Page:All quiet along the Potomac and other poems.djvu/330
324 AN OLD MAN.
��AN OLD MAN.
D man, old man, coming up the road ! Run, girls ! run fast to the school-house door !" There they go, pell-mell, like a flock of sheep,
As I plod along, weary, weak, footsore. Do I look so old bearing thirty years ?
Have I then indeed such a terror grown That the children scare at my near approach On this old highway, long ago well known?
Weak and wicked both ; I deny it not
Old in sin I am since I walked this way, But the years are few since I fled at night ;
Ah ! the flitting seems but as yesterday, When sore from the stripes that I had not earned
That time (though I had many times before), I flung myself in the moonlight pale
Down, to lay my face on the garret-floor.
When the stolen steps of my mother came,
And her little figure all clad in white Like a blessed angel came drifting in
Where a wreck I lay in the fair moonlight, How she kissed the bruise on the swollen cheek,
While her tears fell like bitter rain ! How the loyal wife with the mother strove !
Well ! the grave-sod covers her wrong and pain.
" Old man ! Old man !" I will turn aside, I remember well that a quiet pool