James Whitcomb Riley

(7 October 1849 - 22 July 1916 / Greenfield, Indiana)

Tugg Martin - Poem by James Whitcomb Riley


Tugg Martin's tough.--No doubt o' that!
And down there at
The town he come from word's bin sent
Advisin' this-here Settle-ment
To kindo' _humor_ Tugg, and not
To git him hot--
Jest pass his imperfections by,
And he's as good as pie!


They claim he's _wanted_ back there.--Yit
The officers they mostly quit
_Insistin'_ when
They notice Tugg's so _back'ard_, and
Sorto' gives 'em to understand
He druther not!--A Deputy
(The slickest one you ever see!)
Tackled him _last_--'disguisin' then,'
As Tugg says, 'as a gentlemen!'--
You 'd ort o' hear _Tugg_ tell it!--_My_!
I thought I'd _die_!


The way it wuz;--Tugg and the rest
The boys wuz jest
A-kindo' gittin' thawed out, down
At 'Guss's Place,' fur-end o' town,
One night, when, first we knowed,
Some feller rode
Up in a buggy at the door,
And hollered fer some one to come
And fetch him some
Red-licker out--And whirped and swore
That colt he drove wuz '_Thompson's_' shore!


Guss went out, and come in agin
And filled a pint and tuck it out--
Stayed quite a spell--then peeked back in,
Half-hid-like where the light wuz dim,
And jieuked his head
At Tugg and said,--
'Come out a minute--here's a gent
Wants you to take a drink with him.'


Well--Tugg laid down his cards and went--
In fact, _we all_
Got up, you know,
_Startin'_ to go--
When in reels Guss aginst the wall,
As white as snow,
Gaspin',--'_He's tuck Tugg!--wher's my gun_?'
And-sir, outside we heerd
The hoss snort and kick up his heels
Like he wuz skeerd,
And then the buggy-wheels
Scrape--and then Tugg's voice hollerun',--
'I'm bested!--Good-bye, fellers!' . . . 'Peared
S' all-fired suddent,
Nobody couldn't
Jest git it fixed,--tel hoss and man,
Buggy and Tugg, off through the dark
Went like the devil beatin' tan-


What _could_ we do? . . . We filed back to
The bar: And Guss jest _looked_ at us,
And we looked back 'The same as you,'
Still sayin' nothin'--And the sap
It stood in every eye,
And every hat and cap
Went off, as we teched glasses solemnly,
And Guss says-he:
'Ef it's 'good-bye' with Tugg, fer _shore_,--I say
God bless him!--Er ef they
Aint railly no _need_ to pray,
I'm not reniggin!--board's the play,
And here's God bless him, anyway!'


It must a-bin an hour er so
We all set there,
Talkin o' pore
Old Tugg, you know,
'At never, wuz ketched up before--
When--all slow-like--the door-
Knob turned--and Tugg come shamblin' in,
Hand-cuffed'--'at's what he wuz, I swear!--
Yit smilin,' like he hadn't bin
Away at all! And when we ast him where
The _Deputy_ wuz at,--'I don't know where,' Tugg said,--
'All _I_ know is--he's dead.'

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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 9, 2010

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