Cheer, boys, cheer!

Material Information

Cheer, boys, cheer!
Series Title:
The Victoria tales and stories
Frederick Warne and Co.
Place of Publication:
Frederick Warne and Co.
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
16 p. : ill. ; 14 cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
Trust in God
Love, Maternal
Mothers and sons
Baldwin -- 1870.


General Note:
Cover title.
General Note:
Date from inscription.
Preservation and Access for American and British Children's Literature, 1870-1889 (NEH PA-50860-00).

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature in Special Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries
Rights Management:
This item is presumed to be in the public domain. The University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries respect the intellectual property rights of others and do not claim any copyright interest in this item. Users of this work have responsibility for determining copyright status prior to reusing, publishing or reproducing this item for purposes other than what is allowed by fair use or other copyright exemptions. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions may require permission of the copyright holder. The Smathers Libraries would like to learn more about this item and invite individuals or organizations to contact The Department of Special and Area Studies Collections ( with any additional information they can provide.
Resource Identifier:
027275378 ( aleph )
ALK2845 ( notis )
56970092 ( oclc )

Full Text

The Baldwin Library
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j ALT !" And as the brass band drew up
Before the front of the Rope and Anchor,"
striking off with the popular air Cheer,
boys, cheer!" a crowd of people filled the before
half-deserted street. Some two or three hundred
men, women, and children had soon collected round
the performers. It was Saturday afternoon; the
mills were closed and the people enjoying their holi-
day. Many had come from the neighboring villages,
and all were ready for fun or pleasure, if it were to
be found. One old woman, apparently about seventy
years of age, standing on the raised kerb-stone,
looking over the people in the middle of the road,

"Cheer, Boys, Cheer!"

seemed to watch the proceedings with peculiar inte-
rest: an expression, now of surprise, now of sorrow,
flitted across her countenance; a thin careworn face
peeped from beneath the shawl that bound her head.
Not till the air was finished, until another tune had
been played and the band was moving on, did the
old woman leave the spot. It was years since she
had heard that air before, and many and painful
were the associations linked with it. Various were
the comments bestowed upon the performance by
the spectators, but satisfaction seemed to be the
predominant feeling.
The band and the people, taking their various
routes, passed on with pleased and smiling counte-
nances, and Mabel Leonard turned away from the
busy town, to wander through the green fields which
skirted it. On and on she walked. The wave-like
motion of the grass, dotted with the sweet wild
flowers; the calm blue heavens above her; the high
trees, from whose full-leaved branches the feathered
songsters trilled a wild and prolonged lay; all these
things crowded her path, and yet she saw them not:
another scene lay before her eyes, another song was

Cheer, Boys, Cheer!

being sung for her, and she herself, unconscious of
the present, was living over again what were in
reality only the memories of the past.
What was the vision that was unfolding itself be-
fore her? By the changing expression of counte-
nance, the smile that came and went, by her irregular
breathing and the abstraction of her manner, it was
easy to see that some object, clear and defined, was
passing through her mind's eye. She saw a room,
comfortably furnished and illumined by the ruddy
glow of a warm fire, around which four chairs were
drawn and occupied by those who were the loved
ones of her life. The father sat at one side of the
fire-place, resting in the arm-chair, and she occupied
the other side, whilst between them were two young
men, who were eagerly unfolding their plans to the
father and mother. The clear full-toned voice of
the elder son rang out distinctly as he sang with a
playful earnestness words which he seemed to con-
sider as almost an omen of good luck:
Cheer, boys, cheer! no more of idle sorrow,
Courage! true hearts shall bear us on our way;
Hope points before and shows the bright ta-morrow;
Let us forget the darkness of to-day.

Cheer, Boys, Cheer!"

So farewell, England! much as we may love thee,
We'll dry the tears that we have shed before:
Why should we weep to sail in search of fortune?
So farewell, England! farewell for evermore!"
"Three cheers for Mackay and Russell!" shouted
Frank Leonard, as his brother James ceased singing.
" Come, mother," he continued, do not look so sor-
rowful; we shall soon make our fortunes, and be
able to keep you and father in comfort in your old
age. However willing we may be to take the advice
of the earlier part of the song, never fear that we shall
echo the cry, 'Farewell, England! farewell for ever-
"Ah, Frank, my boy," was his mother's answer,
"I wish you were both safely back again. My only
children, why cannot you rest content in your own
country? England is better than Australia any day."
Mother," exclaimed James, "there is little work
to be had here; and we are both young and strong,
and may make our fortunes in another land."
Do not fear for us, mother," said Frank; "think
not of disaster, but of the bright future which is
perhaps awaiting us; think of the time when we
shall be re-united, when all our sorrows of to-night

Cheer, Boys, Cheer.'

