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Title: Rubaiyat of Doc Sifers
Author: Riley, James Whitcomb, 1849-1916
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Rubaiyat of Doc Sifers" ***

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Other Books by
James Whitcomb Riley

    PIPES O' PAN (Prose and Verse).
    OLD-FASHIONED ROSES (English Edition).




    C. M. RELYEA



  Copyright, 1897,

  Copyright, 1897,






    _We found him in that Far-away_
       _that yet to us seems near--_
    _We vagrants of but yesterday_
       _when idlest youth was here,--_
    _When lightest song and laziest mirth_
       _possessed us through and through,_
    _And all the dreamy summer-earth_
       _seemed drugged with morning dew:_

    _When our ambition scarce had shot_
       _a stalk or blade indeed:_
    _Yours,--choked as in the garden-spot_
       _you still deferred to "weed":_
    _Mine,--but a pipe half-cleared of pith--_
       _as now it flats and whines_
    _In sympathetic cadence with_
       _a hiccough in the lines._

    _Aye, even then--O timely hour!--_
       _the High Gods did confer_
    _In our behalf:--And, clothed in power,_
       _lo, came their Courier--_
    _Not winged with flame nor shod with wind,--_
       _but ambling down the pike_,
    _Horseback, with saddlebags behind,_
       _and guise all human-like._

    _And it was given us to see,_
       _beneath his rustic rind,_
    _A native force and mastery_
       _of such inspiring kind,_
    _That half unconsciously we made_
       _obeisance.--Smiling, thus_
    _His soul shone from his eyes and laid_
       _its glory over us._

       *       *       *       *       *

    _Though, faring still that Far-away_
       _that yet to us seems near,_
    _His form, through mists of yesterday,_
       _fades from the vision here,_
    _Forever as he rides, it is_
       _in retinue divine,--_
    _The hearts of all his time are his,_
       _with your hale heart and mine._






    Ef you don't know DOC SIFERS I'll
       jes argy, here and now,
    You've bin a mighty little while
       about here, anyhow!
    'Cause Doc he's rid these roads and woods--
       er _swum_ 'em, now and then--
    And practised in this neighberhood
       sence hain't no tellin' when!


    In radius o' fifteen mile'd,
       all p'ints o' compass round,
    No man er woman, chick er child,
       er team, on top o' ground,
    But knows _him_--yes, and got respects
       and likin' fer him, too,
    Fer all his so-to-speak dee-fects
       o' genius showin' through!


    Some claims he's absent-minded; some
       has said they wuz afeard
    To take his powders when he come
       and dosed 'em out, and 'peared
    To have his mind on somepin' else--
       like County Ditch, er some
    New way o' tannin' mussrat-pelts,
       er makin' butter come.



    He's cur'ous--they hain't no mistake
       about it!--but he's got
    Enough o' extry brains to make
       a _jury_--like as not.
    They's no _describin'_ Sifers,--fer,
       when all is said and done,
    He's jes _hisse'f Doc Sifers_--ner
       they hain't no other one!


    Doc's allus sociable, polite,
       and 'greeable, you'll find--
    Pervidin' ef you strike him right
       and nothin' on his mind,--
    Like in some _hurry_, when they've sent
       fer Sifers _quick_, you see,
    To 'tend some sawmill-accident,
       er picnic jamboree;


    Er when the lightnin' 's struck some hare-
       brained harvest-hand; er in
    Some 'tempt o' suicidin'--where
       they'd ort to try ag'in!
    I've _knowed_ Doc haul up from a trot
       and talk a' hour er two
    When railly he'd a-ort o' not
       a-stopped fer "_Howdy-do!_"




    And then, I've met him 'long the road,
       _a-lopin'_,--starin' straight
    Ahead,--and yit he never knowed
       me when I hollered "_Yate,
    Old Saddlebags!_" all hearty-like,
       er "_Who you goin' to kill?_"
    And he'd say nothin'--only hike
       on faster, starin' still!


    I'd bin insulted, many a time,
       ef I jes wuzn't shore
    Doc didn't mean a thing. And I'm
       not tetchy any more
    Sence that-air day, ef he'd a-jes
       a-stopped to jaw with _me_,
    They'd bin a little dorter less
       in my own fambily!


