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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Joaquin (Cincinnatus Hiner) Miller (1837–1913)

That Gentleman from Boston

An Idyl of Oregon

From “Complete Poetical Works”

TWO noble brothers loved a fair

Young lady, rich and good to see;

And oh, her black abundant hair!

And oh, her wondrous witchery!

Her father kept a cattle-farm,

These brothers kept her safe from harm.

From harm of cattle on the hill;

From thick-necked bulls loud bellowing

The livelong morning, long and shrill,

And lashing sides like anything!

From roaring bulls that tossed the sand

And pawed the lilies of the land.

There came a third young man. He came

From far and famous Boston town.

He was not handsome, was not “game,”

But he could “cook a goose” as brown

As any man that set foot on

The mist-kissed shores of Oregon.

This Boston man he taught the school,

Taught gentleness and love alway;

Said love and kindness, as a rule,

Would ultimately “make it pay.”

He was so gentle, kind, that he

Could make a noun and verb agree.

So when, one day, these brothers grew

All jealous and did strip to fight,

He gently stood between the two,

And meekly told them ’twas not right.

“I have a higher, better plan,”

Outspake this gentle Boston man.

“My plan is this: Forget this fray

About that lily hand of hers;

Go, take your guns and hunt all day

High up yon lofty hill of firs,

And while you hunt, my ruffled doves,

Why, I will learn which one she loves.”

The brothers sat the windy hill;

Their hair shone yellow, like spun gold;

Their rifles crossed their laps, but still

They sat and sighed and shook with cold.

Their hearts lay bleeding far below;

Above them gleamed white peaks of snow.

Their hounds lay crouching, slim and neat,

A spotted circle in the grass.

The valley lay beneath their feet;

They heard the wide-winged eagles pass.

Two eagles cleft the clouds above;

Yet what could they but sigh and love?

“If I could die,” the elder sighed,

“My dear young brother here might wed.”

“Oh, would to Heaven I had died!”

The younger sighed with bended head.

Then each looked each full in the face,

And each sprang up and stood in place.

“If I could die”—the elder spake—

“Die by your hand, the world would say

’Twas accident; and for her sake,

Dear brother, be it so, I pray.”

“Not that!” the younger nobly said;

Then tossed his gun and turned his head.

And fifty paces back he paced!

And as he paced he drew the ball;

Then sudden stopped and wheeled and faced

His brother to the death and fall!

Two shots rang wild upon the air:

But lo! the two stood harmless there!

Two eagles poised high in the air;

Far, far below the bellowing

Of bullocks ceased, and everywhere

Vast silence sat all questioning.

The spotted hounds ran circling round,

Their red, wet noses to the ground.

And now each brother came to know

That each had drawn the deadly ball;

And for that fair girl far below

Had sought in vain to silent fall.

And then the two did gladly “shake,”

And thus the elder bravely spake:

“Now let us run right hastily

And tell the kind schoolmaster all.

Yea, yea! and if she choose not me,

But all on you her favors fall,

This valiant scene, till all life ends,

Dear brother, binds us best of friends.”

The hounds sped down, a spotted line;

The bulls in tall abundant grass

Shook back their horns from bloom and vine,

And trumpeted to see them pass—

They loved so good, they loved so true,

These brothers scarce knew what to do.

They sought the kind schoolmaster out

As swift as sweeps the light of morn;

They could but love, they could not doubt

This man so gentle, “in a horn.”

They cried: “Now whose the lily hand—

That lady’s of this emer’ld land?”

They bowed before that big-nosed man,

That long-nosed man from Boston town;

They talked as only lovers can—

They talked, but he would only frown;

And still they talked and still they plead;

It was as pleading with the dead.

At last this Boston man did speak:

“Her father has a thousand ceows,

An hundred bulls, all fat and sleek;

He also had this ample heouse.”

The brothers’ eyes stuck out thereat

So far you might have hung your hat.

“I liked the looks of this big heouse—

My lovely boys, won’t you come in?

Her father had a thousand ceows—

He also had a heap o’ tin.

The guirl? Oh, yes, the guirl, you see—

The guirl, this morning married me.”