Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
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Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
 
Bess
By Orrick Johns
 
THE COLLIE girl had the sense bred out of her,
  But she had head and nose and points enough
  To make her a queen, a fine queen with a ruff
Of satin and gold, you’d say, instead of fur.
 
She didn’t deserve, no doubt, the hate she got—        5
  She was so shy she’d keep for whole days hid.
  Folks wanted a dog to do better than she did,
And thought it stubborn ungrateful, like as not.
 
Dede Graf, the new man, set himself to feed
  And win her, and thought he’d keep her in the shed;        10
  “Somebody’s skeert her,” he’d say and wag his head.
He’d no more luck than others had, had Dede.
 
Until the poor, lonesome, howling girl got big,
  And no doubt dreamful of her pups to come.
  One night she crept up shivering and dumb,        15
And he saw her crouching underneath the rig.
 
Lord, when he’d touched her once she was like a child!
  She’d cry and laugh together for the fun
  Of feeling his hand on her, and then she’d run
Like a curled streak of gold, that made him wild!        20
 
Before the pups came he had her at his call,
  And other folk grew soft to her a bit.
  She was a beauty, that was all of it,
And Dede was envied while the dogs were small.
 
She weaned them, and two died and the rest were given;        25
  And Bess got offish as she was before.
  Deed lured and wheedled and shook his fist and swore—
His talk was somewhat strong when he was driven.
 
It went on that way for three years about.
  She’d come to him and be a little saint,        30
  Having her young; and then the crazy taint
Would get her when the young ones were turned out.
 
Dede was a Job for patience, and no less,
  When she’d go shy again. He’d curse her leather,
  Then at the sight of her like a tawny feather        35
Off in the field, he’d whine, “Hyuh, Bess!—come, Bess!”
 
He must have got to know her … When she died—
  The fellow was five-foot-ten and like an ox;
  Fearful to see too; pitted by smallpox—
Well, he broke up for days that time, and cried.        40
 
 
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