    Times _now_, at home, when Sifers' name
       comes up, I jes _let on_,
    You know, 'at I think Doc's to _blame_,
       the way he's bin and gone
    And disapp'inted folks--'Ll-_jee_-mun-_nee_!
       you'd ort to then
    Jes hear my wife light into me--
       "_ongratefulest o' men!_"




    'Mongst _all_ the women--mild er rough,
       splendifferous er plain,
    Er them _with_ sense, er not enough
       to come in out the rain,--
    Jes ever' shape and build and style
       o' women, fat er slim--
    They all like Doc, and got a smile
       and pleasant word fer _him_!


    Ner hain't no horse I've ever saw
       but what'll neigh and try
    To sidle up to him, and paw,
       and sense him, ear-and-eye:
    Then jes a tetch o' Doc's old pa'm,
       to pat 'em, er to shove
    Along their nose--and they're as ca'm
       as any cooin' dove!


    And same with _dogs_,--take any breed,
       er strain, er pedigree,
    Er racial caste 'at can't concede
       no use fer you er me,--
    They'll putt all predju-dice aside
       in _Doc's_ case and go in
    Kahoots with him, as satisfied
       as he wuz kith-and-kin!


    And Doc's a wonder, trainin' pets!--
       He's got a chicken-hawk,
    In kind o' half-cage, where he sets
       out in the gyarden-walk,
    And got that wild bird trained so tame,
       he'll loose him, and he'll fly
    Clean to the woods!--Doc calls his name--
       and he'll come, by-and-by!



    Some says no money down ud buy
       that bird o' Doc.--Ner no
    Inducement to the _bird_, says I,
       'at _he'd_ let _Sifers_ go!
    And Doc _he_ say 'at _he's_ content--
       long as a bird o' prey
    Kin 'bide _him_, it's a _compliment_,
       and takes it thataway.


    But, gittin' back to _docterin'_--all
       the sick and in distress,
    And old and pore, and weak and small,
       and lone and motherless,--
    I jes tell _you_ I 'preciate
       the man 'at 's got the love
    To "go ye forth and ministrate!"
       as Scriptur' tells us of.


    _Dull_ times, Doc jes _mi_anders round,
       in that old rig o' his:
    And hain't no tellin' where he's bound
       ner guessin' where he is;
    He'll drive, they tell, jes thataway
       fer maybe six er eight
    Days at a stretch; and neighbers say
       he's bin clean round the State.


    He picked a' old tramp up, one trip,
       'bout eighty mile'd from here,
    And fetched him home and k-yored his
       hip, and kep' him 'bout a year;
    And feller said--in all _his_ ja'nts
       round this terreschul ball
    'At no man wuz a _circumstance_
       to _Doc_!--he topped 'em all!--



    Said, bark o' trees 's a' open book
       to Doc, and vines and moss
    He read like writin'--with a look
       knowed ever' dot and cross:
    Said, stars at night wuz jes as good
       's a compass: said, he s'pose
    You couldn't lose Doc in the woods
       the darkest night that blows!


    Said, Doc'll tell you, purty clos't,
       by underbresh and plants,
    How fur off _warter_ is,--and 'most
       perdict the sort o' chance
    You'll have o' findin' _fish_; and how
       they're liable to _bite_,
    And whether they're a-bitin' now,
       er only after night.


    And, whilse we're talkin' _fish_,--I mind
       they formed a fishin'-crowd
    (When folks _could_ fish 'thout gittin' _fined_,
       and seinin' wuz allowed!)
    O' leadin' citizens, you know,
       to go and seine "Old Blue"--
    But hadn't no big seine, and so--
       w'y, what wuz they to do?...


    And Doc he say he thought 'at _he_
       could _knit_ a stitch er two--
    "Bring the _materials_ to me--
       'at's all I'm astin' you!"
    And down he sets--six weeks, i jing!
       and knits that seine plum done--
    Made corks too, brails and ever'thing--
       good as a boughten one!



    Doc's _public_ sperit--when the sick
       's not takin' _all_ his time
    And he's got _some_ fer politics--
       is simple yit sublime:--
    He'll _talk_ his _principles_--and they
       air _honest_;--but the sly
    Friend strikes him first, election-day,
       he'd 'commodate, er die!


