|The Little Black-Eyed Rebel|
by Will Carleton (1845 – 1912)
|A boy drove into the city, his wagon loaded down|
With food to feed the people of the British-governed town;
And the little black-eyed rebel, so innocent and sly,
Was watching for his coming from the corner of her eye.
His face looked broad and honest, his hands were brown and tough,
The clothes he wore upon him were homespun, coarse, and rough;
But one there was who watched him, who long time lingered nigh,
And cast at him sweet glances from the corner of her eye.
He drove up to the market, he waited in the line;
His apples and potatoes were fresh and fair and fine;
But long and long he waited, and no one came to buy,
Save the black-eyed rebel, watching from the corner of her eye.
"Now who will buy my apples?" he shouted, long and loud;
And "Who wants my potatoes?" he repeated to the crowd;
But from all the people round him came no word of a reply,
Save the black-eyed rebel, answering from the corner of her eye.
For she knew that 'neath the lining of the coat he wore that day,
Were long letters from the husbands and the fathers far away,
Who were fighting for the freedom that they meant to gain or die;
And a tear like silver glistened in the corner of her eye.
But the treasures--how to get them? crept the question through her mind,
Since keen enemies were watching for what prizes they might find:
And she paused a while and pondered, with a pretty little sigh;
Then resolve crept through her features, and a shrewdness fired her eye.
So she resolutely walked up to the wagon old and red;
"May I have a dozen apples for a kiss?" she sweetly said:
And the brown face flushed to scarlet; for the boy was some what shy,
And he saw her laughing at him from the corner of her eye.
"You may have them all for nothing, and more, if you want," quoth he.
"I will have them, my good fellow, but can pay for them," said she;
And she clambered on the wagon, minding not who all were by,
With a laugh of reckless romping in the corner of her eye.
Clinging round his brawny neck, she clasped her fingers white and small,
And then whispered, "Quick! the letters! thrust them underneath my shawl!
Carry back again _this_ package, and be sure that you are spry!"
And she sweetly smiled upon him from the corner of her eye.
Loud the motley crowd were laughing at the strange, ungirlish freak,
And the boy was scared and panting, and so dashed he could not speak;
And, "Miss, _I_ have good apples," a bolder lad did cry;
But she answered, "No, I thank you," from the corner of her eye.
With the news of loved ones absent to the dear friends they would greet,
Searching them who hungered for them, swift she glided through the street.
"There is nothing worth the doing that it does not pay to try,"
Thought the little black-eyed rebel, with a twinkle in her eye.
|By Will Carleton (1845 – 1912)|
Listed June 4, 2012
Note: (Between Sept. 26, 1777, and June 17, 1778)
The heroine's name was Mary Redmond, and she lived in Philadelphia. During the
occupation of that town by the British, she was ever ready to aid in the secret delivery of
the letters written home by the husbands and fathers fighting in the Continental Army.