Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

The chief of mandarins, the great Go-Bang.
“And is that all that you can spell ?'' said Chang,
"I see what

you have read, but furthermore, In smaller letters, toward the temple door, Quite plain, “This tablet is erected here By those to whom the great Go-Bang was dear.'” “My sharp-eyed friend, there are no such words !" said Ching. “They're there," said Chang, "If I see anything, As clear as daylight.” “Patent eyes, indeed You have !" cried Ching ; "do you think I cannot read ?" “Not at this distance as I can,” Chang said, “If what you say you saw is all you read."

In fine, they quarreled, and their wrath increased,
Till Chang said, “Let us leave it to the priest ;
Lo! here he comes to meet us.” “It is well,”
Said honest Ching ; "no falsehood he will tell.

The good man heard their artless story through,
And said, “I think, dear sirs, there must be few
Blest with such wondrous eyes as those you wear :
There's no such tablet or inscription there !
There was one, it is true ; 'twas moved away
And placed within the temple yesterday.”

RECITATIONS

FOR

SENIOR PUPILS.

1.- THE NEWSBOY'S DEBT.

H. R HUDSON.

ÖN

NLY last year, at Christmas-time, while pacing down a city street,

I saw a tiny, ill-clad boy—one of the thousands that we meetAs ragged as a boy could be, with half a cap, with one good shoe; Just patches to keep out the wind—I knew the wind blew keenly too: A newsboy, with a newsboy's lungs, a square Scotch face, an honest brow, And eyes that liked to smile so well they had not yet forgotten how : A newsboy, hawking his last sheets with loud persistence. Now and then Stopping to beat his stiffened hands, and trudging bravely on again. Dodging about among the crowd, shouting his "Extras" o'er and o'er; Pausing by whiles to cheat the wind within some alley, by some door. At last he stopped—six papers left, tucked hopelessly beneath his armTo eye a fruiterer's outspread store : here products of some country farm, And there confections, all adorned with wreathed and clustered leaves and flowers While little founts, like frosted spires, tossed up and down their mimic showers. He stood and gazed with wistful face, all a child's longing in his eyes; Then started, as I touched his arm, and turned in quick, mechanic wise, Raised his torn cap with purple hands, said “Papers, Sir? World ! Herald ! Times.' And brushed away a freezing tear that marked his cheek with frosty rimes. “How many have you? Never mind—don't stop to count—I'll take them all ; And when you pass my office here, with stock on hand, give me a call.” He thanked me with a broad Scotch smile, a look half wondering and half-glad. I fumbled for the proper “change,'' and said, “You seem a little lad “To rough it in the streets like this." “I'm ten years old this Christmas time !" “Your name?'' "Jim Hanley." "Here's a bill—I've nothing else, but this one

dime"Five dollars. When you get it changed come to my office—that's the place. Now wait a bit, there's time enough : you need not run a headlong race. “Where do you live ?” “Most any where. We hired a stable-loft to-day, Me and two others.” “And you thought the fruiterer's window pretty, hey ? "Or were you hungry?” “Just a bit,” he answered, bravely as he might. “I couldn't buy a breakfast, Sir, and had no money left last night.” “And you are cold ?” “Ay, just a bit. I don't mind cold. “Why, that is strange!” He smiled and pulled his ragged cap, and darted off to get the “change.” So, with a half-unconscious sigh, I sought my office desk again : An hour or more my busy wits found work enough with book and pen. But when the mantel clock struck five I started with a sudden thought, For there beside my hat and cloak lay those six papers I had bought. “Why, where's the boy ? and where's the change he should have brought an hour ago? Ah, well ! ah, well ! they're all alike! I was a fool to tempt him so. “Dishonest! Well, I might have known ! And yet his face seemed candid too. He would have earned the difference if he had brought me what was due.

1

[ocr errors]

a

a

“But caution often comes too late." And so I took

my
homeward

way, Deeming distrust of human kind, the only lesson of the day.

Just two days later, as I sat, half dozing in my office chair, I heard a timid knock, and called, in my brusque fashion, “Who is there?" An urchin entered, barely seven-the same Scotch face, the same blue eyesAnd stood, half doubtful, at the door, abashed at my forbidding guise. “Sir, if you please, my brother Jim—the one, you give the bill, you knowHe couldn't bring the money, Sir, because his back was hurted so. “He didn't mean to keep the ‘change ;' he got runned over up the street : One wheel went right across his back, and t'other fore-wheel mashed his feet. “They stopped the horses just in time, and then they took him up for dead, And all that day and yesterday he wasn't rightly in his head. “They took him to the hospital--one of the newsboys knew 'twas JimAnd I went too, because, you ste, we two are brothers, I and him. “He had that money in his hand, and never saw it any more. Indeed, he didn't mean to steal ! he never lost a cent before ! “He was afraid that you might think he meant to keep it, any way ; This morning, when they brought him to, he cried because he couldn't pay. “He made me fetch his jacket here ; it's torn and dirtied pretty bad ; It's only fit to sell for rags, but then, you know, it's all he had ! “When he gets well—it won't be long-If you will call the money lent, He says he'll work his fingers off but what he'll pay you every cent.” And then he cast a rueful glance at the soiled jacket were it lay. “No, no, my boy! take back the coat. Your brother's badly hurt, you say? “Where did they take him? Just run out and hail a cab, then wait for me. Why, I would give a thousand coats, and pounds, for such a boy as he.'' A half hour after this we stood together in the crowded wards, And the nurse checked the hasty steps that fell too loudly on the boards. I thought him smiling in his sleep, and scarce believed her when she said, Smoothing away the tangled hair from brow and cheek, “ The boy is dead." Dead ? dead so soon ? How fair he looked ! one streak of sunshine on his hair. Poor lad! Well, it is warm in heaven : no need of “change ” and jackets there ! And something rising in my throat made it so hard for me to speak, I turned away, and left a tear lying upon his sunburned cheek.

II.-FRATERNAL AFFECTION.

SHAKESPEARE.

WHEN last the young Orlando parted from you,

He left a promise to return again
Within two hours ; and pacing through the forest,
Chewing the food of sweet and bitter fancy,
Lo, what befel! he threw his eye aside,
And mark, what object did present itself.
Under an oak, whose boughs were moss'd with age,
And high top bald, of dry antiquity,
A wretched ragged man, o'ergrown with hair,
Lay sleeping on his back; about his neck
A green and gilded snake had wreath'd itself,
Who with her head, nimble in threats, approach'd
The opening of his mouth; but suddenly,

« PoprzedniaDalej »