by Paul Laurence Dunbar
DEY had a gread big pahty down to Tom's
de othah night;
Was I dah? You bet! I nevah in my life see
sich a sight;
All de folks f'om fou' plantations was invited, an'
Dey come troopin' thick ez chillun when dey
hyeahs a fife an' drum.
Evahbody dressed deir fines'--Heish yo' mouf
an' git away,
Ain't seen no sich fancy dressin' sence las'
quah'tly meetin' day;
Gals all dressed in silks an' satins, not a wrinkle
ner a crease,
Eyes a-battin', teeth a-shinin', haih breshed back
ez slick ez grease;
Sku'ts all tucked an' puffed an' ruffled, evah
blessed seam an' stitch;
Ef you 'd seen 'em wif deir mistus, could n't
swahed to which was which.
Men all dressed up in Prince Alberts, swaller-
tails 'u'd tek yo' bref!
I cain't tell you nothin' 'bout it, y' ought to seen
it fu' yo'se'f.
Who was dah? Now who you askin'? How
you 'spect I gwine to know?
You mus' think I stood an' counted evahbody at
Ole man Babah's house-boy Isaac, brung dat
gal, Malindy Jane,
Huh a-hangin' to his elbow, him a-struttin' wif
My, but Hahvey Jones was jealous! seemed to
stick him lak a tho'n;
But he laughed with Viney Cahteh, tryin' ha'd
to not let on,
But a pusson would 'a' noticed f'om de d'rection
of his look,
Dat he was watchin' ev'ry step dat Ike an'
Ike he foun' a cheer an' asked huh: "Won't
you set down?" wif a smile,
An' she answe'd up a-bowin', "Oh, I reckon
't ain't wuth while."
Dat was jes' fu' style, I reckon, 'cause she sot
down jes' de same,
An' she stayed dah 'twell he fetched huh fu' to
jine some so't o' game;
Den I hyeahd huh sayin' propah, ez she riz to
"Oh, you raly mus' excuse me, fu' I hardly
keers to play."
But I seen huh in a minute wif de othahs on de
An' dah was n't any one o' dem a-playin' any
Comin' down de flo' a-bowin' an' a-swayin' an'
Puttin' on huh high-toned mannahs all de time
dat she was singin':
"Oh, swing Johnny up an' down, swing him all
Swing Johnny up an' down, swing him all aroun',
Oh, swing Johnny up an' down, swing him all
Fa' you well, my dahlin'."
Had to laff at ole man Johnson, he 's a caution
now, you bet--
Hittin' clost onto a hunderd, but he 's spry an'
He 'lowed how a-so't o' gigglin', "I ain't ole,
I 'll let you see,
D'ain't no use in gittin' feeble, now you young-
stahs jes' watch me,"
An' he grabbed ole Aunt Marier--weighs th'ee
hunderd mo' er less,
An' he spun huh 'roun' de cabin swingin' Johnny
lak de res'.
Evahbody laffed an' hollahed: "Go it! Swing
huh, Uncle Jim!"
An' he swung huh too, I reckon, lak a youngstah,
who but him.
Dat was bettah 'n young Scott Thomas, tryin' to
be so awful smaht.
You know when dey gits to singin' an' dey
comes to dat ere paht:
"In some lady's new brick house,
In some lady's gyahden.
Ef you don't let me out, I will jump out,
So fa' you well, my dahlin'."
Den dey 's got a circle 'roun' you, an' you 's got
to break de line;
Well, dat dahky was so anxious, lak to bust his-
Kep' on blund'rin' 'roun' an' foolin' 'twell he
giv' one gread big jump,
Broke de line, an' lit head-fo'most in de fiah-
place right plump;
Hit 'ad fiah in it, mind you; well, I thought my
soul I 'd bust,
Tried my best to keep f'om laffin', but hit
seemed like die I must!
Y' ought to seen dat man a-scramblin' f'om de
ashes an' de grime.
Did it bu'n him! Sich a question, why he did n't
give it time;
Th'ow'd dem ashes and dem cindahs evah
which-a-way I guess,
An' you nevah did, I reckon, clap yo' eyes on
sich a mess;
Fu' he sholy made a picter an' a funny one to
Wif his clothes a]l full o' ashes an' his face all
full o' soot.
Well, hit laked to stopped de pahty, an' I reckon
lak ez not
Dat it would ef Tom's wife, Mandy, had n't
happened on de spot,
To invite us out to suppah--well, we scrambled
to de table,
An' I 'd lak to tell you 'bout it--what we had
--but I ain't able,
Mention jes' a few things, dough I know I
had n't orter,
Fu' I know 't will staht a hank'rin' an' yo' mouf
'll 'mence to worter.
We had wheat bread white ez cotton an' a egg
pone jes like gol',
Hog jole, bilin' hot an' steamin' roasted shoat
an' ham sliced cold--
Look out! What 's de mattah wif you? Don't
be fallin' on de flo';
Ef it 's go'n' to 'fect you dat way, I won't tell you
Dah now--well, we had hot chittlin's---now
you 's tryin' ag'in to fall,
Cain't you stan' to hyeah about it? S'pose you 'd
been an' seed it all;
Seed dem gread big sweet pertaters, layin' by
de possum's side,
Seed dat coon in all his gravy, reckon den you 'd
up and died!
Mandy 'lowed "you all mus' 'scuse me, d' wa'n't
much upon my she'ves,
But I 's done my bes' to suit you, so set down
an' he'p yo'se'ves."
Tom, he 'lowed: "I don't b'lieve in 'pologisin'
Let 'em tek it lak dey ketch it. Eldah Thompson,
ask de blessin'."
Wish you 'd seed dat colo'ed preachah cleah
his th'oat an' bow his head;
One eye shet, an' one eye open,--dis is evah
wud he said:
"Lawd, look down in tendah mussy on sich gen-
erous hea'ts ez dese;
Make us truly thankful, amen. Pass dat possum,
ef you please!"
Well, we eat and drunk ouah po'tion, 'twell dah
was n't nothin' lef,
An' we felt jes' like new sausage, we was mos'
nigh stuffed to def!
Tom, he knowed how we 'd be feelin', so he had
de fiddlah 'roun',
An' he made us cleah de cabin fu' to dance dat
Jim, de fiddlah, chuned his fiddle, put some
rosum on his bow,
Set a pine box on de table, mounted it an' let
He 's a fiddlah, now I tell you, an' he made dat
'Twell de ol'est an' de lamest had to give deir
feet a fling.
Jigs, cotillions, reels an' break-downs, cordrills
an' a waltz er two;
Bless yo' soul, dat music winged 'em an' dem
people lak to flew.
Cripple Joe, de ole rheumatic, danced dat flo'
f'om side to middle,
Th'owed away his crutch an' hopped it, what 's
rheumatics 'ginst a fiddle?
Eldah Thompson got so tickled dat he lak to
los' his grace,
Had to tek bofe feet an' hol' dem so 's to keep
'em in deir place.
An' de Christuns an' de sinnahs got so mixed
up on dat flo',
Dat I don't see how dey 'd pahted ef de trump
had chanced to blow.
Well, we danced dat way an' capahed in de mos'
'Twell de roostahs in de bahnyard cleahed deir
th'oats an' crowed fu' day.
Y' ought to been dah, fu' I tell you evahthing
was rich an' prime,
An' dey ain't no use in talkin', we jes had one