Complete Poetical Works

Miss Edith Makes It Pleasant for Brother Jack

Bret Harte

“CRYING!” Of course I am crying, and I guess you would be crying, too,
If people were telling such stories as they tell about me, about you.
Oh yes, you can laugh if you want to, and smoke as you didn’t care how,
And get your brains softened like uncle’s.    Dr. Jones says you’re gettin’ it now.

Why don’t you say “Stop!” to Miss Ilsey?    She cries twice as much as I do,
And she’s older and cries just from meanness,—for a ribbon or anything new.
Ma says it’s her “sensitive nature.”    Oh my!    No, I sha’n’t stop my talk!
And I don’t want no apples nor candy, and I don’t want to go take a walk!

I know why you’re mad!    Yes, I do, now!    You think that Miss Ilsey likes you,
And I’ve heard her repeatedly call you the bold-facest boy that she knew;
And she’d “like to know where you learnt manners.”    Oh yes!    Kick the table,—that’s right!
Spill the ink on my dress, and go then round telling Ma that I look like a fright!

What stories?    Pretend you don’t know that they’re saying I broke off the match
Twixt old Money-grubber and Mary, by saying she called him “Crosspatch,”
When the only allusion I made him about sister Mary was, she
Cared more for his cash than his temper, and you know, Jack, you said that to me.

And it’s true!    But it’s me, and I’m scolded, and Pa says if I keep on I might
By and by get my name in the papers!    Who cares?    Why, ’twas only last night
I was reading how Pa and the sheriff were selling some lots, and it’s plain
If it’s awful to be in the papers, why, Papa would go and complain.

You think it ain’t true about Ilsey?    Well, I guess I know girls, and I say
There’s nothing I see about Ilsey to show she likes you, anyway!
I know what it means when a girl who has called her cat after one boy
Goes and changes its name to another’s. And she’s done it—and I wish you joy!

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