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            (Based on the Writings and Poetry of
                    James Whitcomb Riley)
           Primary Illustrations by STEVEN CARROLL
                    ISBN: 1-887495-09-6
       Copyright, 1998,  Thomas Earl Quitman Williams
     Annie was left off at the Riley house by her uncle,
a thin, round-shouldered man with deep eyes and cheeks and a
weedy looking beard.  He pulled up at the Riley home seated
on a board laid over a 
country wagon pulled by
a horse with steaming 
flanks. The uncle 
whistled a cheery 
tune. Soon he wouldn't 
have to be responsible 
for his wild-eyed niece
dressed in black. Annie
wore black because she 
was an orphan and had to go to
work for her own board and 
keep. Annie stuck close beside the 
uncle on the wagon seat when Bud first saw her. She was chewing a straw 
and nodding her head in talk to herself. She was really talking to her 
mother. Annie liked to keep in contact with her mother "in the Good 
World" to tell her how things were going. Annie's mother died 
when Annie was a baby and her father died when Annie was ten.
     It was a raw, bleak day in early winter when Annie came.
The ice got chopped up and turned into mud on the road. The
uncle carried the blue-lipped and red-nosed teenaged girl
over the muddy wagon-wheel tracks to the porch of the Riley
home in his arms like she was country produce. That's how
Annie came to live with the Rileys. 
     Greenfield, Indiana, was the town where all this
happened. It lay astride a boggy migration route called "The
National Road." This was a road traveled by homesteaders
going out to the newly opened lands of the American West or
California. Fast to the east of Greenfield was a marshy creek
area and to the west was an infamous Black Swamp where
robbers were said to await the stagecoaches that passed
through town.
     The Hoosier frontier itself was a land of neighborly
love and hard work. Lately, the effort paid off and the
countryside around Greenfield was filled with crop lands
where the "cradlings" or harvestings were rich.
     The town itself was a bustling road stop with sugar trees
and sweet-smelling locusts. There were also many giant trees
left standing when the settlement was cut from the ancient
forests of the American mid-continent.
    It didn't matter that Annie came to the Riley's semi-
wild.  No one much stood on manners on the frontier. Customs
weren't settled. The pioneer Hoosier people were a blend of
many stocks and homeplaces. There was a neighbor from the
Carolinas next to another from Pennsylvania. What was
important was that people were friendly, robust and active.
                    ANNIE GETS ACQUAINTED
     When Annie came into the house, Bud as1ed her name.
Folding the slender arms tightly across her chest and tilting
her face back and forth proudly, she exclaimed, "Why, Annie
is my name - that's who Annie is! And another thing, Annie is
promised to David - Mason- Jeffries.  He is my Dave all
right." She spoke with
a thin, mysterious voice
and accented every word 
with a sweet and eery
solemn earnestness.
    Bud and the children 
shrank back. "Who's 
Dave?" Bud
     The elfish girl 
straightened haughtily.
     "Who's Dave?" she asked 
incredulously. "Why, Dave's a
great big boy! Dave works on
Barnes's place. He can pretty nearly make a full hand, too. Dave's 
as tall as your pap! He's grown up - Dave is! And his name is - David - 
Mason-Jeffries," she continued, jauntily teetering her head from
left to right, and modulating her sounds whenever she said the magic 
name, David - Mason- Jeffries.
     Later at night near bedtime Bud took Annie up the winding stairway 
in the front hall to her sleeping place at the head of the back stairs.
The curving hand-built front
stairs made Annie laugh and laugh.
     When it was bedtime, Annie
wouldn't go to sleep back in her
alcove for anything!  She
kept returning to the front
hall and going up and down those
front stairsteps a hundred
times - must have - talking 
and whispering to herself.  
Once in a while she stopped and 
nestled down on a step and placed
her face close against one of the steps and then went to another and
patted each softly with her slender hand.
