And The Cock Crew
"I hate them all!" said old Gaspard,
And in his weather-beaten face
The lines of bitterness grew hard,
For he had seen his dwelling-place
Laid waste in very wantonness,
And all his little treasures flung
Into that never-sated press
From which no wine, but gall, had sprung--
And not his heart alone was sore,
For in his frail old limbs he bore
Wounds of the heavy, ruthless hand
That weighed so cruelly of late
Upon the people and the land.
It was not hard to understand
Why old Gaspard should hate
Even the German lad who lay
His neighbor in the hospital,
The boy who pleaded night and day:
"Don't let me die! don't let me die!
When I see the dawn, I know
I shall live out that day, and then
I'm not afraid--till dark--but oh,
How soon the night comes round again!
Don't let me die! don't let me die!"
The old man muttered at each low,
Pitiful, half delirious cry,
"They should die, had I the say,
In hell's own torment, one and all!"
And then would drag himself away,
Despite each motion's agony,
To where the wounded poilus lay,
And cheer them with his mimicry
Of barnyard noises, and his gay
Old songs of what life used to be.
One night the lad suddenly cried,
"Mother!" And though the sister knew--
He was so young, so terrified,
"You're safe--the east is light," she lied.
But "No!" he sobbed, "the cock must crow
Before the dawn!" They did not hear
A cripple crawl across the floor,
But all at once, outside the door,
In the courtyard, shrill and clear,
Once, twice and thrice, chanticleer crew.
The blue eyes closed and the boy sighed,
"I'm not afraid, now day's begun.
I'll live--till--" With a smile, he died.
And in that hour when he denied
The god of hate, I think that One
Passed through the hospital's dim yard
And turning, looked on old Gaspard.
AMELIA JOSEPHINE BURR.
 COPYRIGHT BY GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY