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Title: Up In Maine - Stories of Yankee Life Told in Verse
Author: Day, Holman F.
Language: English
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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.

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Stories of Yankee Life Told in Verse

By Holman F. Day

With an Introduction by C. E. Littlefield

Boston: Small, Maynard & Company


[Illustration: 0001]

[Illustration: 0010]

[Illustration: 0013]







               I don’t know how to weave a roundelay,

               I couldn’t voice a sighing song of love;

               No mellow lyre that on which I play;

               I plunk a strident lute without a glove.

               The rhythm that is running through my stuff

                   Is not the whisp of maiden’s trailing gown;

               The metre, maybe, gallops rather rough,

               Like river-drivers storming down to town.

               --It’s more than likely something from the


               Where chocking axes scare the deer and


               A homely rhyme, and easy understood

                   --An echo from the weird domain of Spruce.

                   In rough-and-ready “Uncle Dudley” phrase;

               Some honest thought we common folks suggest,

                   --Some tricksy mem’ry-flash from boyhood’s


               I cannot polish off this stilted rhyme

                   With all these homely notions in my brain.

               A sonnet, sir, would stick me every time;

                   Let’s have a chat ’bout common things in


                                  Holman F. Day.

|A_BOUT three thousand years ago the “Preacher” declared that  “of
making many books there is no end.” This sublimely pessimistic truism
deserves to be considered in connection with the time when it was
written; otherwise it might accomplish results not intended by its

It must be remembered that in the “Preacher’s” time books were
altogether in writing. It should also be borne in mind that if the
handwriting which we have in these days, speaking of the period prior to
the advent of the female typewriter, is to be accepted as any criterion,
--and inasmuch as all concede that history repeats itself, that may
well be assumed,--is easy to understand how, by reason of its
illegibility, he was also led to declare that “much study is a weariness
of the flesh.” It is quite obvious that this was the moving cause of his
delightfully doleful utterance as to books. Had he lived in this year
nineteen hundred, at either the closing of the nineteenth or the dawning
of the twentieth century,--as to whether it is closing or dawning I
make no assertion,--he might well have made same criticism, but from an
optimistic standpoint.

A competent litterateur informs me that there are now extant
3,725,423,201 books; that in America and England alone during the last
year 12,888 books entered upon a precarious existence, with the faint
though unexpressed hope of surviving “life’s fitful fever!” If the
conditions of the “Preacher’s” time obtained to-day, the vocabulary of
pessimism would be inadequate for the expression of similar views.

A careful examination by the writer, of all these well-nigh innumerable
monuments of learning, discloses the fact that the work now being
introduced to what I trust may be an equally innumerable army of readers
has no parallel in literature. If justification were needed, that fact
alone justifies its existence. This fact, however, is not necessary, as
the all-sufficient fact which warrants the collection of these unique
sketches in book form is that no one can read them without being
interested, entertained, and amused, as well as instructed and improved.
“The stubborn strength of Plymouth Rock” is nowhere better exemplified
than on the Maine farm, in the Maine woods, on the Maine coast, or in
the Maine workshop. From them, the author of “Up in Maine” has drawn his
inspiration. Rugged independence, singleness of purpose, unswerving
integrity, philosophy adequate for all occasions, the great realities
of life, and a cheerful disregard of conventionalities, are here found
in all their native strength and vigor. These peculiarities as
delineated may be rough, perhaps uncouth, but they are characteristic,
picturesque, engaging, and lifelike. His subjects are rough diamonds.
They have the inherent qualities from which great characters are
developed, and out of which heroes are made.

Through every chink and crevice of these rugged portrayals glitters the
sheen of pure gold, gold of standard weight and fineness, “gold tried in
the fire.” Finally it should be said that this is what is now known as a
book with a purpose, and that purpose, as the author confidentially
informs me, is to sell as many copies as possible, which he confidently
expects to do. To this most worthy end I trust I may have, in a small
degree, contributed by this introduction._


Washington, D.C., March 17,1900.



               Now there was Uncle Elnathan Shaw,

               --Most regular man you ever saw!

               Just half-past four in the afternoon

               He’d start and whistle that old jig tune,

               Take the big blue jug from the but’ry shelf

               And trot down cellar, to draw himself

               Old cider enough to last him through

               The winter ev’nin’. Two quarts would do.

               --Just as regular as half-past four

               Come round, he’d tackle that cellar door,

               As he had for thutty years or more.

               And as regular, too, as he took that jug

               Aunt Shaw would yap through her old


               “Now, Nathan, for goodness’ sake take care

               You allus trip on the second stair;

               It seems as though you were just possessed

               To break that jug. It’s the very best

               There is in town and you know it, too,

               And  ’twas left to me by my great-aunt Sue.

               For goodness’ sake, why don’t yer lug

               A tin dish down, for ye’ll break that jug?”

               Allus the same, suh, for thirty years,

               Allus the same old twits and jeers

               Slammed for the nineteenth thousand time

               And still we wonder, my friend, at crime.

               But Nathan took it meek’s a pup

               And the worst he said was “Please shut up.”

               You know what the Good Book says befell

               The pitcher that went to the old-time well;

               Wal, whether  ’twas that or his time had come,

               Or his stiff old limbs got weak and numb

               Or whether his nerves at last giv’ in

               To Aunt Shaw’s everlasting chin--

               One day he slipped on that second stair,

               Whirled round and grabbed at the empty air.

               And clean to the foot of them stairs, ker-smack,

               He bumped on the bulge of his humped old back

               And he’d hardly finished the final bump

               When old Aunt Shaw she giv’ a jump

               And screamed downstairs as mad’s a bug

               “Dod-rot your hide, did ye break my jug?”

               Poor Uncle Nathan lay there flat

               Knocked in the shape of an old cocked hat,

               But he rubbed his legs, brushed off the dirt

               And found after all that he warn’t much hurt.

               And he’d saved the jug, for his last wild thought

               Had been of that; he might have caught

               At the cellar shelves and saved his fall,

               But he kept his hands on the jug through all.

               And now as he loosed his jealous hug

               His wife just screamed, “Did ye break my


               Not a single word for his poor old bones

               Nor a word when she heard his awful groans,

               But the blamed old hard-shelled turkle just

               Wanted to know if that jug was bust.

               Old Uncle Nathan he let one roar

               And he shook his fist at the cellar door;

               “Did ye break my jug?” she was yellin’ still.

               “No, durn yer pelt, but I swow I will.”

               And you’d thought that the house was a-going

                   to fall

               When the old jug smashed on the cellar wall.


               Old Bill Boggs is always sayin’ that he’d like to

                   but he carn’t;

               He hain’t never had no chances, he hain’t never

                   got no slarnt.

               Says it’s all dum foolish tryin’, ’less ye git the

                   proper start,

               Says he’s never seed no op’nin’ so he’s never

                   had no heart.

               But he’s chawed enough tobacker for to fill a

                   hogset up

               And has spent his time a-trainin’ some all-fired

                   kind of pup;

               While his wife has took in washin’ and his chil-

                   dren hain’t been larnt

               ’Cause old Boggs is allus whinin’ that he’s never

                   got no slarnt.

               Them air young uns round the gros’ry hadn’t

                   oughter done the thing!

               Now it’s done, though, and it’s over,  ’twas a

                   cracker-jack, by jing.

               Boggs, ye see, has been a-settin’ twenty years on

                   one old plank,

               One end h’isted on a saw hoss, t’other on the

                   cistern tank.

               T’other night he was a-chawin’ and he says, “I


               Here I am a-owin’ money--not a gol durn thing

                   to do!

               ’Tain’t no use er backin’ chances, ner er fightin’

                   back at Luck,

               --Less ye have some way er startin’, feller’s

                   sartin to be stuck.

               Needs a slarnt to git yer going”--then them

                   young uns give a carnt,

               --Plank went up an’ down old Boggs went--

                   yas, he got it, got his slarnt.

               Course the young uns shouldn’t done it--sent

                   mine off along to bed--

               Helped to pry Boggs out the cistern--he warn’t

                   more’n three-quarters dead.

               Didn’t no one ’prove the actions, but when all

                   them kids was gone,

               Thunder mighty! How we hollered! Gab’rel

                   couldn’t heered his horn.




                        Thunder, how he’ll lie!

               Never has to stop and think--never has to try.

               Says he had a settin’ hen that acted clean pos-


               Says a kag o’ powder couldn’t shake her off her


               Didn’t mind a flannel rag tied around her tail;

               Ev’ry now and then he’d take  ’er, souse  ’er in

                   a pail;

               Never had the least effect--feathers even friz;

               Then she set and pecked the ice, but ’tended

                   right to biz.

               ’Peared to care for nothin’ else ’cept to set and


               Didn’t seem to care a tunket what she drunk

                   or et.

               Cy he said he got so mad he thought he’d use

                   ’er ha’ash,

               So he went to feedin’ on  ’er hemlock sawdust


               Hen she gobbled down the stuff, reg’lar as

                   could be;

               “Reely seemed to fat  ’er up,” Cy says he to me.

               Shows the power of the mind when it gets a


               Hen imagined it was bran--helped  ’er just as


               Then she hid her nest away--laid a dozen eggs;

               ’Leven chickens that she hatched all had wooden


               T’other egg it wouldn’t hatch--solid junk o’


               Hen’s a-wrasslin’ with it yet--thinks the thing

                   is good.

                        Thunder, how he’ll lie!

                             But he’s dry,

                                  --That Cy.



                        Tells another lie:

               Claims to be the strongest man around here;

                   this is why:

               Says he bought a side o’ beef up to Johnson’s store,

               Tucked it underneath his arm--didn’t mind it


               Than a pound o’ pickled tripe; sauntered down

                   the road,

               Got to ponderin’ Bible texts--clean forgot his


               All to once he chanced to think he meant to get

                   some meat,

               Hustled back to Johnson’s store t’other end the


               Bought another side o’ beef. The boys com-

                   menced to laugh,

               --Vummed he hadn’t sensed till then he lugged

                   the other half.

                        Can’t deny

                             ’T he can lie,

                                  --That Cy.


               Once there was a country lawyer and his name

                   was Hiram Crane,

               And he had a reputation as the worst old file in


               And as soon’s he got a client, why, the first

                   thing that he’d do

               Was to feel the critter’s pocket and then soak

                   him ’cordin’ to.

               Well, sir, one day Benjy Butters bought a hoss,

                   and oh,  ’twas raw

               Way old Benjy he got roasted, and he said he’d

                   have the law.

               So he gave the case to Hiram, and then Hiram

                   brought a suit

               And got back the hoss and harness and what

               Benjy gave to boot.

               When he met him at the gros’ry Benjy asked

                   him for the bill,

               And when Hiram named the figger, it was

                   steeper’n Hobson’s hill.

               Poor old Benjy hammed and swallered--bill jest

                   sort of took his breath,

               And the crowd that stood a-listenin’ thought

                   perhaps he’d choke to death.

               But it happened that the squire felt like jokin’

                   some that day,

               And he says, “Now, Uncle Benjy, there won’t be

                   a cent to pay

               If you’ll right here on the instant make me up a

                   nice pat rhyme;

               Hear you’re pretty good at them things--give

                   you jest three minutes’ time.”

               And the squire grinned like fury, tipped the

                   crowd a knowing wink,

               While old Benjy started in, sir, almost  ’fore

                   you’d time to think:

               “Here you see the petty lawyer leanin’ on his

                   corkscrew cane.

               Sartin parties call him Gander, other people call

                   him Crane.

               Though he’s faowl, it’s someways daoubtful

                   what he is, my friends, but still

               You can tell there’s hawk about him by the

                   gaul-durned qritter’s bill.”

               Crane got mad, he wanted money, but the crowd

                   let on to roar,

               And they laughed the blamed old skinflint right

                   square out the gros’ry store.


               For sixty years he had borne the name

                        Of “Plug”--plain “Plug.”

               Those many years had his village fame

               Published the shame of his old-time game,

               Till all the folks by custom came

                        To call him “Plug.”

               And so many years at last went by

               They hardly knew the reason why;

               At least they never stopped to think,

               And dropped the old suggestive wink.

               And he took the name quite matter-of-fact,

               Till most of the folks had forgot his act;

               But sometimes a stranger’d wonder at

               The why of a nickname such as that,

                        --Of “Plug”--just “Plug.”

               Then some old chap would shift his quid

               And tell the story of what he did.

               “He owned ten acres of punkin pine,

               ’Twas straight and tall, and there warn’t a sign

               But what  ’twas sound as a hickory nut,

               And at last he got the price he sut.

               They hired him for to chop it down.

               He did.--By gosh, it was all unsoun’.

               Was a rotten heart in every tree.

               But there warn’t none there but him to see.

               And quick as ever a tree was cut,

               He hewed a saplin’ and plugged the butt.

               --Plugged the butt, sir, and hid away

               For about two months, for he’d got his pay.

               But there warn’t no legal actions took,

               They never tackled his pocket-book.

               ’Twould a-broke his heart, for he’s dretful snug;

               But he never squirmed when they called him


               And over the whole of the country-side,

               Up to the day that the critter died,

                        ’Twas ‘Plug.’

               Till some of the young folks scurcely knew

               Which was the nickname, which was the true.

               He left five thousand,--putty rich,--

               But better less cash than a title sich

                        As ‘Plug.’”


               From the acres of Aroostook, broad and mellow

                   in the sun,

               Down to rocky York, the chorus of the farmers

                   has begun.

               They are riding in Aroostook on a patent sulky


               --They are riding, taking comfort, for they’ve

                   learned the secret how.

               They are planting their potatoes with a whirring

                   new machine,

               --Driver sits beneath an awning; slickest thing

                   you’ve ever seen.

               There is not a rock to vex  ’em in the acres

                   spreading wide,

               So they sit upon a cushion, cock their legs, and

                   smoke and ride.

               Gee and Bright go lurching onward in the

                   furrow’s mellow steam;

               Over there, with clank of whiffle, tugs a sturdy

               Morgan team.

               And the man who rides the planter or who plods

                   the broken earth

               Joins and swells the mighty chorus of the

                   season’s budding mirth.

               And they’ve pitched the tune to a jubilant


                        They are lilting it merrily now.

                   We wait for that melody up here in Maine,

                        --’Tis the song of the harrow and plow.

               They are picking rocks in Oxford, and in Waldo

                   blasting ledge,

               And they’re farming down in Lincoln on their

                   acres set on edge.

               Down among the kitchen gardens of the slopes

                   of Cumberland

               They’re sticking in the garden sass as thick as

                   it will stand.

               And every nose is sniffing at the scent of fur-

                   rowed earth,

               And every man is living all of life at what it’s


               Though the farmer in Aroostook sails across a

                   velvet field,

               And his mellow, crumbly acres vomit forth a

                   spendthrift yield,

               All the rest are just as cheerful on their hillside

                   farms as he,

               For there’s cosy wealth in gardens and a fortune

                        in a tree.

                   So they’re singing the song of the coming

                        of Spring,

                   And the song of the empty mow;

                   Of the quiver of birth that is stirring the earth,

                   --’Tis the song of the harrow and plow.

[Illustration: 0043]


               This is the season for fairs, by gosh, oh, this is

                        the season for fairs;

                   They’re thicker than spatter,

                   But what does it matter?

               They scoop up the cash, but who cares?

               From now till October they’ll swallow the


               These state fairs and town fairs and county and


               But apples blush brighter arrayed on a plate,

               And the cattle look scrumptious in dignified


               Enthroned in a stall and a-gazing with scorn

               On the chaps going by without ribbon or horn.

               And the trotters and nags of the blood-royal


               Are a-furnishing fun for the people of Maine;

               While prouder than princes they prance to the


               And ogle the ladies arrayed on the stand.

               Ah, every exhibit in stall or in hall,

               From hooked rug to hossflesh and punkin and


               Takes on a new meaning, assumes a new light,

               And is, for the moment, a wonderful sight.

               And people hang over the stuff that’s displayed,

               They swig up whole barrels of red lemonade,

               And hark to the fakirs and tumble to snides,

               And treat all the young ones to merry-go rides.

               They sit on the grand stand, man crushed

                   against man,

               All shouting acclaim to the track’s rataplan;

               And all the delight is as fresh and as bright

               As though the big crowd had not seen that same


               And the people flock home with the dust in their


               But with hearts all a-fire with fun and surprise.

               The girls are a-humming the tune of the band,

               And dads are relating the sights from the stand;

               The dames are discussing the fancy work part,

               While bub hugs the Midway scenes close to his


               The palms of the men folks still glow from a


               And the women are thinking of lip pressed to


               For all of the folks in the loud, happy throng

               Have met with the friends “they’ve not seen

                   for so long.”

               A hail and salute from the press of the mass,

               Too brief, as the crowd jammed impatient to


               A moment--that’s all--to renew the old tie,

               A handgrasp, a lip-touch, “Hello,” and “Good-


               Oh, this is the season of fairs, by gosh, the

                        season to lay off your cares,

                   Each fair is a wonder,

                   They’re thicker than thunder.

               Hooray for the season of fairs!


               Oh, listen while I tell to you a truthful little


                   Of a man whose teeth was double all the solid

                             way around;

               He could jest as slick as preachin’ bite in two a

                        shingle nail,

                   Or squonch a moulded bullet, sah, and ev’ry

                        tooth was sound.

               I’ve seen him lift a kag of pork, a-bitin’ on the


                   And he’d clench a rope and hang there like a

                        puppy to a root;

               And a feller he could pull and twitch and yank

                        upon the line,

                   But he couldn’t do no bus’ness with tha’

                        double-toothed galoot.

               He was luggin’ up some shingles,--bunch, sah,

                        underneath each arm,--

                   The time that he was shinglin’ of the Baptist


               The ladder cracked and buckled, but he didn’t

                        think no harm,

                   When all at once she busted and he started

                        down kersouse.

               His head, sah, when she busted, it was jest

                        abreast the eaves;

                   And he nipped, sah, quicker’n lightnin’, and

                        he gripped there with his teeth,

               And he never dropped the shingles, but he hung

                        to both the sheaves,

                   Though the solid ground was suttinly more’n

                        thirty feet beneath.

               He held there and he kicked there and he

                        squirmed, but no one come.

                   He was workin’ on the roof alone--there

                        warn’t no folks around.

               He hung like death to niggers till his jaws was

                        set and numb,

                   And he reely thought he’d have to drop them

                        shingles on the ground.

               But all at once old Skillins come a-toddlin’ down

                        the street.

                   Old Skil is sort of hump-backed and he allus

                        looks straight down;

               So he never see’d the motions of them Number

                        ’Leven feet,

                   And he went a-amblin’ by him--the goramded

                        blind old clown!

               Now this ere part is truthful--ain’t a-stretehin’

                        it a mite,--

                   When the feller see’d that Skillins was a-

                        walkin’ past the place,

               Let go his teeth and hollered, but he grabbed

                        back quick and tight,

                   ’Fore he had a chance to tumble, and he hung

                        there by the face.

               And he never dropped the shingles and he never

                        missed his grip,

                   And he stepped out on the ladder when they

                        raised it underneath.

               And up he went a-flukin’ with them shingles on

                        his hip,

                   --And there’s the satisfaction of a havin’

                        double teeth.


               Your marmy’s mixin’ cream o’ tartar biskit up

                        for tea;

                   Fie, deedle, deedle, leetle ba-a-arby!

               And I reckon you had better come and roost

                        upon my knee;

                   Tumpy, dumpy, deedle, leetle barby!

               I s’picion how ye never heard of Ebernezer


               Tell ye what, he warn’t brung up to be afraid of


               Reckon that a spryer critter never tailored


               Allus up to monkey tricks and full o’ squirms

                   and scoots.

               Once he done a curis thing, I vummy, on a


               Set a larder up one end and gin’ a mighty jump;

               Run right up the larder, jest as nimble as a


               Balarnced, I sh’d suttin say, a minit--all a-


               Then he straddled out on air and grabbed the

                   pesky larder

               And run  ’er up another length--another length,

                   suh, farder;

               Skittered up that larder  ’fore she had a chance

                   to teeter,

               Quicker’n any pussy cat--lighter’n a mos-


               Soon’s he clambered to the top, grabbed the

                   upper rung,

               Ketched hisself with t’other hand, and there the

                   critter hung.

               Gaffled up his britches’ slack and took a resky


               And thar’ he held hisself right out, arms-length,

                   suh, by his parnts.

               Ye ought ter heerd, my barby dear, the cheerins

                   and the howls

               The crowd let out when they’d obsarved that

                   trick of Mister Cowles.

               Sing’lar thing of which I sing--might not

                        think  ’twas true;

                   Fie, deedle, deedle, leetle ba-a-arby!

               But ye know, my leetle snoozer, grampy wouldn’t

                        lie to you,

                   --To his dumpy, dumpy deedle, leetle


               Hush, I guess that mammy isn’t done a-makin’


               We ain’t at all pertic’lar how she overhears

                   what’s said.