     Bud couldn't go to sleep with hearing this strange girl's doings so 
he got out of bed to go see. "Hey!" he said. "What are you doing."
     Annie replied, "Did you know there's a fairy lives under each one 
of the steps?"
     "What?" Bud wanted to know. "No such thing," Bud said.
     "Yes there is!" Annie said. "How do you think I know
about them if there weren't any such thing?"
     "What do they do?" Bud wanted to know.
     "Well, you like to dream when you go to sleep don't
     "Well, fairies are the ones that bring you dreams...
good ones that is. That's their main job."
     Then Annie put her ear close to the step. "This one's
named Clarabell. She says to me she's glad she ain't an
orphan like I am so she don't have to wash the cups and
saucers up and brush the crumbs away."
     Bud objected.  "She didn't say that!"
     "Oh yes she did," Annie said softly going to the next
     "Is there a fairy under that step too?" Bud wanted
to know.
     "Yes," Annie said, "Her name is Annabell. She says to
leave her alone for she's thinking of the green leaves of the
summer and wants to nod off."
     "What about the next one?" Bud asked.
     "Her name is Florabell and she wants me to tell you
a secret."
     "What is it?"
     "She says you got another name you never heard of.
She says your real name is Nibsey."
     "No, I'm Bud!!!"
     "Not to the fairies you're not," Annie insisted. "They
say that Bud's an awful funny name. But your real name is
Nibsey! They're spunky to tell you that. Why you thought your
name was Bud I bet."
     Then Annie laughed that squeaky laugh of hers sounding
rather like a rusty gate hinge.
     "Now they're saying we got to go to bed or they'll kick
us hard as they can.  Oh, wait a minute," she added.
"Glorybell and Betsybell are saying we better never try to
catch them in our hands because the last ones that did
squeezed `em too hard and got their wings all crumpled and
most turned them into sqeezics's for sure. Squeezics's are
fairies that can't fly anymore you know."
    "Can't we talk to `em some more?" Bud wanted to know.
    "No, they got to get up real early to peel off snowflakes
for the cloud people so it can snow tomorry," Annie said.
"You ever look at the snowflakes?" she added. "They're real
hard to whittle and it takes the fairies ever so long to get
them lookin' right."
        And she led Bud off to his bed before going to her
back upstairs landing where the straw mat was laid out on the
floor for her to sleep on.
                       THE RAGGEDY MAN
     Bud had another friend as a young man. His name was
Wes Gray but everyone called him the raggedy man. He didn't care 
because he knew no one 
called him that to be mean. The 
name described him you know.
    The raggedy man's clothes
were raggedy because no one
took care of him anymore since 
he was grown up. He was an old
boy now - about eighteen - and 
he lived wherever he wanted
to. He was so old now that he
had a man's beard on him come
recently that framed his nice
gentle face that never knew a
frown. He was thin but had 
muscles from tossing hay bales around. He had merry brown eyes and 
never wore a hat but instead had long brown hair down to the nape of 
his neck to keep his head warm.
     The raggedy man was really hardly come off being a boy,
but he was a man too because he had to take on chores men do.
He didn't live with the Rileys. He just came to work there.
He milked the cows and cleaned out stalls. Another one of his
daily jobs was to split the kindling and chop the wood.  He
also watered the horses and fed them hay and lots of other
chores that boys can't do.
     Every now and then he did stay overnight. One time was
not long after Annie came when Bud's father had to go away to
Indianapolis. The raggedy man stayed to make sure the Riley's
were safe from tramps and vagabonds. Bud's father, Reuben
Riley, was a lawyer and an important man of the town.  This
time he was away he was acting as an Elector for Abraham
Lincoln and had to go to Indianapolis in December, 1860. He
voted Hoosier votes of his part of Indiana for Abraham
Lincoln for President. Times looked ominous because of that
presidential election all over the United States and what had
to be done to make sure America got rid of slavery.
