Menella Bute Smedley

Disobedience

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Says he, “I'll take my father's gun,
Obedience is absurd;
And would not it be awful fun
If I could shoot a bird!”
Says she, “A bird you cannot shoot.”
Says he, “But, if I can?”
Says she, “You'll feel just like a brute.”
Says he, “No; like a man!”

“And when my father shoots,” says he;
“Who speaks a word of blame?
And very 'cute that bird must be
That can elude his aim!
And am not I, my father's son,
Heir to my father's skill?
Says you—You shall not touch his gun,
Says I,—Bedad, I will!”
Says she, “Your honour you forget;
What! do it on the sly?”
Says he, “That little sermonet
Is really all my eye!
For if a fellow went to speak
And promulgate such views,
You'd be the first to call it ‘cheek,’
And tremble in your shoes!”

“And with my faithful comrade Shag,
(Dear dog, beloved of all!),
I rather think I'll fill a bag,
That's the reverse of small;
The noble dog looks in my face
With his true, honest eyes,
And wags his tail with placid grace,
And barks his glad surprise.”
Then with that merry laugh of his
He waved the gun on high,
And sang, “Ye birds, that whirr and whiz,
Ye little think it's I!
Ye birds that whiz and whirr for me,
That whirr and whiz,” he sang,
“I've got my father's gun, you see,
And won't I make it bang!”

Oh! when the wrong we once begin,
How can we grasp the right?
He thought it such a little sin,
And such a large delight;
He thought it such a little sin,
A merry ‘lark’ at most;
But when the wrong we once begin,
How can we count the cost?
A movement indolent and rash,
Half earnest, half in joke,
A sudden shock, a deadly crash,
A cloud of lurid smoke—
The noble dog lies there in pain,
His life-blood streaming fast.
Oh! life that cannot come again,
Soon reckon'd with the past!

The noble dog looks up at him
With his true honest eyes,
Poor eyes that now are waxing dim,
Large limbs that may not rise;
The friendly ever-wagging tail
Moves faintly to and fro;
In life or death Shag could not fail
To greet his master so!
In mute despair his master stands,
Wishing his work undone;
The gun has fallen from his hands,
The wicked, tempting gun!
He kneels beside him on the floor,
Striving to soothe his pain;
If tears and kisses could restore,
Poor Shag would live again!

Too late, with vain remorse, he sees
The fault that wrought the ill;
Had he obey'd his sire's decrees,
Shag had been living still!
Poor Shag! who seems to understand
The sorrow in his eyes,
And kindly licks his master's hand,
Though by that hand he dies.
Oh, children! in these days of ours
Fairies have vanishèd,
I think that they have lost their powers,—
I fear they all are dead.
But when this boy was doing wrong
(Which its own sorrow brings),
Fairies were very young and strong,
And did amazing things!

So when he bound the bleeding side,
And kiss'd the fainting nose,
Just when poor Shaggie should have died
The fairies interpose!
But, children, we must recollect
Fairies no more appear;
If we do wrong, we must expect
That it will cost us dear!
And though Shag's wound was soon forgot,
The boy was still to blame;
And had poor Shaggie ne'er been shot,
The fault was still the same!
Whate'er may be the consequence,
Whether we lose or win,
The sin of disobedience
Is a most fearful sin.

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Menella Bute Smedley