The Pledge At Spunky Point.

A poem by John Milton Hay

A Tale Of Earnest Effort And Human Perfidy.

It's all very well for preachin',
But preachin' and practice don't gee:
I've give the thing a fair trial,
And you can't ring it in on me.
So toddle along with your pledge, Squire,
Ef that's what you want me to sign;
Betwixt me and you, I've been thar,
And I'll not take any in mine.

A year ago last Fo'th July
A lot of the boys was here.
We all got corned and signed the pledge
For to drink no more that year.
There was Tilmon Joy and Sheriff McPhail
And me and Abner Fry,
And Shelby's boy Leviticus,
And the Golyers, Luke and Cy.

And we anteed up a hundred
In the hands of Deacon Kedge
For to be divided the follerin' Fo'th
'Mongst the boys that kep' the pledge.
And we knowed each other so well, Squire,
You may take my scalp for a fool,
Ef every man when he signed his name
Didn't feel cock-sure of the pool.

Fur a while it all went lovely;
We put up a job next day
Fur to make Joy b'lieve his wife was dead,
And he went home middlin' gay;
Then Abner Fry he killed a man
And afore he was hung McPhail
Jest bilked the widder outen her sheer
By getting him slewed in jail.

But Chris'mas scooped the Sheriff,
The egg-nogs gethered him in;
And Shelby's boy Leviticus
Was, New Year's, tight as sin;
And along in March the Golyers
Got so drunk that a fresh-biled owl
Would 'a' looked 'longside o' them two young men,
Like a sober temperance fowl.

Four months alone I walked the chalk,
I thought my heart would break;
And all them boys a-slappin my back
And axin', "What'll you take?"
I never slep' without dreamin' dreams
Of Burbin, Peach, or Rye,
But I chawed at my niggerhead and swore
I'd rake that pool or die.

At last - the Fo'th - I humped myself
Through chores and breakfast soon,
Then scooted down to Taggart's store -
For the pledge was off at noon;
And all the boys was gethered thar,
And each man hilt his glass -
Watchin' me and the clock quite solemn-like
Fur to see the last minute pass.

The clock struck twelve! I raised the jug
And took one lovin' pull -
I was holler clar from skull to boots.
It seemed I couldn't git full.
But I was roused by a fiendish laugh
That might have raised the dead -
Them ornary sneaks had sot the clock
A half an hour ahead!

"All right!" I squawked. "You've got me,
Jest order your drinks agin,
And we'll paddle up to the Deacon's
And scoop the ante in."
But when we got to Kedge's,
What a sight was that we saw!
The Deacon and Parson Skeeters
In the tail of a game of Draw.

They had shook 'em the heft of the mornin',
The Parson's luck was fa'r,
And he raked, the minute we got thar,
The last of our pool on a pa'r.
So toddle along with your pledge, Squire,
I 'low it's all very fine,
But ez fur myself, I thank ye,
I'll not take any in mine.

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