     This was the first time Bud learned about the
squidgicum-squeezes that swallow themselves at night.  The
raggedy man told him all about them while Annie was in the
room too and the children were all fidgety about going to
sleep without their father there. The raggedy man said if
they went to bed the squidgicum squeezes wouldn't get them.
The problem with the squidgicum and little boys is when the
little boys are too close around when the squidgicum
"swallers" at night - who knows where -sometimes it "swallers
little boys up with itself." Then he laughed and patted Bud's
head with his firm calloused hand.  His laugh was deep and
     He and Annie had a lot in common those two did.  They
both made up things. The raggedy man sure seemed restless
around Annie too.
     The raggedy man seemed to like to be in Annie's company
an awful lot. He said he felt thunder and lightning close by
when he was with Annie.
     Bud went out to help the raggedy man do his choppin'
and sorting the next morning. After awhile out came Annie
with a pair of Bud's father's old pants. Next thing you know
Annie had the raggedy man measure Bud. Next thing the raggedy
man chopped off the legs of those pants with his ax until the
"legs" were the size of Bud. Bud didn't know the raggedy man
was a tailor too!  Then Annie took up sewing. A few stitches
later, and Bud had church pants better'n half the boys in the
     When Annie fed the chickens, she was a queen, she said,
throwing gold to the peasants.
    Bud followed her 
out in the yard to watch the 
queen at work one day.
     "I'm mighty glad to 
come live here in this house," 
Annie said.
     Bud asked her why.
     "Oh, cause, Uncle John 
nor Aunt Cora don't live here
mainly. Also when they ever 
come here to get their dinners,
like they will if you don't 
watch out, why, then I can slip
out - that's why!"
     Bud asked her where her 
home was and what it was like, and why she didn't like her Uncle 
John and Aunt Cora. Wouldn't she even like to visit them?
     "Oh, yes," she answered to the last question. "I'll want
to go back there lots o' times.  But not to see them! I'll
only go back there to see David - Mason - Jeffries. He's the
boy for me!" And then she clapped her hands again and laughed
in that half-hysterical musical way of hers.
     "But remember one thing," Annie said. "After I've been
in this house a long, long time, and you all gets so you like
me awful, awful, awful well, then some day you'll go in this
room there, and that room there, and in the kitchen, and out
on the porch, and down the cellar, and out in the smoke-
house, and the wood-house, and the loft, and all around - oh!
every place! - and in here and up the stairs, and all the
rooms up there.  And you'll look behind all the doors, and in
all the cupboards, and under all the beds, and then you'll
look sorry-like, and holler out, kind o' scared, and you'll
say, `Where is Annie?' And then you'll wait and listen and
hold your breath, and then something'll holler back, away far
off, and say, `Oh, she has gone home!' And then everything'll
be all still again, and you'll be afraid to holler any more,
and you won't play, and you can't laugh, and your throat'll
just hurt and hurt, like you been eating too much calamus-
root or something."
     What she meant by this strange prophesy Bud didn't know.
But it sounded like a disaster awaiting around some shadowy
corner of the future.
     Sister Elva May didn't have good health that winter. It
seemed like she was always down with something.
     Once when mother went to relatives and left Elva May at
home, Annie dressed
the little girl in 
mother's finest clothes - 
her black grow-grain silk 
and sealskin-sack. Then
they flounced around the 
house inviting this chair 
and that for tea until
someone knocked at the door
and it turned out to be 
the Queen of Tentoleena 
Land. The way Annie knew
it was from her parasol. 
Elva May had to get over 
being sick to meet
the Queen.
     After the Queen waltzed 
in, she took her seat.  Or else in everyone thought she did cause she 
was the Queen of Invisibility for a kingdom.  None of her subjects 
could see her to know if they were being watched or not. If she saw you
doing bad, watch out. She would take your heart out and patch
it with rags sewn tight in thistle-thread.
