I Must Be There on New Year's Day.
By Con T. Murphy.
Trudging along at early dawn on a cold December morn-
That on which the old year dies und before the new is born-
Came a gentle youth, with hair of gold, shivering from the bitter cold,
with shoeless feet and box on back, the switchman heard him say"I will not give up, for there is the track, and I Bald I'd come on New Year's day."
"All aboard!" The train moves off with its load of human freight,
And a moment more and the little lad with box would be too late;
But on the platform, with firm bold, stands the shivering lad with hair of gold.
"Come, come, my lad, I want my fare."
"I got no money, sir, to pay,. and I cannot walk no more, and I must be there,
For I said I'd come on New Year's day."
"You most be there! What's that to me? I have heard such tales before;
I want my fare. It's very cold-come in and shut the door;
Where do you wish to go, my lad? You got no money? well, that's too bad!"
"I want to go to Dover's Creek, but that's so very far away,
I couldn't walk it in a week, and I must be there on New Year's day."
"Sit down, my lad-come closer still: I am sure you must be cold. .
Blacking boots, is that your trade? You can't be ten years old!
Your name, what might it be? to Dover? Whom do you go to see?"
"The bootblacks call me little Dave: I will be ten yean old in May.
I go to see my mother's grave, And I must be there on New Year's day."
"Your mother dead; your father, Davy, where Is he?"
"Don't ask me, please, Father's dead, but not like mother, dead to me;
Seven years ago, so mother said, he done some deed for which he fled;
No mother lies beside the old church where we used to play,
And before she died I promised I would always come on New Year's day."
"Brave little lad. you shall not break your promise with the dead;
Go, visit her, and may God pour choice blessings on your head.
And always hold her memory dear: though far away, she is ever near
To watch and guard you on your way;
Remember her holy love, and keep your word on New Year's day."
"Dover Creek! "the brakeman shouts, in voice both loud and clear:
Box on back, off on the track jumps the boy with the golden hair.
And there he stands with the bitter past, just as the old year breathes its last.
And a moment more and he is at the gate of the church-yard old and gray.
"Oh, mother dear, I am not too late; I said I'd come on New Year's day."
Long years have passed since that cold morn when the lad with hair of gold
Came plodding along with box on back, and shivering from the cold:
And many anew grave has been made in the church-yard where his mother's laid.
Old age has bent his form low he will be eighty-five in May:
And at his mother's grave, in rain or snow, he asks her blessing on New Year's day.