A Backward Look.

As I sat smoking, alone, yesterday,
And lazily leaning back in my chair,
Enjoying myself in a general way--
Allowing my thoughts a holiday
From weariness, toil and care,--
My fancies--doubtless, for ventilation--
Left ajar the gates of my mind,--
And Memory, seeing the situation,
Slipped out in street of "Auld Lang Syne."

Wandering ever with tireless feet
Through scenes of silence, and jubilee
Of long-hushed voices; and faces sweet
Were thronging the shadowy side of the street
As far as the eye could see;
Dreaming again, in anticipation,
The same old dreams of our boyhood's days
That never come true, from the vague sensation
Of walking asleep in the world's strange ways.

Away to the house where I was born!
And there was the selfsame clock that ticked
From the close of dusk to the burst of morn,
When life-warm hands plucked the golden corn
And helped when the apples were picked.
And the "chany-dog" on the mantel-shelf,
With the gilded collar and yellow eyes,
Looked just as at first, when I hugged myself
Sound asleep with the dear surprise.

And down to the swing in the locust tree,
Where the grass was worn from the trampled ground,
And where "Eck" Skinner, "Old" Carr, and three
Or four such other boys used to be
Doin' "sky-scrapers," or "whirlin' round:"
And again Bob climbed for the bluebird's nest,
And again "had shows" in the buggy-shed
Of Guymon's barn, where still, unguessed,
The old ghosts romp through the best days dead!

And again I gazed from the old school-room
With a wistful look of a long June day,
When on my cheek was the hectic bloom
Caught of Mischief, as I presume--
He had such a "partial" way,
It seemed, toward me.--And again I thought
Of a probable likelihood to be
Kept in after school--for a girl was caught
Catching a note from me.

And down through the woods to the swimming-hole--
Where the big, white, hollow, old sycamore grows,--
And we never cared when the water was cold,
And always "ducked" the boy that told
On the fellow that tied the clothes.--
When life went so like a dreamy rhyme,
That it seems to me now that then
The world was having a jollier time
Than it ever will have again.

The crude production is received, I am glad to note, with some
expressions of favor from the company, though Bob, of course, must
heartlessly dissipate my weak delight by saying, "Well, it's certainly
bad enough; though," he goes on with an air of deepest critical
sagacity and fairness, "considered, as it should be, justly, as the
production of a jour-poet, why, it might be worse--that is, a little
worse."

"Probably," I remember saying,--"Probably I might redeem myself by
reading you this little amateurish bit of verse, enclosed to me in a
letter by mistake, not very long ago." I here fish an envelope from my
pocket the address of which all recognize as in Bob's almost printed
writing. He smiles vacantly at it--then vividly colors.

"What date?" he stoically asks.

"The date," I suggestively answer, "of your last letter to our dear
Doc, at Boarding-School, two days exactly in advance of her coming
home--this veritable visit now."

Both Bob and Doc rush at me--but too late. The letter and contents
have wholly vanished. The youngest Miss Mills quiets us--urgently
distracting us, in fact, by calling our attention to the immediate
completion of our joint production; "For now," she says, "with our new
reinforcement, we can, with becoming diligence, soon have it ready for
both printer and engraver, and then we'll wake up the boy (who has
been fortunately slumbering for the last quarter of an hour), and
present to him, as designed and intended, this matchless creation of
our united intellects." At the conclusion of this speech we all go
good-humoredly to work, and at the close of half an hour the tedious,
but most ridiculous, task is announced completed.

As I arrange and place in proper form here on the table the separate
cards--twenty-seven in number--I sigh to think that I am unable to
transcribe for you the best part of the nonsensical work--the
illustrations. All I can give is the written copy of--
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