     Even the raggedy man came in for some of Annie's tea.
The truth is the raggedy man liked to be around Annie an
awful lot.
     Then Elva May wanted to wear Annie's hat she brought
with her to the Riley's. After Elva May brought it back from
Annie's alcove, Annie grabbed it violently.  "Don't you have
that.  Dave gimme that!" she said "Mustn't get it mussed up,
NO SIR! or you'll have Dave in your wool."
     Then the Queen excused herself and so did Elva May and
     The raggedy man winked at us when everyone left.
     He kinda liked to be with Annie without us or the
Queen of Tentoleena there.
     When Annie did her chores, she loved to talk to herself
and when she did numberless characters of her imagination
  would creep in and 
join the discussion 
until the dishes
clashed and clanged 
in the washing and 
glistening cups and
saucers emerged.
     Taking the dishes 
into the kitchen pantry 
to put them away Annie 
was leading a band in an 
imaginary procession
whistling a fife-tune 
fit to stir every patriot's blood.
     Returning from the pantry she 
was a locomotive railroad engine choo chooing and shuffling her feet 
or playing with her fingers on the keys of an imaginary portable piano.
     One day after dinner when it got dark out early like it
does in the Hoosier winter and the skies looked troubled, Bud
stayed closer to her than usual.
     "What will I do when I'm grown up?" Bud asked Annie.
     "How about being a lawyer like your pa?" Annie said.
     "Maybe," Bud said.
     "Or how about being a raggedy man?"
     "I'd like that most of all!" Bud answered.
     "Whatever it is going to be will be," Annie said. "What
folks are comes out from how God writes their life up to be
in the life storybook. But it's not for us to worry about."
Then she said, "Bud, did you know that moon up there is a
real big custard pie?" Then she giggled.  "How can you worry
about what you'll be when the sky has a custard pie in it.
You betcha," she added.  "I'll tell you lots of stuff you
never heard tell of."
    "Like what?" Bud asked.
    "Well, let's see." Then she sat with him and looked out
the windows some more. "See those clouds up there hiding the
moon. They are cream poured over the moon and the stars...
They're its powdered sugar."
     Bud's imagination was picking up speed being with this
Elf Child. Annie seemed to know it and patted the eleven-year
old boy's blond head.  Then she bore her finger circling on
his skull and played like she was going to stick something
inside his brain.
     "Some day you will be a great poet, too!"
     Annie was just one of the visitors at the Riley house
in the coming months.
     Grandma Marine made her New Year's Eve visit to see the
New Year in. She didn't like to be happy and jokes couldn't
be told around her. All you could talk about was the weather
and the frost or the snow that would soon be piling up
dangerously.  This was said only between her coughs and
reminders that she would soon be dropping off.
     Annie warned Bud not to say anything or laugh or grin
at her and if he did have bad manners the goblins would
get him for sure.
     After dinner, when Grandma Marine went to bed, Annie
told one of her riddles to Bud and the kids. She loved
riddles. Annie even liked to out-riddle herself. She would
think of the most intricate riddles-some ridiculous -and then
laugh like a ding dong bell when she acted like she couldn't
figure the answers.  Here was one of Annie's riddles she told
that night.
          Riddle-cum, riddle-cum right!
          Where was I last Saturday night?
          The winds blow - the boughs did shake -
          I saw the hole a fox did make!"
     None of the children guessed it so Annie said, "You
can't guess anything!" She went on to explain a man named Fox
killed his wife and chopped her head off. A man named Wright
came across the scene where the man was at work burying the
dead woman with a pickax and spade. So this fellow Wright
went and told the sheriff the riddle and after the law
figured it out they arrested the man and hung him from the
same tree he buried his wife under."
     Other visitors came. Annie was right about her Uncle
John and Aunt Cora's visits. Many times they "jest dropped
in" about dinner time "to see how the Rileys was a-gittin' on
with Annie." And once in "court week" Uncle John came to stay
so he could "clear his name" about something or other.
