How It Happened

A poem by James Whitcomb Riley

I got to thinkin' of her - both her parents dead and gone -
And all her sisters married off, and none but her and John
A-livin' all alone there in that lonesome sort o' way,
And him a blame old bachelor, confirmder ev'ry day!
I'd knowed 'em all from childern, and their daddy from the time
He settled in the neighberhood, and hadn't airy a dime
Er dollar, when he married, fer to start housekeepin' on! -
So I got to thinkin' of her - both her parents dead and gone!

I got to thinkin' of her; and a-wundern what she done
That all her sisters kep' a-gittin' married, one by one,
And her without no chances - and the best girl of the pack -
An old maid, with her hands, you might say, tied behind her back!
And Mother, too, afore she died, she ust to jes' take on,
When none of 'em was left, you know, but Evaline and John,
And jes' declare to goodness 'at the young men must be bline
To not see what a wife they'd git if they got Evaline!

I got to thinkin' of her; in my great affliction she
Was sich a comfert to us, and so kind and neighberly, -
She'd come, and leave her housework, fer to he'p out little Jane,
And talk of her own mother 'at she'd never see again -
Maybe sometimes cry together - though, fer the most part she
Would have the child so riconciled and happy-like 'at we
Felt lonesomer 'n ever when she'd put her bonnet on
And say she'd railly haf to be a-gittin' back to John!

I got to thinkin' of her, as I say, - and more and more
I'd think of her dependence, and the burdens 'at she bore, -
Her parents both a-bein' dead, and all her sisters gone
And married off, and her a-livin' there alone with John -
You might say jes' a-toilin' and a-slavin' out her life
Fer a man 'at hadn't pride enough to git hisse'f a wife -
'Less some one married Evaline and packed her off some day! -
So I got to thinkin' of her - and it happened thataway.

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