|“But please, Sir, we have brought the key,
And left some things upon the shelf,
And there’s the blanket and the bed,
My mother thought you’d pay yourself.”
“And so she’s gone!” the landlord said,
“And you are left to face the strife:
Well, I will say, I never knew
A better woman in my life.”
“Of course, I’ll take the things, my boy.
For right is right, and so I must;
But there’s a sixpence for you both:
You’ll find it hard to earn your crust.”
They thanked the man, and left the house,
“I’ll tell you what we’ll do,” said John,
“This sixpence here will buy a broom,
We’ll sweep a crossing of our own.”
“We won’t go to the workhouse, Chris,
Bus act like men, and do our best;
Out mother said, ‘A crust well earned,
Was sweeter than a pauper’s feast.’
“Oh, yes; we’ll work like honest boys.
And if our mother should look down.
She’d like to see us with a broom.
And with a crossing of our own.”
Away they went, with anxious hopes.
And long they hunted here and there,
Until they found a dirty place,
Not very from Leicester Square.
And here at once they took their stand,
And swept a pathway broad and neat,
Where ladies, in their silken gowns,
Might cross, and hardly soil their feet.
The people hurried to and fro,
And ‘midst the jostle, jar, and noise,
And thinking of their own affairs,
They hardly saw the little boys.
Not so with all, some caught a sight
Of little Christy’s anxious eyes,
And put a penny in his cap;
And every penny was a prize.
At last the streets began to clear,
And people dropped off, one by one;
“Let’s go,” said little Christopher,
“My pocket is quite heavy, John.”
|They counted up their pence with glee,
And went away to buy some bread,
And had a little left to pay
For lodging in a decent bed.
Next day John kept his crossing clean,
Swept off the mud, and left it dry.
And little Christy held his cap,
But did not tease the passers-by.
And many a one a penny gave,
Who marked the pale child’s modest way,
And thus they’d sixpence left in hand,
When they went home on Saturday.
The woman at the chandler’s shop,
In kind remembrance of the dead,
Had found the boys a lodging place,
Where they could have a decent bed.
“Let’s go to church,” said Christopher,
“She’d be so glad to see us there;
You recollect she often said,
‘Boys, don’t neglect the house of prayer.’
“We’re very shabby,” John replied,
“And hardly fit for such a place;
But I will do the best I can
To polish up my hands and face.”
Clear rung the bells that Sabbath morn,
As they went briskly up the street;
And out of sight, the Angel bright,
Walked close behind with shining feet.
Some idle boys, who played about,
Threw stones and mocked, as they went
“Aye, let them mock away, said John,
“We need not care for them a pin.”
A lady watched them, as they sat,
And when the service was all done,
Said, “Do you go to Sunday school?”
“No, ma’am, but we should like,” said John
She told them both the place and time;
They went that afternoon to school;
The boys were playing in the street,
And said to John, “You are a fool
To go to that old stupid place;
We know a trick worth two of that.”
Said John, “I mean to be a man,
And that’s the trick I’m aiming at.”