BETA

TOD.”

Glad you have come ; —I was thinking of you ;1
And now for a whiff of the pipe or two.2
Lights ? there they are—but stay, let me see,3
How strange that something should puzzle me !4
For just as you turn’d a little your face5
To settle down in your usual place,6
The side of your head, as it came in view,7
Brought me in mind of some one I knew.8
But who ?  Let me think for a little while,9
The short brown beard and the cheery smile10
Why Tod—but strange I should think of him11
This night when so many things are dim.12
Little of time in the whirl of the street13
To think of the faces we pass and meet.14
But who is this Tod ? you ask me again.15
Why Tod was guard of a ballast train.16
Eight years ago !  And that takes me back17
To the rough four-feet of the railway track,18
When we were relaying, day by day,19
A mile or two of the permanent way.20
And Tod, poor fellow, I see him now,21
With his cap push’d back from his grimy brow,22
Talking away with a merry gleam23
In his eye, as he sat on the “ buffer” beam.24
And there he would sit talking politics25
To the rasping sound of the shovels and picks ;26
Or perhaps of some old song he had read,27
With the rhymes of it ringing still in his head.28
So he and I became friends, and when time29
Would allow us, we talked about books and rhyme ;30
But just by fits as we lay on the grass31
After dinner, or waiting for trains to pass.32
Then I left the rail, flung the shovel down,33
To come to the streets of the eager town ;34
Felt the old life sink like an evening glow,35
Then I heard of Tod—and well—you know ?36
Know what ?  Why this, the slip of a knee37
In the dark, from the “ buffer,” when none could see38
A fall on the rail, and quick as a breath39
The grip of the terrible wheel and—death.40
That was the end of Tod. And now41
I see him, the cap push’d back from his brow,42
And I hear him talk with a merry gleam43
In his eye, as he sits on the “ buffer” beam.44