     The Spring of 1861 came fast on the winter. Green grass
started sprouting and daffodils stirred out of the ground.
Bud loved the time of year when green took over the color of
the Hoosier settlement after the brown lull of the winter.
     With the coming of Spring came the time for the raggedy
man to spade up the garden. Annie liked to be outside too and
had the Riley children lean down to listen to hear the
lilies-of-the-valley chime. She could hear them. They were
musical and sounded like baby silver bells.
     But this Spring was different. The folk of the log
cabins in the frontier Hoosier settlement of Greenfield,
Indiana churned with excitement.
     War was breaking out! The South of the United States
wanted to split off from the North to keep slavery legal.
     Even the home of the boy named Bud was caught up in the
     Then very bad news came from the South.  Soldiers from
South Carolina attacked the United States Fort Sumter on
April 12th out in the harbor of Charleston. By the next
afternoon thousands of rounds of artillery blew apart the
defenses of the fort. The United States soldiers were forced
to surrender to the soldiers of a slave state government.
Thus began the bloody American Civil War to restore the Union
and save the United States.
     At the very outbreak of war, the newspaper in Bud's
hometown of Greenfield printed this article.
     "Attention Fellow Citizens!  Reuben A. Riley, Esq., is
making an effort, with the assurance of success, to recruit a
company to represent old Hancock in the struggle for the
maintenance of law.  We hope that he will be as successful in
the field as in the forum."
     Now Bud's father went around the county with a fife-and-
drum corps to enroll the frontier boys to join the Indiana
militia.  Soon Bud learned his father got a Captain's
commission from his friend, Governor Oliver P. Morton.
     When Reuben went recruiting, the barefooted boys scooted
up the street or scurried under sheltering sheds.  Somehow,
now, Bud had an uneasy feeling and didn't enjoy playing so
much under the catawba leaves watching the caterpillars
clinging on or curling up.
     Then came the day Reuben returned home with another
young man riding alongside.
     Annie came out when summoned.
     Riding alongside Reuben Riley was a broad shouldered and
handsome fellow mounted on a great high-stepping horse that
neighed and pranced excitedly as Annie scurried toward him.
     It was David - Mason - Jeffries.
     He had just enlisted in Reuben Riley's company.
     "Whoo-ee!" Annie squealed in perfect ecstasy as David -
Mason - Jeffries scooped her up into his arms and sat her
behind him on his beautiful horse.
     "We'll be back afterwhile, Cap'n," said David - Mason -
Jeffries. "I'm going to show this Annie off around town!"
     As they left in a great cloud of dust, Annie yelled out,
"Clear the tracks. There, old folks, young folks! For Annie
and David - Mason - Jeffries are coming to town!"
     And what a day they had. Annie was in hysterical delight
all of the day. Her heart was too full to beat!  And the rest
of us saw them in their reunion so glad to see each other and
be together that day. Instantly, all of us came to love the
great, strong, round-faced simple natured David - Mason -
Jeffries almost as much as she did.
     All the long delicious day Bud was with him and Annie.
He were permitted to go downtown among the tumult and
patriotic music of the streets. Boys were coming in from the
farms and homesteads all over the county getting ready to go
to war. And happy little Annie.  How proud she was of David -
Mason - Jeffries. How closely and how tenderly through all
that golden day did the strong brown hand of David - Mason -
Jeffries clasp hers.
     All day Annie told Bud in that mysterious way of hers
that David - Mason - Jeffries and she had a secret between
them that no one could guess!"
      It wasn't until she returned to tuck the children in
that night that Bud learned her secret. When David - Mason-
Jeffries came off of his ninety-day service, she was "a-goin'
to marry him for sure!"
                GETTING MARRIED
     There was no accounting for how the news about Annie to
marry David - Mason - Jeffries hit the raggedy man.  Why he
turned white until he looked like a lump of ice.
