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A New Year's Time At Willards's

James Whitcomb Riley 1849 (Greenfield) – 1916 (Indianapolis)

1
The Hired Man Talks

There's old man Willards; an' his wife;
An' Marg'et-- S'repty's sister--; an'
There's me-- an' I'm the hired man;
An' Tomps McClure, you better yer life!

Well now, old Willards hain't so bad,
Considerin' the chance he's had.
Of course, he's rich, an' sleeps an' eats
Whenever he's a mind to: Takes
An' leans back in the Amen-seats
An' thanks the Lord fer all he makes--.
That's purty much all folks has got
Ag'inst the old man, like as not!
But there's his woman-- jes the turn
Of them-air two wild girls o' hern--
Marg'et an' S'repty-- allus in
Fer any cuttin'-up concern--
Church festibals, and foolishin'
Round Christmas-trees, an' New Year's sprees--
Set up to watch the Old Year go
An' New Year come-- sich things as these;
An' turkey-dinners, don't you know!
S'repty's younger, an' more gay,
An' purtier, an' finer dressed
Than Marg'et is-- but, lawzy-day!
She hain't the independentest!
'Take care!' old Willards used to say,
'Take care--! Let Marg'et have her way,
An' S'repty, you go off an' play
On your melodeum--!' But, best
Of all, comes Tomps! An' I'll be bound,
Ef he hain't jes the beatin'est
Young chap in all the country round!
Ef you knowed Tomps you'd like him, shore!
They hain't no man on top o' ground
Walks into my affections more--!
An' all the Settlement'll say
That Tomps was liked jes thataway
By ever'body, till he tuk
A shine to S'repty Willards--. Then
You'd ort'o see the old man buck
An' h'ist hisse'f, an' paw the dirt,
An' hint that 'common workin'-men
That didn't want their feelin's hurt
'Ud better hunt fer 'comp'ny' where
The folks was pore an' didn't care--!'
The pine-blank facts is--, the old man,
Last Christmas was a year ago,
Found out some presents Tomps had got
Fer S'repty, an' hit made him hot--
Set down an' tuk his pen in hand
An' writ to Tomps an' told him so
On legal cap, in white an' black,
An' give him jes to understand
'No Christmas-gifts o' 'lily-white'
An' bear's-ile could fix matters right,'
An' wropped 'em up an' sent 'em back!
Well, S'repty cried an' snuffled round
Consid'able. But Marg'et she
Toed out another sock, an' wound
Her knittin' up, an' drawed the tea,
An' then set on the supper-things,
An' went up in the loft an' dressed--
An' through it all you'd never guessed
What she was up to! An' she brings
Her best hat with her an her shawl,
An' gloves, an' redicule, an' all,
An' injirubbers, an' comes down
An' tells 'em she's a-goin' to town
To he'p the Christmas goin's-on
Her Church got up. An' go she does--
The best hosswoman ever was!
'An' what'll We do while you're gone?'
The old man says, a-tryin' to be
Agreeable. 'Oh! You?' says she--,
'You kin jaw S'repty, like you did,
An' slander Tomps!' An' off she rid!

Now, this is all I'm goin' to tell
Of this-here story-- that is, I
Have done my very level best
As fur as this, an' here I 'dwell,'
As auctioneers says, winkin' sly:
Hit's old man Willards tells the rest.

2
The Old Man Talks

Adzackly jes one year ago,
This New Year's day, Tomps comes to me--
In my own house, an' whilse the folks
Was gittin' dinner--, an' he pokes
His nose right in, an' says, says he:
'I got yer note-- an' read it slow!
You don't like me, ner I don't you,'
He says--, 'we're even there, you know!
But you've said, furder that no gal
Of yourn kin marry me, er shall,
An' I'd best shet off comin', too!'
An' then he says--, 'Well, them's Your views--;
But havin' talked with S'repty, we
Have both agreed to disagree
With your peculiar notions-- some;
An', that s the reason, I refuse
To quit a-comin' here, but come--
Not fer to threat, ner raise no skeer
An' spile yer turkey-dinner here--,
But jes fer S'repty's sake, to sheer
Yer New Year's. Shall I take a cheer?'

Well, blame-don! Ef I ever see
Sich impidence! I couldn't say
Not nary word! But Mother she
Sot out a cheer fer Tomps, an' they
Shuk hands an' turnt their back on me.
Then I riz-- mad as mad could be--!
But Marg'et says--, 'Now, Pap! You set
Right where you're settin'--! Don't you fret!
An' Tomps-- you warm yer feet!' says she,
'An throw yer mitts an' comfert on
The bed there! Where is S'repty gone!
The cabbage is a-scortchin'! Ma,
Stop cryin' there an' stir the slaw!'
Well--! What was Mother cryin' fer--?
I half riz up-- but Marg'et's chin
Hit squared-- an' I set down ag'in--
I allus was afeard o' her,
I was, by jucks! So there I set,
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

4:23 min read
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James Whitcomb Riley

James Whitcomb Riley was an American writer, poet, and best-selling author. During his lifetime he was known as the "Hoosier Poet" and "Children's Poet" for his dialect works and his children's poetry respectively. more…

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    "A New Year's Time At Willards's" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 26 Sep. 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/20787/a-new-year's-time-at-willards's>.

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