Ay, here—it was here that we woke her,
the Echo of old;
All life of that day seems an echo, and many times told.
Shall I cross by the ferry to-morrow, and come in my white
To that little low church? and will Oliver meet me anon?
Will it all seem an echo from childhood pass’d over—pass’d on?
Will the grave parson bless us? Hark, hark! in the dim failing light
I hear her! As then the child’s voice clear and high, sweet and merry
Now she mocks the man’s tone with ‘Hie over! Hie over the ferry!’
‘And, Katie.’ ‘And, Katie.’ ’Art out with the glow-worms to-night,
My Katie?’ ‘My Katie?’ For gladness I break into laughter
And tears. Then it all comes again as from far-away years;
Again, some one else—oh, how softly!—with laughter comes after,
Comes after—with laughter comes after.
PRELUDES TO A PENNY READING.
SCHOOLMASTER (not certificated_), vicar, and child.
VICAR. Why did you send for me? I hope all’s right?
Schoolmaster. Well, sir, we thought this end o’ the room was dark.
V. Indeed! So ’t is. There’s my new study lamp—
S. ’T would stand, sir, well beside yon laurel wreath. Shall I go fetch it?
V. Do, we must not fail. Bring candles also.
[Exit Schoolmaster. Vicar arranges chairs.
Now, small six years old,
And why may you be here?
Child. I’m helping father; But, father, why d’you take such pains?
V. Sweet soul, That’s what I’m for!
C. What, and for nothing else?
V. Yes! I’m to bring thee up to be a man.
C. And what am I for?
V. There, I’m busy now.
C. Am I to bring you up to be a child?
V. Perhaps! Indeed, I have heard it said thou art.
C. Then when may I begin?
V. I’m busy, I say. Begin to-morrow an thou canst, my son, And mind to do it well.
[Exit Vicar and Child.
Enter a group of women, and some children.
Mrs. Thorpe. Fine lot o’ lights!
Mrs. Jillifer. Should be! Would folk put on their Sunday best I’ the week unless they looked to have it seen? What, you here, neighbour!
Mrs. Smith. Ay, you may say that. Old Madam called; said she, ’My son would feel So sorry if you did not come,’ and slipped The penny in my hand, she did; said I, ’Ma’am, that’s not it. In short, some say your last Was worth the penny and more. I know a man, A sober man, who said, and stuck to it, Worth a good twopence. But I’m strange, I’m shy.’ ‘We hope you’ll come for once,’ said she. In short, I said I would to oblige ’em.