Pieces People Ask For/The Mississippi Miracle

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I's let up on preachin'. I's truly
De Rev'rind Dick Wilkins, D.D.;
I know I heerd Gabr'el a-callin',
An' thought he was callin' on me:
"You Wilkins, go preach me de gospel!"
Dat, sah, was de way dat he went;
But now, sah, I's mightily jubous
'Twas some oder Wilkins he meant.

Yes, sah, dat ar matter you knows of
Has cleaned me plumb out of my grace.
What! ain't nebber heard of it? Nebbah?
Seed nobody in from de place?
Den set down an' listen; and when, sah,
I's tol' you de mizable tale,
You'll 'low dat religion, out ou' way,
Is mighty low down in de scale.

I started to work wid good prospects:
My field, you mought call it, was good;
I tried fur to keep up de fences,
An' worked it de best 'at I could;
De site wuzn't much fur to brag on;
'Twas mos'ly clay gullies an' sand;
But de craps, in de way ob collections,
Wuz good fur dat 'scription ob land.

Well, sah, we got up a revival,
To last a consid'able while,
An' 'greed, as we's gwine fur to hab it,
'Twas best fur to hab it in style.

We started her goin' at sun-up,
An' kep' her a-bilin' till night,
When forty-odd mo'nahs wuz shoutin',
An' forty more cornin' in sight.

Des den it come into my min', sah,
To gib dem ar niggahs a trile;
An' so I riz up, an' I says, sah,—
I says, with a beautiful smile :
"My Men's, I'm a-gwine to propose you
A small, onsignincant test,
To proobe—out ob all ob de virtues—
Which ob you has charity best.

"Now, hush up a minnit! I'll tell you,
An' den you kin go on an' shout.
De short ob de mattah is: Friday
My barrel ob whiskey gub out;
It happens, too, des at dis moment,
I hasn't de money to buy:
An' so I proposes to you all,
Dat you shill make up de supply.

"To-morrow I'll hab me a barrel
A-settin' out dar on the bluff,
An' eb'ry good Christian's expected
To fotch 'long a pint o' good stuff.
So I'll git my barrel ob whiskey,
An you'll git the feeling dat you
Is got charity down till you're ekal
To gibbin' de debbil his due."

Nes' mohnin', sah, dar wuz de barrel;
An' eb'ry man fotched up a flask,
An' put de neck down in de bunghole,
An' emptied it into de cask.
I thought 'at I'd try how it swallowed,
An' held a gourd under the spout,
An' den gib a turn on de fossit—
When nuffin but water come out !

"A miracle!" shouted de sistahs.
"A miracle nuffin!" says I;
"I see froo de mattah,—it's easy
To tell you des how it come by:
Each man fotched a bottle ob water,
An' thought, when de cask wuz complete,
By eb'ry one else bringin' whiskey,
Nobody would notice de cheat."

Dat sort o' broke up the revival —
An' raly I think it wuz time,
Wid all de head brudders convicted
Ob such a contemptible crime.
Dey isn't no good in purfeshins;
Dat's one thing I hope 'at you sees —
But, sah, it's so late I mus' leab you
To pick out what moral you please.

Irwin Russell.