    And yit, though Doc, as all men knows,
       is square straight up and down,
    That vote o' his is--well, I s'pose--
       the cheapest one in town;--
    A fact 'at's sad to verify,
       as could be done on oath--
    I've voted Doc myse'f--_And I
       was criminal fer both!_


    You kin corrupt the _ballot-box_--corrupt
       _yourse'f_, as well--
    Corrupt _some_ neighbers,--but
       old Doc's as oncorruptible
    As Holy Writ. So putt a pin
       right there!--Let _Sifers_ be,
    I jucks! he wouldn't vote agin
       his own worst inimy!


    When Cynthy Eubanks laid so low
       with fever, and Doc Glenn
    Told Euby Cynth 'ud haf to go--
       they sends fer _Sifers_ then!...
    Doc sized the case: "She's starved," says he,
       "fer _warter_--yes, and _meat_!
    The treatment 'at she'll git from _me_
       's all she kin drink and eat!"



    He orders Euby then to split
       some wood, and take and build
    A fire in kitchen-stove, and git
       a young spring-chicken killed;
    And jes whirled in and th'owed his hat
       and coat there on the bed,
    And warshed his hands and sailed in that
       -air kitchen, Euby said,


    And biled that chicken-broth, and got
       that dinner--all complete
    And clean and crisp and good and hot
       as mortal ever eat!
    And Cynth and Euby both'll say
       'at Doc'll git as good
    Meals-vittles up, jes any day,
       as any _woman_ could!


    Time Sister Abbick tuk so bad
       with striffen o' the lung,
    P'tracted Meetin', where she had
       jes shouted, prayed and sung
    All winter long, through snow and thaw,--
       when Sifers come, says he:
    "No, M'lissy; don't poke out your raw
       and cloven tongue at me!--


    "I know, without no symptoms but
       them _injarubber-shoes_
    You promised me to never putt
       a fool-foot in ner use
    At purril o' your life!" he said.
       "And I won't save you _now_,
    Onless--here on your dyin' bed--
       you consecrate your vow!"


    Without a-claimin' _any creed_,
       Doc's rail religious views
    Nobody knows--ner got no _need_
       o' knowin' whilse he choose
    To be heerd not of man, ner raise
       no loud, vainglorious prayers
    In crowded marts, er public ways,
       er--i jucks, _any_wheres!--



    'Less 'n it _is_ away deep down
       in his own heart, at night,
    Facin' the storm, when all the town
       's a-sleepin' snug and tight--
    Him splashin' hence from scenes o' pride
       and sloth and gilded show,
    To some pore sufferer's bedside
       o' anguish, don't you know!


    Er maybe dead o' _winter_--makes
       no odds to _Doc_,--he's got
    To face the weather ef it takes
       the hide off! 'cause he'll not
    _Lie_ out o' goin' and p'tend
       he's sick hisse'f--like _some_
    'At I could name 'at folks might send
       fer and they'd _never_ come!



    Like pore Phin Hoover--when he goes
       to that last dance o' his!
    That Chris'mus when his feet wuz froze--
       and Doc saved all they is
    Left of 'em--"'Nough," as Phin say now,
       "to _track_ me by, and be
    A adver_tise_ment, anyhow,
       o' what Doc's done fer me!--


    "When _he_ come--knife-and-saw"--Phin say,
       "I knowed, ef I'd the spunk,
    'At Doc 'ud fix me up _some_ way,
       ef nothin' but my _trunk_
    Wuz left, he'd fasten _casters_ in,
       and have me, spick-and-span,
    A-skootin' round the streets ag'in
       as spry as any man!"


    Doc sees a patient's _got_ to quit--
       he'll ease him down serene
    As dozin' off to sleep, and yit
       not dope him with mor-_pheen_.--
    He won't tell _what_--jes 'lows 'at he
       has "airn't the right to sing
    'O grave, where is thy victery!
       O death, where is thy sting!'"


    And, mind ye now!--it's not in scoff
       and scorn, by long degree,
    'At Doc gits things like that-un off:
       it's jes his _shority_
    And total faith in Life to Come,--
       w'y, "from that _Land o' Bliss_,"
    He says, "we'll haf to chuckle some,
       a-lookin' back at this!"




