(4 November 1872 - 1934 / Scotia, Lake Erie, Ontario)

Jack

Jack's dead an' buried; it seems odd,
A deep hole covered up with sod
Lyin' out there on the hill,
An' Jack, as never could keep still,
A sleepin' in it. Jack could race,
And do it at a good old pace,
Could sing a song, an' laugh so hard
That I could hear him in our yard
When he was half a mile away.
Why, not another boy could play
Like him, or run, or jump so high,
Or swim, no matter how he'd try;
An' I can't get it through my head
At all, at all, that Jack is dead.

Jack's mother didn't use to be
So awful good to him and me,
For often when I'd go down there
On Saturdays, when it was fair,
To get him out to fish or skate,
She'd catch me hangin' round the gate
And look as cross as some old hen,
An' tell me, 'Go off home again.
It's not the thing for boys,' she'd say,
'A hangin' round the creek all day;
You go off home and do your task-
No, Jack can't go, you needn't ask.'
And when he got in scrapes, why, she
Would up and lay it on to me,
An' wish I lived so far away
Jack couldn't see me every day.

But last night when I'd done the chores
It seemed so queer-like out of doors,
I kept a listenin' all the while,
An' looking down the street a mile;
I couldn't bear to go inside,
The house is lonesome since he died.
The robber book we read by turns
Is lyin' there-an' no boy learns
All by himself, 'cause he can't tell
How many words he'll miss or spell,
Unless there's some one lookin' on
To laugh at him when he gets done.

An' neighbor women's sure to come
A visitin' a feller's home,
An' talkin', when they look at me,
'Bout how thick us two used to be,
A stealin' off from school, an' such,
An' askin' do I miss him much,
'Till I sneak off out doors-you see,
They just can't let a feller be!
Well, I walked down the road a bit.
Smith's dog came out. I throwed at it,
An', do you know, it never howled
Same as it always did, or growled;
It seemed to say, 'Why, Jim's alone!
I wonder where's that other one?'

Afore I knew it I was down
'Way at the other end of town,
A hangin' round in the old way
For someone to come out and play.
There wasn't no one there to look,
So I slipped into our old nook.
I found his knife down in the grass
Where we'd been Zulus at the pass.
The can of bait, the hook and line
Were lyin' with the ball of twine,
An' 'Jim,' I seemed to hear him say,
'The fish will suffer some to-day.'

'Twas more than I could stand just then;
I got up to go off home, when
Someone kissed me on the cheek,
An' hugged me so I couldn't speak.
You wouldn't believe it, like as not,
But 'twas Jack's mother, an' a lot
Of great big tears came stealin' down
Right on my face. She didn't frown
A single bit-kept sayin' low,
'My blue-eyed boy, I loved you so!'
Of course, I knew just right away
That she meant Jack. My eyes are gray,
But Jack, he had the bluest eyes,
Blue like you see up in the skies,
An' shine that used to come and go-
One misses eyes like his, you know.

An' by-an'-by she up an' tried
To tell me that she'd cried an' cried
A thinkin' of the times that she
Had scolded Jack an' scolded me,
An' other things that I won't tell
To anyone, because-Oh, well,
Boys can't do much, but they can hold
Tight on to secrets till they're old.
She's Jack's relation, that's why she
Feels kind of lovin' like to me.
But when she called me her own lad,
Oh, say, I felt just awful bad;
My head it went round in a whirl-
I up an' cried just like a girl.

But say, if Jack could see us two
He'd laugh a little, don't you know;
For if I'd ever brag around
That I'd lick some one safe an' sound,
He'd laugh an' say, 'Jim, hold your jaw!
You know you're scared to death of maw.'
Oh, I'd give all this world away
If I could hear him laugh to-day!
I get so lonesome, it's so still,
An' him out sleepin' on that hill;
There's nothin' seems just worth the while
A doin' up in the old style;
'Cause everything we used to do
Seemed allus just to need us two.
My throat aches till I think 'twill crack-
I don't know why-it must be Jack.
There ain't no fun, there ain't no stir.
His mother-well, it's hard on her,
But she can knit an' sew, an' such-
Oh, she can't miss him half as much!

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