Classic and Contemporary Poetry
THE RIVALS; OR THE SHOWMAN'S RUSE, by JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY Poet's Biography
Last Line: Straight rent across one trousers-knee, makes his inglorious -- exit.]
Alternate Author Name(s): Johnson Of Boone, Benj. F.
Subject(s): Circus; Comedy; Plays & Playwrights; Quarrels; Tragedy; Arguments; Disagreements
[BILLY MILLER JOHNNY WILLIAMS TOMMY WELLS]
[The Rivals Conspirator]
TIME -- Noon. SCENE -- Country Town -- Rear view of the Miller Mansion,
showing Barn, with practical loft-window opening on alley-way, with colored-
crayon poster on wall beneath, announcing: -- "BILLY MILLER's Big Show and
Monstur Circus and Equareum! A shour-bath fer Each and All fer 20 pins. This
Afternoon! Don't fer git the Date!" Enter TOMMY WELLS and JOHNNY
WILLIAMS, who gaze a while at poster, TOMMY secretly smiling and winking
at BILLY MILLER, concealed at loft-window above.
TOMMY [To JOHNNY]
Guess 'at Billy hain't got back, --
Can't see nothin' through the crack --
Can't hear nothin' neether -- No!
. . . Thinks he's got the dandy show,
'Course! but what I care? --
He hain't got no show in there! --
What's he got in there but that
Old hen, cooped up with a cat
An' a turkle, an' that thing
'At he calls his "circus-ring"?
What a "circus-ring"! I'd quit!
Bet mine's twic't as big as it!
Yes, but you got no machine
W'at you bathe with, painted green,
With a string to work it, guess!
Folks don't bathe in circuses! --
Ladies comes to mine, you bet!
I' got seats where girls can set;
An' a dressin'-room, an' all,
Fixed up in my pony's stall --
Yes, an' I got carpet, too,
Fer the tumblers, an' a blue
Well, Billy, he's
Got a tight-rope an' trapeze,
An' a hoop 'at he jumps through
Well, what's that to do --
Lightin' on a pile o' hay?
Hain't no actin' thataway!
Don't care what you say, he draws
Bigger crowds than you do, 'cause
Sence he started up, I know
All the fellers says his show
Is the best-un!
Yes, an' he
Better not tell things on me!
His old circus hain't no good --
'Cause he's got the neighborhood
Down on me he thinks 'at I'm
Goin' to stand it all the time;
Thinks ist 'cause my Pa don't 'low
Me to fight, he's got me now,
An' can say I lie, an' call
Me ist anything at all!
Billy Miller thinks I am
'Feard to say 'at he says "dam" --
Yes, an' worser ones! an' I'm
Goin' to tell his folks sometime! --
An' ef he don't shet his head
I'll tell worse 'an that he said
When he fighted Willie King --
An' got licked like ever'thing! --
Billy Miller better shin
Down his Daddy's lane ag'in,
Like a cowardy-calf, an' climb
In fer home another time!
[Here BILLY leaps down from the loft upon his unsuspecting victim; and two
minutes later, JOHNNY, with the half of a straw hat, a bleeding nose, and a
straight rent across one trousers-knee, makes his inglorious -- exit.]
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