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- "I WAS with Grant--" the stranger said;
- Said the farmer, "Say no more,
- But rest thee here at mt cottage porch,
- For thy feet are weary and sore."
- "I was with Grant--" the stranger said;
- Said the farmer, "Nay, no more,--
- I pirthee sit at my frugal board,
- And eat of my humble store.
- "How fares my boy,--my soldier boy,
- Of the old Ninth Army Corps?
- I warrant he bore him gallantly
- In the smoke and the battle's roar!"
- "I knew him not," said the aged man,
- "And, as I remarked before,
- "I was with Grant--" "Nay, nay, I know,"
- Said the farmer, "Say no more:
- "He fell in battle,--I see, alas!
- Thou'dst smooth these tidings o'er,--
- Nay, speak the truth, whatever it be,
- Though it rend my bosom's core.
- "How fell he?--with his face to the foe,
- Upholding the flag he bore?
- Oh, say not that my boy disgraced
- The uniform that he wore!"
- "I cannot tell," said the aged man,
- "And should have remarked before
- That I was with Grant--in Illinois--
- Some three years before the war."
- Then the farmer spake him never a word,
- But beat with his fist full sore
- That aged man, who had worked for Grant
- Some three years before the war!
- Bret Harte
- ABOVE the pines the moon was slowly drifting,
- The river sang below;
- The dim Sierras, far beyond, uplifting
- Their minarets of snow.
- The roaring camp-fire, with rude humor, painted
- The ruddy tints of health
- On haggard face and form that drooped and fainted
- In the fierce race for wealth;
- Till one arose, and from his pack's scant treasure
- A hoarded volume drew,
- And cards were dropped from hands of listless leisure
- To hear the tale anew.
- And then, while round them shadows gathered faster,
- And as the firelight fell,
- He read aloud the book wherein the Master
- Had writ of "Little Nell."
- Perhaps 't was boyish fancy,--for the reader
- Was youngest of them all,--
- But, as he read, from clustering pine and cedar
- A silence seemed to fall;
- The fir-tree, gathering closer in the shadows,
- Listened in every spray,
- While the whole camp with "Nell" on English meadows
- Wandered and lost their way.
- And so in mountain solitudes--o'ertaken
- As by some spell divine--
- Their cares dropped from them like the needles shaken
- From out the gusty pine.
- Lost is that camp and wasted all its fire;
- And he who wrought that spell?
- Ah! towering pine and stately Kentish spire,
- Ye have one tale to tell!
- Lost is that camp, but let its fragrant story
- Blend with the breath that thrills
- With hop-vine's incense all the pensive glory
- That fills the Kentish hills.
- And on that grave where English oak and holly
- And laurel wreaths entwine,
- Deem it not all a too presumptuous folly,
- This spray of Western pine!
- Bret Harte
- BLOWN out of the prairie in twilight and dew,
- Half bold and half timid, yet lazy all through;
- Loath ever to leave, and yet fearful to stay,
- He limps in the clearing, an outcast in gray.
- A shade on the stubble, a ghost by the wall,
- Now leaping, now limping, now risking a fall,
- Lop-eared and large-jointed, but ever alway
- A thoroughly vagabond outcast in gray.
- Here, Carlo, old fellow,--he's one of your kind,--
- Go, seek him, and bring him in out of the wind.
- What! snarling, my Carlo! So even dogs may
- Deny their own kin in the outcast in gray.
- Well, take what you will--though it be on the sly,
- Marauding or begging,--I shall not ask why,
- But will call it a dole, just to help on his way
- A four-footed friar in orders of gray!
- Bret Harte
- MAUD Muller all that summer day
- Raked the meadows sweet with hay;
- Yet, looking down the distant lane,
- She hoped the Judge would come again.
- But when he came, with smile and bow,
- Maud only blushed, and stammered, "Ha-ow?"
- And spoke of her "pa," and wondered whether
- He'd give consent they should wed together.
- Old Muller burst into tears, and then
- Begged that the Judge would lend him "ten";
- For trade was dull, and wages low,
- And the "craps", this year, were somewhat slow.
- And ere the languid summer died,
- Sweet Maud became the Judge's bride.
- But on the day that they were mated,
- Maud's brother Bob was intoxicated;
- And Maud's relations, twelve in all,
- Were very drunk in the Judge's hall.
- And when the summer came again,
- The young bride bore him babies twain;
- And the Judge was blest, but thought it strange
- That bearing children made such a change;
- For Maud grew broad and red and stout,
- And the waist that his arm once clasped about
- Was more than he now could span: and he
- Sighed as he pondered, ruefully,
- How that which in Maud was native grace
- In Mrs. Jenkins was out of place;
- And thought of the twins, and wished that they
- Looked less like the men who raked the hay
- On Muller's farm, and dreamed with pain
- Of the day he wandered down the lane.
- And, looking down that dreary track,
- He half regretted that he came back;
- For, had he waited, he might have wed
- Some maiden fair and thoroughbred;
- For there be women fair as she,
- Whose verbs and nouns do more agree.
- Alas for maiden! alas for judge!
- Add the sentimental, -- that's one-half "fudge";
- For Maud soon thought the Judge a bore,
- With all his learning and all his lore;
- And the Judge would have bartered Maud's fair face
- For more refinement and social grace.
- If, of all words of tongue and pen,
- The saddest are, "It might have been,"
- More sad are these we daily see:
- "It is, but hadn't ought to be."
- Bret Harte
Poets' Corner .
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