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Master Johnny's Next-Door Neighbor

It was spring the first time that I saw her, for her papa and mamma moved in
Next door, just as skating was over, and marbles about to begin;
For the fence in our back yard was broken, and I saw, as I peeped through the slat,
There were "Johnny-jump-ups" all around her, and I knew it was spring just by that.

I never knew whether she saw me, for she didn't say nothing to me,
But "Ma! here's a slat in the fence broke, and the boy that is next door can see."
But the next day I climbed on our wood-shed, as you know Mamma says I've a right,
And she calls out, "Well, peekin' is manners!" and I answered her, "Sass is perlite!"

But I wasn't a bit mad, no, Papa, and to prove it, the very next day,
When she ran past our fence in the morning I happened to get in her way,--
For you know I am "chunked" and clumsy, as she says are all boys of my size,--
And she nearly upset me, she did, Pa, and laughed till tears came in her eyes.

And then we were friends from that moment, for I knew that she told Kitty Sage,--
And she wasn't a girl that would flatter--"that she thought I was tall for my age."
And I gave her four apples that evening, and took her to ride on my sled,
And-- "What am I telling you this for?" Why, Papa, my neighbor is DEAD!

You don't hear one half I am saying,--I really do think it's too bad!
Why, you might have seen crape on her door-knob, and noticed to-day I've been sad.
And they've got her a coffin of rosewood, and they say they have dressed her in white,
And I've never once looked through the fence, Pa, since she died--at eleven last night.

And Ma says it's decent and proper, as I was her neighbor and friend,
That I should go there to the funeral, and she thinks that YOU ought to attend;
But I am so clumsy and awkward, I know I shall be in the way,
And suppose they should speak to me, Papa, I wouldn't know just what to say.

So I think I will get up quite early,--I know I sleep late, but I know
I'll be sure to wake up if our Bridget pulls the string that I'll tie to my toe;
And I'll crawl through the fence, and I'll gather the "Johnny-jump-ups" as they grew
Round her feet the first day that I saw her, and, Papa, I'll give them to you.

For you're a big man, and, you know, Pa, can come and go just where you choose,
And you'll take the flowers in to her, and surely they'll never refuse;
But, Papa, don't SAY they're from Johnny; THEY won't understand, don't you see?
But just lay them down on her bosom, and, Papa, SHE'LL know they're from Me.



Bret Harte

I: National

II: Spanish Idyls and Legends

III: In Dialect

IV: Miscellaneous

V: Parodies

VI: Songs Without Sense

VII: Little Posterity

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