
Was kissed a hunderd times beside
The one _I_ give her,--tel she cried
And laughed untel she like to died!
I might go on and tell you all
About the supper--and the BALL.--
You'd ought to see me twist my heel
Through jest one old Furginny reel
Afore you die! er tromp the strings
Of some old fiddle tel she sings
Some old cowtillion, don't you know,
That putts the devil in yer toe!
We kep' the dancin' up tel FOUR
O'clock, I reckon--maybe more.--
We hardly heerd the thunders roar,
ER THOUGHT about the STORM that blowed--
AND THEM TWO FELLERS ON THE ROAD!
Tel all at onc't we heerd the door
Bu'st open, and a voice that SWORE,--
And old Jeff Thompson tuck the floor.
He shuck hisse'f and looked around
Like some old dog about half-drowned--
HIS HAT, I reckon, WEIGHED TEN POUND
To say the least, and I'll say, SHORE,
HIS OVERCOAT WEIGHED FIFTY more--
THE WETTEST MAN YOU EVER SAW,
TO HAVE SO DRY A SON-IN-LAW!
He sized it all; and Patience laid
Her hand in John's, and looked afraid,
And waited. And a stiller set
O' folks, I KNOW, you never met
In any court room, where with dread
They wait to hear a verdick read.
The old man turned his eyes on me:
'And have you married 'em?' says he.
I nodded 'Yes.' 'Well, that'll do,'
He says, 'and now we're th'ough with YOU,--
YOU jest clear out, and I decide
And promise to be satisfied!'
He hadn't nothin' more to say.
I saw, of course, how matters lay,
And left. But as I rode away
I heerd the roosters crow fer day.