LITTLE JOHNTS'S CHRIS'MUS
BY JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY
WE got it up a-purpose, jes fer little Johnts, you know;
His mother was so pore an' all, an' had to manage so--
Jes bein' a War-widder, an' her pension mighty slim,
She'd take in weavin', er work out, er anything, fer him!
An' little Johnts was puny-like,--but law, the nerve he had!--
You'd want to kindo' pity him, but couldn't, very bad,--
His pants o' army-blanket an' his coat o' faded blue
Kep' hintin' of his father like, an' pity wouldn't do!
So we collogued together, onc't, one winter-time, 'at we--
Jes me an' Mother an' the girls, an' Wilse, John-Jack an' Free--
Would jine an' git up little Johnts, by time 'at Chris'mus come,
Some sort o' doin's, don't you know, 'at would su'prise him some,
An' so, all on the quiet, Mother she turns in an' gits
Some blue-janes--cuts an' makes a suit; an' then sets down an' knits
A pair o' little galluses to go 'long with the rest--
An' putts in a red-flannen back, an' buckle on the vest.--
The little feller'd be'n so much around our house, you see,
An' be'n sich he'p to her an' all, an' handy as could be,
'At Mother couldn't do too much fer little Johnts--No, Sir!--
She ust to jes declare 'at "he was meat-an'-drink to her!"
An' Piney, Lide, an' Madaline they watched their chance an' rid
To Fountaintown with Lijey's folks; an' bought a book, they did,
O' fairy tales, with pictur's in; an' got a little pair
O' red-top boots 'at John-Jack said he'd be'n a-pricin' there.
An' Lide got him a little sword, an' Madaline, a drum;
An' shootin'-crackers--Lawzy-day! an' they're so dangersome!
An' Piney, ever' time the rest 'ud buy some other toy,
She'd take an' turn in then an' buy more candy fer the boy!
"Well," thinks-says-I, when they got back, "your pocket-books is dry!"--
But little Johnts was there hisse'f that afternoon, so I--
Well, all of us kep' mighty mum, tel we got him away
By tellin' him be shore an' come to-morry--Chris'-mus Day--
An' fetch his mother 'long with him! An' how he scud acrost
The fields--his towhead, in the dusk, jes like a streak o' frost!--
His comfert fluttern as he run--an' old Tige, don't you know,
A-jumpin' high fer rabbits an' a-ploughin' up the snow!
It must 'a' be'n 'most ten that night afore we got to bed--
With Wilse an' John-Jack he'ppin' us; an' Freeman in the shed,
An' Lide out with the lantern while he trimmed the Chris'mus-Tree
Out of a little scrub-oak-top 'at suited to a "T"!
All night I dreamp' o' hearin' things a-skulkin' round the place--
An' "Old Kriss," with his whiskers off, an' freckles on his face--
An' reindeers, shaped like shavin'-hosses at the cooper-shop,
A-stickin' down the chimbly, with their heels out at the top!
By time 'at Mother got me up 'twas plum daylight an' more--
The front yard full o' neighbers all a-crowdin' round the door,
With Johnts's mother leadin'; yes--an' little Johnts hisse'f,
Set up on Freeman's shoulder, like a jug up on the she'f!
Of course I can't describe it when they all got in to where
We'd conjered up the Chris'mus-Tree an' all the fixin's there!--
Fer all the shouts o' laughture--clappin' hands, an' crackin' jokes,
Was heap o' kissin' goin' on amongst the women folks:--
Fer, lo-behold-ye! there they had that young-un!--An' his chin
A-wobblin'-like; an', shore enough, at last he started in--
An'--sich another bellerin', in all my mortal days,
I never heerd, er 'spect to hear, in woe's app'inted ways!
An' Mother grabs him up an' says: "It's more'n he can bear--
It's all too suddent fer the child, an' too su'prisin'!--There!
"Oh, no it ain't"--sobbed little Johnts--"I ain't su'prised--but I'm
A-cryin' 'cause I watched you all, an' knowed it all the time!"