Abroad/The First Morning in France

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Abroad
Thomas Crane and Ellen Houghton
The First Morning in France
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THE FIRST MORNING IN FRANCE.

Here they see a pretty sight,
Sunny sky and landscape bright:
Fishing-boats move up and down,
With their sails all red and brown.

Some to land are drawing near,
O'er the water still and clear,
Full of fish as they can be,
Caught last night in open sea.

On the pavement down below,
Fishwives hurry to and fro,
Calling out their fish to sell—
"What a noisy lot," says Nell,

"What a clap—clap—clap—they make
With their shoes each step they take.
Wooden shoes, I do declare,
And oh! what funny caps they wear!"

After breakfast all went out
To view the streets, and walk about
The ancient city-walls, so strong,
Where waved the English flag for long.

Toy shops too they went to see,
Spread with toys so temptingly:
Dolls of every kind were there,
With eyes that shut and real hair—

And, in a brightly-coloured row,
Doll-fisherfolk like these below.
Prices marked, as if to say,
"Come and buy us, quick, to-day!"

One for Mabel, one for Rose,
Two for Bertie I suppose,
Father bought.—Then all once more
Set off travelling as before.

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To Rouen next they went, that very day,
And heard strange places called out by the way,
Where bells kept tinkling while the train delayed:
At Amiens ten minutes quite they stayed.

Dennis bought chocolate to make a feast—
They had three dinners in the train, at least.
At Rouen here they are at last, though late—
The bedroom clock there shows 'tis after eight!

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Mabel looks tired—she lies back in her chair
Beside the wood fire burning brightly there.
Rose says—"Good-night!"—to Bertie fast asleep,
While her own eyes can scarcely open keep.

Next morning, through the quaint old streets of Rouen
They went to see the old church of Saint Ouen,
With eager feet, and chatting as they walked,
About the ancient Town, together talked.

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Said Dennis, first,

"This city bold
Belonged to us
In days of old."
Said Nellie, "Here
Prince Arthur wept—
By cruel John
A prisoner kept.
Here Joan of Arc
Was tried and burned,
When fickle fate
Against her turned."
Said Rose, "Oh dear!
It makes me sad
To think what trouble
People had
Who lived once in
This very town,
Where we walk gaily
Up and down."

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Now they have come into the entrance wide
Of great St. Ouen's Church; see, side by side,
Dennis and Nellie going on before:
The others watch yon beggar at the door—
Poor blind Pierre; he always waits just so,
Listening for those who come and those who go.
He tells his beads, and hopes all day that some
May think of him, 'mongst those who chance to come.
Though he can't see, he is so quick to hear,
He knows a long, long time ere one draws near,
And shakes the coppers in his well-worn tin—
"Click, click," it goes—see, Bertie's gift drops in.
'Tis his one sou that Bertie gives away—
It might have bought him sweets this very day.
When through St. Ouen's Church they'd been at last,
Along its aisles and down its transept passed,
They went to the Cathedral, there to see
The tomb of Rolf, first Duke of Normandy.
But Mabel said, "Why should we English care
About that Rolf they say was buried there?"
Then she ran on, not waiting for reply—
My little reader, can you tell her why?

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The Cathedral was cold,
With its dim solemn aisles,
But outside our friends found
The sun waiting, with smiles,
To show them their way,
So hither they came
Along an old street
With a hard French name.

And still walking onward,
Through streets we can't see,
At length reached the Crèche
Of "Sœur Rosalie"—
Where poor women's children
Are kept all day through,
Amused, taught, and tended,
And all for one sou.


Children are happy with "Sister" all day,
Mothers can't nurse them—they work far away.
Good Sister Rosalie, she is so kind,
E'en when they're troublesome, she doesn't mind.
Here in the first room the Babies we see, sitting at dejeuner round Rosalie.

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Dodo is crying, he can't find his spoon—some one will find it and comfort him soon.
Over yon cradle bends kind Sister Claire,
Dear little Mimi is waking up there.
Sister Félicité, sweetly sings she,
"Up again, down again, Bébé, to me."

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THE school-room of the Créche is wide
The children sit there, side by side,
While "Sister" hears their lessons through,
And when there's no more work to do
They all get up, and form a ring,
And as they stand, together sing.
Now hand in hand, tramp, tramp they go,
Now in a line march to and fro,
For with the rattle in her hand
The "Sister" makes them understand
When to advance and when draw back—
Click-clack it goes, click-clack, click-clack.
On Stéphanie now turn your eyes,
She's only five, but she's so wise—
She knows the alphabet all through,
And, more than that, can teach it too.
Just now, she moves her wand to J,
And tells the children what to say.
But 'tis no use to tell Ninette,
For she is but a bébé yet.


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