I who was always counted, they say, Rather a bad stick any way, Splintered all over with dodges and tricks, Known as the " worst of the deacon's six;" I, the truant, saucy and bold, The one black sheep in my father's fold, "Once on a time," as the stories say, Went over the hill on a winter's day - Over the hill to the poor-house.

Tom could save what twenty could earn;

But givin' was somethin' he ne'er could learn;

Isaac could half o' the Scriptures speak,

Committed a hundred verses a week; Never forgot, an' never slipped; But " Honor thy father and mother" he skipped. So over the hill to the poor-house.

As for Susan, her heart was kind

An' good - what there was of it, mind;

Nothin' too big an' nothin' too nice,

Nothin' she wouldn't sacrifice

For one she loved; an' that 'ere one

Was herself, when all was said an' done.

An' Charley an' 'Becca meant well, no doubt,

But anyone could pull 'em about.

An' all our folks ranked well, you see, Save one poor fellow, and that was me; An' when, one dark an' rainy night, A neighbor's horse went out of sight, They hitched on me as the guilty chap That carried one end of the halter-strap. An' I think, myself, that view of the case Wasn't altogether out o' place; My mother denied it, as mothers do, But I'm inclined to believe 'twas true.

Though for me one thing might, be said -

That I, as well as the horse, was led;

And the worst of whisky spurred me on,

Or else the deed would have never been done.

But the keenest grief I ever felt,

Was when my mother beside me knelt,

An' cried an' prayed till I melted down,

As I wouldn't for half the horses in town.

I kissed her fondly, then and there,

An' swore henceforth to be honest and square.

I served my sentence - a bitter pill

Some fellows should take, who never will;

And then I decided to "go out West,"

Concludin' 'twould suit my health the best;

Where, how I prospered, I never could tell,

But Fortune seemed to like me well.

An' somehow, every vein I struck

Was always bubblin' over with luck;

An' better than that, I was steady an' true,

An' put my good resolutions through.

But I wrote to a trusty old neighbor, an' said,

"You tell 'em, old fellow, that I am dead,

An' died a Christian; 'twill please 'em more

Than if I had lived the same as before."


But when this neighbor he wrote to me,

"Your mother is in the poor-house," says he;

I had a resurrection straightway,

An' started for her that very day;

And when I arrived where I was grown.

I took good care that I shouldn't be known;

But I bought the old cottage, through and through.

Of some one Charley had sold it to;

And held back neither work nor gold,

To fix it up as it was of old;

The same big fire-place, wide and high,

Flung up its cinders toward the sky;

The old clock ticked on the corner-shelf -

I wound it an' set it a-goin' myself;

An', if everything wasn't quite the same,

Neither I nor Manly was to blame;

Then - over the hill to the poor-house I

One bloomin', blusterin' winter's day,

With a team an' cutter I started away;

My fiery nags was as black as coal;

(They some'at resembled the horse I stole;)

I hitched an' entered the poor-house door -

A poor old woman was scrubbin' the floor;

She rose to her feet in great surprise

And looked, quite startled, into my eyes;

I saw the whole of her trouble's trace

In the lines that marred her dear old face;

"Mother!" I shouted, "your sorrows are done!

You're adopted along o' your horse-thief son.

Come over the hill from the poor-house I •'

She didn't faint; she knelt by my side, An' thanked the Lord till I fairly cried. An' maybe our ride wasn't pleasant and gay, An' maybe she wasn"t wrapped up that day; An' maybe our cottage wasn't warm and bright; An' maybe it wasn't a pleasant sight, To see her a-gettin' the evenin's tea, An' frequently stoppin' and kissin' me; An' maybe we didn't live happy for years, In spite of my brothers' and sisters' sneers, Who often said, as I have heard, That they wouldn't own a prison bird (Though they're gettin' over that, I guess, For all of them owe me more or less.)

But I've learned one thing, and it cheers a man

In always a-doin' the best he can;

That whether, on the big book, a blot

Gets over a fellow's name or not,

Whenever he does a deed that's white

It's credited to him fair and right.

An' when you hear the great bugle's notes,

An' the Lord divides his sheep and goats;

However they may settle my case,

Wherever they may fix my place,

My good old Christian mother, you'll see,

Will be sure to stand right up for me.

So over the hill from the poor-house!

"nobody weighed the threads of cake from which a woman's life is spun."

Over The Hill From The Poor House 779


HOW MANY pounds does the baby weigh, - Baby, who came but a month ago; How many pounds from the crowning curl To the rosy point of the restless toe?

Grandfather ties the handkerchief's knot, Tenderly guides the swinging weight,

And carefully over his glasses peers To read the record, "Only eight !"

Softly the echo goes around,

The father laughs at the tiny girl; The fair young mother sings the words, While grandmother smooths the golden curl.

And stooping above the precious thing,

Nestles a kiss within a prayer; Murmuring softly, "Little one,

Grandfather did not weigh you fair."

Nobody weighed the baby's smile,

Or the love that came with the helpless one;

Nobody weighed the threads of care From which a woman's life is spun.

No index tells the mighty worth Of a little baby's quiet breath!

A soft, unceasing metronome,

Patient and faithful unto death.

Nobody weighed the baby's soul,

For here, on earth, no weights there be That could avail. God only knows

Its value in eternity.

Only eight pounds to hold a soul

That seeks no-angel's silver wing,

But shrines it in this human guise - Within so fair and small a thing.

Oh, mother, laugh your merry note, Be gay and glad, but don't forget

From baby's eyes looks out a soul That claims a home in Eden yet.