James Edwin Campbell

Linkum

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You axin' sah 'bout Linkum -- w'y sho'ly youse been tol'
'Bout my po' chil -- Gawd bless him -- he died when ten yeahs ol'.
He was ouah younges' baby, you 'min's him wen ur tot,
Ur crawlin' in de ashes an' ebbry blessed spot.
He wuz de sma'tes' baby, an' we des lub him so --
Hit tuk urway de sunshine wen Linkum hed ter go.
W'y, ebberybuddy lub him -- de w'ite folks an' de black',
He so perlitely mannahed -- he gempman, dats ur fac'.
Fur chile kin be ur gempman ez well ez folks dat's grown,
An' hit was so wid Linkum, hit des bred in de bone.
Yit spite ob all his goodness he wa'n' no stupid chile --
He 'roun de house ur singin' an' whis'lin all de w'ile.
An' saiks how he could whis'le! No red bu'd sing so cl'ar;
He could des morck ur pa'tridge twel pa'tridge come right dar.
I nebber hyuh de red bu'd ur pa'tridge wen dey call,
'Less den I t'inks 'bout Linkum -- his song, his larf an' all --
Ur 'scuse dese teahs now honey, some how dey's 'bleged ter come
W'en I tinks 'bout my baby. Up dar you see his drum.
I brung hit from Pint Gladness de Chris'mas 'fo' he died.
Lawd, how he uster thump it, ur ma'chin' full ob pride!
Er-wut urbout his def, sah? I begs yo' pa'don, sah,
Ise back dar wid my baby, ur ma'chin' too I clah.
You see Mis' Bradley hiah'd him ter do de cho's an' sech --
She lib in dat fine buildin', de naix one ter de Che'ch.
Her husban' he de doctah, an' mighty fine dey say;
Dey on'y hab one baby -- dey call her Helen Fay;
Dey t'ink so much de baby -- ob co'se, de on'y chile;
She pu'ty ez ur picchah -- her eyes des full ob smile.
She all time foll'n Linkum, des ebberywhar he go,
De chile des lub de po' chile -- yes sah, dat sutny so.
One day her mammy leab her, ur sleepin' fars' an' soun',
An' in de cyar ob Linkum, while she wen' vis'tin' 'roun'.
W'ile Linkum sottin' watchin' de baby sleepin' fars'
He hyu'd de sweetes' music -- Ur ban' wus ma'chin' pars'.
He hyu'd de ho'ns, de cym'uls, de boomin big bass drum --
He knowed des in a minit de minst'ul show done come.
An' closah, closah, closah, de music seemed ter come,
An' loudah, loudah, loudah, he hyu'd de big bass drum!
De chile furgot de baby an' wo't Mis' Bradley said,
He crazy wid dat music ur playin' in his head.
So out de do' wen' Linkum lak wings wuz on his feet --
Lak race hoss on de home stretch ur flyin' down de street.
Gawd knows he couldn' holp it -- de music set him wil';
Hit allus so wid Linkum -- he des de stranges' chile.


De fiah bells wuz janglin', de crowd wus rushin' roun',
De smoke hed filled de sta'rway -- hit druv de bes' man down.
De women all wuz screamin', an' men ur shoutin' loud,
W'en lak ur flash ob lightnin' ur boy to' froo de crowd.
Right up de blazin' sta'rway; right froo de smoke an' flame,
Arter dat sleepin' baby -- He put dem men ter shame!
He wropped her in ur blankit an' down de blazin' sta'r
He brung dat blessed baby widout ur flame teched ha'r!
Out ob dat fi'ry fu'nace like Hebrew chillen t'ree,
Whose comperny wus Jesus, dat ol' King 'Rius see!
Out ob de flames dat sco'ched him -- out ob de stranglin' smoke,
Urdown de flame-wropped sta'rway dat 'neaf de bu'nt feet broke!
Out ob de flames ob Hell-fiah in ter de sweet, pyo' a'r
My po' chile brung de baby, an' fallin', drapped her dar!
He on'y des lib one houah -- he call me ter de bed --
"I-ort'n'-gone-de-music" an' my po' chile wuz dead!
Ober dar am his grabe, sah; Mis' Bradley buy de stone
Ter put up ober Linkum -- Miss Helen, now mos' grown,
She had dem cut dese lettahs on de stone 'bove his grabe:
"de one dat sabed all udders, hisse'f he couldn't sabe."

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James Edwin Campbell