My Little Hero

HOW we wish that we knew a hero!”
Say the children, pressing round;
“Will you tell us if such a wonder
In London streets can be found?”

I point from my study-window
At a lad who is passing by:
“My darlings, there goes a hero;
You will know his oft-heard cry.”
“’Tis the chimney-sweep, dear father,
In his jacket so worn and old;
What can he do that is brave and true,
Wandering out in the cold?”
Says Maudie, “I thought that a hero
Was a man with a handsome face.”
“And I pictured him all in velvet dressed,
With a sword,” whispered little Grace.
“Mine is only a ‘sweeper,’ children,
His deeds all unnoticed, unknown;
Yet I think he is one of the heroes
God sees and will mark for his own.
“Out there he looks eager and cheerful,
No matter how poorly he fares;
No sign that his young heart is heavy
With the weight of unchildish cares.

The little chimney sweep, with his ragged clothes and brush


 “Home means to him but a dingy room,
A father he shudders to see;
Alas for the worse than neglected sons
Who have such a father as he!
“And a mother who lies on a ragged bed,
So sick and worn and sad;
No friend has she but this one pale boy—
This poor little sweeper-lad,
“So rough to others, and all unskilled,
Yet to her most tender and true,
Oft waking with patient cheerfulness
To soothe her the whole night through.
“He wastes no time on his own scant meals,
But goes forth with the morning sun;
Never a moment is wasted
Till his long day’s work is done.
“Then home to the dreary attic
Where his mother lies lonely all day,
Unheeding the boys who would tempt him
To linger with them and play.
“Because she is helpless and lonely,
He is doing a hero’s part;
For loving and self-denying
Are the tests of a noble heart.”