Newspaper History presents media sourced from a United States newspaper dating back 108 years.

  • Little Breeches

    From The Birmingham Age Herald, December 9, 1914. By John Hay.

    I don’t go much on religion,
        I never ain’t had no show;
    But I’ve got a middlin’ tight grip, sir,
        On the handful o’ things I know.
    I don’t pan out on the prophets
        And free-will, and that sort of thing—
    But I b’lieve in God and the angels
        Ever since one night last spring.

    I come into town with some turnips,
        And my little Gabe come along—
    No four-year-old in the county
        Could beat him for pretty and strong,
    Pert and chipper and sassy,
        Always ready to swear and fight—
    And I’d learnt him to chaw terbacker
        Jest to keep his milk-teeth white.

    The snow come down like a blanket
        As I passed by Taggart’s store;
    I went in for a jug of molasses
        And left the team at the door.
    They scared at something and started—
        I heard one little squall,
    And hell-to-split over the prairie
        Went team, Little Breeches and all.

    Hell-to-split over the prairie!
        I was almost froze with skeer;
    But we rousted up some torches,
        And searched for ’em far and near.
    At last we struck hosses and wagon,
        Snowed under a soft white mound,
    Upsot, dead beat—but of little Gabe
        No hide nor hair was found.

    And here all hopes soured on me,
        Of my fellow critter’s aid—
    I jest flopped down on my marrow-bones,
        Crotch deep in the snow, and prayed.
    By this, the torches was played out,
        And me and Isrul Parr
    Went off for some wood to a sheepfold
        That he said was somewhar thar.

    We found it at last, and a little shed
        Where they shut up the lambs at night.
    We looked in and seen them huddled
        Thar, so warm and sleepy and white;
    And thar sot Little Breeches and chirped,
        As pert as ever you see,
    “I want a chaw of terbacker,
        And that’s what’s the matter of me.”

    How did he git thar? Angels.
        He could never have walked in that storm.
    They jest scooped down and toted him
        To whar it was safe and warm.
    And I think that saving a little child,
        And fetching him to his own,
    Is a durned sight better business
        Than loafing around the throne.