Mary Dow

By Hannah Flagg Gould

“Come in, little stranger,” I said,
As she tapped at my half-open door,
While the blanket pinned over her head,
Just reached to the basket she bore.
A look full of innocence fell
From her modest and pretty blue eye,
As she said, “I have matches to sell,
And hope you are willing to buy.
“A penny a bunch is the price;
I think you’ll not find it too much;
They’re tied up so even and nice,
And ready to light with a touch.”
I asked, “what’s your name, little girl?”
“‘T is Mary,” said she, “Mary Dow.”
And carelessly tossed off a curl,
That played o’er her delicate brow.
“My father was lost in the deep,
The ship never got to the shore;
And mother is sad, and will weep,
When she hears the wind blow and sea roar.
“She sits there at home without food,
Beside our poor sick Willie’s bed;
She paid all her money for wood,
And so I sell matches for bread.
“For every time that she tries,
Some things she’d be paid for, to make,
And lays down the baby, it cries,
And that makes my sick brother wake.
“I’d go to the yard and get chips,
But then it would make me too sad;
To see men there building the ships,
And think they had made one so bad.
“I’ve one other gown, and with care,
We think it may decently pass,
With my bonnet that’s put by to wear
To meeting and Sunday-school class.
“I love to go there, where I’m taught
Of One, who’s so wise and so good,
He knows every action and thought,
And gives e’en the raven his food.
“For He, I am sure, who can take
Such fatherly care of a bird,
Will never forget or forsake
The children who trust to his word.
“And now, if I only can sell
The matches I brought out to day,
I think I shall do very well,
And mother’ll rejoice at the pay.”
“Fly home, little bird,” then I thought,
“Fly home full of joy to your nest!”
For I took all the matches she brought,
And Mary may tell you the rest.