    And, still in p'int, I mind, one _night
       o' 'nitiation_ at
    Some secert lodge, 'at Doc set right
       down on 'em, square and flat,
    When they mixed up some Scriptur' and
       wuz _funnin'_-like--w'y, he
    Lit in 'em with a rep'imand
       'at ripped 'em, A to Z!


    And onc't--when gineral loafin'-place
       wuz old Shoe-Shop--and all
    The gang 'ud git in there and brace
       their backs ag'inst the wall
    And _settle_ questions that had went
       onsettled long enough,--
    Like "wuz no Heav'n--ner no torment"--
       _jes talkin' awful rough!_



    There wuz Sloke Haines and old Ike Knight
       and Coonrod Simmes--all three
    Ag'inst the Bible and the Light,
       and scoutin' Deity.
    "_Science_," says Ike, "it _dimonstrates_--
       it takes nobody's word--
    _Scriptur'_ er not,--it _'vestigates_
       ef sich things could occurred!"


    Well, Doc he heerd this,--he'd drapped in
       a minute, fer to git
    A tore-off heel pegged on agin,--
       and, as he stood on it
    And stomped and grinned, he says to Ike,
       "I s'pose now, purty soon
    Some lightnin'-bug, indignant-like,
       'll ''vestigate' the moon!...


    "No, Ike," says Doc, "this world hain't saw
       no brains like yourn and mine
    With sense enough to grasp a law
       'at takes a brain divine.--
    I've bared the thoughts of brains in doubt,
       and felt their finest pulse,--
    And mortal brains jes won't turn out
       omnipotent results!"


    And Doc he's got respects to spare
       the _rich_ as well as _pore_--
    Says he, "I'd turn no _millionaire_
       onsheltered from my door."--
    Says he, "What's wealth to him in quest
       o' _honest_ friends to back
    And love him fer _hisse'f_?--not jes
       because he's made his jack!"




    And childern.--_Childern?_ Lawzy-day!
       Doc _worships_ 'em!--You call
    Round at his house and _ast_ 'em!--
       they're a-_swarmin'_ there--that's all!--
    They're in his _Li_b'ry--in best room--
       in kitchen--fur and near,--
    In office too, and, I p'sume,
       his operatin'-cheer!


    You know they's men 'at _bees_ won't sting?--
       They's plaguey _few_,--but Doc
    He's one o' _them_.--And same, i jing!
       with _childern_;--they jes flock
    Round Sifers _natchurl_!--in his lap,
       and in his pockets, too,
    And in his old fur mitts and cap,
       and _heart_ as warm and true!


    It's cur'ous, too,--'cause Doc
       hain't got no childern of his own--
    'Ceptin' the ones he's tuk
       and brought up, 'at's bin left alone.
    And orphans when their father died,
       er mother,--and Doc he
    Has he'pped their dyin' satisfied.--
       "The child shall live with me




    "And Winniferd, my wife," he'd say,
       and stop right there, and cle'r
    His th'oat, and go on thinkin' way
       _some_ mother-hearts down here
    Can't never feel _their own_ babe's face
       a-pressin' 'em, ner make
    Their naked breasts a restin'-place
       fer any baby's sake.


    Doc's _Li_b'ry--as he calls it,--well,
       they's ha'f-a-dozen she'ves
    Jam-full o' books--I couldn't tell
       _how_ many--count yourse'ves!
    _One whole she'f's_ Works on Medicine!
       and most the rest's about
    First Settlement, and Indians in
       here,--'fore we driv 'em out.--


    And Plutarch's Lives--and life also
       o' Dan'el Boone, and this-
    Here Mungo Park, and Adam Poe--
       jes all the _lives_ they is!
    And Doc's got all the _novels_ out,--
       by Scott and Dickison
    And Cooper.--And, I make no doubt,
       he's read 'em ever' one!

[Illustration: Doc's Lib'ry]


    Onc't, in his office, settin' there,
       with crowd o' eight er nine
    Old neighbers with the time to spare,
       and Doc a-feelin' fine,
    A man rid up from Rollins, jes
       fer Doc to write him out
    Some blame p'scription--done, I guess,
       in minute, nigh about.--



    And _I_ says, "Doc, you 'pear so spry,
       jes write me that recei't
    You have fer bein' _happy_ by,--
       fer that 'u'd shorely beat
    Your _medicine_!" says I.--And quick
       as _s'cat!_ Doc turned and writ
    And handed me: "Go he'p the sick,
       and putt your heart in it."


