This Man Jones

by James Whitcomb Riley

James Whitcomb Riley

This man Jones was what you'd call
A feller 'at had no sand at all;
Kind o' consumpted, and undersize,
And sailor-complected, with big sad eyes,
And a kind-of-a sort-of-a hang-dog style,
And a sneakin' sort-of-a half-way smile
'At kind o' give him away to us
As a preacher, maybe, er somepin' wuss.
Didn't take with the gang--well, no--
But still we managed to use him, though,--
Coddin' the gilly along the rout',
And drivin' the stakes 'at he pulled out--
Far I was one of the bosses then,
And of course stood in with the canvasmen;
And the way we put up jobs, you know,
On this man Jones jes' beat the show!
Ust to rattle him scandalous,
And keep the feller a-dodgin' us,
And a-shyin' round half skeered to death,
And afeerd to whimper above his breath;
Give him a cussin', and then a kick,
And then a kind-of-a back-hand lick--
Jes' far the fun of seem' him climb
Around with a head on most the time.
But what was the curioust thing to me,
Was along o' the party--let me see,--
Who was our "Lion Queen" last year?--
Mamzelle Zanty, or De La Pierre?--
Well, no matter--a stunnin' mash,
With a red-ripe lip, and a long eye-lash,
And a figger sich as the angels owns--
And one too many far this man Jones.
He'd allus wake in the afternoon,
As the band waltzed in on the lion-tune,
And there, from the time 'at she'd go in
Till she'd back out of the cage agin,
He'd stand, shaky and limber-kneed--
'Specially when she come to "feed
The beasts raw meat with her naked hand"--
And all that business, you understand.
And it _was_ resky in that den--
Far I think she juggled three cubs then,
And a big "green" lion 'at used to smash
Collar-bones far old Frank Nash;
And I reckon now she hain't fergot
The afternoon old "Nero" sot
His paws on _her_!--but as far me,
It's a sort-of-a mixed-up mystery:--
Kind o' remember an awful roar,
And see her back far the bolted door--
See the cage rock--heerd her call
"God have mercy!" and that was all--
Far they ain't no livin' man can tell
_What_ it's like when a thousand yell
In female tones, and a thousand more
Howl in bass till their throats is sore!
But the keeper said 'at dragged her out,
They heerd some feller laugh and shout--
"Save her! Quick! I've got the cuss!"
And yit she waked and smiled on _us!_
And we daren't flinch, far the doctor said,
Seein' as this man Jones was dead,
Better to jes' not let her know
Nothin' o' that far a week er so.

Last updated January 14, 2019