will be lost a.nd forgotten in the bright reality which
we are going to make out of what you seem now to
think only an ideal dream."
"Ah, my boy!" and John Leonard's voice trem-
bled as he spoke to his son; "mayst thou always
think thus! Once I was as fearless and lighthearted
as thee, but I have lived too long to put much trust
in the dreams of youth; they're as shifting and
changeable as the clouds of an April sky. What
say you, mother, to the lad's fancy?"
"God bless him, John! I think it's Providence
which makes the young folks so hopeful: if they
didn't take a brighter view of life than we do, they'd
never have the spirit to pull through. It may be
that they will get on better in those foreign parts,
and we oughtn't to stand in their light: but it's hard
to let them go for all that, though they have set their
hearts on it, as we have known now for so long a
"You say true, mother," answered her husband.
"It may be better for them, but 'May-bees' don't
ever fly in this part of the year. But I am sure the
lads have my blessing on it, and the worst wish I

"Cheer, Boys, Cheer!"

give them is that God will prosper them and bring
them back in safety."
"Ay, John," said the mother; "they deserve it,
for I'm sure they're as good lads as ever broke
bread. But do not let us spoil their last evening at
home by vain repinings and regrets."
Parting gifts were exchanged between the parents
and their sons, and what remained of that night flew
by on the wings of time-quickly, much too quickly
for all that they had to say; for now that the hour
of departure was so near at hand, the young men
clung to their home with a feeling new as it was
strange; and the parents were painfully conscious
that this night would be for long the only time in
which they could see and be with their boys.
The morrow came, and James and Frank Leonard
were up with the lark, saying their last farewell to
father and mother; and with eyes moistened by the
tenderness of a mother's kiss, the two young men left
their English home. Filled with the enthusiasm of
youth, they longed for the emigrant's life that was
opening before them. Oh, how fair it seemed to their
imaginations! A golden prospect appeared to be

"Cheer, Boys, Cheer!"

theirs; the idea of failure scarcely entered in the least
degree into their calculations. Both possessed good
abilities, and both were willing to work: they were
looking forward not to a career of indolence, for that
would have satisfied neither of them. No, they de-
sired only a fair and open field in which to develop
themselves, and to compete for the prizes which were
accessible to all. They entering on their new life in
the firm belief that they had "taken at the flood
the tide which leadeth on to fortune."
Over the dark blue ocean they were borne, far
away from England and from the loved home of their
youth. The solicitude of a mother's love hemmed
them ` and filled them with resolves such as they
SSew she would approve; and as they stood on deck,
gazing on the expanse of waters before them, it
seemed as if the brightness of their dream was in-
deed about to be realized. The ocean waves rolled
on, murmuring strange things to the youths, which
seemed to be the accompaniment of a song their
hearts were singing, quick, measureless, unfathom-
able, ay, as the very dreams which flitted through
their minds and nestled warmly in their bosoms.

Cheer, Boys, Cheer!"

Many months had elapsed, and John and Mabel
Leonard were still waiting for intelligence from their
sons. Week after week, month after month, had
rolled away since the time when the vessel ought to
have reached its destination, and yet not a sign nor
a word had come to them. The fearful doubt which
possessed them was at length fully confirmed: the
newspapers conveyed the sad intelligence, which
blasted the hopes of many an English home, and
the mother's and the father's heart beat wildly with
despair when they learnt the fearful truth. Alone
they sat by their lonely hearth; no more could they
look forward to that happy time which Frank had
predicted. Every word that their boy had uttered
was engraven in their hearts; many a time they had
spoken them together since they had been left alone,
and the bright hope which gleamed in the eye of the
youth had often consoled the parents for his absence.
Oh, it was fearful! almost more than they could bear.
Both their boys gone, their only children, and their
dearest hope in life! Grief cast her dark mantle over
the forms of the parents, whose bent step and weary
look spoke but too truly of the gnawing pain within.

Cheer, Boys, Cheer!"

The Princess," the vessel in which James and
Frank Leonard had embarked, had sailed gaily,
with a favourable breeze, across the waters, and
had reached in safety the coast of the expected land.
As the victorious shout, Land! Land!" arose from
all on board, suddenly the sky was overcast with
black and angry clouds; the storm raged madly,
and the ship struck against a rock, sinking, with all
on board, below the dark and merciless waves in
sight of the shore.