    And then, "A-talkin' furder 'bout
       that line o' thought," says he,
    "Ef we'll jes do the work cut out
       and give' to you and me,
    We'll lack no joy, ner appetite,
       ner all we'd ort to eat,
    And sleep like childern ever' night--
       as puore and ca'm and sweet."


    Doc _has_ bin 'cused o' _offishness_
       and lack o' talkin' free
    And extry friendly; but he says,
       "I'm _'feard_ o' talk," says he,--
    "I've got," he says, "a natchurl turn
       fer talkin' fit to kill.--
    The best and hardest thing to learn
       is trick o' keepin' still."


    Doc _kin_ smoke, and I s'pose he _might_
       drink licker--jes fer fun.
    He says, "_You_ smoke, _you_ drink all right;
       but _I_ don't--neether one"--
    Says, "I _like_ whiskey--'good old rye'--
       but like it in its place,
    Like that-air warter in your eye,
       er nose there on your face."


    Doc's bound to have his joke! The day
       he got that off on me
    I jes had sold a load o' hay
       at "Scofield's Livery,"
    And tolled Doc in the shed they kep'
       the hears't in, where I'd hid
    The stuff 'at got me "out o' step,"
       as Sifers said it did.


    Doc hain't, to say, no "_rollin' stone_,"
       and yit he hain't no hand
    Fer '_cumulatin_'.--_Home_'s his own,
       and scrap o' farmin'-land--
    Enough to keep him out the way
       when folks is tuk down sick
    The suddentest--'most any day
       they want him 'special quick.



    And yit Doc loves his practice; ner
       don't, wilful, want to slight
    No call--no matter who--how fur
       away--er day er night.--
    He loves his work--he loves his friends--
       June, Winter, Fall, and Spring:
    His _lovin'_--facts is--never ends;
       he loves jes _ever_'thing....


    'Cept--_keepin' books_. He never sets
       down no accounts.--He hates,
    The worst of all, collectin' debts--
       the worst, the more he waits.--
    I've knowed him, when at last he _had_
       to dun a man, to end
    By makin' him a loan--and mad
       he hadn't more to lend.


    When Pence's Drug Store ust to be
       in full blast, they wuz some
    Doc's patients got things frekantly
       there, charged to him, i gum!--
    Doc run a bill there, don't you know,
       and allus when he squared,
    He never questioned nothin',--so
       he had his feelin's spared.


    Now sich as that, I hold and claim,
       hain't _'scusable_--it's not
    _Perfessional!_--It's jes a shame
       'at Doc hisse'f hain't got
    No better _business_-sense! That's why
       lots 'd respect him more,
    And not give him the clean go-by
       fer _other_ doctors. Shore!



    This-here Doc _Glenn_, fer instance;
       er this little jack-leg _Hall_;--
    They're _business_--folks respects
       'em fer their _business_ more 'n all
    They ever knowed, er ever _will_,
       'bout _medicine_.--Yit they
    Collect their money, k-yore er kill.--
       They're _business_, anyway!



    You ast Jake Dunn;--he's worked it out
       in _figgers_.--He kin show
    _Stastistics_ how Doc's airnt about
       _three_ fortunes in a row,--
    Ever' ten-year' hand-runnin' straight--
       _three_ of 'em--_thirty_ year'
    'At Jake kin count and 'lucidate
       o' Sifers' practice here.


    Yit--"Praise the Lord," says Doc,
       "we've got our little home!" says he--
    "(It's railly _Winniferd's_, but
       what she owns, she sheers with me.)
    We' got our little gyarden-spot,
       and peach- and apple-trees,
    And stable, too, and chicken-lot,
       and eighteen hive' o' bees."


[Blank Page]


    _You_ call it anything you please,
       but it's _witchcraft_--the power
    'At Sifers has o' handlin' bees!--
       He'll watch 'em by the hour--
    Mix right amongst 'em, mad and hot
       and swarmin'!--yit they won't
    Sting _him_, er _want_ to--_'pear_ to not,--
       at least I know they _don't_.


