Little Mandy’s Christmas Tree
by James Whitcomb Riley
LITTLE Mandy and her Ma
‘S porest folks you ever saw!–
Lived in porest house in town.
Where the fence ‘uz all tore down.
And no front-door steps at all–
Ist a’ old box ‘g’inst the wall;
And no door-knob on the door
Outside. My! but they ‘uz pore!
Wuz no winder-shutters on,
And some of the winders gone,
And where they ‘uz broke they’d pas’e
Ist brown paper ‘crost the place.
Tell you! when it’s winter there,
And the snow ist ever’where,
Little Mandy’s Ma she say
‘Spec’ they’ll freeze to death some day.
Wunst my Ma and me–when we
Be’n to church, and’s goin’ to be
Chris’mus purty soon,–we went
There–like the Committee sent
And-sir! when we’re in the door,
Wuz no carpet on the floor,
And no fire–and heels-and-head
Little Mandy’s tucked in bed!
And her Ma telled my Ma she
Got no coffee but ist tea,
And fried mush–and’s all they had
Sence her health broke down so bad.
Nen Ma hug and hold me where
Little Mandy’s layin’ there;
And she kiss her, too, and nen
Mandy kiss my Ma again.
And my Ma she telled her we
Goin’ to have a Chris’mus-Tree,
At the Sund’y School, ‘at’s fer
ALL the childern, and fer her.
Little Mandy think–nen she
Say, “What is a Chris’mus-Tree?” . . .
Nen my Ma she gived her Ma
Somepin’ ‘at I never saw,
And say she must take it,–and
She ist maked her keep her hand
Wite close shut,–and nen she kiss
Her hand–shut ist like it is.
Nen we comed away. . . . And nen
When it’s Chris’mus Eve again,
And all of us childerns be
At the Church and Chris’mus-Tree,–
And all git our toys and things
‘At old Santy Claus he brings
And puts on the Tree;–wite where
The big Tree ‘uz standin’ there,
And the things ‘uz all tooked down,
And the childerns, all in town,
Got their presents–nen we see
They’s a little Chris’mus-Tree
Wite behind the big Tree–so
We can’t see till nen, you know,–
And it’s all ist loaded down
With the purtiest things in town!
And the teacher smile and say:
“This-here Tree ‘at’s hid away
It’s marked ‘Little Mandy’s Tree.’
Little Mandy! Where is she?”
Nen nobody say a word.–
Stillest place you ever heard!–
Till a man tiptoe up where
Teacher’s still a-waitin’ there.
Nen the man he whispers, so
Ist the Teacher hears, you know.
Nen he tiptoe back and go
Out the big door–ist as slow!
Little Mandy, though, she don’t
Answer–and Ma say “she won’t
Never, though each year they’ll be
‘Little Mandy’s Chris’mus-Tree’
Fer pore childern”–my Ma says–
And Committee say they guess
“Little Mandy’s Tree” ‘ull be
Bigger nan the other Tree