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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

Poor Little Joe

By David Law Proudfit (1842–1897)

PROP yer eyes wide open, Joey,

Fur I’ve brought you sumpin’ great.

Apples? No, enough sight better!

Don’t you take no int’rest? Wait!

Flowers, Joe—I know’d you’d like ’em—

Ain’t them scrumptious? Ain’t them high?

Tears, my boy? Wot’s them fur, Joey?

There—poor little Joe!—don’t cry!

I was skippin’ past a winder

Where a bang-up lady sot,

All amongst a lot of bushes—

Each one climbin’ from a pot;

Every bush had flowers on it—

Pretty? Mebbe not! Oh, no!

Wish you could ’a seen ’em growin’.

It was such a stunnin’ show.

Well, I thought of you, poor feller,

Lyin’ here so sick and weak,

Never knowin’ any comfort,

And I puts on lots o’ cheek.

“Missus,” says I, “if you please, mum,

Could I ax you for a rose?

For my little brother, missus,

Never seed one, I suppose.”

Then I told her all about you—

How I bringed you up—poor Joe!

(Lackin’ women folks to do it)

Sich a imp you was, you know!

Till yer got that awful tumble,

Jist as I had broke yer in

(Hard work, too) to earn your livin’

Blackin’ boots for honest tin.

How that tumble crippled of you,

So’s you couldn’t hyper much—

Joe, it hurted when I seen you

Fur the first time with yer crutch.

“But,” I says, “he’s laid up now, mum,

’Pears to weaken every day;”

Joe, she up and went to cuttin’—

That’s the how of this bokay.

Say, it seems to me, ole feller,

You is quite yourself to-night;

Kind o’ chirk—it’s been a fortnit

Sence yer eyes has been so bright.

Better? Well, I’m glad to hear it!

Yes, they’re mighty pretty, Joe.

Smellin’ of ’em’s made you happy?

Well, I thought it would, you know.

Never see the country, did you?

Flowers growin’ everywhere!

Some time when you’re better, Joey,

Mebbe I kin take you there.

Flowers in Heaven? ’M—I s’pose so;

Dunno much about it, though;

Ain’t as fly as wot I might be

On them topics, little Joe.

But I’ve heerd it hinted somewheres

That in Heaven’s golden gates

Things is everlastin’ cheerful—

B’lieve that’s what the Bible states.

Likewise, there, folks don’t git hungry:

So good people, w’en they dies,

Finds theirselves well fixed forever—

Joe, my boy, wot ails yer eyes?

Thought they looked a little sing’ler.

Oh, no! Don’t you have no fear;

Heaven was made fur such as you is—

Joe, wot makes you look so queer?

Here—wake up! Oh, don’t look that way!

Joe, my boy! Hold up yer head!

Here’s yer flowers—you dropped ’em, Joey.

Oh, my God, can Joe be dead?