    With _me_ and bees they's no _p'tense_
       o' social-bility--
    A dad-burn bee 'u'd climb a fence
       to git a whack at _me_!
    I s'pose no thing 'at's _got_ a sting
       is railly satisfied
    It's _sharp_ enough, ontel, i jing!
       he's honed it on my hide!


    And Doc he's allus had a knack
       _inventin'_ things.--Dee-vised
    A windlass wound its own se'f back
       as it run down: and s'prised
    Their new hired girl with _clothes-line_, too,
       and _clothes-pins_, all in _one_:
    Purt'-nigh all left fer _her_ to do
       wuz git her _primpin'_ done!


    And onc't, I mind, in airly Spring,
       and tappin' sugar-trees,
    Doc made a dad-burn little thing
       to sharpen _spiles_ with--these-
    Here wood'-spouts 'at the peth's punched out,
       and driv' in where they bore
    The auger-holes. He sharpened 'bout
       _a million_ spiles er more!




    And Doc's the first man ever swung
       a _bucket_ on a tree
    Instid o' _troughs_; and first man brung
       _grained_ sugar--so's 'at he
    Could use it fer his coffee, and
       fer cookin', don't you know.--
    Folks come clean up from Pleasantland
       'fore they'd _believe_ it, though!


    And all Doc's stable-doors _on_locks
       and locks _theirse'ves_--and gates
    The same way;--all rigged up like clocks,
       with pulleys, wheels, and weights,--
    So, 's Doc says, "drivin' _out_, er _in_,
       they'll _open_; and they'll _then_,
    All quiet-like, shet up ag'in
       like little gentlemen!"


    And Doc 'ud made a mighty good
       _detective_.--Neighbers all
    Will testify to _that_--er _could_,
       ef they wuz legal call:
    His theories on any crime
       is worth your listenin' to.--
    And he has hit 'em, many a time,
       'long 'fore established true.



    At this young druggist Wenfield Pence's
       trial fer his life,
    On _primy faishy_ evidence
       o' pizonin' his wife,
    _Doc's_ testimony saved and cle'red
       and 'quitted him and freed
    Him so 's he never even 'peared
       cog-_ni_zant of the deed!


    The facts wuz--Sifers testified,--
       at inquest he had found
    The stummick showed the woman _died_
       o' pizon, but had downed
    The dos't _herse'f_,--because _amount_
       and _cost_ o' drug imployed
    No _druggist_ would, on _no_ account,
       a-lavished and distroyed!


    Doc tracked a blame-don burgler down,
       and _nailed_ the scamp, to boot,
    But told him ef he'd leave the town
       he wouldn't prosecute.
    He traced him by a tied-up thumb-print
       in fresh putty, where
    Doc glazed it. Jes _that's_ how he come
       to track him to his lair!


    Doc's jes a _leetle_ too inclined,
       _some_ thinks, to overlook
    The criminal and vicious kind
       we'd ort to bring to book
    And punish, 'thout no extry show
       o' _sympathizin'_, where
    _They_ hain't showed none fer _us_, you know.
       But he takes issue there:




    Doc argies 'at "The Red-eyed Law,"
       as _he_ says, "ort to learn
    To lay a mighty leenient paw
       on deeds o' sich concern
    As only the Good Bein' knows
       the wherefore of, and spreads
    His hands above accused and sows
       His mercies on their heads."


    Doc even holds 'at _murder_ hain't
       no crime we got a right
    To _hang_ a man fer--claims it's _taint_
       o' _lunacy_, er _quite_.--
    "Hold _sich_ a man responsibul
       fer murder," Doc says,--"then,
    When _he's_ hung, where's the rope to pull
       them _sound-mind_ jurymen?


    "It's in a nutshell--_all_ kin see,"
       says Doc,--"it's cle'r the _Law's_
    As ap' to err as you er me,
       and kill without a cause:
    The man most innocent o' sin
       _I_'ve saw, er _'spect_ to see,
    Wuz servin' a life-sentence in
       the penitentchury."



