A little lad, but thinly clad,
All day had roamed the street;
With stitled groans and aching bones,
He beg'd for bread to eat.
The wind blew shrill from o'er the hili,
And shook his scanty rags;
Whilst cold and sleet benumbed his feet,
As plodding o'er the flags.
The night drew on with thick'ning gloom, -
He hailed each passer by,
For help to save, but nought they gave, -
Then he sat down to cry.
It was a noble portico,
'Neath which the beggar stept,
And none would guess, one in distress
There shiv'ring sat and wept.
But soon the door was open thrown, -
The Dean, a goodly man;
Who lived within, had heard a moan,
And came the cause to scan.
"Ah, little boy, what want you here,
On such a bitter night?
Run home at once, you little dunce,
Or you'll be frozen quite."
The boy looked at his cheery face,
Yet hid his own in dread;
"I meant no harm, the place was warm,
And I am begging bread;
"And if you can a morsel spare,
I'll thank you, oh! so much,
For all day long I've begged and sung,
And never had a touch."
"Step in," then said the kindly man,
"And stand here in the hall,
You shall have bread, poor starving child,
I promise you you shall."
And off he went, and soon returned
With a thin, tempting slice,
And little Jemmy dapt his hands
And cried, "Oh, Sir, that's nice!"
"And what's your name, come tell me that?"
"My name is Jimmy Pool."
"And do you always beg all day
Instead of going to school?
"And can you read, and can you write?"
Poor Jimmy shook his head,
"No, sir, I have to beg all day,
At night I go to bed.
"My mother lays me on the floor,
Upon a little rug;
And I ne'er think of nothing more,
When I'm so warm and snug.
"Sometimes I wake, and when I do,
Unless it's almost day,
She's always there, upon her chair,
Working the night away.
"It isn't much that she can make, -
Sometimes I think she'd die,
But for her little Jimmy's sake, -
There's only her and I."
"And do you ever pray, my boy?"
"No, sir, I never tried,
I never heard a praying word
Since my poor Daddy died."
"Then let me teach you, little boy,
Just come now, let me see, -
I know you'll manage if you try, -
Now say it after me.
"Our Father," - "Our Father," - "right,"
"That art in heaven," "go on!"
Jimmy repeated every word,
Until the prayer was done.
Then turning up his hazel eyes,
Which questioning light shone through,
He said, "that prayer sounds very nice, -
Is He your Father too?"
"Yes, He is mine as well as yours,
And Lord of all you see."
"Far as I know, if that be so,
My brother you must be."
"Yes we are brethren, every one,
All equal in His sight."
"Well, I will try to think so, sir,
But I can't believe it quite.
"It seems so strange that you should be
Akin to such as me,
For you are rich, and great, and grand
And I'm so poor you see."
"But it is true, my little lad,
And if to Him you pray,
He'll make your little heart feel glad, -
He'll turn you not away."
"Well, if that's so, I'll learn to pray,
I'll take your kind advice, -
But if you are my brother,
Give me just one thicker slice.
"And if He's Father of us all, -
Now, as I'm going home,
From your big share perhaps you'll spare
Your widowed sister some?"
The Dean's face wore a puzzled look,
And then a look of joy;
Then said, "'tis you the teacher are,
I am the scholar, boy."
That night the widow's eyes were wet,
But they were tears of joy, -
'When she beheld the load of things
Brought by her little boy.
And Jimmy danced upon the flags,
And cried, "there's few have seen,
And ever thought that in these rags,
Stands brother to a Dean."