Nonfiction > Lionel Strachey, et al., eds. > The World’s Wit and Humor > American
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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes.  1906.
Vols. I–V: American
 
John W. Jones
By Holman Francis Day (1865–1935)
 
From “Pine Tree Ballads”

A SORT of a double-breasted face had old John W. Jones,
Reddened and roughened by sun and wind, with angular high cheek-bones.
At the fair, one time, of the Social Guild he received unique renown
By being elected unanimously the homeliest man in town.
The maidens giggled, the women smiled, the men laughed loud and long,        5
And old John W. leaned right back and ho-hawed good and strong.
And never was jest too broad for him—for all of the quip and chaff
That assailed his queer old mug through life he had but a hearty laugh.
“Ho, ho!” he’d snort, “Haw, haw!” he’d roar; “that’s me, my friends, that’s me!
Now hain’t that the most skew-angled phiz that ever ye chanced to see?”        10
And then he would tell us this little tale. “’Twas one dark night,” said he,
“I was driving along in a piece of woods, and there wasn’t a ray to see,
And all to once my cart locked wheels with another old chap’s cart;
We gee-ed and backed, but we hung there fast, and neither of us could start.
Then the stranger man he struck a match, to see how he’d git away,        15
And I vum, he had the homeliest face I’ve seen for many a day.
Wal, jest for a joke I grabbed his throat and pulled my pipe-case out,
And the stranger reckoned I had a gun, and he wrassled good and stout.
But I got him down on his back at last and straddled acrost his chest,
And allowed to him that he’d better plan to go to his last long rest.        20
He gasped and groaned he was poor and old and hadn’t a blessed cent,
And almost blubbering asked to know what under the sun I meant.
Said I, ‘I’ve sworn if I meet a man that’s homelier’n what I be,
I’ll kill him. I reckin I’ve got the man.’ Says he, ‘Please let me see?’
So I loosened a bit while he struck a match; he held it with trembling hand,        25
While through the tears in his poor old eyes my cross-piled face he scanned.
Then he dropped the match, and he groaned and said, ‘If truly ye think that I
Am ha’f as homely as what you be, please shoot! I want to die.’”
 
 
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