    And Doc's a whole hand at a _fire_!--
       directin' how and where
    To set your ladders, low er higher,
       and what first duties air,--
    Like formin' warter-bucket-line;
       and best man in the town
    To chop holes in old roofs, and mine
       defective chimblies down:


    Er durin' any public crowd,
       mass-meetin', er big day,
    Where ladies ortn't be allowed,
       as I've heerd Sifers say,--
    When they's a suddent rush somewhere,
       it's Doc's voice, ca'm and cle'r,
    Says, "Fall back, men, and give her air!--
       that's all she's faintin' fer."



    The sorriest I ever feel
       fer Doc is when some show
    Er circus comes to town and he'll
       not git a chance to go.
    'Cause he jes natchurly _de_lights
       in circuses--clean down
    From tumblers, in their spangled tights,
       to trick-mule and Old Clown.


    And ever'body _knows_ it, too,
       how Doc is, thataway!...
    I mind a circus onc't come through--
       wuz there myse'f that day.--
    Ringmaster cracked his whip, you know,
       to start the ridin'--when
    In runs Old Clown and hollers "_Whoa!_--
       Ladies and gentlemen


    "Of this vast audience, I fain
       would make in_qui_ry cle'r,
    And learn, find out, and ascertain--
       _Is Doctor Sifers here?_"
    And when some fool-voice bellers down:
       "He is! He's settin' in
    Full view o' ye!" "_Then_," says the Clown,
       "_the circus may begin!_"


    Doc's got a _temper_; but, he says,
       he's learnt it which is boss,
    Yit has to _watch_ it, more er less....
       I never seen him cross
    But onc't, enough to make him swear;--
       milch-cow stepped on his toe,
    And Doc ripped out "_I doggies!_"--There's
       the only case I know.


    Doc says that's what your temper's fer--
       to hold back out o' view,
    And learn it never to occur
       on out ahead o' _you_.--
    "_You_ lead the way," says Sifers--"git
       your _temper_ back in line--
    And _furdest_ back the _best_, ef it's
       as mean a one as mine!"


[Blank Page]


    He hates contentions--can't abide
       a wrangle er dispute
    O' any kind; and he 'ull slide
       out of a crowd and skoot
    Up some back-alley 'fore he'll stand
       and listen to a furse
    When ary one's got upper-hand
       and t' other one's got worse.


    Doc says: "I 'spise, when pore and weak
       and awk'ard talkers fails,
    To see it's them with hardest cheek
       and loudest mouth prevails.--
    A' all-one-sided quarr'l'll make
       me _biased_, mighty near,--
    'Cause ginerly the side I take's
       the one I never hear."


    What 'peals to Doc the most and best
       is "seein' folks _agreed_,
    And takin' ekal interest
       and universal heed
    O' ever'body _else's_ words
       and idies--same as we
    Wuz glad and chirpy as the birds--
       jes as we'd _ort_ to be!"


    And _paterotic_! Like to git
       Doc started, full and fair,
    About the war, and why 't 'uz fit,
       and what wuz 'complished there;
    "And who wuz _wrong_," says Doc, "er
       _right_, 't 'uz waste o' blood and tears,
    All prophesied in _Black_ and _White_ fer
       years and years and years!"



    And then he'll likely kind o' tetch
       on old John Brown, and dwell
    On what _his_ warnin's wuz; and ketch
       his breath and cough, and tell
    On down to Lincoln's death. And _then_--
       well, he jes chokes and quits
    With "I must go now, gentlemen!"
       and grabs his hat, and _gits_!


    Doc's own war-rickord wuzn't won
       so much in line o' fight
    As line o' work and nussin' done
       the wownded, day and night.--
    His wuz the hand, through dark and dawn,
       'at bound their wownds, and laid
    As soft as their own mother's on
       their forreds when they prayed....


    His wuz the face they saw the first--
       all dim, but smilin' bright,
    As they come to and knowed the worst,
       yit saw the old _Red-White-
    And-Blue_ where Doc had fixed it where
       they'd see it _wavin'_ still,
    Out through the open tent-flap there,
       er 'cros't the winder-sill.


    And some's a-limpin' round here yit--
       a-waitin' Last Review,--
    'U'd give the pensions 'at they git,
       and pawn their crutches, too,
    To he'p Doc out, ef he wuz pressed
       financial'--same as he
    Has _allus_ he'pped them when distressed--
       ner never tuk a fee.




