A Dubious "Old Kriss"

A poem by James Whitcomb Riley

Us-folks is purty pore - but Ma
She's waitin' - two years more - tel Pa
He serve his term out. Our Pa he -
He's in the Penitenchurrie!

Now don't you never tell! - 'cause Sis,
The baby, she don't know he is. -
'Cause she wuz only four, you know,
He kissed her last an' hat to go!

Pa alluz liked Sis best of all
Us childern. - 'Spect it's 'cause she fall
"When she'uz ist a child, one day -
An' make her back look thataway.

Pa - 'fore he be a burglar - he's
A locksmiff, an' maked locks, an' keys,
An' knobs you pull fer bells to ring,
An' he could ist make anything! -

'Cause our Ma say he can! - An' this
Here little pair o' crutches Sis
Skips round on - Pa maked them - yes-sir! -
An' silivur-plate-name here fer her!

Pa's out o' work when Chris'mus come
One time, an' stay away from home,
An' 's drunk an' 'buse our Ma, an' swear
They ain't no "Old Kriss" anywhere!

An' Sis she alluz say they wuz
A' Old Kriss - an' she alluz does.
But ef they is a' Old Kriss, why,
When's Chris'mus, Ma she alluz cry?

This Chris'mus now, we live here in
Where Ma's rent's alluz due ag'in -
An' she "ist slaves" - I heerd her say
She did - ist them words thataway!

An' th'other night, when all's so cold
An' stove's 'most out - our Ma she rolled
Us in th'old feather-bed an' said,
"To-morry's Chris'mus - go to bed,

"An' thank yer blessed stars fer this -
We don't 'spect nothin' from Old Kriss!"
An' cried, an' locked the door, an' prayed,
An' turned the lamp down.... An' I laid

There, thinkin' in the dark ag'in,
"Ef wuz Old Kriss, he can't git in,
'Cause ain't no chimbly here at all -
Ist old stovepipe stuck frue the wall!"

I sleeped nen. - An' wuz dreamin' some
When I waked up an' morning's come, -
Fer our Ma she wuz settin' square
Straight up in bed, a-readin' there

Some letter 'at she 'd read, an' quit,
An' nen hold like she's huggin' it. -
An' diamon' ear-rings she don't know
Wuz in her ears tel I say so -

An' wake the rest up. An' the sun
In frue the winder dazzle-un
Them eyes o' Sis's, wiv a sure-
Enough gold chain Old Kriss bringed to 'er!

An' all of us git gold things! - Sis,
Though, say she know it "ain't Old Kriss -
He kissed her, so she waked an' saw
Him skite out - an' it wuz her Pa."

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