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THEFAITHFUL FRIEND.ITHE crimson glory of the setting sunIs flushing with long rays of ruby lightA barren heath, where, 'midst the heather blooms,A weary band have halted for the night.A circus and its followers are there: ;The jaded horses crop the herbage round;The yellow vans are empty; a great fireOf wood and cones is kindled on the ground.The tired people gather round its blaze;+: ~Upon the grass the little children play;While distant chimes from a cathedral towerRing out a farewell to the dying day.Apart-beside a tuft of golden gorse-Two little ones have sought a distant seatTo eat their crusts of bread, which oft they shareWith a poor dog close lying at their feet.Young orphans these: their father-once the Clown,Whose merry jests had caused such frequent mirth-Has lately died of fever; leaving themFriendless and penniless upon the earth.i -X~~~~~~~~ I ['The Baldwin LibraryXmS glu
Did I say friendless? No! they had a friend-Their father's dog, a shrewd one of his race,Their guardian-playfellow-in whose true heartNo selfish wish could find a moment's place.The circus-master, a hard, cruel man,Had kept the orphans in his service still;For both could ride and dance upon the rope,And people loved to watch their childish skill.And then the dog, that would not leave their side,Was just the funniest actor of them all;Could dance, turn somersaults, stand on his head,Tell fortunes, walk the tight-rope, feign a fall;He, too, brought money to the trav'lling show;But still the tyrant, who received their gains,Never bestowed upon them a kind word,But paid with cruel blows and threats their pains.A sad and cheerless life the children led;But little Jane, with sense beyond her years,Watched over Willie with a mother's care,Shared all his troubles; kissed away his tears.And now they list'ning sat; and Janie said,"The Lincoln bells! Willie, what do they say?"And Willie, nestling close up to her side,Whispered, " I think they bid us run away.2
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"To-morrow we shall reach the great big town-There must be room in it for you and meAnd poor dear Snap-and we can go aboutJust as we like, and never beaten be."But Jane replied, "We could not earn our bread;We must not think of such a foolish thing;But patiently perform our daily task,Nor heed the folly that the sweet bells ring."Next day the circus people travelled on:By noon they entered at the city gate,With music, flags, and horses ambling by;Threading the ancient streets in mimic state.At evening in the market-square they played,And all the people to the circus went;For it was Whitsuntide and holidays,And merry children filled the spacious tent."Oh! look, papa!" exclaimed a fair-haired girl,"Look how those pretty little children ride!If I could only spring and dance like them,I should not care for anything beside."How happy they must be to have such fun!They don't do hortrid lessons, like poor me!And then that darling dog!-oh, dear papa,I never thought such wondrous things could be!"3
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"My love," her father said, "I fear, poor things!That they would very gladly change with you:Their lives are very hard; their toil is great;Appearances, you know, are oft untrue."But Alice thought theirs. must be pleasant toil;And when at night she sank to soft repose,Gay dreams of snow-white ponies, dancing dogs,And little riders, on her sleep arose.Alas! the following night, poor little Will,While dancing on the tight-rope, slipped and fell,And was severely hurt. The master's rageAnd cruelty, it grieves me much to tell.He struck, with his thick whip, the moaning boy,And would have beaten him, but Snap was near,And flew at him so savagely, the manWas fain to stay his cruel blows, from fear.All night Jane wept beside her brother's bed,While by her side their faithful guardian lay;And oft poor Willie's words about the bellsCame back to her-"They bid us run away."Just a week after-one bright summer's day-As Alice with her father crossed the street,Quite suddenly, a dog before them stood,And made a somersault close by their feet;4
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Then stood upon his head; marched gravely roundIn many circles; feigned to fall and diePanting and breathless; then sprang up alive,Glancing around to see who might be nigh.His tricks all finished, he stood up and begged,With strong entreaty in his wistful gaze:Around his neck a little bag they see,Bearing these words: "For help, a sick child prays.'The merchant dropped a shilling in the bag,And instantly the dog ran swiftly on."Alice," her father said, "we'll follow him,And see where this strange beggar can have gone."They followed,-keeping still the dog in sight,-Up courts and narrow alleys, dull and dank,Till down a cellar window, suddenly,Before their eyes the panting creature sank.When they had gained the spot, the merchant sawSome steps that led to the dark place below;And, bidding Alice wait for him awhile,Down, after their strange guide, prepared to go.Soon he returned, and, took her little hand,And gently led her, down the narrow way,To a dark cellar; where, on bed of straw,The little rider of the circus lay.5
She knows his face again, though pale and wanBeside him, too, his little sister stands,Clasping the bag their faithful dog has brought-Unopen'd still-within her trembling hands.But soon her fears were soothed, and then she toldHow Willie from the tight-rope had a fall,For which their master struck him cruelly,Although the child could neither stand nor crawl.How, on the night before the circus left,She stole (bearing him in her arms) away,And took Snap with them; who had earned their breadBy acting in the streets, from day to day;At first with her; but soon she could not leaveHer ailing brother, but was forced to sendPoor Snap alone, and trust for daily foodTo the true instinct of their only friend."And he has brought us here," the merchant said;"We followed him, as he ran on before: ,Henceforward, children, you shall have a home,And faithful Dash need beg for alms no more."He kept his word: under his generous careThe circus children's sorrows found an end;And Snap a silver collar henceforth wore,Bearing his well-earned name, THE FAITHFUL FRIEND.-s.
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