Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TUGG MARTIN, by JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY

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TUGG MARTIN, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Tugg martin's tough.-- no
Last Line: "all I know is -- he's dead."
Alternate Author Name(s): Johnson Of Boone, Benj. F.
Subject(s): Death; Drinks & Drinking; Dead, The; Wine


TUGG MARTIN'S tough. -- No doubt o' that!
And down there at
The camp he come from word's bin sent
Advisin' this-here Settle-ment
To kind o' humor Tugg, and not
To git him hot. --
Jest pass his imperfections by,
And he's as good as pie!


They claim he's wanted back there. -- Yit
The officers they mostly quit Insistin' when
They notice Tugg's so back'ard, and
Sort o' gives 'em to understand
He'd ruther not! -- A Deputy
(The slickest one you ever see!)
Tackled him last -- "disguisin' then,"
As Tugg says, "as a gentleman"! --
You'd ort o' hear Tugg tell it -- My!
I thought I'd die!


The way it wuz: -- Tugg and the rest
The boys wuz jest
A-kind o' gittin' thawed out, down
At "Guss's Place," fur-end o' town,
One night, -- when, first we knowed,
Some feller rode
Up in a buggy at the door,
And hollered fer some one to come
And fetch him some
Red-licker out -- And whirped and swore
That colt he drove wuz "Thompson's" -- shore!


Guss went out, and come in ag'in
And filled a pint and tuk it out --
Stayed quite a spell -- then peeked back in,
Half-hid-like where the light wuz dim,
And jieuked his head
At Tugg and said, --
"Come out a minute -- here's a gent
Wants you to take a drink with him."


Well -- Tugg laid down his cards and went --
In fact, we all
Got up, you know,
Startin' to go --
When in reels Guss ag'inst the wall,
As white as snow,
Gaspin', -- "He's tuk Tugg! -- Wher' 's my gun?"
And-sir, outside we heerd
The hoss snort and kick up his heels
Like he wuz skeerd,
And then the buggy-wheels
Scrape -- and then Tugg's voice hollerun, --
"I'm bested! -- Good-by, fellers!" . . . 'Peared
S' all-fired suddent,
Nobody couldn't
Jest git it fixed, -- tel hoss and man,
Buggy and Tugg, off through the dark
Went like the devil beatin' tanBark!


What could we do? . . . We filed back to
The bar: And Guss jest looked at us,
And we looked back "The same as you,"
Still sayin' nothin' -- And the sap
It stood in every eye,
And every hat and cap
Went off, as we teched glasses solemnly,
And Guss says-he:
"Ef it's 'good-by' with Tugg, fer shore, -- I say
God bless him! -- Er ef they
Ain't railly no need to pray,
I'm not reniggin' -- board's the play,
And here's God bless him, anyway!"


It must 'a' bin an hour er so
We all set there,
Talkin' o' pore
Old Tugg, you know,
'At never wuz ketched up before, --
When -- all slow-like -- the door-
Knob turned -- and Tugg come shamblin' in
Handcuffed! -- 'at's what he wuz, I swear! --
Yit smilin', like he hadn't bin
Away at all! And when we ast him where
The Deputy wuz at, -- "I don't know where,"
Tugg said, --
"All I know is -- he's dead."

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