Reference > Anthologies > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library > Verse

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Plain Language from Truthful James
By Bret Harte (1836–1902)
Table Mountain

From the Overland Monthly

    WHICH I wish to remark,
      And my language is plain,
    That for ways that are dark,
      And for tricks that are vain,
The heathen Chinee is peculiar,        5
  Which the same I would rise to explain.
    Ah Sin was his name;
      And I shall not deny,
    In regard to the same,
      What that name might imply;        10
But his smile it was pensive and childlike,
  As I frequent remarked to Bill Nye.
    It was August the third,
      And quite soft was the skies;
    Which it might be inferred        15
      That Ah Sin was likewise;
Yet he played it that day upon William
  And me in a way I despise.
    Which we had a small game,
      And Ah Sin took a hand;        20
    It was euchre: the same
      He did not understand;
But he smiled as he sat by the table
  With a smile that was childlike and bland.
    Yet the cards they were stocked        25
      In a way that I grieve,
    And my feelings were shocked
      At the state of Nye’s sleeve,
Which was stuffed full of aces and bowers,
  And the same with intent to deceive.        30
    But the hands that were played
      By that heathen Chinee,
    And the points that he made,
      Were quite frightful to see—
Till at last he put down a right bower,        35
  Which the same Nye had dealt unto me.
    Then I looked up at Nye,
      And he gazed upon me;
    And he rose with a sigh,
      And said, “Can this be?        40
We are ruined by Chinese cheap labor—”
  And he went for that heathen Chinee.
    In the scene that ensued
      I did not take a hand,
    But the floor it was strewed        45
      Like the leaves on the strand
With the cards that Ah Sin had been hiding,
  In the game “he did not understand.”
    In his sleeves, which were long,
      He had twenty-four packs,—        50
    Which was coming it strong,
      Yet I state but the facts;
And we found on his nails, which were taper,
  What is frequent in tapers—that’s wax.
    Which is why I remark,        55
      And my language is plain,
    That for ways that are dark
      And for tricks that are vain,
The heathen Chinee is peculiar—
  Which the same I am free to maintain.        60

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