Nonfiction > Lionel Strachey, et al., eds. > The World’s Wit and Humor > American
The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes.  1906.
Vols. I–V: American
The Elf-Child
By James Whitcomb Riley (1849–1916)
From “Rhymes of Childhood”

LITTLE Orphant Annie’s come to our house to stay,
An’ wash the cups and saucers up, an’ brush the crumbs away,
An’ shoo the chickens off the porch, an’ dust the hearth an’ sweep
An’ make the fire, an’ bake the bread, an’ earn her board an’ keep;
An’ all us other children, when the supper things is done,        5
We set around the kitchen fire an’ has the mostest fun
A-listenin’ to the witch tales ’at Annie tells about,
An’ the Gobble-uns ’at gits you
                        Ef you
                            Don’t        10
Onct they was a little boy who wouldn’t say his prayers—
An’ when he went to bed at night, away up-stairs,
His mammy heerd him holler an’ his daddy heerd him bawl,        15
An’ when they turn’t the kivvers down he wasn’t there at all!
An’ they seeked him in the rafter room an’ cubby-hole an’ press,
An’ seeked him up the chimney-flue, an’ everywheres, I guess,
But all they ever found was thist his pants an’ round-about!—
An’ the Gobble-uns’ll git you        20
                        Ef you
An’ one time a little girl ’ud allus laugh an’ grin,        25
An’ make fun of ever’ one an’ all her blood an’ kin,
An’ onct when they was “company,” an’ old folks was there,
She mocked ’em, an’ shocked ’em, an’ said she didn’t care;
An’ thist as she kicked her heels, an’ turn’t to run an’ hide,
They was two great big Black Things a-standin’ by her side,        30
An’ they snatched her through the ceilin’ ’fore she knowed what she’s about!
An’ the Gobble-uns’ll git you
                        Ef you
                                Watch        35
An’ little Orphant Annie says, when the blaze is blue
An’ the lampwick sputters, an’ the wind goes woo-oo!
An’ you hear the crickets quit, an’ the moon is gray,
An’ the lightnin’-bugs in dew is all squenched away—        40
You better mind yer parents, an’ yer teachers fond an’ dear,
An’ churish them ’at loves you, an’ dry the orphant’s tear,
An’ he’p the pore an’ needy ones ’at clusters all about,
Er the Gobble-uns’ll git you
                        Ef you        45

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