Pieces People Ask For/The Bravest Boy in Town

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He lived in the Cumberland Valley,
And his name was Jamie Brown;
But it changed one day, so the neighbors say,
To the "Bravest Boy in Town."

'Twas the time when the Southern soldiers,
Under Early's mad command,
O'er the border made their dashing raid
From the north of Maryland;

And Chambersburg, unransomed,
In smouldering ruins slept ;
While up the vale, like a fiery gale,
The rebel raiders swept.

And a squad of gray-clad horsemen
Came thundering o'er the bridge,
Where peaceful cows in the meadows browse
At the foot of the great Blue Ridge ;

And on till they reached the village
That fair in the valley lay,
Defenceless then—for its loyal men
At the front were far away.

"Pillage and spoil and plunder!"
This was the fearful word
That the Widow Brown, in gazing down
From her latticed window, heard.

'Neath the boughs of the sheltering oak-tree
The leader bared his head,
As left and right, until out of sight,
His dusty gray-coats sped.

Then he called "Halloo, within there!"
A gentle, fair-haired dame
Across the floor to the open door
In gracious answer came.

"Here, stable my horse, you woman!"
The soldier's tones were rude;
"Then bestir yourself, and from yonder shelf
Set out your store of food!"

For her guest she spread the table;
She motioned him to his place
With a gesture proud; then the widow bowed,
And gently asked a grace.

"'If thine enemy hunger, feed him!'
I obey, clear Christ," she said.
A creeping blush, with its scarlet flush,
O'er the face of the soldier spread.

He rose. "You have said it, madame!
Standing within your doors
Is the rebel foe; but as forth they go
They shall trouble not you nor yours!"

Alas for the word of the leader!
Alas for the soldier's vow!
When the captain's men rode down the glen,
They drove the widow's cow.

It was then the fearless Jamie
Sprang up with flashing eyes,
And in spite of tears and his mother's fears,
On the gray mare off he flies.

Like a wild young Tam O'Shanter
He plunged with piercing whoop,
O'er field and brook, till he overtook
The straggling rebel troop,—

Laden with spoil and plunder,
And laughing and shouting still,
As with cattle and sheep they lazily creep
Through the dust o'er the winding hill.

"Oh the coward crowd!" cried Jamie.
"There's Brindle! I'll teach them now!"
And with headlong stride, at the captain's side,
He called for his mother's cow.

"Who are you, and who is your mother?
I promised she should not miss?
Well! upon my word, have I never heard
Of assurance like to this!"

"Is your word the word of a soldier?"
And the young lad faced his foes,
As a jeering laugh, in anger half
And half in sport, arose.

But the captain drew his sabre,
And spoke with lowering brow,—
"Fall back into line! The joke is mine!
Surrender the widow's cow!"

And a capital joke they thought it,
That a barefoot lad of ten
Should demand his due—and get it too—
In the face of forty men.

And the rollicking rebel raiders
Forgot themselves somehow,
And three cheers gave for the hero brave,
And three for the brindle cow.

He lived in the Cumberland Valley,
And his name was Jamie Brown;
But it changed that day, so the neighbors say,
To the "Bravest Boy in Town."

Emma Huntington Nason, in "Wide Awake."