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Noey Bixler
by [?]

Another hero of those youthful years
Returns, as Noey Bixler’s name appears.
And Noey–if in any special way–
Was notably good-natured.–Work or play
He entered into with selfsame delight–
A wholesome interest that made him quite
As many friends among the old as young,–
So everywhere were Noey’s praises sung.

And he was awkward, fat and overgrown,
With a round full-moon face, that fairly shone
As though to meet the simile’s demand.
And, cumbrous though he seemed, both eye and hand
Were dowered with the discernment and deft skill
Of the true artisan: He shaped at will,
In his old father’s shop, on rainy days,
Little toy-wagons, and curved-runner sleighs;
The trimmest bows and arrows–fashioned, too.
Of “seasoned timber,” such as Noey knew
How to select, prepare, and then complete,
And call his little friends in from the street.
“The very best bow,” Noey used to say,
“Haint made o’ ash ner hick’ry thataway!–
But you git mulberry–the bearin‘-tree,
Now mind ye! and you fetch the piece to me,
And lem me git it seasoned; then, i gum!
I’ll make a bow ‘at you kin brag on some!
Er–ef you can’t git mulberry,–you bring
Me a’ old locus‘ hitch-post, and i jing!
I’ll make a bow o’ that ‘at common bows
Won’t dast to pick on ner turn up their nose!”
And Noey knew the woods, and all the trees,
And thickets, plants and myriad mysteries
Of swamp and bottom-land. And he knew where
The ground-hog hid, and why located there.–
He knew all animals that burrowed, swam,
Or lived in tree-tops: And, by race and dam,
He knew the choicest, safest deeps wherein
Fish-traps might flourish nor provoke the sin
Of theft in some chance peeking, prying sneak,
Or town-boy, prowling up and down the creek.
All four-pawed creatures tamable–he knew
Their outer and their inner natures too;
While they, in turn, were drawn to him as by
Some subtle recognition of a tie
Of love, as true as truth from end to end,
Between themselves and this strange human friend.
The same with birds–he knew them every one,
And he could “name them, too, without a gun.”
No wonder Johnty loved him, even to
The verge of worship.–Noey led him through
The art of trapping redbirds–yes, and taught
Him how to keep them when he had them caught–
What food they needed, and just where to swing
The cage, if he expected them to sing.

And Bud loved Noey, for the little pair
Of stilts he made him; or the stout old hair
Trunk Noey put on wheels, and laid a track
Of scantling-railroad for it in the back
Part of the barn-lot; or the cross-bow, made
Just like a gun, which deadly weapon laid
Against his shoulder as he aimed, and–“Sping!”
He’d hear the rusty old nail zoon and sing–
And zip! your Mr. Bluejay’s wing would drop
A farewell-feather from the old tree-top!
And Maymie loved him, for the very small
But perfect carriage for her favorite doll–
A lady’s carriage–not a baby-cab,–
But oilcloth top, and two seats, lined with drab
And trimmed with white lace-paper from a case
Of shaving-soap his uncle bought some place
At auction once.

And Alex loved him yet
The best, when Noey brought him, for a pet,
A little flying-squirrel, with great eyes–
Big as a child’s: And, childlike otherwise,
It was at first a timid, tremulous, coy,
Retiring little thing that dodged the boy
And tried to keep in Noey’s pocket;–till,
In time, responsive to his patient will,
It became wholly docile, and content
With its new master, as he came and went,–
The squirrel clinging flatly to his breast,
Or sometimes scampering its craziest
Around his body spirally, and then
Down to his very heels and up again.