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A Victorian Scrapbook

A Scrapbook of Newspaper Articles Compiled by George Burgess (1829-1905)

Victorian Family, People and Relationships

Boy Lost

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Transcript from original newspaper article: -


Boy LostBOY LOST. – He had black eyes, with long lashes, red cheeks, and hair almost black and almost curly. He wore a crimson plaid jacket, with full trousers buttoned on. Had a habit of whistling, and liked to ask questions. Was accompanied by a small black dog. It is a long while now since he disappeared. I have a very pleasant house and much company. My guests say, “Ah! it is pleasant to be hear! Everything has such an orderly, put-away look – nothing about under foot, no dirt!” But my eyes are aching for the sight of whiteings and cut paper upon the floor; of tumbled-down card-houses; of wooden sheep and cattle; of pop-guns, bows and arrows, whips, tops, go-carts, and trumpery. I want to see boats a-rigging, and kites a-making. I want to see crumbs on the carpet, and paste spilt on the kitchen table. I want to see the chairs and tables turned the wrong way about, and to find knives and fish-hooks among my muslins; yet these things used to fret me once. They say – “How quiet you are here; ah! one here may settle his brains and be at peace.” But my eats are aching for the pattering of little feet; for a hearty shout, a shrill whistle, a gay. “tra la la,” for the crack of little whips, for the noise of drums, fifes and tin trumpets; yet these things made me nervous once. They say – “Ah! you have leisure – nothing to disturb you; what sewing you have time for!” But I long to be disturbed; I want to be asked for a bit of string or an old newspaper; for a penny to buy a slate pencil or nuts. I want to be coaxed for a piece of new cloth for jibs and main sails, and then to hem the same; I want to make little flags, and bags to hold marbles. I want to be followed by little feet all over the house; teased for a bit of dough for a little cake, of to bake a pie in a saucer. Yet these things use to fidget me once. They say – “Ah” you are not tied at home. How delightful to be always at liberty for concerts, lectures, and parties! No confinement for you.” But I want confinement; I want to listen for the school bell of mornings; to give the last hasty wash and brush, and then to watch from the window nimble feet bounding away to school. I want frequent rents to mend, and to replace lost buttons; I want to obliterate mud stains, fruit stains, treacle stains, and paints of all colours. I want to be sitting by a little crib of evenings, when weary little feet are at rest, and prattling voices are hushed, that mothers may sing their lullabies, and tell over the oft-repeated stories. They don’t know their happiness then – those mothers. I didn’t. All these things I called confinement once.

A manly figure stands before me now. He is taller than I, has thick black whickers, and wears a frock coat, bosomed shirt, and cravat. He has just come from college. He brings Latin and Greek in his countenance, and busts of the old philosophers for the sitting-room. He calls me mother, but I am rather unwilling to own him. He stoutly declares that he is my boy, and says he will prove it. He brings me a small pair of white trousers, with gay stripes at the sides, and asks if I didn’t make them for him when he joined the boy’s militia? He says he is the very boy, too, that made the bonfire near the barn, so that we came near having a fire in earnest. He brings his little boat to show the red stripe on the sail (it was the end of the piece), and the name on the stern – “Lucy Lowe” – a little girl of our neighbour’s who, because of her long curls, and pretty round face, was the chosen favourite of my little boy. Her curls were long since cut off, and she has grown to a tall, handsome girl. How the red comes to his face when he shows me the name on the boat! Oh! I see it all as plain as if it were written in a book. My little boy is lost, and my big boy will soon be. Oh! I wish he were a little tired boy in a long white night gown, lying in his crib, with me sitting by, holding his hand in mine, pushing the curls back from his forehead, watching his eyelids droop, and listening to his deep breathing. If I only had my little boy again, how patient I would be! How much I would bear, and how little I would fret and scold! I can never have him back again; but there are still many mothers who haven’t yet lost their little boys. I wonder if they know they are living their very best days; that now is the time to really enjoy their children! I think if I had been more to my little boy I might now be more to my grown up one. Waverly Magazine.