It was an humble cottage,
Snug in a rustic lane,
Geraniums and fuschias peep'd
From every window-pane;
The dark-leaved ivy dressed its walls,
Houseleek adorned the thatch;
The door was standing open wide, -
They had no need of latch.
And close besides the corner
There stood an old stone well,
Which caught a mimic waterfall,
That warbled as it fell.
The cat, crouched on the well-worn steps,
Was blinking in the sun;
The birds sang out a welcome
To the morning just begun.
An air of peace and happiness
Pervaded all the scene;
The tall trees formed a back ground
Of rich and varied green;
And all was steeped in quietness,
Save nature's music wild,
When all at once, methought I heard
The sobbing of a child.
I listened, and the sound again
Smote clearly on my ear:
"Can there," - I wondering asked myself -
"Can there be sorrow here?" -
I looked within, and on the floor
Was sat a little boy,
Striving to soothe his sister's grief
By giving her a toy.
"Why weeps your sister thus?" I asked;
"What is her cause of grief?
Come tell me, little man," I said,
"Come tell me, and be brief."
Clasping his sister closer still,
He kissed her tear-stained face,
And thus, in homely Yorkshire phrase,
He told their mournful case.
- - -
"Mi mammy, sir, shoos liggin thear,
I' th' shut-up bed i'th' nook;
An' tho aw've tried to wakken her,
Shoo'll nawther spaik nor look.
Mi sissy wants her porridge,
An its time shoo had 'em too;
But th' foir's gooan aght an th' mail's all done -
Aw dooant know what to do.
An O, my mammy's varry cold -
Just come an touch her arm:
Aw've done mi best to hap her up,
But connot mak her warm.
Mi daddy he once fell asleep,
An nivver wakken'd moor:
Aw saw 'em put him in a box,
An tak him aght o'th' door.
He nivver comes to see us nah,
As once he used to do,
An let mi ride upon his back -
Me, an mi sissy too.
An if they know mi mammy sleeps,
Soa cold, an white, an still,
Aw'm feeard they'll come an fotch her, sir;
O, sir, aw'm feeard they will!
Aw happen could get on misen,
For aw con work a bit,
But little sissy, sir, yo see,
Shoo's varry young as yet.
Oh! dunnot let fowk tak mi mam!
Help me to rouse her up!
An if shoo wants her physic,
See, - it's in this little cup.
Aw know her heead wor bad last neet,
When putting us to bed;
Shoo said, 'God bless yo, little things!'
An that wor all shoo sed.
Aw saw a tear wor in her e'e -
In fact, it's seldom dry:
Sin daddy went shoo allus cries,
But nivver tells us why.
Aw think it's coss he isn't here,
'At maks her e'en soa dim;
Shoo says, he'll nivver come to us,
But we may goa to him.
But if shoo's gooan an left us here,
What mun we do or say? -
We connot follow her unless,
Somebody 'll show us th' way."
My heart was full to bursting,
When I heard the woeful tale;
I gazed a moment on the face
Which death had left so pale;
Then clasping to my heaving breast
The little orphan pair,
I sank upon my bended knees,
And offered up a prayer,
That God would give me power to aid
Those children in distress,
That I might as a father be
Unto the fatherless.
Then coaxingly I led them forth;
And as the road was long,
I bore them in my arms by turns -
Their tears had made me strong.
I took them to my humble home,
Where now they may be seen,
The lad, - a noble-minded youth, -
His "sissy," - beauty's queen.
And now if you should chance to see,
Far from the bustling throng,
An old man, whom a youth and maid
Lead tenderly along; -
And if you, wondering, long to know
The history of the three, -
They are the little orphan pair -
The poor old man is me:
And oft upon the grassy mound
'Neath which their parents sleep,
They bend the knee, and pray for me;
I pray for them and weep.