In a small and poorly-furnished room Mabel
Leonard sits alone. Alone yes : for no loved one
shares her home; the sweet sound of human sym-
pathy is to her as the memory of the notes of a song
heard years ago. Thought is her only companion:
that ever-present, ever-active power which cannot
be stifled. Sometimes she would fain stop the
throbbings of her heart, when memory, too truthful
to the past, brings vividly before her the anguish of
her pain: at other times, as now, she courts the
reproduction of scenes long past. The fire is slowly
dying out, but she heeds it not; in fancy she is

Cheer, Boys, Cheer!"

once again the happy wife and mother of years
gone by. Two boys are clinging to her knee, and
gazing eagerly into her face as she reads to them
the stories of the boy heroes of the Old Testament.
A man's form, proud in the strength of manhood, is
before her eyes, and her husband's voice is mingling
with the tones of her children; a smile passes over
her face, but, alas! it soon vanishes, as reality as-
sumes its force in her mind. A widow, and child-
less, ay, and almost friendless too (for those she
once had known have passed away, and "the poor
make no new friends") ; there are few ties to bind
her to the earth. Once her life was filled with hope,
her step with buoyancy, and her mind with ease;
but, alas! the dread experience of earth's troubled
springs had buried in the grave of disappointment
these blossoms and fruits of the summer-time of
life. And yet she cannot quite forget them: many
a flower still grows o'er the tomb in which her
hopes are laid low; and one of the fairest of these
plants is the fond remembrance of her merry Frank,
her darling son. The image of her boy rises vividly
before her mind; the black curly hair which falls

"'Cheer, Boys, Cheer!"

in clusters round the high white forehead, and the
one stray curl which will keep dropping over the
temple, and which he cannot brush away and keep
in order. The dark eye, roguish and merry, speaks
the animation and the ever-flowing stream of mirth
which filled the house with laughter, and helped to
make the hearth-side glad. Sadly the mother
throws the fond illusion from her, sighing, He can
never return, they were drowned-both drowned!"
and tears of bitterness roll down her cheeks, as the
weary feeling of isolation presses itself upon her,
and the sad contrast of to-day stands side by side
with the bright picture of the past. Oh!" she ex-
claims, I would give much for one hour of that
happy time, but all is useless; tears and agony are
of no avail; it is gone: yes, gone for ever!"
The cottage door is softly opened, a man's form
is entering the house, and quickly crossing the room,
Frank Leonard clasps his mother in his fond em-
Yes, it is he! though the merry, playful expres-
sion has gone from his countenance, and the once
robust frame is stooping. Sitting by his mother's

"Cheer, Boys, Cheer/"

side, and clasping her hand in his, he tells her of
the fate which befell his brother and his comrades.
Clinging to a spar till assistance could be given,
he grasped the rope which, by means of a rocket,
had been flung to him, and was drawn to land: the
only one saved from the fury of the yawning sea.
Unconscious of all that had passed, he lay in the
delirium of fever, when the report of the wreck
reached home. How long he remained thus he
scarcely knew : his earliest remembrance was of
one morning when he awoke from what seemed
like a deep, unfathomable sleep, and found himself
too weak to rise. Looking around him, he saw
strange faces by his bed-side; nothing in the room
was familiar to his eye, and the voices he heard
about him seemed stranger than all the rest. Then
he learned that the kindness of one who had seen
his narrow escape from the vessel had provided
him with a home and every attention necessary to
his condition. He had indeed found a good Sama-
ritan in that far-off country, when he lay by the
roadside friendless and homeless and sick nigh unto
death. With the grave opening before his eyes, he

"Cheer, Boys, Cheer!"

told his mother, he had thought of home with the
almost certainty that a few moments would plunge
him into eternity-her words of God and holiness
had comforted and sustained him. The mother
drew her boy closer to her as he spoke of the
dangers of that terrible time. She saw, in fancy,
the raging elements, and the storm-struck vessel as
she sank beneath the surface of the waves. The
joy, the happiness of this glad moment of reunion
was damped and saddened by the thought that one
of her sons would never more return, and that she
could never see him again, until she had crossed
"that bourne whence no traveller returns ;" until
she had reached that land to which her husband
had departed, and where she fondly hoped those
two of her loved ones were now reunited in heaven.
The mother and son, too happy almost for words,
sit side by side gazing each into the other's face.
How Mabel Leonard had yearned for this moment
none but God and her own soul could ever know.
Earth was not all sorrow for her now, for her life
had regained somewhat of its hope, and she could
look forward with deepening interest to the future

"Cheer, Boys, Cheer!"

which lay before her son, and of which he even now
spoke in his old enthusiastic and sanguine manner.
I shall soon be strong again, mother," were the
young man's words, "now that I am home again,
and with you. I shall work for you, and keep you
in comfort in your old age, as I promised before I
went away; and I will bring back to your face the
light-hearted smile which was yours ere that care-
worn expression settled over your countenance."
"Ah, Frank! grief makes sad havoc with the
happy, and soon wears away the mirth of a light
heart. Since you went away I have aged fast. But
do not let us talk of this, my boy; thank God you
have returned at last to bless my lonely life."
The hours are rolling on unheeded in the excess
of joy which envelopes them. Gratefully the mother
pours out her soul in prayer to God, who in His
great mercy has restored to her one of her lost
loved ones, turning her sadness to rejoicing, and
bringing her through the night of sorrow to the
light of a new, an unlooked-for joy.


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