The Dying Newsboy by Emily Thornton

In an attic bare and cheerless, Jim the newsboy dying lay
On a rough but clean straw pallet, at the fading of the day;
Scant the furniture about him but bright flowers were in the room,
Crimson phloxes, waxen lilies, roses laden with perfume.
On a table by the bedside open at a well-worn page,
Where the mother had been reading lay a Bible stained by age,
Now he could not hear the verses; he was flighty, and she wept
With her arms around her youngest, who close to her side had crept.
 
Blacking boots and selling papers, in all weathers day by day,
Brought upon poor Jim consumption, which was eating life away,
And this cry came with his anguish for each breath a struggle cost,
"'Ere's the morning Sun and 'Erald—latest news of steamship lost.
Papers, mister? Morning papers?" Then the cry fell to a moan,
Which was changed a moment later to another frenzied tone:
"Black yer boots, sir? Just a nickel! Shine 'em like an evening star.
It grows late, Jack! Night is coming. Evening papers, here they are!"
 
Soon a mission teacher entered, and approached the humble bed;
Then poor Jim's mind cleared an instant, with his cool hand on his head,
"Teacher," cried he, "I remember what you said the other day,
Ma's been reading of the Saviour, and through Him I see my way.
He is with me! Jack, I charge you of our mother take good care
When Jim's gone! Hark! boots or papers, which will I be over there?
Black yer boots, sir? Shine 'em right up! Papers! Read God's book instead,
Better'n papers that to die on! Jack—" one gasp, and Jim was dead!
 
Floating from that attic chamber came the teacher's voice in prayer,
And it soothed the bitter sorrow of the mourners kneeling there,
He commended them to Heaven, while the tears rolled down his face,
Thanking God that Jim had listened to sweet words of peace and grace,
Ever 'mid the want and squalor of the wretched and the poor,
Kind hearts find a ready welcome, and an always open door;
For the sick are in strange places, mourning hearts are everywhere,
And such need the voice of kindness, need sweet sympathy and prayer.