Pieces People Ask For/The Driver of Ninety-three

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Street-car driver, "Ninety-three!"
Very weary and worn was he,
As he dragged himself to his little home;
Long, long hours from year to year,
Never a day for rest, no cheer,
In the woods or meadows in joy to roam.

All day through in tiresome round,
Wages scanty, and prospects bound
In a treadmill life from sun to sun,
Facing the winter's cold and sleet,
Facing the summer's burning heat,
With little to hope and little won.

The clothing was poor of "Ninety-three,"
And poor as well for the family;
But the wife was patient with gentle grace.
"I've watched all day by the baby's bed;
"I think he is going, John," she said,
With an anxious look on her pallid face.
He gazed with pride on his baby boy.
"He is handsome, wife!" and a look of joy
Just for a moment dried the tears.
"How does he look in the glad daylight?
I have never seen him, except at night;"
And he sighed as he thought of the weary years.

Labor the blessing of life should be,
But it seemed like a curse to "Ninety-three,"
For twice too long were the toiling hours;
Never the time to improve the mind,
Or joy in his little ones to find:
Grasping and thoughtless are human powers.

All night long did the driver stay
By the beautiful child, then stole away,
Hoping, still hoping that God would save;
But when the sun in the heavens rose high,
The time had come for the baby to die,
And the mother had only an open grave.

"I must take a day," said "Ninety-three"
To the wealthy railroad company;
"I shall see the face of my child," he said.
Oh, bitter the thought to wait till death
Has whitened the cheek and stopped the breath,
Before we can see our precious dead!

With many a tear and half-moaned prayer,
With apple-blossoms among his hair,
They buried the child of their fondest love;
And the man went back to the treadmill life
With a kindlier thought for his stricken wife.
Ah, well, there's a reckoning day above!

Sarah K. Bolton.