Pieces People Ask For/Over the Crossin'
OVER THE CROSSIN'.
"Shine? shine, sor? Ye see, I'm just a-dien'
Ter turn yer two boots inter glass
Where ye'll see all the sights in the winders
'Ithout lookin' up as yer pass.
Seen me before? I've no doubt, sor;
I'm punctooal haar, yer know,
Waitin' along the crossin'
Fur a little un', name o' Joe;
My brother, sor, an' a cute un',
Ba'ly turned seven, an' small,
But gettin' his livin' grad'ely
Tendin' a bit uv a stall
Fur Millerkins down the av'nue;
Yer kin bet that young un's smart,—
Worked right in like a vet'run
Since th' old un' gin 'im a start.
Folks say he's a picter o' father,
Once mate o' the 'Lucy Lee'—
Lost when Joe wor a baby,
Way off in some furrin sea.
Then mother kep' us together,
Though nobody thought she would,
An' worked an' slaved an' froze an' starved
Uz long uz ever she could.
An' since she died an' left us,
A couple o' year ago,
We've kep' right on in Cragg Alley,
A-housekeepin'—I an' Joe.
I'd just got my kit when she went, sor,
An' people helped us a bit,
So we managed to get on somehow;
Joe wus alius a brave little chit;
An' since he's got inter bisness,
Though we don't ape princes an' sich,
Tain't of 'n we git right hungry,
An' we feel pretty tol'able rich.
I used to wait at the corner,
Jest over th' other side;
But the notion o' bein' tended
Sort o' ruffled the youngster's pride,
So now I only watches
To see that he's safe across;
Sometimes it's a bit o' waitin',
But, bless yer, 'tain't no loss!
Look! there he is now, the rascal!
Dodgin' across the street
Ter s'prise me—an'—look! I'm goin’—
He's down by the horses' feet!"
Suddenly all had happened,—
The look, the cry, the spring,
The shielding Joe as a bird shields
Its young with sheltering wing;
Then up the full street of the city
A pause of the coming rush,
And through all the din and the tumult
A painful minute of hush;
A tumble of scattered brushes,
As they lifted him up to the walk,
A gathering of curious faces,
And snatches of whispered talk;
Little Joe all trembling beside him
On the flagging, with gentle grace
Pushing the tangled, soft brown hair
Away from the still white face.
At his touch the shut lids lifted,
And swift over lip and eye
Came a glow as when the morning
Flushes the eastern sky;
And a hand reached out to his brother,
As the words came low but clear,—
"Joe, I reckon ye mind our mother:
A minute back she wor here,
Smilin' an' callin' me to her!
I tell ye, I'm powerful glad
Yer such a brave, smart youngster:
The leavin' yer ain't so bad.
Hold hard to the right things she learnt us,
An' alius keep honest an' true;
Good-by, Joe—but mind, I'll be watchin'
Just—over—the crossin'—fur you!"