               Ye’re over-young, purraps, to hear of Sam’wel

                   Doubl’yer Strout,

               --Weighed about two hundred pounds, and,

                   chowder, warn’t he stout!

               Used to work for me one time as sort of extry


               --Allus planned to ’gage him when I cleared up

                   any land;

               Once I see him lug a rock with fairly mod’rit


               So hefty that at ev’ry step he sunk above his


               Hain’t at all surprised to see the wonder in your


                   Fie, deedle, deedle, leetle ba-a-arby!

               But ye know your poor old grampy wouldn’t

                        tell ye ary lie,

                   --To his tumpy, dumpy deedle, leetle


               Course ye’ve never heerd  ’em tell of Atha-ni-al


               For he was round a-raisin’ Cain so long afore

                   your time.

               Used to run the muley saw down to Hopkins


               --Allus euttin’ ding-does up--a master curis


               Once the chaps that tended sluice stood upon a


               Got to argyin’ this and that, suthin’ ’bout a dog.

               Clean forgot to start the log a-goin’ up the


               But shook their fists and hollered round and spit

                   torbarker juice.

               Atha-ni-al heerd the towse and grabbed a pick-

                   pole up,

               --Wasn’t goin’ to stop a mill to fight about a


               Tied a rope around the pole and then he let her


               Speared the end of that air log and yanked her

                   quicker’n Sam.

               Log, suh, come right out the bark, he twitched

                   the thing so quick;

               Fellers never felt the yank,  ’twas done so smooth

                   and slick.

               Log come out and up the sluice and left behind

                   the bark,

               --Fellers thought the log was there and stood

                   and chawed till dark.

               Sing’lar things has come to pass when I was

                        young as you;

                   Fie, deedle, deedle, leetle ba-a-arby!

               And best of all, what grampy sings you bet your

                        life is true,

                   Tumpy, deedle, dumpy, leetle barby.


               Hoskins’s cow got into the pound and the notice

                   was tacked on the meetin’-house door:

               “Come into my yard, one brindle cow with three

                   white feet, and her shoulders sore,

               --Galled by a poke,--and the owner is asked

                   to call at the pound and take her away.”

               Well, Hoskins knew she was his all right, but,

                   you see, he hadn’t wherewith to pay.

               The cow was breachy--she wasn’t to blame,

                   for Hoskins had turned her abroad to roam;

               She had to battle for daily grass, for the bovine

                   cupboard was bare at home.

               So Hoskins had hitched on her withered neck a

                   wooden “regalia”--sort of a yoke,

               Supposed to keep her from breachy tricks, but

                   the poor old creature employed the “poke”

               To rip up fences and let down bars; her hunger

                   sharpened her slender wits,

               And somehow she sneaked through the guarded

                   gates, and gave the garden sass regular fits.

               The neighbors pitied her starving state, but at

                   last she stubbornly wouldn’t shoo;

               They pounded tattoos on her skinny ribs till it

                   really seemed they would whack  ’em through.

               But she got so toughened and callous and hard,

                   and the stiffened frame of her mortised bones

               Formed such an excellent armor-plate against

                   the broadsides of sticks and stones,

               That they “pounded” her then in a different

                   way--in the village pound--whose walls

                   would hold

               The breachiest cow that ever strayed--and the

                   notice was posted as I have told.

               She stood there a day and she stayed there a

                   night; she cropped the scanty bushes and


               And moo-ed and loo-ed in a yearning way, when-

                   ever a person chanced to pass.

               --She ate the leaves from some alder sprouts

                   for a scanty breakfast the second day,

               And munched the twigs for her dinner, alas,

                   and longed, oh, so much, for some meadow


               That night she gnawed at her dry old poke,--

                   a painful meal, for the slivers ran

               In her tongue; so she crouched by the high-

                   barred gate and seemed deserted of God and


               And Hoskins knew that they had his cow, and

                   Hoskins knew of her solemn fast,

               For he’d gone up the highway and looked

                   through the gate in her dumb, reproachful eyes

                   as he passed.

               Yet what, may I ask, could the poor man do?

                   He was right in a place where he couldn’t


               --He had three dollars,  ’tis true enough, and
‘twould square the bill, but, you see, that day

               The catchers had come and taken his dogs: a

                   hound, a setter, and brindle-pup,

               And a man like Hoskins would ne ’er endure to

                   have the dog-pound gobble them up,

               For he gunned on Sundays behind the hound,

                   and the bull was entered and backed to fight.

               And Hoskins, you see, as a sporting man had a

                   reputation to keep upright.

I wonder, friends, if you’ve ever thought, while

                   you’ve stormed at rum as the poor man’s curse,

               There are chaps so built on the mental plan that

                   keeping dogs will warp them worse?

               The “dog” man may be reclaimed, but I’ve

                   been compelled, alas, to see

               That there doesn’t appear to be much hope for

                   the wretched critter condemned to three.

               And Hoskins’s duty was plain to him: his

                   youngsters wailed for the milk they missed,

               But Hoskins thought of his poor, poor dogs and

                   gripped his dollars tight in his fist.

               He shut his ears to his children’s cries, he steeled

                   his heart when he passed the pound,

               To the mute appeal in the old cow’s eyes; but

                   he smiled at last when his dogs were found.

               And he gladly proffered the three lone plunks

                   to sate the greed of the legal hogs,

               And proudly he took the highway back, a-lead-

                   ing his licensed, bailed-out dogs.

               And they barked and yipped and yapped and

                   yawped at a poor old tottering cow they found

               Absorbed in a desperate, hungry reach for a

                   thistle outside the village pound.


               If ye only knew the backaches in an old stun’


                        O, Lordy me,

                        I’m seventy-three!

               --Begun amongst these boulders and I’ve lived

                   here through it all.

               I wasn’t quite to bub’s age there, when dad

                   commenced to clear

               The wust of ninety acres with a hoss team and

                   a steer.

               And we’ve used the stun’s for fencin’ and we’ve

                   built around the lot,

               O, I’ve tugged and worked there, sonny, ontil

                   gracious me, I’ve sot

               And fairly groaned o’ evenings with the twinges

                   in my back;

               Sakes, there warn’t no shirkin,’ them days; it

                   was tug and lift and sack,

               For it needed lots of muscle, lots of gruntin’,

                   lots of sand

               If a feller calculated for to clear a piece of


               Bub, it isn’t any wonder that our backs has got

                   a hump,

               That our arms are stretched and awkward like

                   the handle on a pump,

               That our palms are hard and calloused, that we

                   wobble in our gait

               --There’s the reason right before you ’round

                   the medders in the State.

               And I wonder sometimes, sonny, that we’ve

                   any backs at all

               When I figer on the backaches in an




               If ye only knew the backaches in an old stun’


                        We read of men

                        Who with a pen

               Have pried away the curses that have crushed

                   us in their fall.

               I don’t begrudge them honor nor the splendor

                   of their name

               For an av’rage Yankee farmer hasn’t any use

                   for fame,

               But the man who lifted curses and the man

                   who lifted stones

               Never’ll hear a mite of diff’runce in the

               Heavenly Father’s tones.

               For I have the humble notion, bub, that when

                   all kinds of men,

               The chaps that pried with crowbar and the

                   chaps that pried with pen,

               Are waitin’ to be measured for the things

                   they’ve done below

               The angel with the girth-chain’s bound to give

                   us all fair show.

               And the humble man who’s tussled with the

                   rocks of stubborn Maine

               Won’t find that all his labor has been thankless

                   and in vain.

               And while the wise and mighty get the glorious

                   credit due

               The man who took the brunt of toil will be

                   remembered too.

               The man who bent his aching back will earn

                   his crown, my child,

               By the acres he made fertile and the miles of

                   rocks he piled.

               That ain’t my whole religion, for I don’t propose

                   to shirk

               What my duties are to Heaven,--but the gospel

                   of hard work

               Is a mighty solid bed-rock that I’ve built on

                   more or less;

               I believe that God Almighty has it in his heart

                   to bless

               For the good they’ve left behind them rough old

                   chaps with humped-up backs

               Who have gone ahead and smoothed things with

                   the crowbar and the axe.

               For if all our hairs are numbered and He notes

                   the sparrow’s fall

               He understands the backaches in an





               I’m workin’ this week in the wood lot; a hearty

                   old job, you can bet;

               I finish my chores with a larntern, and marin has

                   the table all set

               By the time I get in with the milkin’; and after

                   I wash at the sink,

               And marm sets a saucer o’ strainin’s for the cat

                   and the kittens to drink.

               Your uncle is ready for supper, with an appetite

                   whet to an edge

               That’ll cut like a bush-scythe in swale-grass, and

                   couldn’t be dulled on a ledge.

               And marm, she slats open the oven, and pulls

                   out a heapin’ full tin

               Of the rippin’est cream-tartar biskit a man ever

                   pushed at his chin.

               We pile some more wood on the fire, and open

                   the damper full blare,

               And pull up and pitch into supper--and com-

                   fort--and taste good--wal, there!

               And the wind swooshes over the chimbly, and

                   scrapes at the shingles cross grain,

               But good double winders and bankin’ are mighty

                   good friends here in Maine.

               I look ’crost the table to mother, and marm she

                   looks over at me,

               And passes another hot biskit and says, “Won’t

                   ye have some more tea?”

               And while I am stirrin’ the sugar, I relish the

                   sound of the storm.

               For, thank the good Lord, we are cosy and the

                   stock in the tie-up is warm.

               I tell ye, the song o’ the fire and the chirruping

                   hiss o’ the tea,

               The roar of the wind in the chimbly, they sound

                   dreadful cheerful to me.

               But they’d harrer me, plague me, and fret me,

                   unless as I set here I knew

               That the critters are munchin’ their fodder and

                   bedded and comf’table too.

               These biskits are light as a feather, but, boy,

                   they’d be heavier’n lead

               If I thought that my hosses was shiv’rin’, if I

                   thought that my cattle warn’t fed.

               There’s men in the neighborhood ’round me who

                   pray som’w’at louder than me,

               They wear better clothes, sir, on Sunday--chip

                   in for the heathen Chinee,

               But the cracks in the sides o’ their tie-ups are

                   wide as the door o’ their pew,

               And the winter comes in there a-howlin’, with

                   the sleet and the snow peltin’ through.

               Step in there, sir, ary a mornin’ and look at their

                   critters! ’Twould seem

               As if they were bilers or engines, and all o’

                   them chock full o’ steam.

               I’ve got an old-fashioned religion that calkalates

                   Sundays for rest,

               But if there warn’t time, sir, on week days to

                   batten a tie-up, I’m blest

               I’d use up a Sunday or such-like, and let the

                   durned heathen folks go

               While I fastened some boards on the lintel to

                   keep out the frost and the snow.

               I’d stand all the frowns of the parson before I’d

                   have courage to face

               The dumb holler eyes o’ the critters hooked up

                   in a frosty old place.

               And I’ll bet ye that in the Hereafter the men

                   who have stayed on their knees

               And let some poor, fuzzy old cattle stand out in

                   a tie-up and freeze,

               Will find that the heat o’ the Hot Place is keyed

                   to an extra degree

               For the men who forgot to consider that critters

                   have feelin’s same’s we.

               I dasn’t go thinkin’ o’ tie-ups where winter goes

                   whistlin’ through.

               Where cattle are humped at their stanchions

                   with scarcely the gumption to moo.

               But I’m glad for the sake of Hereafter that

                   mine ain’t the sin and the guilt,

               And I tell you I relish my feelin’s when I pull

                   up the big patchwork quilt.

               I can laugh at the pelt o’ the snowflakes, and

                   grin at the slat o’ the storm,

               And thank the good Lord I can sleep now; the

                   stock in the tie-up is warm.


               Ephram Wade sat down in the shade

               And took off his haymaker hat, which he laid

               On a tussock of grass; and he pulled out the


               That jealously gagged the old iron-stone jug.

               And cocking his jug on his elbow he rigged

               A sort of a “horse-up,” you know, and he


               A pint of hard cider or so at a crack,

               And set down the jug with a satisfied smack.

               “Aha!” said he, “that grows the hair on ye,


               My rule durin’ hayin’s more cider, less grub.

               I take it, sah, wholly to stiddy my nerves,

               And up in the stow hole I pitch  ’em some


               On a drink of straight cider, in harnsomer shape

               Than a feller could do on the juice of the grape.

               Some new folderinos come ’long every day,

               All sorts of new jiggers to help git yer hay.

               Improvements on cutter bars, hoss forks, and


               And tedders and spreaders and all of them fakes.

               But all of their patents ain’t fixed it so yit

               That hayin’ is done without git-up and git.

               If ye want the right stuff, sah, to take up the


               The stuff to put buckram right inter yer back,

               The stuff that will limber and ile up yer j’ints,

               Just trot out some cider and drink it by pints.

               It ain’t got no patents--it helps you make hay

               As it helped out our dads in their old-fashioned


               Molasses and ginger and water won’t do,

               ’Twill irrigate some, but it won’t see ye through.

               And ice water’ll chill ye, and skim milk is durn

               Mean stuff any place, sah, except in a churn.

               I’m a temperate man as a general rule,

               --The man who gits bit by the adder’s a fool,--

               But when it comes hayin’ and folks have to strain,

               I tell you, old cider’s a stand-by in Maine.”

               Then Ephrum Wade reclined in the shade

               And patiently gazed on the hay while it “made.”


               Old Uncle Ephrum Isaac Way

               --He had a fit the other day.

               A sort of capuluptic spell;

               He hasn’t been in no ways well

               Since year ago come next July;

               He had a sunstroke; come blamed nigh

               To passin’ ’crost. And since, for him,

               The poor old man’s been dretful slim.

               And ’twarn’t surprisin’ none, I say,

               That fit of his the other day.

               By time that Dr. Blaisdell come

               His legs and arms had growed all numb.

               He didn’t sense things source at all,

               His lower jaw commenced to fall,

               And, jedged from looks, there warn’t no doubt

               That Ephrum’s soul was passin’ out.

               Fact is, they thought that he was dead;

               They tied the bandage round his head,

               Laid out his shroud--when first they knew,

               Eph kicked awhile and then come to;

               Got up and stared with all his eyes,

               And said, “Why, this ain’t Paradise!

               Gol durn the luck, they let me in;

               Now here I’m back on earth agin.

               I’ve been to Heaven! I’ve been dead,

               I’ve seen it All,” so Ephrum said.

               And while we gathered round with awe

               He told us all the things he saw.

               And while he yarned that tale of Death

               The parson came, all out of breath,

               Exclaiming o ’er and o ’er again,

               “A vision! Wondrous! Blest of men!”

               And asked, “Oh, tell us, Mr. Way,

               How long were you allowed to stay?”

               And then the crowd hung breathless round

               A-harkin’ until Ephrum found

               Some sort of language in his reach,

               --For he was sort of dull in speech.

               “Wal, friends,” he slowly said at last,

               “I ricolleet that when I passed

               The pearly gates and sills of gold

               And see that blessed sight unfold

               Before my dim old hazy eyes,

               I got a shock of such surprise

               I couldn’t move,--I couldn’t speak,

               --Jest run my tongue down in my cheek

               And sort of numbly pronged and pried

               The chaw I took before I died.

               --That’s been my habit all my days;

               When I am nervous anyways

               I don’t fly all to gosh. Instid

               I simply, calmly shift my quid.

               But jest as I had rolled her ’crost--

               Wal, suthin’ dropped and I was lost.

               And all of Heaven, friends, I saw

               Was while I shifted that air chaw.”

               I think, dear sir, I scarce need add

               That seldom do you see so glad

               A resurrection time as they

               Who stood there gave old Ephrum Way.

               The parson first he tried to screw

               His face up solemn, but that crew

               Broke out and howled like they was daft.

               And so he laughed and laughed and laughed.


               Hindsight is clearer than foresight,

                   But foresight is better and safer, old chap.

               Experiment teaches, but common sense reaches

                   And tests the bright baubles in Dame Future’s


               I’m telling you what Eph Landers did

               The time that the critter lost his fid.

               He was sort of a quick, impulsive man;

               --When others walked, he always ran.

               He never waited to calmly view,

               But he got right up and slam-banged through.

               Believed that the moments a feller took

               To give the future a good square look

               Was simply so much wasted time;

               His plan was, “Never look up; just climb.”

               He was yankin’ boulders a week ago

               And things got balky and movin’ slow.

               He strung the chain ’round a good big rock

               And found that he lost the little block

               To catch the link; it’s used instid

               Of a hook and link, and it’s called a fid.

               And Eph, he held the unhooked chain

               By the ends, and he looked and he got profane.

               But he couldn’t find it and wouldn’t wait,

               --He was mad as a bug and desperate,

               And the crack-brained critter--what do ye


               Why, he stuck his thumb in the unhooked link.

               He didn’t consider that ’twarn’t his fid,

               But the oxen started--and then he did!

               He see’d his mistake, as most men do,

               When the deed is done and the thing is through:

               You stick your thumb where it don’t belong

               And the world will yank it, good and strong.

                   _Hindsight is clearer than foresight,

                        But you’d better ask foresight to give ye a


                   Or, first thing you’re knowin’, Old World will be


                   And he’ll laugh while you howl with your thumb

                        out of joint_.


               Maria’s comb hung lopsy-wise

               And flapped athwart her filmy eyes,

               Exactly like a slattern’s hair

               On washing day; and I declare

               She was the slouchiest-looking hen

               That pecked in T. B. Tucker’s pen.

                   Cah-dah! Cah-dut!

                   She was the butt

               Of every sort of jibe and cut.

               Maria was a Brahma dame,

               Broad and squat and plucked and lame.

               The Leghorns cast a pitying smile

               Upon her queer, old-fashioned style.

               The Plymouth Rocks would jeer and flout

               Because her legs were feathered out.

                   The cocks would strut,

                   Pah-rutt! Pah-rutt!

               And snigger at her bloomers’ cut.

               The trim white Cochins tip-toed by

               And froze her with disdainful eye;

               Each tufted Houdan tossed her plume

               And glared Maria’s social doom.

               Where ’er she strolled in all the yard

               Maria got it good and hard!

                   Cah-dut! Cah-dah!

                   Each social star

               Just dropped Maria with a jar.

               But she pursued her quiet way,

               And picked and scratched the livelong day,

               Kept early hours and ate bran mash,

               Nor sought to cut a social dash.

               And then one day she left her nest

               With pallid comb and swelling breast.

                   Cah-dut! Cah-dah!

                   Hooray, hurrah!

               Maria, you’re a queen, you are!

               The news went cackling round the pen

               --An egg! It measured twelve by ten.

               And T. B. Tucker drove to town

               To take that gor-rammed big egg down.

               The editor put on his specs,

               The villagers turned rubber necks,

               And some collecting feller paid

               Right smart for what Maria laid.

               And European news was set

               Aside that week by the Gazette

               In order that a glowing pen

               Might pay due praise to that old hen.

                   Cah-lip! Cah-lop!

                   You’ll find, sure pop,

               That modest merit lands on top.


               Mother fights with Marshy, and Marshy fights

                        with her,

               --Don’t give up yer proputty, I’m tellin’ on yer,


               Don’t give up yer proputty to nary blessed one,

               --Don’t keer whuther brother, sir, or nephy,

                   sir, or son.

               Don’t make over northin’, sir, ontil you’re done

                   and through,

               Or ye’ll cuss the day ye done it till the air is

                   black and blue..

               Me and marm got feeble and we couldn’t run

                   the farm,

               Son was newly married and we couldn’t see the


               In makin’ on it over, we to have the ell and shed,

               Use the sittin’ room in common--and a room

                   for one spare bed.

               And so we made the papers and we signed  ’em,

                   me and wife,

               ’Lowin’ them the stand and stock, and us our

                   keep for life.

               Twelvemonth isn’t finished, but the trouble has


               An’ it’s one continyal rowin’ ’twixt us and her

                   and son.

               Marshy dings at mother and mother dings at her,

               ’F things ain’t settled somehow, sir, they’ll git

                   to clawin’ fur.

               Don’t give up yer proputty, I’m tellin’ on ye


               Don’t keer who your family is, ye’ll rue it sure

                   as fate.

               ’Fore ye sign the papers they’ll come round ye

                   slicker’n cream,

               But ye’ll notice little later, sir, that things ain’t

                   what they seem.

               Man that’s got his proputty, he’s looked to with


               Relations they come meechin’ round to

                   scratch, sir, where he’s pecked.

               Ye see, he rules the family roost and leads the

                   family flock,

               As proud and full of manners as a Cochin China


               But if the years have loosened up his intellect

                   and grip,

               And if he thinks his folks are straight, and lets

                   the old farm slip,

               He’ll find the grin becomes a frown and sweet-

                   ness turns to greed,

               For folks see things in different light when once

                   they’ve got a deed.

               Now Marshy snarls at mother and mother sends

                   it back,

               And all the time, from sun to sun, it’s clack and

                   clack and clack!

