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Jim Bludso of the Prairie Belle
ELL, no, I can't tell where he lives,
Because he don't live, you see.
Leastways, he's got out of habit
Of livin' like you and me.
Oh, where have you been these last three year,
That you havn't heard folks tell
How Jimmie Bludso passed in his checks
The night of the Prairie Belle?
He weren't no saint -- them engineers
Are pretty much alike --
One wife in Natchez under the Hill,
And another one here, in Pike.
A careless man in his talk was Jim,
And an awkward hand in a row,
But he never flunked and he never lied, --
I reckon he never knowed how.
And this was all the religion he had, --
To treat his engine well;
Never be passed on the river;
To mind the pilot's bell.
And if ever the Prairie Belle took fire, --
A thousand times he swore
He'd hold her nozzle agin the bank
Till the last soul got ashore.
All boats have their day on the Mississip,
And her day come at last. --
The Movastar was a better boat,
But the Belle she
And so she came tearing along that night,
The oldest craft on the line --
With a crewman squat on her safety valve
And her furnace crammed, rosin and pine.
And the fire broke out as she cleared the bar,
And burned a hole in the night,
And quick as a flash she turned, and made
For the willer-bank on the right.
There was runnin' and cursin', but Jim yelled out,
Over all the infernal roar,
"I'll hold her nozzle agin the bank
Till the last galoot's ashore."
Through the hot, black breath of the burning boat
Jim Bludso's voice was heard,
And they all had faith in his cussedness,
And knowed he would keep his word.
And, sure as you're born, they all got off
Before the smokestacks fell, --
And Bludso's ghost went up alone
In the smoke of the Prairie Belle.
He weren't no saint, but at Judgement
I'd run my chance with Jim,
'Longside of some pious gentlemen
That wouldn't shake hands with him.
He seen his duty, a dead sure thing, --
And he went for it, thar and then,
And Christ ain't a going to be too hard
On a man that died for men.
A Pike County view of special providence.
DON'T go much on religion,
I never ain't had no show;
But I've got a middlin' tight grip, sir,
On the handful o' things I know.
I don't pan out on the prophets
And free-will, and that sort of thing, --
But I b'lieve in God and the angels,
Ever sence one night last spring.
I come into town with some turnips,
And my little Gabe come along, --
No four-year-old in the county
Could beat him for pretty and strong,
Pert and chipper and sassy,
Always ready to swear and fight, --
And I'd larnt him ter chaw terbacker,
Jest to keep his milk-teeth white.
The snow come down like a blanket
As I passed by Taggart's store;
I went in for a jug of molasses
And left the team at the door.
They scared at something and started, --
I heard one little squall,
And hell-to-split over the prairie,
Went team, Little Breeches and all.
Hell-to-split over the prairie!
I was almost froze with skeer;
But we rousted up some torches,
And searched for 'em far and near.
At last we struck hosses and wagon,
Snowed under a soft white mound,
Upsot, deat beat, -- but of little Gabe
Nor hide nor hair was found.
And here all hope soured on me
Of my fellow-critter's aid, --
I jest flopped down on my marrow-bones,
Crotch-deep in the snow, and prayed.
* * * * *
By this, the torches was played out,
And me and Isrul Parr
Went off for some wood to a sheepfold
That he said was somewhar thar.
We found it at last, and a little shed
Where they shut up the lambs at night.
We looked in, and seen them huddled thar,
So warm and sleepy and white;
sot Little Breeches and chirped,
As pert as ever you see,
"I want a chaw of terbacker,
And that's what's the matter of me."
How did he git thar? Angels.
He could never have walked in that storm.
They jest scooped down and toted him
To whar it was safe and warm.
And I think that saving a little child,
And bringing him to his own,
Is a derned sight better business
Than loafing around The Throne.
Good Luck and Bad Luck
OOD luck is the gayest of all gay girls;
Long in one place she will not stay:
Back from your brow she strokes the curls,
Kisses you quick and flies away.
But Madame Bad Luck soberly comes
And stays -- no fancy has she for flitting;
Snatches of true-love songs she hums,
And sits by your bed, and brings her knitting.
H O M E