(A short story in ballad stanza.)
Miss Lucy Brown was a pauper,
A washer woman by trade,
Who laundered fine silks and satins
For what the gentry paid.
Little enough earned for the toil,
Never silver or gold,
She took home but a few coppers
For each piece that she’d fold.
Lucy lived in a single room,
A cozy little flat,
Not much more than a bed and table
And a small tabby cat.
She kept a few books on a shelf,
A treasury of dreams.
She would read them late into the night
And wish for what she’d seen.
She toiled away at wash one day,
Her back now bent with age,
When a lady dressed all in silks,
Approached her and then said,
“Miss Lucy Brown you’ve washed for me,”
“Now all these many years,”
“And it weighs heavily on my mind”
“That I’ve shorted you I fear.”
“You still get but a few coppers”
“For work you do so well,”
“And I would like to pay in full”
“For the toil that you sell.”
Lucy Brown stood and dried her hands
And stared up in surprise,
As a laugh crossed her tired face
And a smile came to her eyes.
“I’ve never really needed more”
“Than what I’ve got you see.”
“It doesn’t take that much to feed”
“An old gray cat and me.”
“I’ve never had to beg for food,”
“Nor slept out in the cold”
“And my life has been a good one,”
“If I may be so bold.”
“There’s just one thing that you could give,”
“That I would gladly take.”
“If you would offer just friendship,”
“A difference that would make.”
And so Miss Lucy Brown did live
A long and quiet life,
With an old gray cat and her books
To see her through the nights.
Her room is empty, dark and cold,
Now that she’s not around,
But there’s fresh flowers every day
On the grave of Lucy Brown.