               Don’t give up yer propputy, hang on till death,

                   I say;

               It’s time when you are done with it to give your

                   all away.

               Oh, how the devil snickers round when some

                   old codger drools

               About “the laying down of cares”--and jines

                   the ranks of fools!

               And how the lawyers laugh and joke, and how

                   the angels weep,

               To see some old folks deed away their farm for

                   board and keep!

               --Never see’d no better cook than Marshy

                   used to be,

               When first along she’d ask us down to dinner

                   or to tea.

               Used to sweeten grub with smiles when she

                   would pass a plate,

               And me and marm, like two old coots, we swal-

                   lowed hook and bait.

               You bet we git some diff’rent looks, we git some

                   different feed,

               Jest like they’d throw it out to dogs, now son

                   has got the deed.

               An’ Marshy growls at mother, and mother’s

                   growlin’ wuss,

               An’ I--wal, I jest set and smoke and cuss--

                   and cuss--and cuss!


               When all the sky seems blazing down, and sun-

                   shine curls the bricks,

               And General Humidity puts in his biggest licks,

               I welcome with a moist and dripping


               A placid old philosopher who runs a little farm,

               Who says imagination helps a deal in keeping


               And who to comfort other men makes this his

                   simple rule:

               To talk of piping, biting days, and drifting

                   winter storm

               Whene ’er the weather pipes it up and gets too

                   thunderin’ warm.

               They’re better far than fizz or smash or juleps,

                   sure’s you’re born,

               --The honest little narratives of Frigid Weather


               For though the sizzling summer time may boil

                   and steam and hiss,

               Who’d ever, ever think of it while listening to


               “I never see’d a winter have a durnder, sharper


               Than in the year of Sixty-one, the year that I

                   drove stage.

               I never had so hard a job attendin’ to my biz,

               For everything was frizable, that year you bet

                   was friz.

               At last I done a caper that I hadn’t done for


               I got a little careless and I friz up both my ears.

               The roads was awful drifted and I trod ten

                   miles of snow,

               And all the time that zippin’ wind did nothin’,

                   sah, but blow.

               Them ears of mine was froze so hard, stuck out

                   so bloomin’ straight,

               I thought the wind would snap  ’em off, it blew

                   at such a rate.

               And when at last I hauled up home, the missus

                   bust in tears

               And hollered, ‘John, oh, massy me, you’re going

                   to lose your ears.’

               But I--why, land o’ goodness, I was cooler’n I

                   be now,”

               --And he passed his red bandanna up across

                   his steaming brow,--

               “I jest got out my hatchet and I chopped two

                   cakes of ice

               And held  ’em on my friz-up ears--’twas

               Granpy Jones’ advice.

               I didn’t dast go in the house, but set there in

                   the shed

               A-holdin’ them two chunks of ice to either

                   side my head.

               The chunks weighed fifty pounds apiece--that

                   doctorin’ didn’t cost--

               And so I got  ’em big enough to take out all the


               My wife came out at last to see what made me

                   keep so still,

               And there I was, sound asleep and snorin’

                   fit to kill.

               She got me in and gave me tea and helped me

                   inter bed,

               With that  ’ere ice a-frozen tight and solid to my


               ’Twas sort of curi’s, I confess, but still I slept


               A crystal palace on my head and soapstones on

                   my feet.

               It wasn’t really what you’d call a calm and rest-

                   ful night,

               But when the ice peeled off next day them ears

                   come out all right.”

               They’re better far than fizz or smash or juleps,

                   sure’s you’re born,

               --These honest little narratives from Frigid

               Weather John.


               When pa was down to Topsham fair

               I snooped around and heard him swear

               To Jotham Briggs that it seemed to him

               That muscle nowadays was slim,

               For he said he’d stood there quite a length,

               Seein’ folks whang at the “test your strength,”

               And there wasn’t a one in all that spell

               Who’d hit a crack that had tapped the bell.

               And pa talked loud and he sassed the crowd,

               And the crowd sassed pa, and he allowed

               He’d show  ’em what; and so old Jote

               Just held his hat and his vest and coat;

               And pa he rolled his sleeves up tight,

               Hauled out his plug and took a bite.

               He whirled one arm in wind-mill style,

               --Then whirled the other one awhile.

               He picked his pessle out at length

               And sassed the great, tall “test your strength.”

               “I’m goin’ to soak ye now,” says pa,

               “You’ll think it’s y’earthquakes by the jar.

               Git out the way and giv’ me swing,

               --I’ll bust the ha’slet out the thing.”

               And pa he spit in both his fists

               And give the handle two three twists,

               And swung the beetle round and round

               To give one big, gol-rippin’ pound.

               One knee was right up’ginst his chin,

               His eyes stuck out, his lips sucked in,

               And down he fetched her with a jolt,

               But pa--but pa--he missed his holt!

               He lost his grip, the pessle flew,

               And folks they scattered, I tell you.

               Some chaps fell down and some they ducked,

               And them fur off, by gosh, they hucked.

               For that air pessle, sir, it come

               Sky-hootin’ like a ten-inch bomb.

               It landed more’n eight rods away

               Right through the top of Drew’s new shay,

               --Right ’twixt the gal and Ezry Drew,

               And hully gee, it scart  ’em blue.

               While pa--wal, pa, he jest turned green

               --Gawked fust at Drew, then that machine.

               And hammed and stuttered out at length,

               “I aimed  ’er at that to test your strength’!”

               “Good eye!” says Ez, as mad as sin,

               And then he snorted, “Drunk agin!”

               And pa--wal, warn’t a thing to say,

               ’Cept pull,--and ask Ez, “What’s to pay?”


               The clash and the clatter of mowing-machines

               Float up where the old man stands and leans

               His trembling hands on the worn old snath,

               As he looks afar in the broadening path,

               Where the shivering grasses melt beneath

               A seven-foot bar and its chattering teeth.

                        When a man gits old, says he,

                             When a man gits old,

                        He is mighty small pettaters

                             As I’ve just been told.

               I used to mow at the head of the crew,

               And I cut a swath that was wide as two.

               --Covered a yard, sah, at every sweep;

               The man that follered me had to leap.

               I made the best of the critters squeal,

               And nary a feller could nick my heel.

               The crowd that follered, they took my road

               As I walked away from the best that mowed.

               But I can’t keep up with the boys no more,

               My arms are stiff and my cords are sore:

               And they’ve given this rusty scythe to me

               --It has hung two years in an apple-tree--

               And told me to trim along the edge

               Where the mowing-machine has skipped the


               It seems, sah, skurcely a year ago

               That I was a-showin’  ’em how to mow,

               A-showin’  ’em how, with the tanglin’ grass

               Topplin’ and failin’, to let me pass;

               A-showing  ’em how, with a five-foot steel,

               And never a man who could nick my heel.

               But now it’s the day of the hot young blood,

               And I’m doin’ the job of the fuddy-dud;

               Hacking the sides of the dusty road

               And the corner clumps where the men ain’


               And that’s the way, a man gits told,

               He’s smaller pettaters when he grows old.


               It’s a jolly sort of season, is the spring--is the


               And there isn’t any reason for not feeling like a


               The sun has got flirtatious and he kisses Mis-

                   tress Maine,

               And she pouts her lips, a-saying, “Mister, can’t

                   you come again?”

               The hens are all a-laying, the potatoes sprouting


               And fodder spent so nicely that I’ll have some

                   hay to sell.

               But when I get to feeling just as well as I can feel,

               All to once it comes across me that I’ve got

                   them calves to veal.

               Oh! I can’t go in the stanchion, look them

                   mothers in the eye,

               For I’m meditatin’ murder; planning how their

                   calves must die.

               Every time them little shavers grab a teat, it

                   wrings my heart,

               --Hate to see  ’em all so happy, for them cows

                   and calves must part.

               That’s the reason I’m so mournful; that’s the

                   reason in the spring

               I go feeling just like Nero or some other wicked


               For I have to slash and slaughter; have to set

                   an iron heel

               On the feelings of them mothers; I have got

                   them calves to veal.

               Spring is happy for the poet and the lover and

                   the girl,

               But the farmer has to do things that will make

                   his harslet curl.

               And the thing that hits me hardest is to stand

                   the lonesome moos

               Of that stanchion full of critters when they find

                   they’re going to lose

               Little Spark-face, Little Brindle--when the

                   time has come to part,

               And the calves go off a-blatting in a butcher’s

                   rattling cart.

               Though the cash the butcher pays me sort of

                   smooths things up and salves

               All the really rawest feeling when I sell them

                   little calves,

               Still I’m mournful in the springtime; knocks

                   me off my even keel,

               Seeing suffering around me when I have them

                   calves to veal.


               Old Wendell Hopkins’ hired man is an absent-

                   minded chap,

               He’ll start for a chair, and like as not set down

                   in some one’s lap.

               I happened along where he stopped to bait his

                   hosses the other day,

               --He’d given the hosses his luncheon pail and

                   was trying to eat their hay,

               --A kind of a blame fool sort of a trick for even

                   a hired man,

               But he tackled a different kind of a snag when

                   he fooled with Matilda Ann,

               --When he fooled with Matilda Ann, by jinks,

                   he got it square in the neck,

               And the doctors say, though live he may, he’s a

                   total human wreck.

                        He’s wrapped in batting and thinking now

                        Of the grief in insulting a brindle cow.

               Matilda Ann gives down her milk and she

                   doesn’t switch her tail;

               She gives ten quarts--week in, week out, and

                   she never kicks the pail.

               She doesn’t hook and she doesn’t jump, but even

               Matilda Ann

               Ain’t called to stand all sorts of grief from a

                   dern fool hired man.

               And when he stubbed to the milking-shed in

                   sort of a dream and tried

               To make Matilda “So” and “Whoa” while he

                   milked on the wrong, off side,

               She giv’ him a look to wilt his soul and pugged

                   him once with her hoof,

               And I guess that at last his wits were jogged as

                   he slammed through the lintel roof.

                        He’s got a poultice on his brow

                        Of the size of the foot of a brindle cow.

               Now study the ways of the world, my son; oh,

                   study the ways of life!

               It’s the hustling chap that gets the cash, or the

                   girl he wants for a wife;

               It’s the feller that spots the place to grab, when

               Chance goes swinging by,

               Who gets his dab in the juiciest place and the

                   biggest plum in the pie;

               There’s always a chance to milk the world--

                   there’s a teat, a pail, and a stool;

               There’s a place for the chap with sense and grip,

                   but a dangerous holt for a fool.

               For while the feller that’s up to snuff drums a

                   merry tune in his pail,

               The fool sneaks up on the left-hand side and

                   lands in the grave or in jail.

                        --It’s an awkard place, as you’ll allow,

                        The off-hand side of the world or a cow.


                             Ur-r rick, ur-r raw,

                             Ur-r rick, ur-r raw!

               Have you buckled your back to an old buck-saw?

               Have you doubled your knee on a knotty stick

               And bobbed to the tune of ur-r raw, ur-r rick?

               Have you sawed till your eye-balls goggled and


               Till your heart seemed lead and your breath was


               Have you yeaked her up and yawked her down,

               --As doleful a lad as there was in town?

               If so, we can talk of the back-bent woe

               That followed the youngsters of long ago.

               Ah, urban chap, with your anthracite,

               Pass on, for you cannot fathom, quite,

               The talk that I make with this other chap

               Who got no cuddling in Comfort’s lap.

               You’ll scarcely follow me when I sing

               Of the rasping buck-saw’s dancing spring,

               For the rugged rhythm is fashioned for

               The ear that remembers ur-r rick, ur-r raw.

                             Ur-r raw, ur-r rick.

                             Ur-r raw, ur-r rick!

               We pecked at our mountain stick by stick.

               Our dad was a man who was mighty good

               In getting the women-folks lots of wood.

               And as soon as sledding came on to stay

               Jack got all work and he got no play.

               For daily the ox-sleds creaked and crawked

               Till the yard was full and the buck-saws talked.

               ’Twas rugged toil and we humped our backs,

               But we scarce kept pace with dad’s big axe.

               There were bitter mornings of “ten below,”

               There were days of bluster and days of snow,

               But with double mittens, a big wool scarf,

               And coon-skin ear-laps, we used to laugh

               At the fussiest blast old Boreas shrieked,

               And the nippingest pinches Jack Frost tweaked,

               We were warm as the blade of the yanking saw

               That steamed to the tune of ur-r rick, ur-r raw!

                             Ur-r raw, ur-r rick,

                             Ur-r raw, ur-r rick!

               Ho, men at the desks, there, dull and sick!

               You slap your hands to your stiff old backs

               At thought of the days of the saw and axe;

               And you press your palms to an aching brow,

               And shiver to think of a saw-buck now.

               But ah, old fellows, you can’t deny

               You hanker a bit for the times gone by,

               When the toil of the tasks that filled the day

               Made bright by contrast our bits of play.

               Oh, grateful the hour at set of sun,

               When the tea was hot, and the biscuits “done;”

               When chocking his axe in the chopping-block,

               Dad sung, u Knock off, boys, five o’clock.”

               Now tell me truly, ye wearied men,

               Are you ever as happy as you were then,

               When you straightened your toil-bent, weary


               At the welcome plop of dad’s old axe?

               And tell me truly, can you forget

               The sight of the table that mother set,

               When dropping the saws in the twilight gloom,

               We trooped to the cheer of the dear fore-room,

               And there in the red shade’s mellow light

               Made feast with a grand good appetite?

               --Made feast at the sweet old homespun board

               On the plum preserves and the “crab jell” stored

               For demands like these; and made great holes

               In the heaps of the cream o’ tartar rolls?

               Ah, gusto! fickle and faint above

               The savory viands you used to love,

               What wouldn’t you give for the sharp-set tang

               That followed those days when the steel teeth


               --For zest was as keen as the bright, swift saw

               When you humped to the tune of ur-r rick,

                   ur-r raw?


               Foster the tinker traversed Maine

                   From Elkins town to Kittery Point,

               With a rattling pack and a rattling brain,

                   And a general air of “out of joint.”

               A gaunt old chap with a shambling gait,

                   A battered hat, and rusty clothes,

               With grimy digits in sorry state,

                   And a smooch on the end of his big red nose.

                        That was the way that Foster went,

                        --Mixture of shrewdness and folly blent,

                        Mending the pots and the pans as ordered,

                   But leaving the leak in his nob unsoldered.

               But Foster the tinker was no one’s fool;

                   He fired an answer every time.

               ’Twas either a saw or proverb or rule,

                   Or else a bit of home-made rhyme.

               And while he knocked at a pot or a pan

                   And puffed the coals of his little blaze,

               He was ready and primed for the jocose man

                   Who thought that the tinker was easy to


                        It chanced that Foster stopped one night

                        With a man who thought a master sight

                        Of being esteemed as smart’s a weasel

                        --Man by the name of Obed Keazle.

               And he pronged at Foster the evening through

                   While the folks were having a merry laugh;

               And they laughed the most when he said, “Now


                   Compose me a good nice epitaph,

               And your lodging here shan’t cost a cent.”

                   So Foster snapped at the chance and said

               He would have it ready before he went,

                   And would make one verse ere they went to


                        So Keazle listened with deep delight

                        While he heard the guileless chap recite,

                        With his head a-cock like a huge canary,

                        This sample of his obituary:

                                  Thus he begun

                                  Verse number one:

                   “A man there was who died of late,

                   Whom angels did impatient wait,

                   With outstretched arms and smiles of love

                   To bear him to the Realms Above.”

               Foster the tinker slept that night

                        On a feather tick that was three feet thick,

               And Keazle attended in calm delight

                        To warm the bed with a nice hot brick.

                   And the tinker sat at the breakfast board

                        And blandly smiled and ate and ate,

               Then piled on his back his motley hoard

                   And took his stand at the front yard gate.

                        He said, “I’ll give ye the other half

                        Of that strictly fust-class epitaph.”

                        There are doubts you know as to how it


                   But the tinker didn’t wait--he scooted.

                             For thus ran--whew!

                             Verse number two:

                   While angels hovered in the skies

                   Disputing who should bear the prize,

                   In slipped the devil like a weasel

                   And Down Below he kicked old Keazle.”


               Mother’s furnished up the parlor--got a full,

                   new haircloth set,

               And there ain’t a neater parlor in the county,

                   now, I’ll bet.

               She has been a-hoarding pennies for a mighty

                   tedious time;

               She has had the chicken money, and she’s saved

                   it, every dime.

               And she’s put it out in pictures and in easy

                   chairs and rugs,

               --Got the neighbors all a-sniffin’ ’cause we’re

                   puttin’ on such lugs.

               Got up curtains round the winders, whiter’n

                   snow and all of lace,

               Fixed that parlor till, by gracious, I should never

                   know the place.

               And she says as soon’s it’s settled she shall give

                   a yaller tea.

               And invite the whole caboodle of the neighbors

                   in to see.

               Can’t own up that I approve it; seems too much

                   like fubb and fuss

               To a man who’s lived as I have--jest a blamed

                   old kitchen cuss.

               Course we’ve had a front room always; tidy place

                   enough, I guess,

               Couldn’t tell, I never set there, never opened it


               Parson called, or sometimes mother give a party

                   or a bee,

               When the women come and quilted and the men

                   dropped round to tea.

               Now we’re goin’ to use it common. Mother

                   says it’s time to start,

               If we’re any better’n heathens, so’s to sweeten

                   life with art.

               Says I’ve grubbed too long with plain things,

                   haven’t lifted up my soul.

               Says I’ve denned there in the kitchen like a

                   woodchuck in his hole.

               --It’s along with other notions mother’s getting

                   from the club;

               But I’ve got no growl a-comin’, mother ain’t let

                   up on grub!

               Still I’m wishin’ she would let me have my

                   smoke and take my nap

               In the corner, side the woodbox; I’m a plain old

                   kitchen chap.

               I have done my stent at farmin’; folks will tell

                   you I’m no shirk;

               There’s the callus on them fingers, that’s the

                   badge of honest work.

               And them hours in the corner when I’ve stum-

                   bled home to rest

               Have been earnt by honest labor and they’ve

                   been my very best.

               Land! If I could have a palace wouldn’t ask no

                   better nook

               Than this corner in the kitchen with my pipe

                   and some good book.

               I’m a sort of dull old codger, clear behind the

                   times, I s’pose;

               Stay at home and mind my bus’ness; wear some

                   pretty rusty clothes;

               ‘Druther set out here’n the kitchen, have for

                   forty years or more,

               Till the heel of that old rocker’s gouged a holler

                   in the floor;

               Set my boots behind the cook stove, dry my old

                   blue woolen socks,

               Get my knife and plug tobacker from that dented

                   old tin box,

               Set and smoke and look at mother clearing up

                   the things from tea;

               --Rather tame for city fellers, but that’s fun

                   enough for me.

               I am proud of mother’s parlor, but I’m feared

                   the thing has put

               Curi’s notions her noddle, for she says I’m


               Thinks we oughter light the parlor, get a crowd

                   and ontertain,

               But I ain’t no city loafer,--I’m a farmer down in


               Course I can’t hurt mother’s feelin’s, wouldn’t

                   do it for a mint,

               Yet that parlor business sticks me, and I guess

               I’ll have to hint

               That I ain’t an ontertainer, and I’ll leave that

                   job to son;

               I’ll set out here in the kitchen while the folks

                   are having fun.

               And if marm comes out to get me, I will pull

                   her on my lap,

               And she’ll know--and she’ll forgive me, for I’m

                   jest a kitchen chap.


               I wouldn’t be an emp’ror after supper’s cleared


                   I wouldn’t be a king, suh, if I could.

               So long as I’ve got health and strength, a home

                        where I can stay,

                   And a woodshed full of dry and fitted wood.

               For Jimmy brings the bootjack, and mother trims

                        the light,

               And pulls the roller curtains, shettin’ out the

                        stormy night.

               And me and Jim and mother and the cat set


                   Oh, who in tunket hankers for a crown?

               Who wants to spend their ev’nin’s sittin’

                        starched and prim and straight,

                   A-warmin’ royal velvet on a throne?

               It’s mighty tedious bus’ness settin’ up so

                        thund’rin’ late,

                   With not a minit’s time to call your own.

               I’d rather take my comfort after workin’ through

                        the days

               With my old blue woolen stockin’s nigh the

                        fire’s social blaze,

               For me and Jim and mother and the old gray cat

                   Come mighty near to knowin’ where we’re at.


               Ephrum Eels he had to scratch durned hard to

                        keep ahead,

                   --But he always kept three dogs.

               He couldn’t keep a dollar bill to save his life,

                        they said,

                   --But he always kept three dogs.

               He said he might have been some one if he’d

                        had half a chance,

               But getting grub from day to day giv’ Ephrum

                        such a dance,

               He never got where he could shed the patches

                        off his pants;

                   --But he always kept three dogs.