    Doc never wuz much hand to pay
       attention to _p'tence_
    And fuss-and-feathers and display
       in men o' prominence:
    "A railly _great_ man," Sifers 'lows,
       "is not the out'ard dressed--
    All uniform, salutes and bows,
       and swellin' out his chest.


    "I _met_ a great man onc't," Doc says,
       "and shuk his hand," says he,
    "And _he_ come 'bout in _one_, I guess,
       o' disapp'intin' _me_--
    He talked so common-like, and brought
       his mind so cle'r in view
    And simple-like, I purt'-nigh thought,
       '_I'm_ best man o' the two!'"


    Yes-_sir_! Doc's got convictions and
       old-fashioned kind o' ways
    And idies 'bout this glorious Land
       o' Freedom; and he'll raise
    His hat clean off, no matter where,
       jes ever' time he sees
    The Stars and Stripes a-floatin' there
       and flappin' in the breeze.



    And tunes like old "Red, White and Blue"
       'll fairly drive him wild,
    Played on the brass band, marchin' through
       the streets! Jes like a child
    I've saw that man, his smile jes set,
       all kind o' pale and white,
    Bare-headed, and his eyes all wet,
       yit dancin' with delight!


    And yit, that very man we see
       all trimbly, pale and wann,
    Give him a case o' _surgery_,
       we'll see another man!--
    _We_'ll do the trimblin' then, and _we_'ll
       git white around the gills--
    He'll show us _nerve_ o' nerves, and he 'ull
       show us _skill_ o' skills!


    _Then_ you could toot your horns and beat
       your drums and bang your guns,
    And wave your flags and march the street,
       and charge, all Freedom's sons!--
    And Sifers _then_, I bet my hat,
       'u'd never flinch a hair,
    But, stiddy-handed, 'tend to that
       pore patient layin' there.


    And Sifers' _eye_'s as stiddy as
       that hand o' his!--He'll shoot
    A' old-style rifle, like he has,
       and smallest bore, to boot,
    With any fancy rifles made
       to-day, er expert shot
    'At works at shootin' like a _trade_--
       and all _some_ of 'em's got!



    Let 'em go right out in the _woods_
       with Doc, and leave their "traps"
    And blame glass-balls and queensware-goods,
       and see how Sifers draps
    A squirrel out the tallest tree.--
       And 'fore he fires he'll say
    Jes where he'll hit him--yes, sir-_ee_!
       And he's hit thataway!


    Let 'em go out with him, i jucks!
       with fishin'-pole and gun,--
    And ekal chances, fish and ducks,
       and take the _rain_, er _sun_,
    Jes as it pours, er as it blinds
       the eye-sight; _then_, I guess,
    'At they'd acknowledge, in their minds,
       their disadvantages.


    And yit _he'd_ be the last man out
       to flop his wings and crow
    Insultin'-like, and strut about
       above his fallen foe!--
    No-_sir_! the hand 'at tuk the wind
       out o' their sails 'ud be
    The very first they grabbed, and grinned
       to feel sich sympathy.


    Doc gits off now and then and takes
       a huntin'-trip somewhere
    'Bout Kankakee, up 'mongst the lakes--
       sometimes'll drift round there
    In his canoe a week er two;
       then paddle clean on back
    By way o' old Wabash and Blue,
       with fish--all he kin pack,--



    And wild ducks--some with feathers on
       'em yit, and stuffed with grass.
    And neighbers--all knows he's bin _gone_--
       comes round and gits a bass--
    A great big double-breasted "rock,"
       er "black," er maybe _pair_
    Half fills a' ordinary crock....
       Doc's _fish_'ll give out there


    Long 'fore his _ducks_!--But folks'll smile
       and blandish him, and make
    Him tell and _tell_ things!--all the while
       enjoy 'em jes fer sake
    O' pleasin' _him_; and then turn in
       and la'nch him from the start
    A-tellin' all the things ag'in
       they railly know by heart.



    He's jes a _child_, 's what Sifers is!
       And-sir, I'd ruther see
    That happy, childish face o' his,
       and puore simplicity,
    Than any shape er style er plan
       o' mortals otherwise--
    With perfect faith in God and man
       a-shinin' in his eyes.



       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Note:

All variations in spelling, inconsistent hyphenation and spelling have
been retained as they appear in the original text.

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