Jim Bludso, of the Praire Belle

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Wall, no! I can't tell whar he lives, Becase he don't live, you see;Leastways, he's got out of the habit Of livin' like you and me.Whar have you been for the last three year That you have n't heard folks tellHow Jimmy Bludso passed in his checks The night of the Prairie Belle?

He were n't no saint, -- them engineers Is all pretty much alike, --One wife in Natchez-under-the-Hill And another one here, in Pike;A keerless man in his talk was Jim, And an awkward hand in a row,But he never flunked, and he never lied, -- I reckon he never knowed how.

And this was all the religion he had, -- To treat his engine well;Never be passed on the river To mind the pilot's bell;And if ever the Prairie Belle took fire, -- A thousand times we swore,He 'd hold her nozzle agin the bank Till the last soul got ashore.

All boats has their day on the Mississip, And her day come as last, --The Movastar was a better boat, But the Belle she would n't be passed.And so she came tearin' along that night -- The oldest craft on the line --With a nigger squat on her safety-valve, And her furnace crammed, rosin and pine.

The fire bust out as she clared the bar, And burnt a hole in the night,And quick as a flash she turned, and made For that willer-bank on the right.There was runnin' and cursin', but Jim yelled out, Over all the infernal roar,."I'll hold her nozzle agin the bank Till the last gallot's ashore.."

Through the hot, black breath of the burnin' boat Jim Bludso's voice was heard,And they all had trust in his cussedness, And knowed he would keep his word.And, sure's you're born, they all got offAfore the smokestacks fell, -- And Bludso's ghost went up aloneIn the smoke of the Prairie Belle.

He were n't no saint, -- but at jedgment I'd run my chance with Jim,'Longside of some pious gentlemen That would n't shook hands with him.He seen his duty, a dead-sure thing, -- And went for it thar and then;And Christ ain't a going to be too hard On a man that died for men.

© John Hay