               Ephrum’s young ones never looked as though

                        they was half-fed,

                   --But he always kept three dogs.

               The house would be so cold his folks would

                        have to go to bed;

                   --But Ephrum kept three dogs.

               One was sort of setter dog and two of  ’em was


               Their skins was full of Satan; they was always

                        on their roun’s,

               Till people durned their pictures in half a dozen


                   --But Ephrum kept his dogs.

               They ’bated Ephrum’s poll-tax’cause he was too

                        poor to pay,

                   --But Ephrum kept his dogs.

               How he scraped up cash to license  ’em it ain’t

                        in me to say,

                   --But I know he kept his dogs.

               And when a suff’rin’ neighbor ambuscaded  ’em,

                        Eph swore--

               Then in a kind of homesick way he hustled

                        round for more;

               He struck a lucky bargain and, by thunder, he

                        bought four!

                   --Jest kept on a-keepin’ dogs.


               Sunning themselves on the southern porch,

               Where the warm fall rays from the towering


               Of the great sun flash in the glowing noons,

               The drying apples, in long festoons,

               Drink the breath of the crisp fall days,

               Borrow the blush of the warming rays;

               Storing their sweetness, their rich bouquet,

               Against that savage and wintry day

               When the housewife’s fingers shall by and by

               Mould them into dried-apple pie.

               There they mellow and there they brown,

               Homely enough to a man from town,

               Merely strings of some shrunken fruit,

               Swung in the sun. And yet they’re mute

               Memory-ticklers to those who know

               The ways of the farm in the long-ago:

               --The kitchen table, the heaping store

               Of round, red apples upon the floor.

               The purr of the parer, the mellow snip

               As the busy knives thro’ the apples slip.

               The merry chatter of boys and girls,

               The rosy clutter of paring curls,

               As hurrying knives and fingers fly

               O ’er the luscious fruit for dried-apple pie.

               I’m idly thinking it sure must be

               That the rollicking sport of the apple-bee,

               --The sweetness of smiles, the touch of the


               Hands flashing there in the candle-light,--

               Must all in a mystic way be blent

               In one grand flavor;--that such was lent

               To those mellowing strings, those festoons dun

               Swinging there in the late fall sun.

               For lo, as I look I seem to see

               A dream of the past, a fantasy,

               --A laughing, black-eyed roguish girl

               Whirling a writhing paring curl;

               Chanting the words of the old mock spell

               That all we children knew so well:

               “Three times round and down you go!

               Now who is the one that loves me so?”

                Merely a fancy, a passing gleam

               Of the old, old days;--a sudden dream

               Beguiled by some prank of a blurring eye

               And the tricking song of a big, blue fly;

               --Merely a fancy, and yet, ah me,

               How often I’ve wondered where she can be.

               There they mellow and there they brown,

               Homely objects to folks from town;

               Only some apples hung to dry

               And doomed to be finally tombed in a pie.


               Now there’s Hezekiall Adams--nicest man you

                   ever saw!

               Never had a row with no one; never once got

                   into law;

               Always worked like thunderation, but to save

                   his blessed life,

               Never seemed to get forehanded--and I’ve laid

                   it to his wife,

               For she always kept him meechin’; calls him

                   down with sour tone,

               Till the critter hasn’t gumption for to say his

                   soul’s his own.

               T’other day

               Happened to ride along his way;


               Like a gingham rag hung out to dry,

               Peak-ed and pale,

               Lopped on the gate ’cross the upper rail.

               “Howdy!” says I,

               “Blamed if I know,” says Heseki’.

               “Don’t feel sick,

               But marm’s kept my back on a big hot brick

               Till I can’t tell

               Whuther I’m ailin’ or whuther I’m well.”

               “Think,” says I,

               “It’s too early to hoe when the ground’s so dry?”

               Says he, “’Bout all

               I’m sartin’ of is, I shall dig come fall.”

               Says I, “Things look

               Like we farmers can fatten the pocket-book.”

               “Mebbe,” says he,

               “But inarm vows there ain’t much she can see.”

               “Ye can’t jest crawl,”

               Says I, “but there’s money for folks with


               Old Hezekiah shifted legs and give a lonesome


               “I begun with these two hands,” said he,

               “And I’ve only held my own.”

               He has always worked like blazes, but, has

                   always seemed to fail;

               --Made his grabs at prancin’ Fortune, but has

                   caught the critter’s tail;

               Never jumped and gripped the bridle--wouldn’t

                   darst to on his life;

               Always acts too blasted meechin’--and I’ve laid

                   it to his wife.


               Row-diddy, dow de, my little sis,

               Hush up your teasin’ and listen to this:

               ’Tain’t much of a jingle, ’tain’t much of a tune,

               But it’s spang-fired truth about Chester Cahoon.

               The thund’rinest fireman Lord ever made

               Was Chester Cahoon of the Tuttsville Brigade.

               He was boss of the tub and the foreman of hose;

               When the ’larm rung he’d start, sis, a-sheddin’

                   his clothes,

               --Slung cote and slung wes’cote and kicked off

                   his shoes,

               A-runnin’ like fun, for he’d no time to lose.

               And he’d howl down the ro’d in a big cloud of


               For he made it his brag he was allus there fust.

               --Allus there fust, with a whoop and a shout,

               And he never shut up till the fire was out.

               And he’d knock out the winders and save all the


               And tear off the clapboards, and rip up the


               For he allus allowed  ’twas a tarnation sin

               To ’low  ’em to burn, for you’d want  ’em agin.

               He gen’rally stirred up the most of his touse

               In hustling to save the outside of the house.

               And after he’d wrassled and hollered and pried,

               He’d let up and tackle the stuff  ’twas inside.

               To see him you’d think he was daft as a loon,

               But that was jest habit with Chester Cahoon.

               Row diddy-iddy, my little sis,

               Now see what ye think of a doin’ like this:

               The time of the fire at Jenkins’ old place

               It got a big start--was a desprit case;

               The fambly they didn’t know which way to turn.

               And by gracious, it looked like it all was to burn.

               But Chester Cahoon--oh, that Chester Cahoon,

               He sailed to the roof like a reg’lar balloon;

               Donno how he done it, but done it he did,

               --Went down through the scuttle and shet

                   down the lid.

               And five minutes later that critter he came

               To the second floor winder surrounded by


               He lugged in his arms, sis, a stove and a bed,

               And balanced a bureau right square on his head.

               His hands they was loaded with crockery stuff,

               China and glass; as if that warn’t enough,

               He’d rolls of big quilts round his neck like a


               And carried Mis’ Jenkins’ old aunt with his


               You’re right--gospel right, little sis,--didn’t


               The critter’d git down, but he called for the


               And when it comes strong and big round as my


               He stuck out his legs, sis, and give  ’em a


               And he hooked round the water jes’ if  ’twas a


               And down he come easin’ himself on the slope,

               --So almighty spry that he made that  ’ere


               As fit for his pupp’us’ as if  ’twas a beam.

               Oh, the thund’rinest fireman Lord ever made

               Was Chester Cahoon of the Tuttsville Brigade.


               Guess that more’n a dozen lawyers, off and on,

                   from time to time,

               Tried to settle down in Hudson, but they

                   couldn’t earn a dime.

               Never got a speck of business, never had a single


               Said they never in their travels struck so

                   blimmed-blammed funny place.

               People did a lot of hustling, town was flourish-

                   ing enough,

               --Everybody but the lawyers had his fingers

                   full of stuff.

               Lawyers stayed till they got hungry, then they’d

                   pull their shingles down

               And go tearing off to somewhere, damning right

                   and left the town.

               Told the lawyers round the county, “Hudson’s

                   bound to starve you out

               Till some patriot up and poisons one old cuss

                        down there named Strout.

                        ’Cause they won’t fork up a fee,

                        Long’s he’s round to referee.

                        ’Case of difference or doubt

                        Folks say, 6 Wal, we’ll leave her out

                             To Uncle Micajah Strout.’”

               If a farmer bought a heifer and she didn’t run

                   to milk,

               If a dickerer in horse trades struck a snag or

                   tried to bilk,

               If two parties got to haggling over what a farm

                   was worth,

               Or if breeders split in squabbling over weight or

                   age or girth;

               If a stubborn line-fence quarrel, right-of-way dis-

                   pute, or deed,

               Claim of heirship or of debtor, honest error,

                   biassed greed,

               Rose to foster litigation, no one scurried to the law,

               No one belched out objurgations, sputtered oaths,

                   or threatened war,

               For there was a ready resource in a certain plain

                   old gent,

               Unassuming, blunt, and honest. When he said

                   a thing it went.

               So there was no chance for wrangle, disputations,

                   snarls, or fray,

               When the people of the village universally could


                        “Oh, what’s the use to fuss?

                        We shall only make a muss.

                        We can fix it in about

                             Half a minute. Leave it out

                             To Uncle Micajah Strout.”

               So no wonder all the lawyers banned and cursed

                   the place, and left;

               For contention was but fleeting and the town

                   was never cleft

               By a quarrel or dissension. Rows were always

                   settled young

               By the pacifying magic of. Micajah’s ready


               When at last his days were ended and he passed

               --well, now you bet

               That he had the biggest funeral ever seen in


               Miss him? Guess we miss Micajah, but if ever

                   dreams come true,

               I’ve a sort of sneaking notion that he hasn’t yet

                   got through

               Settling things for us in Hudson; for I dreamed

               --and this is straight--

               That I died and went to Heaven, but was yanked

                   up at the gate.

               Peter showed me facts and figures, all the

                   records, and allowed

               That I’d have to take my chances down below

                   with t’other crowd;

               --Said the thing was pretty even, but he had to

                   draw it fine,

               Then commenced to hunt the index for the next

                   shade in the line.

               I protested, and we had it, this and that, and pro

                   and con,

               And I hung and begged and argued when he

                   told me to move on.

               Till at last he called a cherub, sent the little

                   chap inside,

               Owning up that he was bothered as to how he

                             should decide.

                        “But I’ll give you all the show.

                        That I can,” said he. “You know,

                        I’ve arranged, in case of doubt,

                        --When it’s close,--to leave it out

                             To Uncle Micajah’s trout.”


               There lived two frogs, so I’ve been told,

                   In a quiet wayside pool;

               And one of those frogs was a blamed bright frog,

                   But the other frog was a fool.

               Now a farmer man with a big milk can

                   Was wont to pass that way;

               And he used to stop and add a drop

                   Of the aqua pure, they say.

               And it chanced one morn in the early dawn,

                   When the farmer’s sight was dim,

               He scooped those frogs in the water he dipped,

                   --Which same was a joke on him.

               The fool frog sank in the swashing tank

                   As the farmer bumped to town.

               But the smart frog flew like a tug-boat screw,

                   And he swore he’d not go down.

               So he kicked and splashed and he slammed and


                   And he kept on top through all;

               And he churned that milk in first-class shape

                   In a great big butter ball.

               Now when the milkman got to town,

                   And opened the can, there lay

               The fool frog drowned; but, hale and sound,

                   The kicker he hopped away.


               Don’t fret your life with needless strife,

                   Yet let this teaching stick:

               You’ll find, old man, in the world’s big can

                        It sometimes pays to kick.


‘Twould make an ox curl up and die

               To hear how Zek’l Pratt would lie.

                   --Why, that blamed Zeke

                   Could hardly speak

               Without he’d let some whopper fly.

               Come jest as natchrul to him, too,

               --’Twas innocent, and them as knew

               Zeke’s failin’s never took great stock,

               But jest stood back and let him talk;

               Jest let him thrash his peck o’ chart,

               Then got behind his back to laugh.

               Why, Zeke would--jest hold on and see

               What that old liar told to me.

               Last fall while gettin’ in his grain

               He said he see’d a harrycane

               --A cikerloon, as they say West--

               A-boomin’ on like all possesst.

               And Zekel see’d to his consarn

               ’Twas bound plumb straight for his new barn.

               “’Twas crickitul,” says he. “Thinks I,

               I’ve got to be almighty spry.

               If somethin’ ain’t done kind o’ brash

               That barn will get chawed inter hash.

               It don’t take long for me to think,

               And what I done was quicker’n wink.

               Jest gafflin’ up a couple boards

               I sashayed out deerectly to’ards

               That howlin’, growlin’ harrycane

               That come a-raisin’ merry Cain.

               “When I’d got out as fur’s my wind

               Would take me, I slacked up and shinned

               That cob-piled monnyment o’ stones

               Between my land and Bial Jones.

                   Though I don’t scare

                   I’ll own, I swear,

               It sent a twitter through my bones

               When I got where that I could see

               The thing  ’twas goin’ to tackle me.

                ’Twas big and round and blacker’n Zip,

               --And powerful? My sakes, ’twould grip

               A tree or bam or line o’ fence

               And make  ’em look like thirty cents.

               While all the time it growled and chawed

               And spit the slivers forty rod.

               --As things looked then a bob-tailed darn

               Was too much price for Pratt’s new barn.

               “But let me tell ye this, my son,

               Me’n them boards warn’t there for fun.

               I held one underneath each arm;

                   The ends stuck out

                   In front about

               Ten feet. I held  ’em aidge to aidge

               And made a fust-class kind of wedge.

               I grit my teeth. There was a calm

               For jest a minit, kind o’ ’s ef

               That harrycane had stopped itse’f

               And snickered, snorted, laughed, and yelled,

               Then stopped again and sort o’ held

               Its breath; then swellin’ up its breast

               Swooped down to knock me galley-west.

               “It grabbed them boards and then  ’twas fight!

               But scare me? Not a gol-durned mite!

               It pulled and tugged and yanked and hauled

               And tooted, howled, and squealed and squalled;

               It picked up sculch and dirt, and threw,

               And followed with a tree or two;

               It hit me with a rotten squash,

               And give me fits with Marm Jones’ wash.

               But ’twarn’t no use, suh, Zek’l Pratt

               Ain’t built to scare at things like that.

               I jest let into that air tyke

               And punched its innards reg’lar-like

               With them  ’ere boards, and honest true,

               I split her square and plumb in two.

               One half went yowlin’ by to right

               And one to left--and out’ of sight.

               While Zek’l Pratt was still on deck

               With Marm Jones’ night-gown round his neck.”


               It doesn’t need eyesight to tell that it’s fall,

               Up here in Maine.

               Though the glamor of yellow is over it all,

                   And the cold, swishing rain

               Comes peltering down and goes stripping the


               And smokes in cold spray from the edge of the


               All, it’s wild out of doors, but come in here with


               Where mother’s as busy as busy can be.

               And you need not your eyes, sir, to know it is fall

               In this stifle and stirring and steam like a pall.

               For there’s savor of spices and odorous charms

               When your nose gets a sniff of these pickles of


               You know it is fall without using your eyes,

                   Up here in Maine.

               There is fragrance that floats as the flower-pot


                   In the tears of the rain.

               And the hand of the frost strips the sheltering


               From the pumpkins, those bombs of the sentinel


               That stiffly and starkly keep gnard in the field,

               A desolate rank without weapon or shield.

               And the fragrance of death like a delicate musk

               Floats up from the field through the crispness of


               Yet out from the kitchen, more savory far,

               Drifts the fragrance of pickles compounded by


               The autumn sweeps past like a dame to a ball,

                   Up here in Maine.

               Her perfumes would stagger shy Springtime, but


                        Like a matron of Spain,

               Puts musk in her bosom and scent on her hair,

               And prinks her gay robe with elaborate care.

               Yet the fragrance she sheds has the savor of


               The brain is turned giddy beneath her fierce


               Till over it all floats the vigorous scent

               Of spices and hot things and good things, all


               It’s wonderful, friend, how it tickles and calms,

               --That whiff from those simmering pickles of



               Ezra Saunders, of Hopkins’ Creek,

               Was the next old soldier asked to speak.

               He’d seen his share of the thousands slain

               In the active days of the Umteenth Maine;

               And we settled hack to hear him tell

               His reasons for thinking that “War is Hell.”

               “Dear comrades of Keesuncook Post and ladies

                   of the Corps,

               I thank you for this invite and I’m proud to

                   take the floor.

               I was thinkin’ as I set here of the battles that

                   I’ve fought,

               Of the suff’rin’ and the slaughter--and the

                   sudden, awful thought

               Come across me that I’d taken very likely scores

                   of lives,

               --Taken fathers from their children, taken

                   husbands from their wives.

               While mad with heat of battle I was pumping

                   reeking lead,

               Not knowing, no, nor caring, where the bullet

                   found its bed.

               Now people they will ask us if we really, truly


               For a fact that while a-fightin’ we have ever

                   killed a foe.

               But it’s rare you find a soldier who has seen, in

                   heat of strife,

               That the bullet he had fired was the one to take

                   a life.

               Now, to-night, I’m going to tell you, though I

                   hate to, boys, I swan,

               That I know I’ve done my murder; that I know

                   I’ve killed my man.

               “’Twas when we got our rapping at the fight of

                   Hatcher’s Run;

               I was running hard as any;--yes, I threw away

                   my gun

               And the rest of my equipment, and proceeded,

                   friends, to steer

               Just as fast as legs would help me for protection

                   at the rear.

               I was quite a nervy sprinter--‘bout as swift as

                   you will find,

               But I couldn’t shake that Johnny who came

                   slammin’ on behind;

               For he had the Georgy straddle and was sort of


               And if nothin’ special busted, I was spoke for,

                   so I jedged.

               He was hanging to his rifle, but he didn’t try to


               --He see he had me solid,--but I give the

                   blame galoot

               A standard mile or such-like and had druv him

                   ‘in the list,’

               When I stepped upon a hubble, fell, and give

                   my leg a twist.

               And the tumble sort of stunned me so I laid

                   there quite a spell,

               Expectin’ that he’d grab me; just a-harkin’ for

                   his yell.

               But things stayed calm and quiet, so I peeked;

                   he laid there sprawled

               ‘Bout a dozen yards behind me. And he looked

                   so queer I crawled

               Slowly back to reconnoitre, got where I could

                   see his head,

               Saw his face was black’s a stove-pipe. Apo-

                   plexy! He was dead.

               And I stood and wept above him, stirred, dear

                   comrades, to the peth

               With the awful, awful pity for that man I’d run

                   to death.

               And my conscience always pricked me and my

                   heart with grief is filled,

               For there ain’t no question, comrades, there’s a

                   man I know I killed.”


               We was off Seguin with the “Nancy P.,”

                   From the Sheepscot bound for Boston way;

               We was one day out, and massy me!

                   What a leak she’d sprung sence she left the bay!

                        Why, never knowed sech an awful leak,

                        Gad, we made her old pump squeak,

                        Gad, we made it whoop and hump,

                        --Two at a turn, on the stiddy jump,--

                             Ker-chonk, ker-chump,

               With an up yo-ho and a down ker-bump.

               But the more we pumped, the more she drawed,

                   And we all turned to for a mighty pull;

               But when we giv’ her the soundin’ rawd,

                   Why, bless yer soul, she was jam, bang full.

                        Plumb, jamb full to the soaked old deck,

                        Full to her gol-durned tarred old neck;

                        Wonder was how she kept aflo’t,

                        With the sea a-gozzlin’ in her thro’t;

                        Ker-do’t, ker-do’t,

               --And we couldn’t leave, ’cause there wam’t no


               So we hung to the pump and we giv’ her Cain,

                   Though it didn’t seem to be no use.

               We thought of the good dry ground in Maine,

                   And durned the pelt of that old caboose,

                        Durned the hide of a tops’l tub,

                        For we never thought we’d see the Hub;

                        --Got so scart we forgot to thank

                        Our lucky stars for a lo’d of plank,

                             Ker-clink, ker-chank,

               And still we bounced that old pump crank.

               So we woggled on like a bale of hay,

                   And we set our teeth and we pumped with


               At last we got to Boston bay;

                   But our arms were stretched to our ankle bones,

                   Hands were the size of corn-fed hams,

                   Eyes bulged out like the horns o’ rams,

                   We humped like monkeys bound for war,

                   And ev’ry man had a raw, red paw,

                        Ker-haw, ker-haw,

               We beached that tub--and then we saw--

               The “Nancy P.,” she’d grown that old,

                   Her butts had rotted all away.

               Her lo’d of planks still jammed the hold,

                   But we’d left her bottom in Sheepscot bay.

                        So there we’d made a tumble try

                        To pump old ’Lantic ocean dry.

                        Over our rail, ’twixt you and me,

                        We’d h’isted, suttin, a mile of sea;

                             Blame me! But we

               Was a darn sick crowd on the “Nancy P.”

[Illustration: 0129]


               I purchased a glass of stiff Maine grog for a

                   salty son of the sea,

               And he confidentially leaned on the bar and

                   spun this yarn for me:

               “ ’Twas down in the aidge of the Saragos’ in the

                   nineteenth latitood

               That I think I see the dumdest sight that ever a

                   sailor viewed.

               “We was dobbin’ along with dumpy sails in a

                   nigh-about dead calm,

               When the forrard watch give a good long squint,

                   and he yapped a loud alarm.

