Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
 
728. Little Breeches
 
By John Hay
 
 
I DON’T go much on religion,
  I never ain’t had no show;
But I ’ve got a middlin’ tight grip, sir,
  On the handful o’ things I know.
I don’t pan out on the prophets        5
  And free-will and that sort of thing,—
But I b’lieve in God and the angels,
  Ever sence one night last spring.
 
I come into town with some turnips,
  And my little Gabe come along,—        10
No four-year-old in the county
  Could beat him for pretty and strong,—
Peart and chipper and sassy,
  Always ready to swear and fight,—
And I ’d larnt him to chaw terbacker        15
  Jest to keep his milk-teeth white.
 
The snow come down like a blanket
  As I passed by Taggart’s store;
I went in for a jug of molasses
  And left the team at the door.        20
They scared at something and started,—
  I heard one little squall,
And hell-to-split over the prairie
  Went team, Little Breeches, and all
 
Hell-to-split over the prairie!        25
  I was almost froze with skeer;
But we rousted up some torches,
  And sarched for ’em far and near.
At last we struck hosses and wagon,
  Snowed under a soft white mound,        30
Upsot, dead beat,—but of little Gabe
  No hide nor hair was found.
 
And here all hope soured on me
  Of my fellow-critter’s aid;—
I jest flopped down on my marrow-bones,        35
  Crotch-deep in the snow, and prayed.
By this, the torches was played out,
  And me and Isrul Parr
Went off for some wood to a sheepfold
  That he said was somewhar thar.        40
 
We found it at last, and a little shed
  Where they shut up the lambs at night.
We looked in and seen them huddled thar,
  So warm and sleepy and white;
And thar sot Little Breeches and chirped,        45
  As peart as ever you see,
“I want a chaw of terbacker,
  And that ’s what ’s the matter of me.”
 
How did he git thar? Angels.
  He could never have walked in that storm:        50
They jest scooped down and toted him
  To whar it was safe and warm.
And I think that saving a little child,
  And fotching him to his own,
Is a derned sight better business        55
  Than loafing around The Throne.
 

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