She took up one of the magazines and glanced through it casually, but somehow it did not appeal to the old lady, and so she laid it down again. There was a volume of poems, richly bound in vellum, on the table by her side, and for a little while the story of its gallant knights and lovely maidens bewitched her. But soon the weight of the book began to tire her feeble hands.
After that, quite as a last resort, she took up the evening paper and glanced through it, just to while away the time. She had never taken much concern in politics, the latest Parisian fashion did not interest her in the least, but presently three little verses, wedged in between a lurid account of a murder and a patent medicine advertisement, caught her eye.
The poem was Eugene Field's "Little Boy Blue," and at the very first lines of it the old lady became all attention:
The little toy dog is covered with dust,
But sturdy and staunch it stands,
And the little tin soldier is covered with rust,
And his musket molds in his hands.
Very slowly, as she read on, the tears came into her eyes and dimmed the spectacles so that she could scarcely see the lines of the second verse:
"Now don't you go till I come," he said,
"And qon't you make any noise !"
Then, toddling off to his trundle bed,
He dreamed of his pretty toys.
And as he was dreaming, an angel song
Awakened our little boy.
Oh, the years are many-
Yes, they were many! It was more than half a century ago now. The paper dropped from the old lady's hand and rustled to the floor. There was no use in trying to read any more, for her thoughts had flown away now to the time when she had had just such a Little Boy Blue as that. Since then she had had lots of other children. Even now, as she sat there in the twilight, she could hear the shouts of her grandchildren at play not far away, but little Geordie had been her first-born and somehow the others were different, and nobody knew just how but herself. She had daughters to console her in her widowhood, and when her married daughter had died her children had been left. But with little Geordie it was different. They only knew of him by the little headstone in the graveyard: but to he- why, after reading that little poem, it seemed as though it were only yesterday that he was toddling along beside her, rosy and bright and full of fun. And he used to say just those things- she remembered. .
"Why, mother," said her daughter, as she came in, "you've been crying! What's the matter?"
"It was nothing, dear," answered the old lady, as she wiped her eyes. "I was reading, you know. and it upset me a little. It was only a bit of newspaper verse."