               “And there afloat, two points to port, was a

                   shark, a reg’lar he’un,

               The biggest shark I’ve ever seen outside the


               “The old man reckoned he’d have his pelt, and

                   he yelled to the second mate,

               Sling over the biggest hook ye’ve got, with a

                   good big plug o’ bait.’

               “We dragged her astern and his nobs come on,

                   and then with a mighty splosh,

               He gulped the pork, he bit the rope, and away

                   he went, by gosh!

               “But when he’d hipered two miles to lee, and

                   begun to wopse and wheel,

               We figgered he found the lunch he had a rayther

                   too hearty meal.

               “Yet right behind the quarter wash the critter

                   swum next day,

               And though he gobbled the bait we threw, he

                   allus got away.

               “And at last, do ye know, we liked the cuss for

                   the way he showed his spunk,

               And we named him Pete, and shared salt hoss,

                   and tossed him a daily junk.

               “He got the orts of the fish we caught and, all

                   in all, I’ll bet

               A two-hoss waggin wouldn’t haul the stuff that

                   critter et.

               “Then one day Jones, the heftiest man we had

                   in all the crew,

               Went off the rail with a swinging sail, and Pete

                   he et him too.

               “From that time on we tipped our caps to the

                   razor-backed old brute,

               --We tipped our caps and pulled a bow in a

                   most profound salute;

               “For  ’twas only due from a decent crew to honor

                   a comrade’s grave,

               Though  ’twas odd, I’ll own, to have a tomb afloat

                   on the ocean wave.

               “And the old man ordered the fish lines coiled,

                   for he ’lowed ’twarn’t proper game

               To bob behind for a grave-yard lot; so Pete

                   swum on the same,

               “--Swum on the same, though we come to see

                   that he didn’t act quite right.

               For he grew as thin’s a belayin’ pin on that gol-

                   durned appetite.

               “And we couldn’t figger the secret out, though

                   the second mate was firm

               That stowed ’tween decks in the shark’s insides

                   was a bastin’ big tape-worm.

               “As we didn’t have no vermifuge we could only

                   mourn for Pete,

               And steal salt hoss when the mate wam’t round,

                   and give him lots to eat.

               “But at last he rolled his glassy eyes and give

                   an awful chum,

               And turned his belly up to view and drifted off


               “He rolled and sogged on a logy swell like a

                   nut-cake dropped in fat,

               And it ’peared to all there was suthin’ wrong

                   with the shark we was lookin’ at.

               “So the old man ordered the gig crew up, and

                   the bos’n piped a tune,

               And away we sploshed with the mate ahead

                   a-grippin’ a big harpoon.

               “He slung the thing when we drew abreast and

                   we hacked like all-possessed;

               But the shark was sleepin’ sound, you bet, for

                   we never broke his rest.

               “--We never broke his peaceful snooze, though

                   plunk to the eyelet head

               Went rippin’ in that big harpoon,--for, you see,

                   the shark was dead.

               “And the old man ordered an ortopsy, for the

                   thing seemed mighty queer

               That an able-bodied, hearty shark was deader’n

                   a door-knob here.

               “So the mate was medical ’xaminer, and he

                   straddled the critter’s back

               And laid him open from deck to keel with one

                   almighty whack.

               “Now listen close while I tell the rest, for this is

                   the story’s peth,

               --You may take my nob for a scuttle-butt if

                   the shark warn’t starved to death.

               “Starved to death, though the sea was full of

                   the fattest kind of fish,

               --Starved, though a seaman plump and sound

                   had tumbled in his dish,

               “--Starved though he had in his gorged insides

                   I’ll bet a hundredweight

               Of every kind of a floating thing from codfish

                   down to bait.

               “And this was how: He’d spied, we judged, an

                   empty cask afloat,

               And bein’ a glutten he grabbed the thing and

                   tucked it down his throat.

               “The cask, we found, had an open end--the

                   bottom was good and stout

               --The shark had swallowed the whole end fust

               --the open end was out.

               “And ev’ry mossel the critter et was scooped by

                   the cask inside;

               His vittles failed to reach the spot, and so the

                   poor shark died.”

               This is a sample of weird, wild yarns the marin-

                   ers relate

               Under the spur of a glass of grog in a Prohibi-

                   tion State.


               The foam bells tinkle at gilded prow

                   --There’s a creamy wake to the far horizon.

               And she tiptoes along with a New York bow

               To the curt’sying waves, and we’ll all allow,

                   She’s the daintiest yacht we have set our eyes


                   While sneaking after, in grimy shame,

                   Rolls tops’l schooner, the “Puddentame.”

               On the rocking surge swings the millionaire,

                   And about him splendor and music and


               The glint of jewels and ladies fair;

               Jollity throned, and Old King Care

                   Drowned in the brine and dragging after.

                        But the billows lift and toss the same

                        Old Cap’n Nutter in the “Puddentame.”

               Under the gloom of the Porcupines,

                   In the gleam of the lights of the summer city,

               In a tapestried cabin the rich man dines,

               And toasts his friends in his bubbling wines,

                   While the repartee and the careless ditty

                        Float from the lips of squire and dame

                        To Cap’n Nutter of the “Puddentame.”

               And the old man munches his bread and cheese

               In the gloom and grime of his little cuddy;

               --Through the mirk of the dusty deadlight sees

               This riot of riches; then on his knees

               --This sea-stained, warped old fuddy-duddy--

                        He prays for their souls in the Saviour’s


                        ---Does Cap’n Nutter of the u Puddentame.

               And they?--Why, they neither know nor care

                   That the honest chap has knelt and pleaded.

               For just at the edge of the dazzling glare

               From the rocking yacht of the millionaire,

                   The old craft swings and sways unheeded.

                        Yet who’ll sleep better, jaded Fame

                   Or Cap’n Nutter of the “Puddentame”?


               We’ve gazed with resignation on the passing of

                   the auk,

               Nor care a continental for the legendary rok;

               And the dodo and the bison and the ornith-o-


               May go and yet their passing brings no shade of

                   woe to us.

               We entertain no sorrow that the megatherium

               Forever and forever is departed, dead and


               But a woe that hovers o ’er us brings a keen and

                   bitter pain

               As we weep to see the lobster vanish off the

                   coast of Maine.

               Oh, dear crustacean dainty of the dodge-holes

                   of the sea,

               I tune my lute in minor in a threnody for thee.

               You’ve been the nation’s martyr and  ’twas wrong

                   to treat you so,

               And you may not think we love you; yet we

                   hate to see you go.

               We’ve given you the blazes and hot-potted you,

                   and yet

               We’ve loved you better martyred than when

                   living, now you bet.

               You have no ears to listen, so, alas, we can’t


               The sorrow that you bring us as you leave the

                   coast of Maine.

               Do you fail to mark our feeling as we bitterly


               The passing of the hero of the dinner at the


               Ah, what’s the use of living if you also can’t


               Until you die to furnish us the joy of one

                   “broiled live”?

               And what can e ’er supplant you as a cold dish

                   on the side?

               Or what assuage our longings when to salads

                   you’re denied?

               Or what can furnish thunder to the legislative


               When ruthless Fate has swept you from the rocky

                   coast of Maine?

               I see, and sigh in seeing, in some distant, future


               Your varnished shell reposing under glass upon

                   a stage,

               The while some pundit lectures on the curios of

                   the past,

               And dainty ladies shudder as they gaze on you


               And all the folks that listen will wonder vaguely


               The fact that once lived heathen who could eat

                   a Thing like that.

               Ah, that’s the fate you’re facing--but laments

                   are all in vain

               --Tell the dodo that you saw us when you

                   lived down here in Maine.


               She wrote to her daddy in Portland, Maine, from

                   out in Denver, Col.,

               And she wrote, alas, despondently that life had

                   commenced to pall;

               And this was a woful, woful case, for she was

                   a six months’ bride

               Who was won and wed in the State of Maine by

                   the side of the bounding tide.

               And ah, alack, she was writing back that she

                   longed for Portland, Maine,

               Till oh, her feelings had been that wrenched she

                   could hardly stand the strain!

               Though her hubby dear was still sincere, she

                   sighed the livelong day

               For a good old sniff of the sewers and salt from

                   the breast of Casco bay.

               And she wrote she sighed, and she said she’d

                   cried, and her appetite fell off,

               And she’d grown as thin’s a belaying-pin, with a

                   terrible hacking cough;

               And she sort of hinted that pretty soon she’d

                   start on a reckless scoot

               And hook for her home in Portland, Maine, by

                   the very shortest route.

               But her daddy dear was a man of sense, and he

                   handles fish wholesale,

               And he sat and fanned himself awhile with a

                   big broad codfish tail;

               And he recollected the way he felt when he

                   dwelt in the World’s Fair whirl.

               He slapped his head. “By hake,” he said, “I

                   know what ails that girl.”

               And he went to a ten-cord pile of cod and he

                   pulled the biggest out,

               A jib-shaped critter, broad’s a sail,--three feet

                   from tail to snout.

               And he pasted a sheet of postage stamps from

                   snout clear down to tail,

               Put on a quick delivery stamp, and sent the cod

                   by mail.

               She smelled it a-coming two blocks off on the

                   top of the postman’s pack;

               She rushed to meet him, and scared him blind by

                   climbing the poor man’s back.

               But she got the fish, hit out a hunk, ate postage

                   stamps and all,

               And a happy wife in a happy home lives out in

                   Denver, Col.


               Blast from the winter. Wrack-wood and splinter

               Adrift in the smother of roaring lee shore:

               And a blunt-nosed old coaster; some ancient


                   Sweeps in from the fog no more--no more,

                        Rolls in from the sea no more.

               Bricks make her load and New York her destin-


                   (Dern yer hide, ye snoozer, keep a-pumping

                        there, I say!)

               Bricks for a cargo and she leaks like thundera-


                   And the gulls a-trailin’ after like the buzzards

                        sniffin’ prey!

                             Pump away!

               And ev’ry brick a-soakin’ in her innards growls

                        and grates;

                   She hesitates--she balks and waits,

                   And holy hawse-pipe, how she hates

                        To leave Penobscot Bay!

               Pounce! On her bows leap the combers like

                        a tiger-cat,

                   (Lift  ’er on the handle, there, you loafer,

                             pump away!)

               Lurch! Reels her gait, and her sloshin’ scup-

                        pers hiccup at

                   The sight of drunken breakers fightin’ past

                         ’er up the bay.

                             Pump, I say!

               Oh, give her all the rotten sail her leary masts

                        will lug.

                   Ka-chig, ka-chug; her ugly mug

                   Rolls orkord as a driftin’ jug,

                        And so we slosh away.

               Grub to last a week, a quadrant and an alma-


                   (Wag  ’er there, you rascal, wag  ’er lively

                        there, I say!)

               Rotten are her sails and her hold a-roar with

                        shiftin’ brick,

                   --Ain’t we up ag’inst it if a norther comes

                        our way?

                             Pump, I say!

               Stagger down, ye bloated drunkard, wheel and

                        take the starboard tack!

                   Ka-slup, ka-smack, now work  ’er back,

                   Jest hear that old black canvas crack.

                        Ho! Davy Jones, hooray!

               Black cordage tangled, dead features mangled,

                   Adrift in the smother of roaring lee shore.

               And a blunt-nosed old coaster;

                        some broad-bellied wagon

                   Sweeps in from the sea no more

                        --Rolls in from the sea no more,

               --no more.


               Guess I’ve never told you, sonny, of the strandin’

                   and the wreck

               Of the steamboat “Ezry Johnson” that run up

                   the Kennebec.

               That was  ’fore the time of steam-cars, and the

                   “Johnson” filled the bill

               On the route between Augusty and the town of

                   Water ville.

               She was built old-fashined model, with a

                   bottom’s flat’s your palm,

               With a paddle-wheel behind her, druv’ by one

                   great churnin’ arm.

               Couldn’t say that she was speedy--sploshed

                   along and made a touse,

               But she couldn’t go much faster than a man

                   could tow a house.

               Still, she skipped and skived tremendous, dodged

                   the rocks and skun the shoals,

               In a way the boats of these days couldn’t do to

                   save their souls.

               Didn’t draw no ’mount of water, went on top

                   instead of through.

               This is how there come to happen what I’m go-

                   ing to tell to you.

               --Hain’t no need to keep you guessing, for I

                   know you won’t suspect

               How that thunderin’ old “Ez. Johnson” ever

                   happened to get wrecked.

               She was overdue one ev’nin’, fog come down

                   most awful thick;

               ’Twas about like navigating round inside a

                   feather tick.

               Proper caper was to anchor, but she seemed to

                   run all right,

               And we humped her--though  ’twas resky--

                   kept her sloshing through the night.

               Things went on all right till morning, but along

                   ’bout half-past three

               Ship went dizzy, blind, and crazy--waves

                   seemed wust I ever see.

               Up she went and down she scuttered; sometimes

                   seemed to stand on end,

               Then she’d wallopse, sideways, cross-ways, in a

                   way, by gosh, to send

               Shivers down your spine. She’d teeter, fetch a

                   spring, and take a bounce,

               Then squat down, sir, on her haunches with a

                   most je-roosly jounce.

               Folks got up and run a-screaming, forced the

                   wheelhouse, grabbed at me,

               --Thought we’d missed Augusty landin’ and

                   had gone plum out to sea.

               --Fairly shot me full of questions, but I said

                   ’twas jest a blow;

               Still, that didn’t seem to soothe  ’em, for there

                   warn’t no wind, you know!

               Yas, sir, spite of all that churnin’, warn’t a whis-

                   per of a breeze

               --No excuse for all that upset and those strange

                   and dretful seas.

               Couldn’t spy a thing around us--every way

                    ’twas pitchy black,

               And I couldn’t seem to comfort them poor crit-

                   ters on my back.

               Couldn’t give  ’em information, for  ’twas dark’s

                   a cellar shelf;

               --Couldn’t tell  ’em nothing ’bout it--for I

                   didn’t know myself.

               So I gripped the “Johnson’s” tiller, kept the

                   rudder riggin’ taut,

               Kept a-praying, chawed tobacker, give her steam,

                   and let her swat.

               Now, my friend, jest listen stiddy: when the sun

                   come out at four,

               We warn’t tossin’ in the breakers off no stern

                   and rockbound shore;

               But I’d missed the gol-durned river, and I swow

                   this  ’ere is true,

               I had sailed eight miles ’cross country in a heavy

                   autumn dew.

               There I was clear up in Sidney, and the tossings

                   and the rolls

               Simply happened ’cause we tackled sev’ral miles

                   of cradle knolls.

               Sun come out and dried the dew up; there she

                   was a stranded wreck,

               And they soaked me eighteen dollars’ cartage to

                   the Kennebec.



               It’s a case of scuff in your stocking-feet, from

               Seboomook down, my hearties;

               Sling your spikers around your neck and swear

                   your way to town.

               The dudes that we sent to legislate, and figger

                   at balls and parties,

               Haye tinkered the laws to suit themselves, and

                   they’ve done us good and brown.

               There’s a howl, you bet, from the Medway dam

                   across to the Caucmogummac,

               For the laws came up in the tote-team mail, and

                   we’ve got the new statoots,

               And of all the things that was ever planned to

                   give us a gripe in the stomach,

               The worst is the corker that t’runs us down for

                   a-wearin’ our old calked boots.

               You can’t chank on to a hotel floor,

               You’ve got to leave calked boots at the door.

               They make ye peel your hucks in the street

               And walk to the bar in your stocking-feet.

               It’s a blank of a note that a man with chink

               Can’t prance to the rail and get his drink,

               But it’s five and costs if ye mar the paint,

               And ten if the feller that makes complaint

               Gets mad at a playful push in the eyes

               And goes into court with a lot of lies.

               It’s ten if ye sliver a steam-bo’t’s deck

               --There ain’t no argue--it’s right in the neck.

               And they soak you, too, on the railroad train;

               --Why, there’s hardly a loggin’ crew in Maine

               But what has claimed, as a nat’ral right,

               A chance to holler and heller and fight,

               And knock the stuffin’ out of the seats,

               Rip off the blinds and club with the cleats.

               But now if the bloomin’ brakeman talks,

               And you vaccinate him once with calks;

               If you feel like a man with a royal flush

               And, jest for the joke of it, rip some plush,

               Oh, they take that law and they peel you sore;

               You pay for the damage, and ten plunks more.

               ’Tain’t much like the days when we had some


               When we roosters sharpened our spurs in fights,

               When never a crowd put up galoots

               That could scrap with the fellers with spike-sole


               It’s a case of step to the wangan camp, and buy

                   some partent leathers;

               And go a-snoopin’ along to town like a dude on

                   his weddin’-trip;

               And the only thing you can do to a guy is to tickle

                   his nose with feathers,

               And curl in your seats in the smokin’-car when

                   a drummer gives you lip.

               There was fun, by gee, in the good old days

                   when we whooped  ’er into the city,

               And you trailed our way by the slivers we left

                   from the railroad down to the dives,

               And we owned the town where we left our cash;

                   and now it’s a thunderin’ pity

               If all of a sudden you’ve grown too good for the

                   boys who are off the drives.

               Oh, make the laws, go make the laws with your

                   derned old Legislature,

               Jest give us orders to wear plug hats and come

                   down in full dress suits.

               We’ll wear the togs; but give us spikes, or

                   you’ve busted the laws of nature,

               For angels can just as well shed wings as a

                   driver his spike-sole boots.


               Sing a song of paper; first the tall, straight


               Torn from off the mountains for the roaring

                   presses’ use.

               --A shrieking laceration by the “barker” and

                   the saw;

               A slow, grim maceration in the grinder’s grum-

                   bling maw;

               A dizzy dash through calenders and over whir-

                   ring rolls,

               --And the press can smut the paper so to save

                   or damn your souls;

               The press has got the paper, it can give you lies

                   or facts

               --That vexes not the fellow up in Maine who

                   swings the axe.




               The throb stuttered up from the heart of the


               Erratic and faint, yet the trees understood,

               --Though distant and dull like the tick of a


               It started a tremor through all the great flock.

               King Spruce was a-shiver and rooted with dread,

               While past him to safety the wood people fled;

               The fox with his muzzle turned backward to


               The bear trundling on like an animate muff,

               And rabbits up-ending in wonder and fright,

               Then scudding once more with the others in


               Yet that which has reason most urgent to flee

               Stands grim in the rout of the panic--the


               While up the long slope, glaring red ’gainst the


               His shirt of the hue of the butcher,--the foe,

               Beating fierce at the trunks with relentless


               Comes on to the slaughter, the Man with the Axe.




                   Shudder and totter and shiver and rock!

                   --Pygmy assailing with dull steady knock.

                   Trunk yawning wide with a hideous gash.

                   Snow-covered limbs thrown a-sprawl; and

                        then crash!

               The pens and the presses are waiting, and eyes

               That will glow with delight, or dilate with sur-


               For there in the heart of the spruce there is


               The fabric for thousands of stories untold.

               And on the white paper may later be spread

               The fall of a nation, or fame of one dead

               Who now strides abroad in his health and suc-


               But will pass to the tomb when that log meets

                        the press.

               There under the bark of that spruce there is


               A web that will carry the news of a world,

               That clamors and crowds at the swaying red


               Of the toilers of Maine, the rough men of the



               ’Tis the weirdly witching hour of the woods’


               When the guide suspends the kettle in the ash

                        limb’s crotch,

               Stirs the drowsy, drowsy embers till the cozy

                        fire beams

               And flickers dance like gnomes and elves athwart

                        the glowing dreams

               Of the sleeping town-bred fisher who is stretched

                        with placid soul

               On the earth in sweeter slumber than his town

                        couch can cajole.

               Ah,  ’tis tough on bone and muscle, is this chas-

                        ing after fun--

               And a sleeper gets to sleeping forty knots along

                        ’bout one.

               But the guide is up a-stirring--monstrous shape

                        with flaring torch,

               Prodding up the dozing fire for the woods’ “dog-


               And the slow unclosing eyelids of the startled

                        dreamer see

               This dreadful apparition thrown in shadows on a


               And his heart for just a second goes to skirrup-

                        ing about

               As it flopped when he was wrestling with that

                        five-three-quarter trout.

               But the ogre leaves the shadows, leans against

                        a handy tree

               And remarks: “The water’s bilin’; won’t ye

                        have a cup o’ tea?”

               And he wakes to a night of the fisherman’s


               --Afar the weird lilt of the dolorous loon

               Floats up from the heart of the fair, velvet


               A globule of sound winging slow in its flight.

               As elfin a note as a gnome ever blew,

               It wells from the waters, “Ah-loo-hoo-ah-hoo-


               O spell of the forest! O glimmer and gleam

               From the sheen of the lake and the mist-breath-

                        ing stream!

               The night and the stars and the dolorous loon

               Make mystic the spell of the fisherman’s June.

