Page:Pieces People Ask For.djvu/214

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For he knows the smallest leak may grow
To a flood in a single night,
And he knows the strength of the cruel sea
When loosed in its angry might.

And the boy! He has seen the danger,
And, shouting a wild alarm,
He forces back the weight of the sea
With the strength of his single arm.
He listens for the joyful sound
Of a footstep passing nigh,
And lays his ear to the ground, to catch
The answer to his cry.
And he hears the rough winds blowing,
And the waters rise and fall,
But never an answer comes to him,
Save the echo of his call.
He sees no hope, no succor;
His feeble voice is lost;
Yet what shall he do but watch and wait.
Though he perish at his post!

So, faintly calling and crying
Till the sun is under the sea,
Crying and moaning till the star
Come out for company,
He thinks of his brother and sister,
Asleep in their safe warm bed;
He thinks of his father and mother,
Of himself as dying—and dead;
And of how, when the night is over,
They must come and find him at last:
But he never thinks he can leave the place
Where duty holds him fast.

The good dame in the cottage
Is up and astir with the light,
For the thought of her little Peter
Has been with her all night.
And now she watches the pathway,
As yestereve she had done;
But what does she see so strange and black
Against the rising sun?