Poems of Childhood/The Hawthorne Children



THE Hawthorne children—seven in all—
Are famous friends of mine,
And with what pleasure I recall
How, years ago, one gloomy fall,
I took a tedious railway line
And journeyed by slow stages down
Unto that sleepy seaport town
(Albeit one worth seeing),
Where Hildegarde, John, Henry, Fred,
And Beatrix and Gwendolen
And she that was the baby then—
These famous seven, as aforesaid,
Lived, moved, and had their being.

The Hawthorne children gave me such
A welcome by the sea,
That the eight of us were soon in touch,
And though their mother marvelled much,
Happy as larks were we!
Egad I was a boy again
With Henry, John, and Gwendolen!
And, oh! the funny capers
I cut with Hildegarde and Fred!
The pranks we heedless children played,
The deafening, awful noise we made—
'T would shock my family, if they read
About it in the papers!

The Hawthorne children all were smart;
The girls, as I recall,
Had comprehended every art
Appealing to the head and heart,
The boys were gifted, all;
'T was Hildegarde who showed me how
To hitch the horse and milk a cow
And cook the best of suppers;
With Beatrix upon the sands
I sprinted daily, and was beat,
While Henry stumped me to the feat
Of walking round upon my hands
Instead of on my "uppers."

The Hawthorne children liked me best
Of evenings, after tea;
For then, by general request,
I spun them yarns about the west—
And all involving Me!
I represented how I'd slain
The bison on the gore-smeared plain,
And divers tales of wonder
I told of how I'd fought and bled
In Injun scrimmages galore,
Till Mrs. Hawthorne quoth, "No more!"
And packed her darlings off to bed
To dream of blood and thunder!

They must have changed a deal since then:
The misses tall and fair,
And those three lusty, handsome men,
Would they be girls and boys again
Were I to happen there,
Down in that spot beside the sea
Where we made such tumultuous glee
In dull autumnal weather?
Ah me! the years go swiftly by,
And yet how fondly I recall
The week when we were children all—
Dear Hawthorne children, you and I—
Just eight of us, together!