               The spruces sing the lyric of the wood’s dog-


               The kettle as it bubbles in the ash limb’s crotch,

               The rustle of the spindles of the hemlock and

                        the pine,

               The crackle where the licking tongues of ruddy

                        fire twine,

               The oboe, in the distance, of the weird and lone-

                        some loon,

               --This chorus sings the lyric of the blessed

                        month of June.

               What June? Your June of meadows or your

                        June of scented breeze,

               Or your June begirt with roses stretched in

                        hammock at her ease?

               Such a deity for maidens! I can bow to no

                        such June!

               I extol the mystic goddess of the Forest’s Silent


               --Noon of day or noon of night-time--in the

                        vast and silent deeps,

               Where human care or human woe or human

                        envy sleeps,

               Where rugged depths surround me, dim and

                        silent, deep and wide,

               And no human shares my joy but that second

                        self, my guide.

               --Here’s a June that one can worship. Here’s

                        a June by right a queen,

               ’Neath her hand eternal mountains, ’neath her

                        feet eternal green..

               And here will I adore her, seeking out her

                        awful throne

               With the Silence swimming round me, and

                        alone, thank God, alone!

[Illustration: 0161]


               Wal, things they was deader’n old Billy-be-darn,

               The boss was pernickity, cook wouldn’t yam;

               For we’d heard ev’ry story old Beans had to spin,

               And we hadn’t no longin’s to hear  ’em agin;

               Old Pitts, the head chopper, we’d pumped him

                   out, too,

               --And he swow’d that he’d sung ev’ry song

                   that he knew.

               As the rest wasn’t gifted, a sort of a damp

               Old glister of silence fell over Peel’s camp.

               The deacon-seat doldrums were blacker’n old Zip,

               We’d set there an hour with never a yip,

               ’Cept the suckin’ o’ lips at the quackin’ T.D.’s,

               With the oof and the woo of the lonesome pine


               Wistling over our smok’-hole. It grew on us,


               Our thoughts got as thick an’ as musty an’ blue

               As the cloud o’ tobacker smoke, mixed with the


               From the woolens that dried on the stringers

                   and beams.

               Old Attegat Peter said we was bewitched;

               He said that he seed the Old Gal when she


               A fistful o’ hair out the gray hosses’ tail

               For a-makin’ witch tattin’. She’d hung on a nail

               The queerisome web, so he said, an’ the holes

               --They were fifty--they stood for the whole

                   of our souls.

               An’ there we would swing, an’ hang there we


               Till the hoodoo was busted. Eternally cussed,

               So he said, was the buffle-brained feller that


               To touch the witch-web that was holding us


               Aw, we didn’t believe it--‘tain’t like that we


               But still we warn’t fussy! If we could get


               Of the dumps by a charm, we was ready to try,

               And Peter said singin’ would knock  ’em sky


               Wal, Peter said “singin’;” I can’t tell a lie,

               ’Twarn’t singin’, ’twarn’t nothin’--that mourn-

                   ful ki-yi!

               That seemed like a beller in ev’ry man’s boot,

               An’ ’twarn’t none surprisin’ the witch didn’t


               So there did we set in a stew an’ a cloud,

               A grumpy old, lumpy old dob of a crowd.

               But oh, landsy sake a-Peter, when the fiddle come

                        to camp,

                   W’y you wouldn’t know the place:

                   --Wuz a grin on ev’ry face

               W’en we know’d the critter’d got it. An’ it

                   reely seemed the lamp

               Had a ’leetric light attachment; an’ you

                   oughter heard us stamp

               When that feller took his fiddle out an’ rosined

                        up the bow.

                   Then he yawked an’ yeaked an’ yawked

                   ’Twistin’ keys ontil she squawked,

               An’ we set there jest a-gawpin’; not a word to

                   say, but, oh,

               We was right on pins an’ needles fer to have

                   him let  ’er go.

               Tweedle-weedle, yeaky, yawky, ’nother twist,

                        an’ pretty soon

                   He was waitin’ to begin,

                   With  ’er underneath his chin;

               He a-askin’, all a-grinnin’, “Wall, boys, name

                   it; what’s your tune?”

               An’ we hollered all in concert, “Whoop  ’er up

                   on ‘Old Zip Coon’!”

               Oh, the deacon-seat had cushions an’ the bunks

                   were stuffed with down,

                   While the feller sawed the strings;

                   We could feel our sproutin’ wings,

               An’ we wanted to go soarin’, go a-sailin’, wear a


               Tear the ground up, whoop-ta-ra-ra, mix some

                   red and paint the town.

               Oh, he played the “Lights o’ London” an’ he

                        played “The Devil’s Dream,”

                   --All the old ones--played  ’em all;

                   Rode right on  ’er--made  ’er squall;

               Didn’t stop to semi-quiver, tip-toe Nancy, pass

                   the cream;

               No; he let  ’er go Jerooshy, clear the track an’

                   lots o’ steam.

               Thought I’d never heerd such playin’ sence the

                        Lord had giv’ me breath

                   An’ that P. I.--seems as if

                   He could put the bang an’ biff

               In the chitter of a cat-gut like to touch the very


               In yer marrow; like to raise yer from the very

                   jaws of death.

               So, oh, landsy sake a-Peter, when that fiddle

                   come our way,

                   Say, you wouldn’t know the place,

                   --Wus a grin on ev’ry face.

               --Went to workin’ like the blazes an’ our vittles

                   set--an’ say,

               Guess the Hoodoo flew to thunder when the

               Haw-Haw come to stay.


               The song is the shriek of the strong that are


               --The monarchs that people the woodlands of


                   --‘Tis the cry of a merciless war.

               And it echoes by river, by lake, and by stream,

               Wherever saws scream or the bright axes gleam,

               --‘Tis keyed to the sibilant rush of the steam,

                   And the song is the song of the saw.

               Come stand in the gloom of this clamorous


               Where giants groan past us a-drip from the


               Borne here from the calm of the forest and hill,

               --Aghast at the thunderous roar of the mill,

               At rumble of pulley and grumble of shaft

               And the tumult and din of the sawyer’s rude


               Stand here in the ebb of the riotous blast,

               As the saw’s mighty carriage goes thundering


               One man at the lever and one at the dog.

               The slaughter is bloodless and senseless the


               Yet the anguish of death and the torment of


               Are quavering there in the long, awful yell,

               That shrills above tumult of gearing and wheel

               As the carriage rolls down and the timber meets


               Scream! And a board is laid bare for a home.

               Shriek! And a timber for mansion and dome,

               For the walls of a palace, or toil’s homely use,

               Is reft from the flanks of the prostrate King


               And thus in the clamor of pulley and wheel,

               In the plaint of the wood and the slash of the


               Is wrought the undoing of Maine’s sturdy lords,

               --The martyrs the woodlands yield up to our


               The song is the knell of these strong that are


               The monarchs that people the woodlands of


               And the Fury that whirls in the din of this


               With rioting teeth and insatiable maw, is the


                   And this is the song of the saw.


                   Ev’ry nugget clean and sound,

                   Red’s a jewel, smooth and round,

                   Worth a dollar’n ten a pound;

                   Here’s your gum, ye giddy girls,

                        Here’s your Maine spruce gum.

               The chaps that went off with the Klondike


                        For gold--jest gold,

               Have slumped in the snow, and they work like


                        And they haven’t got rich, we’re told.

               We’re snowshoeing down from the north of


                        See here! Yum, yum!

               Here’s a tole to tease Maud to come into the


                        --These rich, rosy lumps o’ spruce gum.

               Our fires are dowsed in the lonesome old camps,

               We’ve left them to wolves and the foxes and


               The trail of our snowshoes lies snakin’ behind,

               For we’re clawing for home with the treasures

                        we’ve mined.

                   We’ve no sort of use for the pick and the sluice;

               Our Klondike has been the straight trunks of

                   the spruce.

               Let them that elect grub the dirt for a “gleam,”

               Our ore is the gum and our lode is the seam

               That doesn’t go sneaking in mire and clay,

               But grins at the sun and drinks deep of broad day.

               Go grope for your gold in the bowels of mud!

               We’ll cleave our fresh nuggets of resinous blood

               Forced out from the heart through the fibre and


               Of the giants who lurk in the woodlands of


               Just squint through this bubble and gaze at the


               That red is the fire of hot summer days;

               That glimmer is autumn; that glow is the tint

               That was lent by some campfire’s guttering glint.

               And here is a globe like the eye of a cat,

               And this one is amber like honey; and that

               Is a tear rosy red with the anger and shame

               Of a king glooming down as the axe-heavers


               --Staring down as around him his kin roared

                   to earth

               Midst the oaths of the swampers and Labor’s

                   rude mirth.

               That tear of the spruce, may it go to the pearls

               Flashing bright ’neath the lips of some sweetest

                   of girls!

               These, then, are the treasures we bring in our


               --Each round, rosy globule as sweet as the


               We’ll get from the kids when they swoop with

                   a roar

               At dad just the second he opens the door.

               Clear out your old scraps, Mr. Druggist: we


               With a good hefty jag of the season’s new gum.

                   Ey’ry nugget clear and sound,

                   Red’s a jewel, smooth and round,

                   Worth a dollar’n ten a pound.

                   Here’s your gum, ye giddy girls,

                        Here’s your Maine spruce gum.


               The rain has raised the river an’ she’s np to

                   driving pitch,

               An’ it’s oh, an’ grab your peavies an’ go sloppin’

                   in the wet.

               We’ve got ter send  ’er whoopin’ now without a

                   ketch or hitch,

               But it won’t be kid-glove bus’ness, oh, my

                        hearties, you can bet.

                   Empty the water out of your boots

                   And gaffle your peavies, you P.I. galoots.

               There’s the rips at Rundy’s Corner, and the

                   sluice at Puzzle Gorge;

               You can drive  ’em and connive  ’em, but the

                   timber’s bound to lodge.

               An’ sticks will buck--with best of luck--as

                   offish-like as hogs,

               For there ain’t no calkerlatin’ how you’ll run a

                   drive o’ logs.

                   Chase the heathen with a sword,

                   Run the cattle with a goad,

               All we want’s our Oldtown peavies, when our

                        drives go overboard.

                   An’ we’ll foller, sloshin’ in,

                   Yes, we’ll waller to the chin,

               An’ we’ll herd  ’em through the wildest stream

                   that ever frothed and roared.

                   So, look alive,

                   It’s after five,

               An’ the drouth is a-chasin’ the rear o’ the drive.

               Foller down, foller down with your peavies on

                   your backs,

               For the herd that runs ahead of us goes loafin’

                   ’less it’s chased.

               They know they’re off to market, an’ they dread

                   the saw an’ axe,

               An’ you’ve got to go and welt  ’em, though the

                   water’s to your waist,

               For they balk on Depsconneagon when a sixty-

                   footer halts;

               Ev’ry eddy stands a-ready for to swing  ’em in a


               An’ ev’ry rock is chock-a-block with jack-strawed

                   pine an’ spruce,

               Ontil you’ve got the devil’s job to try and turn

                   ’em loose.

               But our goadstick is the peavy, an’ our cant-dog

                   is the pup

               That’ll worry  ’em an’ hurry  ’em an’ rush  ’em,

                   chase  ’em up.

               Oh, the drouth is right behind us, but we’ve

                   passed the North Twin flume,

               An’ we’ll beat the sun in heaven in the race for

               Pea Cove boom.


               It’s dark in the camp, and the woods outside

                   Are dark, dark, too!

               And a hundred men still open wide

                   Their loud bay-zoo.

               It’s sort of mean to rout  ’em jus’

                   To work once more;

               I’d like to let each tired cuss

                   Jus’ lay and snore.

               But I’ve been up for an hour or two

                   And grub’s all on;

               And now as the cook of Pete Long’s crew

                   I toot my horn.

               The weirdest of all wood-sounds, by the way,

               Is a cook’s queer cadence at break of day:


                             Git UP!

               The grub is on the table, boys, the coffee’s on

                   the bile:

               The swagon’s hotter’n Tophet and I swear ’twill

                   make you smile.

               There’s whiskers on the gingerbread, the biskit

                   can’t be beat;

               I’ve got molasses sinkers made from mother’s

                   old receipt.

               --Oh, I’ve got molasses sinkers built around

                   some extra holes;

               They’ll make you think of home and friends and

                   tickle up your souls.

               The beans come out a-roarin’ when I boosted

                   up the lid;

               They chuckled when I pried  ’em out--they

                   laughed, I swear they did.

               Don’t jolly me about your smells of Araby the


               --Jus’ take a snuff of ground-baked beans all

                   hot from out their nest.

               The grub is on the table, boys, hurroop, hurroop,


               Come, tumble out, git on a move! Good Lord,

                   it’s after three!

               Rise up and shine, my gentle lambs, surround

                   your breakfast quick,

               Or else you’ll git the sun’s ha-ha from over

               Tumble Dick.

               And if the timer heaves a growl and docks you

                   in his book,

               Jus’ blame your own durn lazy luck--don’t

                   lay it on the cook.

               For ev’ry man who’s et my cream-of-tartar bis-

                   kit knows

               The cook of this  ’ere camp, by smut, ’s the

                        earliest bird that crows.

                   For I’m old enough to spell a-a-a-ble!

                   The grub is all on the ta-a-a-ble!


                             Git UP!


               The duffle is packed, and the babies are smacked,

                   and the wife has a buss and a hug;

               And she’s done it up brown in a-loading me

                   down with about all the grub I can lug,

                        So long! Good-by!

                        I’m off! Don’t cry!

               --Just about a month of Sundays and you’ll

                   see my homely mug.

               Now look ye, ye towzled-haired son of a gun,

               Be good to your mother or you’ll see some


               When your daddy comes down on the drive in

                   the spring

               And fetches a withe with a hornetty sting.

               Ha! ha! you young rascal, you’d rather have


               Well, be a good baby and pa’ll fetch you some.

               Yes, mother, you’re right, it does seem kinder


               To leave you alone here the whole winter


               And it’s tough that I have to pack dunnage and


               For the big timber wrassle at Chamberlain lake.

               But folks are a-waiting for lumber and boards,

               They’ve picked up their saws, now they’ve laid

                   down their swords.

               They’re wanting the timbers for new city domes,

               They’re wanting the shingles for humble new


               The hammers are waiting, the nails are on end,

               And the chorus of clatter’ll commence when we


               A billion of lumber down race-way and sluice,

               From the lonesome dominions of gloomy King


               The men who print papers are wanting fresh


               The folks who build ships will be launching new


               For, mark me, no matter what Uncle Sam


               He finds he can’t reach his new back lots by


               Don’t smile at me, wife, but I feel when I swing

               That sweaty old axe from the fall to the spring,

               That I hear one grim cry swimming up on the air

               Through the dim, silent forest,--a pleading


               The clank of the press, and the scream of the


               The grunt of the grinder that slavers and chaws

               At the fibre of pulp wood; the purr of the plane

               Are blent in one chorus, attuned to one strain,

               --That sighs in the breezes or throbs in the roar

               Of the tempest; and ever the cry is for “More.’’

               And we men with our axes and horn-covered


               Hear the call as a man hears the summons “To


               And forward we plunge with no quarter, no


               With axes a-gleam in the realms of King Spruce.

               The duffle is packed, and the babies are smacked;

                   now wife, for a buss and a hug.

               Save a smile ’gainst the spring, for I’m going to

                   bring just all the spruce gum I can lug.

                        I’m off! Good-bye!

                        So long! Don’t cry!

               In about a month of Sundays you will see my

                   homely mug.


               Hooray for to-day, and hooray for to-night, and

                   forget all the rest of it, boys.

               Hold on, Mister Barkeeper, close up your jaw,

                   we’re paying for all of this noise.

               We won’t mosey out, and we won’t set down,

                   and you can’t keep a one of us still;

               You can charge, if you want to, so much for a

                   yawp; we’ll settle all right in the bill.

               For this is our very last evenin’ on earth; the

                   last night we’ll be here alive.

               To-morrow at six we all cut sticks for the rear of

                   the West Branch drive.


               For Seboomook, and rear of the drive.

               Oh, bartender, say, can’t you hustle them up?

               Come, push out your reddest of paint,

               We’re here for to splatter the carnation on, now

                   blow us for fools if we ain’t!

               So set out your varnish for coffins, my boy,--

                   that brand called the “Grave-diggers’ Boast.”

               I’ve got enough chink--now down with your

                   drink! and I’ll give ye a riverman’s toast.

               While you’re raising up your glasses,

               Jest forget the giddy lasses

               That have coaxed away your dollars, and have

                        given you the laugh.

                   Turn away from them connivers,

                   And as honest, hearty drivers

               Drink a good, round jorum to the stout ash staff.

                   When the girls have filched your cash,

                   There is still the hearty ash,

               It is waiting at Seboomook for to cheer your

                        foolish soul.

                   Ah, you know we love it most; and I give

                        you this, my toast,

               The river driver’s darling, oh, his long ash pole.

               We’ve ridden the gorges on rioting logs, and

                   we’ve always swept safe to the land.

               So long as we rode with the spikes in our boots,

                   and the long, limber pole in our hand;

               We’ve pried at the jams on the brink of the

                   dams, and the pole has stood by like a man,

               And then in the dash for our lives in the crash

                   the pole braced us up as we ran,


               As we yelled through the smother and ran.

               And when in the bellow of up-ending logs it

                   looked like good-by to our souls

               We rode back to life from out of the strife,

                   vaulting high on the end of our poles.

               Ah, these are the friends that stand by you, my

                   boys: they’re truer than all of the host

               Of the fair-spoken gang of the thieves of the

                   town! Crowd up here and drink to my toast!

                   The girls were sweeter’n honey

                   Till they gathered in our money,

               And the barkeeps they were pleasant just as

                        long as we could spend.

                   Now it’s quite another story,

                   --Case of throwdown! But, by glory,

               We can drink this final jorum to our stout old


               Though the gang has swiped our cash, there is

                   still the hearty ash,

               He is waiting at Seboomook for to cheer your

                   foolish soul.

               After all, we love him most! and he’s still the

                   last, loud toast

               --The driver’s honest helper, oh, the long ash



               Have you ever heard Seboomook with her April

                        dander up,

                   With the amber rushing river gorged to high-

                        est drivin’ pitch?

               Have you heard her boom and bellow--rocky

                        lips a-froth with yellow--

                   When she spews and spumes the torrents--

                        oh, the wild and wicked witch?

                   She has menace in her breath,

                   And she roars the chant of death,

               For the victim that she slavers never sees

                        the sun again.

                   And she clutches at the river,

                   With entreaty that it give her

               The morsels for her longing, which are men--


               Here’s a tale to suit the cynic--’tis a satire from

                   the woods,

                   And concerns a certain hero who was hunt-

                   ing after Fame;

               ’Tis the grim and truthful story of a mighty

                        reach for glory,

                   But, alas, he didn’t get it, for we’ve clean

                        forgot his name!

                   He was one of Murphy’s crew,

                   And he swore that he’d go through

               Where no other West Branch driver ever saved

                        the shirt he wore:

                   For he vowed he’d shoot the gorge

                   And allowed that he could dodge

               The Death that knelt a-clutching at the prey

                        the waters bore.

               When they said he couldn’t do it, why, he

                        laughed the crowd to scorn,

                   --Poled across the dimpling shallows with

                        a fierce and hoarse good-by

               --He was Murphy’s top-notch driver, half a bird

                        and one-half diver,

                   But the best who brave Seboomook only

                        sound the depths to die.

                   And they found him miles below;

                   But his mother would not know

               The mangled mass Seboomook belched from out

                        her vap’rous throat.

                   The first man coming down

                   Brought the story out to town,

               Referring to the hero as a “dretful reckless


               Then he told the brisk reporters all the grim and

                        grisly tale,

                   And the deed was dressed in language in a

                        way to bring some fame.

               But alas for human glory, the galoot who brought

                        the story,

                   Remembered all the details, but forgot the

                        fellow’s name.

               Have you ever heard Seboomook roaring at you

                        in the night,

                   With her champing jaws a-frothing in a word-

                        less howl of hate?

               ’Tis a fierce vociferation to compel our admira-


                   For the chap who struck that rugged blow,

                        cross-countered thus by Fate.

                   When he lunged his pole at Death,

                   When the river sucked his breath,

               Seboomook gravely listened when he screamed

                        his humble name;

                   For the honor of a foe

                   She would have the people know,

               But she vainly dins her message in the deafened

                        ear of Fame.


                   The sheeted ghosts of moated grange

                   And misty wraiths are passing strange;

                   The gibbering spooks and elfin freaks

                   And cackling witches’ maudlin squeaks--

               --They have terrified the nations, and have laid

                        the bravest low,

               But intimidate a woodsman up in Maine? Why,

                        bless you, no!

               Merely misty apparitions or some sad ancestral


               Serve to terrify a maiden or to warn a death-

                        marked duke.

