Old Spookses’ Pass, Malcolm’s Katie and Other Poems

by Isabella Valancy Crawford


 

HOW DEACON FRY BOUGHT A “DUCHESS.”


 

It sorter skeer’d the neighbours round,
    For of all the ‘tarnal set thet clutches
Their dollars firm, he wus the boss;
    An’ yet he went and byed a “Duchess.” [Page 214]
I never will forget the day
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    He druv her from the city market;
I guess thar warn’t more’n two
    Thet stayed to hum thet day in Clarket.

And one of them wus Gran’pa Finch,
    Who’s bed-rid up to Spense’s attic:
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The other Aunt Mehitabel,
    Whose jints and temper is rheumatic.
She said she “guessed that Deacon Fry
    Would some day see he’d done more fitter
To send his dollars savin’ souls
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    Than waste ‘em on a horn’d critter!”

We all turn’d out at Pewse’s store,
    The last one jest inside the village;
The Jedge he even chanc’d along,
    And so did good old Elder Millage.
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We sot around on kegs and planks,
    And on the fence we loung’d precarious;
The Elder felt to speak a word,
    And sed his thoughts wus very various.

He sed the Deacon call’d to mind
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    The blessed patriarchs and their cattle;
“To whose herds cum a great increase
    When they in furrin parts did settle.”
We nodded all our skulls at this,
    But Argue Bill he rapped his crutches;
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Sed he, “I guess they never paid
    Five hundred dollars for a ‘Duchess.’” [Page 215]

Bill and the Elder allers froze
    To subjects sorter disputatious,
So on the ’lasses keg they sot,
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    And had an argue fair and spacious.
Good land! when Solon cum in sight,
    By lawyer Smithett’s row o’ beeches;
His black span seemed to crawl along
    Ez slow ez Dr. Jones’s leeches.
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Sez Sister Fry, who was along,
    “I sorter think my specs is muggy;
“But Solon started out from hum
    “This mornin’ in the new top buggy.
“Jeddiah rid old chestnut Jim,
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    “An’ Sammy rid the roan filly;
“I told ’em when they started off
    “It looked redikless, soft and silly,

“To see three able-bodied men
    “An’ four stout horses drive one critter;
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“O land o’ song! Will some one look?
    “From hed to foot I’m in a twitter.”
Wal, up we swarm’d on Pewse’s fence,
    And Bill he histed on his crutches;
We all was curus to behold
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    The Deac’s five hundred dollar “Duchess.”

I’ve heerd filosofurs declar,
    This life be’s kind o’ snarly jinted;
And every human standin’ thar
    Felt sorter gin’ral disappointed. [Page 216]
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What sort o’ crazy animile
    Hed got the Deacon in its clutches?
They cum along in spankin’ style—
    Old Solon and his sons and “Duchess.”

Her heels wus up, her hed wus down,
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    An or’nary cross-gritted critter
As ever browsed around the town,
    And kept the women folks a-twitter,
A-boostin’ up the garding rails,
    And browsin’ on the factory bleachin’,
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And kickin’ up the milkin’ pails:
    Bill he riz up, ez true ez preachin’.

Sez he, excited like, “I’ll ’low,
    To swaller both these here old crutches—
Ef thet ain’t Farmer Slyby’s cow,
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    Old Bossie turn’d inter a “Duchess!”
Wal, ’twus k’rect! The Deacon swore
    Some hefty swars and sot the clutches
Of law to work; but seed no more
    That chap thet sold him thet thar “Duchess.” [Page 217]
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