Page:Pieces People Ask For.djvu/213

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95
THE READING-CLUB.

And saw the shadows deepen,
And birds to their homes come back,
But never a sign of Peter
Along the level track.
But she said, "He will come at morning,
So I need not fret or grieve;
Though it isn't like my boy at all
To stay without my leave."

But where was the child delaying?
On the homeward way was he,
And across the dike, while the sun was up
An hour above the sea.
He was stopping, now to gather flowers,
Now listening to the sound,
As the angry waters dashed themselves
Against their narrow bound.
"Ah! well for us," said Peter;
"That the gates are good and strong,
And my father tends them carefully,
Or they would not hold you long!
You're a wicked sea," said Peter:
"I know why you fret and chafe;
You would like to spoil our lands and homes;
But our sluices keep you safe!"

But hark! Through the noise of waters
Comes a low, clear, trickling sound;
And the child's face pales with terror,
And his blossoms drop to the ground.
He is up the bank in a moment,
And, stealing through the sand,
He sees a stream not yet so large
As his slender, childish hand.
'Tis a leak in the dike! He is but a boy,
Unused to fearful scenes;
But, young as he is, he has learned to know
The dreadful thing that means.
A leak in the dike! The stoutest heart
Grows faint that cry to hear,
And the bravest man in all the land
Turns white with mortal fear.