               But the P. I. scoffs their terrors, though he’ll

                        never venture loose

               ’Mongst the ha’nts that roam the woodlands in

                        the weird domains of Spruce.

               --He’ll mock the fears of mystic and he’ll scorn

                        the bookish tales

               Of the fearsome apparitions of the past, but

                        courage fails

               In the night when he awakens, all a-shiver in

                        his bunk,

               And with ear against the logging hears the

                        steady, muffled thunk

               Of the hairy fists of monsters, beating there in

                        grisly play,

               --Horrid things that stroll o’ night-times, never,

                        never seen by day,

               For he knows that though the spectres of the

                        storied past are vain,

               There is true and ghostly ravage in the forest

                        depths of Maine.

               For even in these days P. I.’s shake

               At the great Swamp Swogon of Brassua Lake.

               When it blitters and glabbers the long night


               And shrieks for the souls of the shivering crew.

               And all of us know of the witherlick

               That prowls by the shore of the Cup-sup-tic.

               Of the Side Hill Ranger whose eyeballs gleam

               When the moon hangs gibbous over Abol


               --Of the Dolorous Demon that moans and calls

               Through the mists of Abol-negassis falls.

               And many a woodsman has felt his bunk

               Tossed by the Phantom of Sourdna-hunk.

               There’s the Giant Spook who ha’nted Lane’s

               Old wangan camp and rended chains

               --Great iron links of the snubbing cable--

               As though they were straw--who was even


               To twist the links in a mighty mat

               With which he bent the forest flat

               From Nahma-kanta to Depsiconneag

               --Acres and acres--league after league;

               Striding abroad from peak to dale

               And laying on with his mighty flail.

               Oh, fie for the shade of the manored hall,

               A fig for a Thing in a grave-creased pall,

               --For wraiths that flitter and flutter and sigh,

               With flabby limbs and the sunken eye!

               The woodsman recks not ye, frail ghosts,

               But he knows and he bows to the deep wood’s


               Who sound their coming with giant breath,

               Who mark their passing with storm and death,

               Who shriek through blow-downs and howl o ’er


               --And he hides and trembles, he shivers and


               When he hears the Desperate Demons loose

               In the weird dominions of grim King Spruce.


               When the blaze leaps forth from the camp’s

                        great hearth,

                   And the fitful shadows come and go;

               When the ruddy beam lights the deacon-seat

                   And the silent faces in a row;

               As the storm-gust drags at the sighing eaves

                   And moans at the shuddering window-pane,

               Some droning voice from a shadowy bank

                   Intones a song to the wind’s long strain,

               And like the soughing, ebbing blast

                   The gusty chorus bursts and swells;

               And then one single, sighing voice

                   Drones plaintively the tale it tells.

               They’re simple songs, they’re homely songs,

                   And yet they cling in heart and brain,----

               Those songs of the darkling forest depths,

                   These songs of the lumber woods of Maine.

               There’s the song of home and the song of love,

                   And the lilt of battle, bold and free;

               There’s the song of the axe in the ringing wood,

                   And the sighing song of the distant sea.

               Yet oft when the choruses are stilled

                   Some honest woodsman’s voice can wake

               A tender thrill with the homely song

                   Of a nameless hero of Moosehead Lake.


               A hero in leggings, he volunteered

                   --When the treacherous ice lay black as loam

               In the melting spring--to risk his life

                   And bring to others the news from home.

               He bore the mail for the lumber camp,

                   The missives for many an anxious man

               Who toiled for the ones he loved so well,

                   In the wilds of the far Socatean.

               He’d fingered each as he studied the names

                   And sorted the letters with kindly care;

               While with honest heart of a friend he guessed

                   At the news that the precious notes might


               There was one for Kane, and the last had said

                   That his little girl was sorely ill--

               Poor man, he had worried the whole long week!

                   --And here was one for the Bluenose-Will,

               Who had left a sweetheart to come to Maine,

                   And had looked for a line in a homesick way;

               And here were a couple from Henry’s wife,

               --And one bore “Forward without delay!”

               A tiny message to “Pa John Booth”

                   Had a cross to show where a rousing smack

               Had been pressed on the paper; and here, alas,

                   Was a letter fringed with a sombre black.

               Freighted with sorrow or bringing the smiles,

                   Fresh from the homes so far away,

               He tucked them all in his coon-skin cap

                   And breasted the sleet of the dreary day.

               No one knew how it came about,

                   No man witnessed the fight for breath,

               When the cruel clutch of the great black lake

                   Reached up and dragged him down to death.

               But we always knew that his fiercest strength

                   Was spent in the supreme flash of life

               When he, poor wanderer, thought alone

                   Of the news for others from home and wife.

               For, as far on the edge of the broken ice

                   As his arm could reach, when he sank and


               We found the worn old coon-skin cap

                   With the letters carefully tucked inside.


               Oh, we’re getting under cover, for the “sport” is

                   on the way,

               --Pockets bulge with ammunition, and he’s

                   coming down to slay;

               All his cartridges are loaded and his trigger’s on

                   the “half,”

               And he’ll bore the thing that rustles, from a

                   deer to Jersey calf.

               He will shoot the foaming rapids, and he’ll shoot

                   the yearling bull.

               And the farmer in the bushes--why, he’ll fairly

                   get pumped full.

               For the gunner is in earnest, he is coming down

                   to kill,

               --Shoot you first and then inquire if he hurt

                   you--yes, he will!

               For the average city feller he has big game on

                   the brain,

               And imagines in October there is nothing else in


               Therefore some absorbed old farmer cutting corn

                   or pulling beans

               Gets most mightily astonished with a bullet in

                   his jeans.

               So, O neighbor, scoot for cover or get out your

                   armor plate,

               --Johnnie’s got his little rifle and is swooping

                   on the State.

               Oh, we’re learning, yes, we’re learning, and I’ll

                   warn you now, my son,

               If you really mean to bore us you must bring a

                   bigger gun.

               For the farmers have decided they will take no

                   further chance,

               And progressive country merchants carry armor-

                   plated pants;

               --Carry shirts of chain-plate metal, lines of coats

                   all bullet-proof,

               And the helmets they are selling beat a Knight

                   of Malta’s “roof.”

               So I reckon that the farmers can proceed to get

                   their crops,

               Yes, and chuckle while the bullet raps their

                   trouser seats and stops;

               And the hissing double-B shot as they criss-cross

                   over Maine

               Will excite no more attention than the patter of

                   the rain.

               And the calf will fly a signal and the Jersey

                   bull a sign,

               And the horse a painted banner, reading “Hoss-,

               Don’t Shoot; He’s Mine!”

               And every fowl who wanders from the safety of

                   the pen

               Will be taught to cackle shrilly, u Please don’t

                   plug me; I’m a hen.”

               Now with all these due precautions we are ready

                   for the gang,

               We’ll endure the harmless tumult of the rifles’

                   crack and bang,

               For we’re glad to have you with us--shoot the

                   landscape full of holes;

               We will back our brand-new armor for to save

                   our precious souls.

               O you feller in the city, those  ’ere woods is full

                   of fun,

               We’ve got on our iron trousers--so come up

                   and bring your gun!



                   Won’t you poke your buzzin’ stop-watch,

                        Daddy Time, and click  ’er back

                   To the days of spider high-wheels on the

                        dinky Topsham track?

                   When they raced there in October for per-

                        taters, corn, and oats--

                   Sometimes paid the purse in shotes--

                   Drivers wore their buff’ler coats,

               And the weather was so juicy that the boys

                   would take a vote

               As to which would drag the better, suh, a sulky

                        or a boat.

                   Still  ’twas fun, when the sun

                   Got the moppin’ bus’ness done,

               And the field went off a-skatin’, half the pelters

                   on the run.

               There was’Liza, Old Keturah Ann, and Dough-

                   nut Boy and Pat,

               Their pedigrees was barnyard, but we didn’t

                   care for that;

               So hooray! So hooroo! Oh, ye ought to see

               ’em climb,

               They was racers, suh, from ’way back--but no

                        matter ’bout the time!

                   There was goers in that pack--

                   Look at Toggle-jointed Jack

               With an action like a windmill, but the critter

                        he could rack!

                   And I’d like to have him back,

                   For I tell you, bub, I stack

               On the high-wheel, razoo-races of the good old

                   Topsham track.

               Oh, you oughter seen the send-offs, and you

                   oughter seen the tricks!

               For the stretch was chock-a-blocko when they

                   scored  ’em down by six.

               And the starter he would whang-o on a dented

                   strip of tin,

               But the drivers never minded ’less he cussed the

                   gang like sin.

               The hoss-whips that they carried reached away

                        beyond the manes,

                   And they larruped  ’em with chains--

                   Tried to lift  ’em by the reins.

               ’Twas muscle, suh, that won the race in them

                   old days--not brains!

               And you’d think to see the sawin’ and the

                   jerkin’ and the h’ists,

               The boys they was a-usin’ partent webbin’s

                   made of j’ists.

               Their elbows flapped like flyin’ and they yow-

                   wowed through the dust,

               And ’twarn’t through lack of hollerin’ that ev’ry

                   man warn’t fust.

                ’Twas “Hi-i yah, cut the corners!” and “Hi-i

                   yoop, take the pole!”

               “Don’t ye keep me in this pocket--let me ont

                   there, darn yer soul!”

               “Gimme room there! don’t ye pinch me or I’ll

                        bust yer blasted wheel!”

                   “Hi, you sucker, that’s a steal!”

                   “That’s a low-down trick, to squeal!”

               “Oh, ye want some trouble, do ye? Wal, con-

                   sarn yer harslet, peel!”

               It was tetchy, mister, tetchy, to go sassin’ on  ’em


               When the crowd got interested at the good old

               Topsham track.

               There was Savage--Solly Savage--drivin’

               Adeline Success--

               He had speed to sell at auction, but they bribed

                        the cuss, I guess--

                   For he pulled her tight and good--

                   Pulled her settin’--then he stood.

               Jest got up and braced his feet, suh, and he

                   pulled her all he could.

               But the blamed old mare was fussy, wasn’t

                   posted on the deal,

               H’isted up her skeeter-duster and let out one

                   mighty squeal.

               She was leadin’ of  ’em easy on the back stretch

                   at the turn,

               And there wasn’t no mistakin’ that the race and

                        heat were her’n.

                   Ginger, ginger! She could go!

                   When she didn’t stub her toe,

               Warn’t a horse in all the county stood a show

                   suh, stood a show!

               Sol was madder’n snakes in hayin’--had a string

                   of catnip fits,

               Just unfastened both the traces and she hauled

                        him by the bits.

                   And that rank old Adeline

                   She come snortin’ ’crost the line

               Least a dozen lengths a leader, and they soaked

                   old Sol a fine.

               Then the feller that had bribed him played tat-

                   too on Solly’s face,

               And took back the dollar-fifty that he’d give him

                   for the race;

               But the boys they licked the feller. Solly got

                   his money back,

               For we stood for honest dealing at the good old

               Topsham track.

               Now come join me, all old timers,--hip, hooray

                   and tiger, too!

               For the high-wheel days at Topsham and the

                   good old-time razoo--

               For the days of spider sulkies and the days of

                   solid fun,

               When we had a dozen knock-downs  ’fore the

                   race could be begun;

               When  ’twas a Huddup, Uncle Eli,” and “H”

                        along there, John, or bust;”

                   And the man that finished fust,

                   Though he argued and he cussed,

               Might not always get decisions--’twas accordin’

                   to the dust;

               And  ’twas therefore kind of needful, suh, right

                   after ev’ry heat,

               To have another fight or so to settle who had


                   But they never left a grudge,

                   Even when they licked the judge.

               And we wasn’t all teetotal, still we went it light

                   on “budge,”

               For we never took no stronger than some good

               New England rum--

               Jest a mild and pleasant bev’rage--why, the

                        deacons they took some!

                   Then there wasn’t pedigrees,

                   And no chin-kerbumping knees,1

               And an av’rage field would manage jest to keep

                   ahead the breeze.

               But come join me, ye old-timers, in this pledge

                   and one hurrah,

               For the spanking, wide-hoofed pelters of the old

                        days of “Hi yah-h-h,”

                   For a feller kinder feels

                   That he’d go without his meals

               Jest to hear some more kiwhoopin’ from the old-

                   time trottin’ spiels.

               When the wind was in the drivers--nowadays it’s

                   in the wheels.

               When the tang was in the weather on those

                   autumn afternoons,

               And the band got kind of dreamy in those good

                   old-fashioned tunes.

               Oh,  ’twas awful good to set there on the sunny

                   side the stand,

               And to have your girl a-smilin’ and a-snugglin’,

                   hand in hand;

               And to hear her, when you mentioned getting

                   started pretty soon,

               Whisper, blushin’, “What’s the hurry? There

                   will be a lovely moon!”

               Ah, there’s moisture on my eyelids and my voice

                   is gettin’ hoarse.

               But  ’tis prob’ly jest the mem’ry of the dust of

                   that old course.

               Oh, Daddy Time, if somehow you could only

                   click your watch

               And let a feller start again a race he’s made a


               I wouldn’t ask no better place to start my life


               Than on that stand that afternoon beside that

                        girl I knew,

                   With my arm behind her back,

                   And a hidden, bashful smack

               To sweeten all the popcorn balls we munched

                   at Topsham track.

[Illustration: 0205]


               Here’s a lyric for the man who’s “druv’ the


                   For the hero of the webbin’s and the whip;

               Who has faced the wind and weather, fingers

                        calloused by the leather,

                   And in twenty years has never lost a trip.

               Here’s a tribute to the sway-back, spotted hoss,

                   Who has struggled up the stony, gullied hills;

               And his dorsal corrugations show the nature of

                        his rations,

                   --When he stops, he has to lean against the


               Here’s obituary notice of the stage,

                   Chief of hopeless and dilapidated wrecks;

               With the cracked enamel awning, and its cush-

                        ions ripped and yawning,

               And the body bumping down upon the “ex.”

               Here’s alas and oh, the ancient “buff’ler robe,”

                   With the baldness of a golden-wedding


               When the rain and snow descended, then some

                        wondrous smells were blended,

                   Till the stage was scented very like a tomb.

               Here’s a word for all the weary miles he


                   When the drifts had piled the stage-road

                        mountain high,

               When the night shut down around him and the

                        north wind sought and found him,

                   And the tempest chilled his blood and blurred

                        his eye.

               There were only country letters in the bags,

                   And the bags were lank, and yet his word was


               And he felt as if the nation knew his fierce


                   That he’d have the mail sacks through on time

                        or bust.

               Here’s rebuke to those contractors who have


                   The stipends of our Uncle Sam’s star routes,

               Till the men who drive the stages hardly get

                        enough in wages

                   To keep their little shavers’ feet in boots.

               Here’s a lyric, then, for him who drives the stage;

                   When you ride behind his ragged back, don’t


               But endure the bang and slamming, for the

                        man who’s earned the damning

                   Is the contract-sharp who bid the wages down.


               The neighbors came a-nosing ’round and said the

                   horse could trot

               --He oughter up and killed him then, right

                   there upon the spot;

               A-killed him, yas, and tanned his hide and made

                   it into boots,

               Then worn  ’em out a-kicking’round them neigh-

                   borly galoots

               Who set the bee to buzzing under Ezry Booker’s


               And filled him up and chucked him full of non-

                   sense such as that

               He’d got a hoss  ’twas bound to make his ever-

                   lasting pile,

               And what he got to do, of course, was handle

                   him in style;

               That he must bandage up his legs and figger on

                   his feed,

               And give him reg’lar exercise and work him out

                   for speed.,

               His knees, his neck, his breast, his thighs, the

                   way he lugged his head,

               And all his other symptoms looked to “speed,”

                   the neighbors said.

               So Ezry he just sucked it in, as child-like as

                   could be,

               --It cost him thirteen dollars to look np the


               Then one day down to Laneses store he ribbled

                   off a mess

               Of names that struck your Uncle Dud as so much


               “I’ve traced him back,” so Ezry said, “to Mor-

                   gan blood ’nd Drew,”

               To what’s-his-name and this and that, and which

                   and t’other, too.

               And Ezry banged the counter, just excited as

                   could be,

               A-arguing out the knots and kinks in that there


               Land sakes! He couldn’t seem to think of

                   nothing but that plug:

               --Neglected work, let slide his farm, went crazy

                   as a bug.

               But there! The neighbors stood around and

                   said to go ahead,

               And Ezra like a blamed old fool just swallowed

                   all they said.

               Ef they’d turned to and burned his barn ’twould

                   been a prison crime,

               But ’twould have been a better thing for Ezry

                   ev’ry time.

               He could have got insurance then, but  ’twas a

                   total loss

               When they torched Ezry up to back

                   A Blamed



               Of course he had to put that horse in some good

                   trainer’s hands,

               And trainers, as the man who’s tried deereckly


               Ain’t driving just to take the air, for scenery or

                   for health,

               But sort of grab a feller’s leg and milk him for

                   his wealth.

               And there were blankets, straps, and girths, and

                   bandages and boots;

               Pnoomatic sulkies, pads, and shoes, and hoods

                   and stable suits;

               And lotions, too, and liniments--the best of

                   hay and oats,

               And Lord knows what of this and that for trot-

                   ters’ backs and throats!

               Then came the entrance fees, of course, and

                   travelling expense,

               For Ezry lugged that trotter round, and didn’t

                   have the sense

               To know when he was fairly licked, but always

                   would persist

               That “that air hoss another year is going in the


               The trainer said he’d have him there; the neigh-

                   bors thought so, too;

               So Ezry pulled his pocketbook and said he’d see

                   him through.

               So ’round the circuit went the hoss and, though

                    ’tis sad to tell,

               “The Flying Dutchman” didn’t fly--he never

                   got a smell.

               And when he’d come a-puffing in behind the

                   whole blamed crowd

               Then Ezry swore and shook his fist, and argued

                   ’round, and vowed

               That all the rest was down on him and had,

                   without a doubt,

               Just pooled together in a scheme to shut The

               Dutchman out.

               The driver said so, anyway, and then, you know,

                   a few

               Good neighbors took him out one side and said

                   they thought so too.

               And so--but land, it’s plain enough how Ezry’s

                   money went

               --He wound up his race-hoss career without a

                   blasted cent.

               What’s more, he ain’t the only one who’s sunk

                   his little pot

               In fubbing ’round from track to track with

                   horses that can’t trot.

               --He ain’t the only man in Maine whose ever-

                   lasting curse

               Has been some darn-fool neighbors, and his itch

                   to win a purse.

               And, as I’ve said, if they’d turned to, and burnt

                   his barn instead

               Of cracking up that hoss so much and turning

                   Ezry’s head,

               He could have got insurance then, but  ’twas a

                   total loss

               When they torched Ezry up to back

                        A Blamed




               I’ve heerd of Demosthenes--b’longed down in


                   --And Cicero, too!

                   But ’course, never knew

               A great deal about  ’em except through my niece,

               Who’s tended the ’cademy,--lets on to know

                   ’Bout most of the critters who lived years ago,

               --Who’d talk to a standstill the chaps of their


               With a broadside of words like a gatling, they


               And folks knuckle down, and praise up, and


               To those hefty old tongue-lashing chaps even


               So I’m ready for brickbats, and hollers, and howls,

               From the folks of the schools, and from hide-

                        bound old owls,

               When I shin the high flag-staff of Fame to tear


               All colors that flop there for rival renown,

               And string up the banner of Bennington Brown.

                   Don’t think I’ll assert

                   What he knew ever hurt!

                   He was mostly considered an ornery squirt.

               He traded old hosses, and cattle, and such,

               And the sayin’ ’round town was: “Oh, Brown,

                   he ain’t much!”

               But I read t’other day, in a volyum called


               That a speaker is gauged by his gifts to convince.

               So I stand on that statement and solemnly swear

               That as a star-actor convincer, I’d dare.

               Back Bennington Brown up against the best


               That ever tongue wrassled, grab holts, catch as


               Give Cicero Pointer, Directum, or Hanks,

               And Brown an old pelter with wobbly shanks,

               --Just leave  ’em an hour, no odds, a clear field,

               No matter how Cicero sputtered and spieled,

               I’ll bet he would find himself talked to a stop,

               And Brown would unload the old rip, even swap!

                   I can see how he’d look

                   When he carefully took

                   Old Cic by the gallus with “come-along” hook

               Of that gnurly forefinger. And there Cic would


               For he wouldn’t be yankin’ away from that hand,

               Unless in his desperate efforts to skip

               Cic dodged from his toga, and gave Brown the


               And it’s likely that Brown would talk something

                   like this:

               I ain’t at all anxious to shift with you, Cic.

               Your hoss, I’ll admit, has got plenty of speed,

               But you know, Cic, you know that he ain’t what

                   you need.

               Outside of a show piece to stand in the barn,

               That hoss he ain’t worth, Cic, a tinker’s gol-


               What you want is that hoss of mine--want him

                   blame bad,

               He don’t need no whip, crackers, cudgel, or gad.

