The Heathen Chinee

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The Heathen Chinee
by Bret Harte
Originally published as "Plain Language from Truthful James" in Overland Monthly, September 1870. See The Heathen Chinee.

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.