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Six little feet to cover,
Six little hands to fill,
Tumbling out in the clover,
Stumbling over the sill;
Six little stockings ripping,
Six little shoes half worn,
Spite of that promised whipping,
Skirts, shirts, and aprons torn!


Bugs and bumble-bees catching,
Heedless of bites and stings,
Walls and furniture scratching,
Twisting off buttons and strings.
Into the sugar and the flour,
Into the salt and meal,
Their royal baby power,
All through the house we feel!


Behind the big stove creeping,
To steal the kindling-wood;
Into the cupboard peeping,
To hunt for "somesin dood."
The dogs they tease to snarling,
The chickens know no rest,
Yet the old nurse calls them "darling,"
And loves each one "the best."


Smearing each other's faces
With smut or blacking-brush,
To forbidden things and places
Always making a rush.
Over a chair or table
They'll fight, and kiss again
When told of slaughtered Abel,
Or cruel, wicked Cain.


All sorts of mischief trying,
On sunny days in-doors,
And then perversely crying
To rush out when it pours.
A raid on Grandma making,
In spite her nice new cap,
Its strings for bridles taking,
While riding on her lap.


Three rose-bud mouths beguiling,
Prattling the livelong day,
Six sweet eyes on me smiling,
Hazel, and blue, and gray,--
Hazel with heart-light sparkling,
Too happy, we trust, to fade--
Blue 'neath long lashes darkling,
Like violets in the shade.


Gray full of earnest meaning,
A dawning light so fair
Of woman's life beginning
We dread the noon-tide glare
Of earthly strife and passion,
May spoil its tender glow,
Change its celestial fashion,
As earth-stains change the snow!


Six little clasped hands lifted,
Three white brows upward turned,
One prayer thrice heavenward drifted
To Him who never spurned
The lisp of lips, where laughter
Fading away in prayer,
Leaves holy twilight after
A noon of gladness there.


Three little heads, all sunny,
To pillow and bless at night,
Riotous Alick and Dunnie,
Jinnie, so bonnie and bright!
Three souls immortal slumber,
Crowned by that golden hair.
When Christ his flock shall number,
Will all my lambs be there?


Now with the stillness round me,
I bow my head and pray,
"Since this faint heart has found thee,
Suffer them not to stray."
Up to the shining portals,
Over life's stormy tide,
Treasures I bring--immortal;
Saviour, be thou my guide.