He had hardly spoken a word to me,
but as he went away
He thanked me, and gave me such a look! ’twill last to my dying
“May God have mercy on me, as you have had!” says he,
And I choked, and couldn’t say a word, and he limped away from me.
John came home bright and early. He’d fell and hurt his head,
And he stopped up to his father’s; but he’d sent word, he said,
And told the boy to fetch me there—my cousin, Johnny Black—
But he went off with some other folks, who thought they’d found the
Oh yes, they did catch Anderson, early that afternoon
And carried him back to jail again, and tried and hung him soon.
Justice is justice! but I say, although they served him right,
I’m glad I harboured the murderer that stormy April night.
Some said I might have locked him up, and got the town reward;
But I couldn’t have done it if I’d starved, and I do hope the Lord
Forgave it, if it was a sin; but I could never see
’Twas wrong to shelter a hunted man, trusting his life to me.
“Harper’s Magazine.” By special
permission of Harper & Brothers.
BY BRET HARTE.
[William Guild was engineer of the train which plunged into Meadow Brook, on the line of the Stonington and Providence Railroad. It was his custom, as often as he passed his home, to whistle an “All’s well” to his wife. He was found, after the disaster, dead, with his hand on the throttle-valve of his engine.]
Two low whistles, quaint
That was the signal the engineer—
That was the signal that Guild, ’tis said—
Gave to his wife at Providence,
As through the sleeping town, and thence,
Out in the night,
On to the light,
Down past the farms, lying white, he sped!
As a husband’s greeting,
scant, no doubt,
Yet to the woman looking out,
Watching and waiting, no serenade,
Love song, or midnight roundelay
Said what that whistle seemed to say:
“To my trust true,
So love to you!
Working or wailing, good night!” it said.
Brisk young bagmen, tourists
Old commuters along the line,
Brakemen and porters glanced ahead,
Smiled as the signal, sharp, intense,
Pierced through the shadows of Providence:
Only Guild calling his wife,” they said.
Summer and winter the old
Rang o’er the billows of ripening grain,
Pierced through the budding boughs o’erhead:
Flew down the track when the red leaves burned
Like living coals from the engine spurned;
Sang as it flew:
“To our trust true,
First of all, duty. Good night!” it said.