Solon Stiles

Albery Allson Whitman

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To town one day rode Solon Stiles,
O'er weary roads and rocky miles,
And thro' long lanes, whose dusty breath,
Did nearly smother him to death;
By ragged fences, old and brown,
And thro' great tall woods up and down.

Wide orchards robed in red and white,
Were singing on his left and right;
The forests carroled by his way,
The grass was chirping, green and gay,
And wild flow'rs, sweetest of their race,
Like country maids of bashful face,
Peeped thro' the briery fences nigh,
With bright hues in each timid eye.
The farm cows whisked in their cool nook,
And splashed within their peaceful brook;
And on his fence, beneath the shade,
The plow boy's pipe shrill music made.

Stiles saw all this, but what cared he,
When he was going the town to see?
The country he had always seen,
But into town had never been.
So on he rode, with head on high,
And great thoughts roaming thro' the sky,
Not caring what he trotted by.

A little mule he sat astride,
With ropes for stirrups o'er him tied,
In which huge boots, as red as clay --
Red as a fox, some folks would say --
Swung loosely down, and dangled round,
As if in hopeless search of ground.

At first, when from the woods he rode,
And high in sight his small mule trode,
Rough seas of smoke rolled on his eye,
Great dizzy houses reared on high,
With steeples banging in the sky,
Then Solon stopped and said, "Umph, my!"
And next, a river deep and wide,
With houses floating up its tide
He met, and paused again to look,
And then to move on undertook.
And spurred and spurred, but looked around,
And lo! in deep amazement found
His small mule stuck, and as he spurred
The more, the thing's ears only stirred.
"Hullo!" a swarm of blubbies cried,
"Whip on the critter's hairy side!"
At this the mule insulted grew,
Took up its ears, and fairly flew,
Till near a great white bride it drew.

Across the bridge rode Solon Stiles,
By dusty shops and lumber piles,
And where tall houses o'er him stood,
Like cliffs within his native wood.
And furnaces with firey tongues,
And smoky throats and iron lungs,
Like demons coughed, and howled, and roared,
And fire from out their bowels poured.

Now on and on, up Sailor street,
The donkey whirled his rattling feet,
While either sidewalk loud upon
A swarm of oaths were chorused on.
One tall boy, in this surging sea
Of rags and young profanity,
High o'er the rest, on awkward shanks,
Like stilts, led on the swelling ranks.
His deep throat like a fog horn blew,
Till lesser blasts their aid withdrew.

Then Stiles communed thus with his mule:
"My! listen what a cussin' school
This town lets out to fill the ears
Of God with! My! them babies swears!"
Meanwhile there came a light brigade,
To at the donkey's heels parade,
Till up before and then behind,
His honor flew and then combined,
An old Dutch waltz and new quick-step,
That half a square of urchins swept,
As fast as leaves were ever seen,
Brushed by a whirlwind from the green.

The tall commander now in front,
Led oathing, as his pride was wont,
The new assault, when stock still stood
The mule away not half a rood;
For lo! with tomahawk in hand,
Before a neighb'ring cigar stand,
He saw a savage; to describe
A chieftain of some bloody tribe.
At Solon straight he raised a blow
And strained with all his might to throw,
But stayed his rage, for he beheld,
That with hot rage the donkey swelled.

Ah! Solon felt his blood run cold,
For oft his gran'dad him had told
Of Indians in an early day,
Beside the bockwoods cotter's way,
Skulking to on some settler fly,
And scalp him ere he'd time to die.
"Throw if you dare!" aloud he cried,
And slid down at his donkey's side.
At this he saw the savage stare,
And forthwith threw his coat off there.
With club in hand, the first he found,
Then on the foe at one great bound
He flew, and hard began to pound;
When thus a broad-brimmed vender fat,
Began to interview the spat:
"Vat vas yer dun, yer grazy ding;
Schoost schtop, yer petter don't py jing!
Schoost vat yer broke my zine mit, aye,
Eh! petter yer don't, yer go avay!"

"Well!" Solon thought, "If this is town,
I'll give you leave to knock me down
If I ain't lost; no, this ain't me,
No, town ain't what it seems to be,
Yes, here I am, and this is me,
But town 's not what it seems to be!"

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