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American History Stories, Volume IV by  Mara L. Pratt

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BARBARA FRIETCHIE

CONCERT READING

[81]

Up from the meadows rich with corn,

Clear in the cool September morn,


The cluster'd spires of Frederick stand,

Green-wall'd by the hills of Maryland.


Round about them orchards sweep,

Apple and peach-tree fruited deep,


Fair as a garden of the Lord,

To the eves of the famish'd rebel horde,


On that pleasant morn of the early Fall,

When Lee march'd over the mountain wall,


Over the mountains winding down,

Horse and foot, into Frederick town.


Forty flags with their silver stars,

Forty flags with their crimson bars,


Flapp'd in the morning wind: the sun

Of noon look'd down, and saw not one.


Up rose old Barbara Frietchie then,

Bow'd with her fourscore years and ten;


Bravest of all in Frederick town,

She took up the flag the men haul'd down,


In her attic window the staff she set,

To show that one heart was loyal yet.


[83]

Up the street came the rebel tread,

Stonewall Jackson riding ahead.


Under his slouch'd hat, left and right,

He glanced; the old flag met his sight:


"Halt!"—the dust-brown ranks stood fast.

"Fire!"—out blazed the rifle-blast.


It shivered the window, pane and sash;

It rent the banner with seam and gash.


Quick as it fell from the broken staff

Dame Barbara snatched the silken scarf.


She leaned far out on the window-sill,

And shook it forth with a royal will.


"Shoot, if you must, this old gray head,

But spare your country's flag," she said.


A shade of sadness, a blush of shame

Over the face of the leader came;


"Who touches a hair of yon gray head,

Dies like a dog! March on!" he said.


All day long through Frederick street

Sounded the tread of marching feet;


All day long that free flag tossed

Over the heads of the rebel host.


Barbara Frietchie's work is o'er,

And the rebel rides on his raids no more.


[Illustration]

BARBARA FRIETCHIE


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