Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE KITTEN OF THE REGIMENT, by JAMES BUCKHAM

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

First Line: This kitten, sir, of the colonel's? I'll tell the story
Last Line: And she'd a brother who died for the old flag too!
Alternate Author Name(s): Pastnor, Paul
Subject(s): Animals; Cats

THIS kitten, sir, of the Colonel's? I'll tell the story
We were at Roanoke, a month ago
Waiting the fleet, and camped on the hill-side white.
One night, when the sentinels were all at post,
We lay around the fires and talked of home.
The smoke wreathed up into the still blue sky,
The wind was whist, and all the stars shone clear—
Just such a night as sleeps above the hills
Of old New England when the frosts are hoar—
Talking not loud, but soft, as soldiers talk
After some months o' the rolling drum and sight
Of blood. The sentinel's sudden challenge came:
"Halt! Who goes there?"
We all leaped up and harked
"Only Doll Brewster, sir; I've brought my kitty."
What! a child's voice?—a child at bayonet's point?
Shame! Let her pass.

Into the fire-light then,
Led gently by two brave, kind soldier-boys,
Blushing, with downcast eyes, and pretty lip
Half curled to cry, hair loose and all like gold,
A kitten on her breast, walked sweet Doll Brewster.

Well, sir, the regiment came on the run;
And such a wall of 'em, all of 'em looking down
At a ten-year girl, hair loose, lip curled to cry,
And a kitten, white as snow, curled under her chin.
"Just like my sister!" cried one, "And mine!" cried another,
Till the fire began to look dim to all of us.
Then, sir, the Colonel came, with his sword a-clanking.
"What's this?" he cried, but stopped, and his face grew soft.
"Please, sir," said Doll, "I've brought you my little kit.
It's all I had, and Papa is sick and poor.
(Mamma, you know, is dead.) We're Northerners, sir,
And brother died for the flag. I loved him so!
Please take my kitty; I want to give something, sir."

The Colonel? He stooped and caught her in his arms—
Caught kitten and Doll, and kissed 'em both. He did!
And every man of us would have done the same,
And mighty glad of the chance.
There wasn't an eye
Could hold its tears, nor cheek that had kept dry,
And if it hadn't been for the Colonel there,
A hundred of us would have kissed the child.

Have you a sister?
You know how a man can feel for a bit of a child
With golden hair and eyes like the heaven's blue;
And she'd a brother who died for the old flag too!

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