Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > America
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX.  1876–79.
 
Middle States: Philadelphia, Pa.
The Little Black-Eyed Rebel
William Carleton (1845–1912)
 
          The name of “the little black-eyed rebel” was Mary Redmond. She was the daughter of a patriot who lived in Philadelphia at the time it was occupied by the British troops. In that city, and at the above-mentioned time, the incident told in the poem took place.

A BOY drove into the city, his wagon loaded down
With food to feed the people of the British-governed town;
And the little black-eyed rebel, so innocent and sly,
Was watching for his coming from the corner of her eye.
 
His face looked broad and honest, his hands were brown and tough,        5
The clothes he wore upon him were homespun, coarse, and rough;
But one there was who watched him, who long time lingered nigh,
And cast at him sweet glances from the corner of her eye.
 
He drove up to the market, he waited in the line;
His apples and potatoes were fresh and fair and fine;        10
But long and long he waited, and no one came to buy,
Save the black-eyed rebel, watching from the corner of her eye.
 
“Now who will buy my apples?” he shouted long and loud;
And “Who wants my potatoes?” he repeated to the crowd;
But from all the people round him came no word of a reply,        15
Save the black-eyed rebel, answering from the corner of her eye.
 
For she knew that ’neath the lining of the coat he wore that day
Were long letters from the husbands and the fathers far away,
Who were fighting for the freedom that they meant to gain or die;
And a tear like silver glistened in the corner of her eye.        20
 
But the treasures,—how to get them? crept the question through her mind,
Since keen enemies were watching for what prizes they might find:
And she paused awhile and pondered, with a pretty little sigh;
Then resolve crept through her features, and a shrewdness fired her eye.
 
So she resolutely walked up to the wagon old and red;        25
“May I have a dozen apples for a kiss?” she sweetly said:
And the brown face flushed to scarlet; for the boy was somewhat shy,
And he saw her laughing at him from the corner of her eye.
 
“You may have them all for nothing, and more, if you want,” quoth he.
“I will have them, my good fellow, but can pay for them,” said she;        30
And she clambered on the wagon, minding not who all were by,
With a laugh of reckless romping in the corner of her eye.
 
Clinging round his brawny neck, she clasped her angers white and small,
And then whispered, “Quick! the letters! thrust them underneath my shawl!
Carry back again this package, and be sure that you are spry!”        35
And she sweetly smiled upon him from the corner of her eye.
 
Loud the motley crowd were laughing at the strange, ungirlish freak,
And the boy was scared and panting, and so dashed he could not speak;
And “Miss, I have good apples,” a bolder lad did cry;
But she answered, “No, I thank you,” from the corner of her eye.        40
 
With the news of loved ones absent to the dear friends they would greet,
Searching them who hungered for them, swift she glided through the street.
“There is nothing worth the doing that it does not pay to try,”
Thought the little black-eyed rebel, with a twinkle in her eye.
 
 
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