The Rivals; Or The Showman's Ruse

A poem by James Whitcomb Riley

A TRAGI-COMEDY, IN ONE ACT.

PERSONS REPRESENTED.

BILLY MILLER ) The Rivals
JOHNNY WILLIAMS )

TOMMY WELLS 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 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 awhile at poster, TOMMY secretly smiling and winking at BILLY MILLER, concealed at loft-window above.

TOMMY (to JOHNNY).
Guess 'at Billy haint got back, -
Can't see nothin' through the crack - -
Can't hear nothin' neither - No!
. . . Thinks he's got the dandy show,
Don't he?

JOHNNY (scornfully) -
'Course' but what I care? -
He haint 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!

TOMMY -
Yes, but you got no machine
Wat you bathe with, painted green,
With a string to work it, guess!

JOHNNY (contemptuously) -
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, and a blue
Center-pole!

TOMMY -
Well, Billy, he's
Got a tight-rope an' trapeze,
An' a hoop 'at he jumps through
Head-first!

JOHNNY -
Well, what's that to do -
Lightin' on a pile o' hay?
Haint no actin' thataway!

TOMMY -
Don't care what you say, he draws
Bigger crowds than you do, 'cause
Sense he started up, I know
All the fellers says his show
Is the best-un!

JOHNNY -
Yes, an' he
Better not tell things on me!
His old circus haint 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
'Feared to say 'at he says "dam" -
Yes, and worser ones! and 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 agin,
Like a cowardy-calf, an' climb
In fer home another time!
Better -

[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 trouser-knee, makes his inglorious - exit.]

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