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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

Plain Language from Truthful James

By Bret Harte (1836–1902)


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,

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,

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

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:

It was Euchre. The same

He did not understand;

But he smiled as he sat by the table,

With the smile that was childlike and bland.

Yet the cards they were stocked

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.

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,

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?

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

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,—

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,

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.