Old Spookses’ Pass, Malcolm’s Katie and Other Poems

by Isabella Valancy Crawford




The Farmer quit what he was at,
    The bee-hive he was smokin’:
He tilted back his old straw hat—
    Says he, “Young man, you’re jokin’!
O Lordy! (Lord, forgive the swar,)
    Ain’t ye a cheeky sinner?
Come, if I give my gal thar,
    Where would you find her dinner?

“Now look at me; I settl’d down
    When I was one and twenty,
Me, and my axe and Mrs. Brown,
    And stony land a plenty.
Look up thar! ain’t that homestead fine,
    And look at them thar cattle:
I tell ye since that early time
    I’ve fit a tidy battle. [Page 170]

“It kinder wrestles down a man
    To fight the stuns and mire:
But I sort of clutch’d to thet thar plan
    Of David and Goliar.
Want was the mean old Philistine
    That strutted round the clearin’,
Of pebbles I’d a hansum line,
    And flung ’em nothin’ fearin’.

“They hit him square, right whar they ought,
    Them times I had an arm!
I lick’d the giant and I bought
    A hundred acre farm.
My gal was born about them days,
    I was mowin’ in the medder;
When some one comes along and says—
    “The wife’s gone thro’ the shadder!”

“Times thought it was God’s will she went—
    Times thought she work’d too slavin’—
And for the young one that was sent,
    I took to steady savin’.
Jest cast your eye on that thar hill
    The sugar bush just tetches,
And round by Miller Jackson’s mill,
    All round the farm stretches.

“’Ain’t got a mind to give that land
    To any snip-snap feller
That don’t know loam from mud or sand,
    Or if corn’s blue or yaller. [Page 171]
I’ve got a mind to keep her yet—
    Last Fall her cheese and butter
Took prizes; sakes! I can’t forget
    Her pretty pride and flutter.

“Why, you be off! her little face
    For me’s the only summer;
Her gone, ’twould be a queer, old place,
    The Lord smile down upon her!
All goes with her, the house and lot—
    You’d like to get ’em, very!
I’ll give ’em when this maple bears
    A bouncin’ ripe-red cherry!”

The Farmer fixed his hat and specks
    And pursed his lips together,
The maple wav’d above his head,
    Each gold and scarlet feather:
The Teacher’s honest heart sank down:
    How could his soul be merry?
He knew—though teaching in a town,
    No maple bears a cherry.

Soft blew the wind; the great old tree,
    Like Saul to David’s singing,
Nodded its jeweled crown, as he
    Swayed to the harp-strings’ ringing;
A something rosy—not a leaf
    Stirs up amid the branches;
A miracle may send relief
    To lovers fond and anxious! [Page 172]

O rosy is the velvet cheek
    Of one ’mid red leaves sitting!
The sunbeams played at hide-and-seek
    With the needles in her knitting.
“O Pa!” The Farmer prick’d his ears,
    Whence came that voice so merry?
(The Teacher’s thoughtful visage clears)
    “The maple bears a cherry!”

The Farmer tilted back his hat:
    “Well, gal—as I’m a human,
I’ll always hold as doctrine that
    Thar’s nothin’ beats a woman!
When crown’d that maple is with snow
    And Christmas bells are merry,
I’ll let you have her, Jack—that’s so!
    Be sure you’re good to Cherry! [Page 173]