               ’Thout strap, boot, or toeweights, he’s gone out

                   and showed

               His quarters in thirty. He stands lots of road,

               And I swow I dunno what I’m sellin’ him for,

               --I need him myself. But I’ll sell! Have a


               And as I was sayin’, he’s just what you want;--

               Oh, yes, have to own he’s a leetle dite gaunt!

               Been a-drivin’ him hard, for he’ll stand lots of


               Never had a sick day, never shows the least


               He’s young: look yourself; jest you roll up his


               By the way, ever smile? I’ve some stuff on my


               Now as I was sayin’”--and on, and so on,

               Till Cicero’d put his suspenders in pawn,

               Hand oyer his steed for a wind-broken brute,

               And sling in some golden sestertia to boot.

                   I tell you again,

                   That of all of the men

                   Who can slat the King’s English, I swear by

                        old Ben!

               And you’ll never appreciate half of my praise

               Till you’ve stood there yourself in the beller

                        and blaze

               Of his thirteen-inch barker, and fust thing you


               Discover you’ve bought an old bone yard or so,

               I hardly expect, O ye hurrying throng,

               Ye’ll bow to my hero, applaud my rude song,

               But sling, if ye will, all your bouquets and praise

               At the cut-and-dried speakers of pod-auger days,

               I’ll go by myself and I’ll tenderly crown

               With bay the bald brows of old Bennington;



               Feller was far as the foot of the hill in one of

                        those boggy places,

                   Had a first-class team,

                   As strong as a beam,

               But the feller had busted his traces;

               And the feller gave up when he saw he was


               He borrowed a chaw and consarned his luck,

               --Admitted he didn’t know what to do;

               Sat down on a bank and looked so blue

               He worried the people that passed, and they

               Just turned their noses the other way.

               Old Ammi Simmons muttered that he

               Was a dite afraid of his whiffle-tree;

               It was slivered some, “and there warn’t much


                   ’Twould bust if he pulled that feller out.”

               And Ira Dorsey, regretful and smug,

               Would have helped had he brought his heavier


               So he simply beamed a bright “good day”

               And clucked to his team and rode away.

               So thus they passed for an hour or two;

               Many not noticing, while a few

               Assured him they’d like to help him out

               “If the rigging they had was only stout.”

               Feller had thought he was up a stump, when

                        along drove Ivory Keller;

                   Saw the sunken hub,

                   Yelled, “What’s the troub?

               Don’t ye want a lift there, feller?”

               And the feller said that he did, you bet,

               But said he had begged while he’d set and set,

               And he hadn’t discovered a single man

               Who’d give him a boost with an extra span.

               “Why,” Ivory said, “that’s jest my holt.

               That off hoss there ain’t more’n a colt,

               And it’s hardly an extry pulling pair,

               But it’s youm for what it’s worth, I swear.

               For I’ve got a home-made sort of a rule

               --Won’t kick a cripple nor sass a fool,

               And when I find that a feller’s stuck

               --A side-tracked chap down on his luck--

               Why, bless you, neighbor, in jest about

               Two shakes of a sheep’s tail I yank him out.”

               And the very next thing that the feller knew

               Old Ivory busted a chain or two,

               But the horse and the colt and the gay old man

               Bent to the job till the clogged wheels ran,

               --Tugged and buckled with hearty will

               Till the cart rolled over the tough old hill.

               Then the feller begged him to take some pay,

               But the old man chuckled and shoved him


               “Why, bub, see here,” said Ivory Keller,

               “I’m a tollable busy son of a gun,

               And this is the way I squeeze in fun,

               --Grab in same’s this and help a feller.”


‘Tis the tale of Bart of Brighton--meaning

                        Brighton up in Maine;

                   It’s the tale of Uncle Bart, sir, and his racker-

                        gaited mare;

               I have toned it down a little where the language

                        was profane,

                   But the rest is as he told it--this remarkable


                   It is very wrong to swear;

                   Bart admits the fact--but there!

               Times occur when human nature simply is

                        obliged to “r’ar.”

               “It’s all along o’ givin’ lifts to Uncle Isr’el


               --His folks don’t like him stubbin’ round the

                        village after dark,--

               And old Mis’ Clark has asked of folks that see

                        him on the road

               To take him in and bring him home, if ’tain’t too

                        much a load.

               The day this  ’ere affair come off I’d took in

                        Uncle Pease,

               With a pail of new molasses that he hugged be-

                        tween his knees.

               We see old Clark ahead of us, a-lugging home

                   a gun.

               Says I to Pease, ‘Now brace yerhat: we’ll have

                   a leetle fun.’

               ‘Set in behind, old Clark,’ I says. ‘Hop in be-

                   hind,’ says I.

               ‘Prowidin’ these  ’ere tngs don’t bust I’ll take

                   you like a fly.’

               He piled aboard, s’r, master quick, there warn’t

                   no need to tease,

               And there he sot, the gun straight up, the butt

                   between his knees.

               “I’ll tell you ’bout that mare of mine--the

                   more you holler ‘whoa,’

               I’ve larnt the whelp to clench her teeth, and

                   h’ist her tail--and go!

               And when we got clus’ down to Clark’s I thought

                   for jest a sell

               I’d make believe we’d run away. So I com-

                   menced to yell,

               And old man Pease he hugged his knees and

                   gaffled to his pail.

               And now, my boy, purraps you think that turn-

                   out didn’t sail!

               He hugged his gun, did Uncle Clark, and set and

                   hollered’ Oh!’

               While I kep’ nudgin’ Uncle Pease and bellered,

                   ‘Durn ye, whoa!’

               “I larfed, suh, like a lunytick, I larfed and

                   thought  ’twas fun

               To look around and see old Clark a-hangin’ to

                   his gun,-

               Eor he was scart plum nigh to death, and so was

               Uncle Pease,

               Who doubled clus’ above that pail he clenched

                   between his knees.

               But while I larfed I clean forgot the Jackson


               And when we struck that on the run, we got

                   our h’ist, my boy.

               Old Clark went up jest like a ball and, next the

                   critter knowed,

               Come whizzlin’ down, s’r, gun and all, starn-

                   fust there in the road.

               And when the gun-butt struck the ground, ker-

                   whango, off she went,

               --Both barrels of her, all to onct, and then--

                   wal,  ’twas--hell-bent!

               The off-rein bust, the wheels r’ared up--the old

                   mare give a heave,

               That runaway was on for sure--there warn’t

                   no make-believe;

               With t’other rein I geed the mare up-hill to’ards

               Clarkses yard,

               --We struck the doorstep, struck her fair, and

                   struck her mighty hard!

               And long as Lord shall give me breath I shan’t

                   forget the eye

               That old Aunt Clark shot out at me as we went

                   whoopin’ by.

               Then I went out and Pease went out and things

                   got kinder blue

               --’Twas sev’ral minits by the clock ’fore this

                   old cock come to.

               And there the old mare’d climbed the fence and

                   stood inside the gate,

               With eyes stuck out and ears stuck back and

                   head and tail up straight.

               And from the way she looked at me  ’twas master


               She wasn’t catchin’ on to what this celebration


               And I was clutchin’ jest about two feet of one

                   the reins,

               While Uncle Pease was dodderin’ round, a-yellin’

                   ‘Blood and brains!’

               For, bless my soul, when he had lit he’d run

                   himself head-fust

               Right down in that molasses pail;--he thought

                   his head had bust!

               And that the stuff a-runnin’ down and gobbed

                   acrost his face

               Was quarts of gore, and so old Pease had clean

                   give up his case.

               And there he stood like some old hen a-drippin’

                   in the rain,

               And hollered stiddy, ‘Blood and brain, I’m

                   dead; oh, blood and brain!’

               Old Uncle Clark was on his back, a-listening to

                   the fuss,

               And wonderin’ whuther that old gun had

                   murdered him or us.

               “Now that’s the way the thing come off. Best

                   is,” concluded Bart,

               “They warn’t nobody hurt a mite: three-fifty

                   fixed the cart.”

               But as he spoke he sought to hide a poultice

                   with his hat

               And curtly said, “Oh, jest a tunk! you see,

               Aunt Clark done that.”

‘Tis the tale of Bart of Brighton--mean-

                        ing Brighton up in Maine,

                   --It’s the tale of Uncle Bart, sir, and his

                   racker-gaited mare;

               I have toned it down a little where the language

                        was profane,

                   But the rest is as he told it, this remarkable




               I know my confession is homely, but Yankees

                   are Yankees clean through,

               Their dollars make shells like a turtle’s, but

                   their hearts, my dear fellow, are true

               To the dear, sacred days of their childhood, and

                   luxury loses its charm:

               --The only good things are the old things to

                   the fellow brought up on the farm.

               And I’d trade all the cheer of a banquet, I’d

                   “swop” them, as grandpap would say,

               For the tang of the infinite gusto that came to

                   me, when, after play,

               I lifted the battered tin cover and squared my

                   brown arms to assail

               The grub that this hearty young shaver had

                   carried to school in his pail.

               God bless her, that darling old mother! She

                   cherished the honest conceit

               That the groundwork of boyish good morals is,

                   first of all, plenty to eat.

               And though I went barefoot in summer, with

                   trousers cut over from Jim’s,

               We scampered to school every morning with

                   dinner pails filled to their brims.

               There were doughnuts, both holed ones and

                   twisters, and always a bottle of cream,

               And jell cakes and tarts and all such like--oh,

                   bow the kids’ eyes used to gleam!

               I pitied the poor little shavers who slunk to a

                   corner to eat,

               Who brought only bread and potatoes and never

                   had anything sweet;

               And some carried grub in their pockets, and hid

                   with a child’s bitter shame

               To choke down the crust and the cooky before

                   some rude fun-maker came.

               But out of such manhood’s successes of which

                   I’ve a right to be proud

               There never was one I’ve uncovered, with such

                   a delight, to the crowd

               As that pail with its bountiful dinner, each

                   cake and each jelly-tipped tart

               A dumb but an eloquent voucher of a thoughtful

                   and true mother-heart.

               And, neighbors, from things I have noted, I

                   think it’s a pretty good rule

               To size up a mother’s devotion by the grub her

                   child carries to school.

               Those savors that float from my childhood dull

                   all the delights of my board;

               The good things from mother’s old kitchen my

                   dollars can never afford,

               And I’d trade all these delicate dishes--a clean

                   unconditional sale--

               For the tang of the infinite gusto from the depths

                   of that old dinner pail.


               Mother says it’s something fearful--way this

                   pesky young one acts,

               And she’s called the Johnson children by the

                   name of “Paddywhacks.”

               And she keeps a-givin’ orders that I musn’t have

                   ’em round;

               But she thinks that Satan’s in me, for she says

               I’m always bound

               To go mixing with  ’em somehow when she lets

                   me out to play;

               And you bet I’m going to see  ’em if I have to

                   run away.

               I’ll never wear them blamed dude clothes

               Nor boots with patent leather toes.

               I like to stomp and scoff and kick

               And holler round. It makes me sick

               To have that Reynolds youngster call,

               He’s primped up like a big wax doll.,

               My mother says he’s just too sweet,

               He always keeps his clothes so neat,

               And wishes I’d spruce up a bit;

               What! Look like that? Well, I guess not,

               --They’ve duty mugs and ragged backs,

               But just give me them Paddywhacks.

               They can catch ye lots of suckers--know the

                   brook and shortest cut;

               They have got a robber’s dungeon and a nice

                   browse Injun hut.

               They can scrape ye lots of sly ver--juicy stuff

                   from little pines,

               They can make a willow whistle, and they’re

                   posted on the signs

               Of woodchucks, coons, and squirrels; and they

                   own a brindle houn’,

               And they get to going barefoot first of any boys

                   in town.

               That’s the stuff--oh, that’s the stuff,

               Let a kid kick up and scuff!

               Not go round with mouth all screwed

               Goody, like that Reynolds dude.

               Say, I’ll push him once, if he

               Comes a-making mouths at me.

               Yah, yah! See them corkscrew curls!

               That’s right, let him play with girls.

               Let him wear his ruffled shirt

               --Give me one that won’t show dirt.

               I’m the chap, you bet, that stacks

               Up ’long-side them Paddywhacks.


               Mother rigged the little basket, for I’d teased a

                   day or so,

               --I was just a little shaver, and  ’twas years and

                   years ago,--

               And I blushed while I was teasing; I was young,

                   so mother said,

               To be running ’round with baskets when I ought

                   to be in bed.

               But she trimmed me up the basket and she asked

                   me whom  ’twas for;

               Ah, I didn’t dare to tell her; thought I’d better

                   hold my jaw,

               For I wanted it for Mabel, not for Minnie on the


               --For a maid in rags and tatters, not a maid in

                   lace and frill.

               Minnie rode behind her ponies; Mabel had a

                   wooden cart,

               But to Mabel went the homage of my foolish

                   boyish heart.

               True, her gown was frayed and ragged, and her

                   folks were sort of low,

               And her brothers swore like demons,” and they

                   tagged where ’er we’d go,

               And my father always scolded me and drove

                   them all away

               Whene ’er they followed Mabel if I asked her np

                   to play.

               But I saw not Mabel’s tatters; for I loved her

                   sun-browned face,

               And I’d lick the kid that didn’t say she was the

                   handsomest girl in the place.

               ‘Tis a tricksy prank that memory plays

               Taking me back to those early days;

               But the purest affection the heart can hold

               Is the honest love of a nine-year-old.

               It isn’t checked by the five-barred gate

               Of worldly prudence and real estate.

               And that, my friend, was the reason why

               I hung my basket to Mabel Fry,

               She’d a tattered dress, and a pink great toe

               Stuck out through her shoe, but--I loved

                   her so--.

               Though that was years and years ago.

[Illustration: 0235]

               I sat down and looked at mother while she

                   trimmed the pasteboard box,

               While she crimped the crinkly paper till it fluffed

                   like curly locks;

               Till she fastened on the streamers, red and

                   yellow, white and blue,

               And she held it up and twirled it, saying, “Sonny,

                   will that do?”

               Would it do? It was a beauty!  ’Twas a gem

                   in basket art;

               And I piled it full of candy, put on top a big

                   red heart.

               Then as soon as dusk could hide me I escaped

                   my mother’s eyes,

               And I hung the grand creation on the door-latch

                   of the Frys.

               How my youthful limbs were shaking! how my

                   dizzy noddle rocked!

               And my heart was pounding louder than my

                   knuckles when I knocked.

               So she caught me at the corner, for you see I

                   didn’t fly,

               --Might have been I was so frightened; then

                   perhaps I didn’t try.

               When I swung around to meet her, neither of

                   us dared to stir.

               Mabel stood and watched the sidewalk and I

                   stood and gawked at her,

               While those little imps of brothers gobbled every

                   blessed mite

               Of the candy in that basket--Mabel didn’t get a


               But I saved the little basket, gave each kid a

                   hearty cuff,

               And I tried to comfort Mabel; told her she was

                   sweet enough,

               --Said she didn’t need the candy; but my little

                   Mabel sighed,

               Blushed and whispered that she wondered how

               I knew--I hadn’t tried--

               To-day--to-day from a long-gone May

               This tricksy memory strays my way.

               Just for a moment I close my eyes

               And see that cracked old door of Fry’s.

               And my heart is brushed, as the noon day


               Are touched with the whisp of the strolling


               Alas, that the heart mayn’t always hold

               The honest love of the nine-year-old.

               I haven’t a doubt you’re dreaming now

               Of some frank maid with an honest brow

               Who chose you out for she loved you so,

               When Worth got “Yes,” and Wealth got


               But that was years and years ago.


               I’ve joined the orders that came our way,

               --Been sort of a “jiner,” as one would say,--

               And I’ve bucked the goat, and trudged the sands,

               And taken the oaths in most secret bands,

               Till now at last I seldom slip

               On test or password, sign or grip.

               And every day when I walk the street

               I give the signs to the men I meet.

               There’s the S. of T. and the K. of P.

               And the League of the Order of Liberty;

               Masons and Odd Fellows string along,

               Thicker than flies in the moving throng.

               Till it seems that every fellow could

               Give you a sign of a brotherhood.

               Oh, I like to meet them, every one,

               From the Daughter of Peace to a Son of a Gun.

               But I can’t quite feel the same delight

               As I used to when, some summer night,

               I’d take a few of the high degrees

               In the O. K. K. B. W. P’s.

               We had no lodge-room with locks and bars

               --Our hall was the dome ’neath the winking


               No lofty dais and tufted throne,

               No crown or symbol or altar stone,

               No velvet carpets or flashing lights

               Were needed there in those old-time rites;

               There was only the light from some honest eyes

               Up-raised to the velvet evening skies;

               And the only crown was the flower wreath

               Set light on the curling locks beneath,

               And the mystic grip was the tender squeeze

               Of our hands as we roamed past the orchard


               And the head of the lodge was an elfin chap

               With roses heaped in his dimpled lap.

               --With wings a-spread and his locks a-blow,

               And the wand of his office a silver bow.

               He welcomed the timid neophytes.

               And into the hearts of his pure delights

               He led each happy candidate

               Who breathed Love’s password at the gate,

               And happy he who sought degrees

               In the O. K. K. B. W. P’s.

               ’Tis just a page from the dear conceit

               That makes the volume of school life sweet;

               --A bit of a jest from the callow days

               When we bashfully trudged the self-same ways

               As the girls from the evening meeting took,

               And we carried their capes and the singing-book.

               --Sauntered along the dim old lanes

               With chirrup and chatter and gay refrains,

               Shouting “Good-nights” as here and there,

               Pausing by gate or stile, a pair

               Loitered a bit on the threshold’s stone

               For a sweet and fond good-night of their own.

               It irks me, friend, that I must profane

               The oath of the order and voice that chain

               Of mystic letters: yet ’twere not kind

               To take you thus far and leave you blind.

               And I’ll whisper, you know, just heart to heart,

               ’Twas “One Kind Kiss Before We Part,”

               The mystic grip was a warm hand-press,

               The sign and the test a swift caress,

               And the dearest and sweetest of Used-to-be’s

               Were the O. K. K. B. W. P’s.


               “Ten, ten and a double ten, forty-five and then


               Stand you here, old friend of mine, close your

                   eyes the while you lean

               Your silvered hair against the wood that’s silvered

                   too, by sun and rain,

               --The butt of storms as well as we,--old aliens

                   crawling back to Maine.

               The driving sleet, the drifting snows have filched

                   away the vivid red

               That matched, as I remember it, the flaming top-

                   knot on your head.

               And this--so gaunt, so bent, so small--it seems,

                   alas, a wooden ghost

               Of what it was when it was “gool”: the school-

                   house’s old red hitching-post!

               And ah, old friend, to lean your brow upon its

                   crest you have to stoop;

               --You had to stretch to reach its top in those

                   old days of hide-and-coop.

               “Ten, ten and a double ten,”

               That’s the way we counted then;

               --Counted hundreds rapidly,

               Begged the happy days to flee.

               Moments were not precious then.

               What we hoard to-day as men,

               Then we flung in careless way;

               Counting life as when at play;

               “Blinding” at the old red post,

               We strove to see who’d count the most.

               “Forty-five and then fifteen,--”

               Lavish then: ah, now we glean

               On our bended knees as men

               What we flung uncounted then.

               Friend, old friend, the past troops back

               With all its smiles and all its sighs,

                   When I was “It,”

                   And the world was lit

               By the star-shine of two soft brown eyes.

               “Ten, ten, and a double ten, forty-five and then


               That talisman of boyhood days has brought a

                   sorrow that is keen.

               And yet there’s joy along with pain; let me bow

                   my head here too,

               And here with brow upon this wood I’ll tell you

                   what you never knew.

               You’ve asked me many times, old friend, the

                   secret of an unwed life;

               I’ll tell you now: I loved but once; that girl

                   loved you; she was your wife.

               I loved her in those boyhood days, but in Life’s

                   game of counting out

               Fate’s happy finger stretched to you, and I--

                   poor awkward, bashful lout--

               Just stepped aside. But  ’twas all right! I’m

                   not the sort to curse and whine,

               My joy has been that she was yours, so long as

                   she could not be mine.

               --My joy, old friend, is now to say, as here we

                   clasp this worn old post,

               There is no heart-burn in my past, no shimmer of

                   a jealous ghost.

               For boyhood’s lesson taught me this: ’Tis only

                   some egregious fool

               Who rails at Fate and storms the skies because

                   some better man “tags gool.”

               I’ve been content to stand there, friend, while

                   one by one the eager troop

               Of boyhood’s chums have won their goal in Life’s

                   more earnest hide-and-coop.

               Thank God, old chum, we still clasp hands and

                   pledge again our boyhood ties.

                        Though I’ve been “It,”

                        And your world is lit

               By the star-shine of her soft brown eyes.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Up In Maine - Stories of Yankee Life Told in Verse" ***

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