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.
 
964. Out of the Old House, Nancy
 
By Will Carleton
 
 
OUT of the old house, Nancy—moved up into the new;
All the hurry and worry is just as good as through.
Only a bounden duty remains for you and I—
And that ’s to stand on the doorstep here, and bid the old house good-by.
 
What a shell we ’ve lived in, these nineteen or twenty years!        5
Wonder it had n’t smashed in, and tumbled about our ears;
Wonder it ’s stuck together, and answered till to-day;
But every individual log was put up here to stay.
 
Things looked rather new, though, when this old house was built;
And things that blossomed you would’ve made some women wilt;        10
And every other day, then, as sure as day would break,
My neighbor Ager come this way, invitin’ me to “shake.”
 
And you, for want of neighbors, was sometimes blue and sad,
For wolves and bears and wildcats was the nearest ones you had;
But, lookin’ ahead to the clearin’, we worked with all our might,        15
Until we was fairly out of the woods, and things was goin’ right.
 
Look up there at our new house!—ain’t it a thing to see?
Tall and big and handsome, and new as new can be;
All in apple-pie order, especially the shelves,
And never a debt to say but what we own it all ourselves.        20
 
Look at our old log-house—how little it now appears!
But it ’s never gone back on us for nineteen or twenty years;
An’ I won’t go back on it now, or go to pokin’ fun—
There ’s such a thing as praisin’ a thing for the good that it has done.
 
Probably you remember how rich we was that night,        25
When we was fairly settled, an’ had things snug and tight:
We feel as proud as you please, Nancy, over our house that ’s new,
But we felt as proud under this old roof, and a good deal prouder, too.
 
Never a handsomer house was seen beneath the sun:
Kitchen and parlor and bedroom—we had ’em all in one;        30
And the fat old wooden clock, that we bought when we come West,
Was tickin’ away in the corner there, and doin’ its level best.
 
Trees was all around us, a-whisperin’ cheering words;
Loud was the squirrel’s chatter, and sweet the songs of birds;
And home grew sweeter and brighter—our courage began to mount—        35
And things looked hearty and happy then, and work appeared to count.
 
And here one night it happened, when things was goin’ bad,
We fell in a deep old quarrel—the first we ever had;
And when you give out and cried, then I, like a fool, give in,
And then we agreed to rub all out, and start the thing ag’in.        40
 
Here it was, you remember, we sat when the day was done,
And you was a-makin’ clothing that was n’t for either one;
And often a soft word of love I was soft enough to say,
And the wolves was howlin’ in the woods not twenty rods away.
 
Then our first-born baby—a regular little joy,        45
Though I fretted a little because it was n’t a boy:
Wa’ n’t she a little flirt, though, with all her pouts and smiles?
Why, settlers come to see that show a half a dozen miles.
 
Yonder sat the cradle—a homely, home-made thing,—
And many a night I rocked it, providin’ you would sing;        50
And many a little squatter brought up with us to stay,—
And so that cradle, for many a year, was never put away.
 
How they kept a-comin’, so cunnin’ and fat and small!
How they growed! ’t was a wonder how we found room for ’em all;
But though the house was crowded, it empty seemed that day        55
When Jennie lay by the fireplace there, and moaned her life away.
 
An’ right in there the preacher, with Bible and hymn-book, stood,
“’Twixt the dead and the living,” and “hoped ’t would do us good;”
And the little whitewood coffin on the table there was set,
And now as I rub my eyes it seems as if I could see it yet.        60
 
Then that fit of sickness it brought on you, you know;
Just by a thread you hung, and you e’en-a’-most let go;
And here is the spot I tumbled, an’ give the Lord his due,
When the doctor said the fever’d turned, an’ he could fetch you through.
 
Yes, a deal has happened to make this old house dear:        65
Christenin’s, funerals, weddin’s—what have n’t we had here?
Not a log in this buildin’ but its memories has got,
And not a nail in this old floor but touches a tender spot.
 
Out of the old house, Nancy,—moved up into the new;
All the hurry and worry is just as good as through;        70
But I tell you a thing right here, that I ain’t ashamed to say,
There ’s precious things in this old house we never can take away.
 
Here the old house will stand, but not as it stood before:
Winds will whistle through it, and rains will flood the floor;
And over the hearth, once blazing, the snow-drifts oft will pile,        75
And the old thing will seem to be a-mournin’ all the while.
 
Fare you well, old house! you ’re naught that can feel or see,
But you seem like a human being—a dear old friend to me;
And we never will have a better home, if my opinion stands,
Until we commence a-keepin’ house in the house not made with hands.        80
 

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