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It Came Upon A Midnight Clear

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The Cowboy's Christmas Ball
by William Lawerence Chittenden

Way out in Western Texas,
where the Clear Fork's waters flow
Where the cattle are "a-browzin',"
an' the Spanish ponies grow;
Where the Northers "come a-wistlin'"
from beyond the neutral strip;
And prairie dogs are sneezin',
as if they had "The Grippe";
Where the coyotes come a-howlin'
round the ranches after dark,
And the mocking-birds are singin'
to the lovely "medder lark";
Where the 'possum and the badger,
and rattle-snakes abound,
And the monstrous stars are winkin'
o'er a wilderness profound;
Where the lonesome, tawny prairies
melt into airy streams,
While the Double Mountains slumber,
in heav'nly kinds of dreams;
Where the antelope is grazin'
and the lonely plovers call-
It is there that I attended
"The Cowboys' Christmas Ball."
The town was Anson City,
old Jones county seat,
Where they raise Polled Angus cattle,
and waving whiskered wheat;
Where the air is soft and "balmy,"
an' dry an' full of health,
And prairies is explodin'
with agricultural wealth;
Where they print the Texas Western,
that Hec. McCann supplies,
With news and yarns and stories,
uv most amazin' size;
Where Frank Smith "pulls the badger,"
on knowin' tenderfeet,
And Democracy's triumphant,
and mighty hard to beat;
Where lives that good old hunter,
John Milsap from Lamar,
Who "used to be the Sheriff,
back East, in Paris, sah!"
Twas there, I say, at Anson,
with the lively "widder Wall,"
That I went to that reception,
"The Cowboys' Christmas Ball."
The boys had left the ranches
and come to town in piles;
The ladies- "kinder scatterin"-
had gathered in for miles.
And yet the place was crowded,
as I remember well,
'Twas got for the occasion,
at "The Morning Star Hotel."
The music was a fiddle
an' a lively tamborine,
And a viol came imported,"
by the stage from Abilene.
The room was togged and gorgeous
-with mistletooe and shawls,
And candles flickered frescoes,
around the airy walls.
The "wimmin folks" looked lovely
- the boys looked kinder treed,
Till their leader commenced yellin'
"Whoa! fellers, let's stampede,"
And the music started sighin'
an' a wailin' through the hall,
As a kind of introduction to
"The Cowboys' Christmas Ball."
The leader was a feller
that came from Swenson's Ranch,
They called him "Windy Billy,"
from "little Deadman's Branch."
His rig was kinder keerless,"
big spurs and high heeled boots;
He had the reputation
that comes when "fellers shoots."
His voice was like a bugle
upon the mountain's height;
His feet were animated,
an' a mighty, movin' sight,
When he commenced to holler,
"Now fellers, stake yer pen!
"Lock horns ter all them heifers,
an rassle 'em like men.
"Saloot yer lovely critters;
now swing an' let 'em go,
"Climb the grapevine 'round 'em-
all hands do-ce-do!
"You Mavericks, jine the round-up
Jest skip her waterfall,
"Huh! hit wuz gettin' happy,
"The Cowboys Christmas Ball!"
The boys were tolerable skittish,
the ladies powerful neat,
That ol bass viol's music
just got out there with both feet!
That wailin', frisky fiddle,
I never shall forget;
And Windy kept a singin'-
I think I hear him yet-
"O X es, chase your squirrels,
an' cut 'em to one side
"Spur Treadwell to the center,
with Cross P. Charley's bride,
"Doc Hollis down the middle,
an twine the ladies chain "
Varn Andrew's pen the fillies
in big T Diamonds train.
"All pull yer freight tergerther,
now swallow fork an' change,
"Big Boston' lead the trail herd,
through little Pitchforks' range.
"Purr 'round yer gentle pussies,
now rope 'em! Balance all!"
Huh! hit wuz gettin' active -
"The Cowboys' Christmas Ball!"
The dust riz fast and furious,
we all just galloped 'round,
Till the scenery got so giddy,
that Z Bar Dick was downed.
We buckled to our partners,
an' told 'em to hold on,
Then shook or hoofs like lightning,
until the early dawn.
Don't tell me 'bout cotillions,
or Germans. No sir 'ee!
That whirl at Anson City
just takes the cake with me.
I'm sick of lazy shufflin's,
of them I've had my fill,
Give me a frontier break-down,
backed up by Windy Bill.
McAllister ain't nowhar!
when Windy leads the show,
I've seen 'em both in harness,
and so I sorter know-
Oh, Bill I shan't forget yer,
and I'll oftentimes recall
That lively gaited sworray-
"The Cowboys' Christmas Ball."

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