IT was I that did it. Letty and Jane

Were busy stringing a lilac chain, 

And never noticed which way I went; 

So I walked down to the garden gate 

Where hid in the barberry bush she sat, 

The little brown wren upon her nest, 

Warming her eggs beneath her breast, 

.And half asleep in her safe content.

The girls had told me all about it, 

How the birds had built there every year, 

And what a pleasure it was to hear 

Their cheery chirp and chatter, and see 

Them working together so busily.

It was half the joy of the spring, said Jane,

When the dear little nest was built again,

And the place wouldn't seem the same without it.

I did not forget that; and I knew

It was a mean, mean thing to do;

But still, I wanted the eggs; and so

I frightened away the poor little bird

And robbed the nest; and nobody heard,

Although she fluttered and flapped her wings

And called for her mate, and the two poor things

Flew in their trouble to and fro.

Nobody heard their cry of pain;

And nobody saw me. Letty and Jane,

Stringing their lilacs, never guessed

That I was stealing the eggs from the nest.

Next day I met them going to school, 

And they made me feel well, worse than a fool 

When I saw their eyes all swelled and pink, 

And heard their words that came with a sob;

"O Tom! What do you, do you think? 

Somebody's been mean enough to rob 

The poor little wrens!" And then they cried, 

And I longed for a chance to run and hide!

"The poor little wrens that took no rest," 

Said Letty, "until they made that nest 

And laid the eggs, and there isn't one 

Left for the mother to sit upon! 

Some boy has done it, of course," she said,

"Not you," with a shake of her curly head,

"I know you would never, never do it! 

But the boy that did, will be found out 

Some day, and punished, beyond a doubt, 

God saw him, and he will make him rue it!"

So here I sit tonight by myself,

And if Letty and Jane could only see

Those speckled eggs up there on the shelf,

I wonder what they would think of me!

 Nothing worse, I'll venture to say,

Than I think, oh, if I only could but push

The whole world back into yesterday,

And those wren's eggs into the barberry bush!

But the wrong that's done in a minute or two,

Forever and ever won't undo.

One thing I've heard: that a wrong confessed 

(Of your own accord it means, I suppose, 

And when it's a thing that nobody knows,

Like this affair) is half redressed.

I wonder which, after all, is best, 

To carry the secret fear about

That Letty and Jane will find me out,

And to feel my face burn hot and red

Whenever I think of what they said,

And to be afraid, as I am tonight,

Of going to bed without a light . . .

Or, to take the eggs in my hand tomorrow

And say like a man, "I robbed the nest,

And here is the proof to my shame and sorrow"?

 I think on the whole that's easiest 

I'll do it! . . . Now I can put out my light

(God hears in the dark, I guess), and pray

To be forgiven for yesterday.

Mary E. Bradley, in Wide Awake