BY JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY
That-air young-un ust to set
By the crick here day by day.--
Watch the swallers dip and wet
Their slim wings and skoot away;
Watch these little snipes along
The low banks tilt up and down
'Mongst the reeds, and hear the song
Of the bullfrogs croakin' roun':
Ust to set here in the sun
Watchin' things, and listenun,
'Peared-like, mostly to the roar
Of the dam below, er to
That-air riffle nigh the shore
Jes acrost from me and you.
Ust to watch him from the door
Of the mill.--'Ud rigg him out
With a fishin'-pole and -line--
Dig worms fer him--nigh about
Jes spit on his bait!--but he
Never keered much, 'pearantly,
To ketch fish!--He 'druther fine
Out some sunny place, and set
Watchin' things, with droopy head,
And "a-listenun," he said--
"Kindo' listenun above
The old crick to what the wet
Warter was a-talkin' of!"
Jevver hear sich talk as that?
Bothered Mother more'n me
What the child was cipher'n' at.--
Come home onc't and said 'at he
Knowed what the snake-feeders thought
When they grit their wings; and knowed
Turkle-talk, when bubbles riz
Over where the old roots growed
Where he th'owed them pets o' his--
Little turripuns he caught
In the County Ditch and packed
In his pockets days and days!--
Said he knowed what goslin's quacked--
Could tell what the killdees sayes,
And grasshoppers, when they lit
In the crick and "minnies" bit
Off their legs.--"But, blame!" sayes he,
Sorto' lookin' clean above
Mother's head and on through me--
(And them eyes!--I see 'em yet!)--
"Blame!" he sayes, "ef I kin see,
Er make out, jes what the wet
Warter is a-talkin' of!"
Made me nervous! Mother, though,
Said best not to scold the child--
The Good Bein' knowed.--And so
We was only rickonciled
When he'd be asleep.--And then,
Time, and time, and time again,
We've watched over him, you know--
Her a-sayin' nothin'--jes
Kindo' smoothin' back his hair,
And, all to herse'f, I guess,
Studyin' up some kind o' prayer
She ain't tried yet.--Onc't she said,
Cotin' Scriptur', "'He,'" says she,
In a solemn whisper, "'He
Givuth His beloved sleep!'"
And jes then I heerd the rain
Strike the shingles, as I turned
Res'less to'rds the wall again.
Pity strong men dast to weep!--
Specially when up above
Thrash! the storm comes down, and you
Feel the midnight plum soaked through
Heart and soul, and wunder, too,
What the warter's talkin' of!
. . . . .
Found his hat 'way down below
Hinchman's Ford.--'Ves' Anders he
Rid and fetched it. Mother she
Went wild over that, you know--
Hugged it! kissed it!--Turribul!
My hopes then was all gone too. . . .
Brung him in, with both hands full
O' warter-lilies--'peared-like new-
Bloomed fer him--renched whiter still
In the clear rain, mixin' fine
And finer in the noon sunshine. . . .
Winders of the old mill looked
On him where the hill-road crooked
In on through the open gate. . . .
Laid him on the old settee
On the porch there. Heerd the great
Roarin' dam acrost--and we
Heerd a crane cry in amongst
The sycamores--and then a dove
Cutterin' on the mill-roof--then
Heerd the crick, and thought again,
"Now what's it a-talkin' of?"