     Then he started acting crazy and got on his horse. The
mare took to snorting as he mounted and the two took off at a
whizz down the road and then off through a gate in a stake
and ridered fence about a mile away- as everyone heard later
- and then scared up wheat sheaves until they were dancing in
the air.
     What got into him no one knew and he didn't know much
how to explain. That's what he said.  He told us that all he
knew was "he felt like screamin' `Murder' and a-running off
who knows where." Anyway he ended up thrown in a wagon on the
Sipe place with the wagon upside down most on top of him.
And all the time when he was coming to, he kept saying he
"wished he was goin' to die instead of ever wake up."
     We took the raggedy man home with us and Annie did a
thousand little acts of kindness and respect that helped the
raggedy man come around and soon he was "fit as a fiddle"
with her caring for him like she did.
     But what use it was for him to live he recollected to
Bud privately he wasn't sure.
     Upon leaving Greenfield, the women of the town presented
Captain Reuben Riley with a battle flag for his Hancock
County company. They were to carry it before them into battle
to remember the home folks.
     Now Elizabeth Riley waved good-bye to her husband as the
procession of local boys - now soldiers for Abraham Lincoln -
moved out of town.
     Life settled down a little after the Hoosier men of the
county went off to Camp Morton in Indianapolis - at the old
state fairgrounds - to learn to be soldiers. Then
the ninety-day troops left for Virginia by flatcar train.
     While father was gone, the raggedy man put himself a
hammock down from the apple tree to sleep on most nights.
     As the days followed each other, the summer days heated
up and the airy clouds scooted higher in the sky to keep
cool. The hollyhocks were busy with bumble-bee visits.
     But things were changed for Bud with his father gone off
to war.
     The boy was so sad and worried. Bud was sometimes
unwilling and unable to go to sleep. His mother said he was
starting to grow pale and ill.
     Annie found him frowning out by the board fence one day
after his father left for the fighting.
     "Your daddy and my David - Mason - Jeffries will soon
be comin' home," she said.  "Why it's just like they were on
the other side of that highboard fence," she added.
     Bud went over to sit under an ash tree nearby and Annie
joined him.  Bud was so tired from worry about his father
that Annie felt bad herself. She was worried about David -
Mason - Jeffries just as much.
     "Hey, look on top of that fence," Annie said.
     Bud did and shook his head.  "Nothin' there."
     "Close your eyes real fast and then open them and you'll
see them!"
     Bud tried but no luck.
     "Close your eyes and I'll tell you what I see," Annie
      After Bud closed his eyes, Annie reported. "There they
are. Let me count `em." Then she counted to nine. "Yes, there
they are - nine little goblins with green glass eyes and red
hair like flames."
     "Huh!" Bud said.
     "Keep your eyes closed," Annie insisted.
     Then she yelled over at the fence. "Hey! What you
staring at?"
     "Are they staring at us Annie?" Bud wanted to know.
     "Yes, child. Now keep your eyes closed while I get to
the bottom of this."
     Annie called out, "Whatcha doin' over there?" Then she
reported, "The first one is scratchin' his head with a queer
little arm reachin' out of his ear and he told me `This is
what my arm is for!'"
     "What about the second one?" Bud wanted to know.
     "He wants to know how on earth you scratch your head?"
     "Tell him with my hand on my arm," Bud said.
     "He doesn't think anyone with sense would do so," Annie
interpreted. "And now they're all laughin' at you for saying
that til their faces have turned black...Now the one's
thumpin' himself on the back with a fist from his tail to
catch his breath," Annie said.
     "What about the third one?" Bud asked.
     "I don't like lookin' at him," Annie replied.
     "Why?" Bud said thinking about peeking out to find
out for himself.
     "Why he doesn't have lids on his eyes," Annie said
disgustedly. "He's impudent too," she added. "He just clucked
his eye and asked me what is the style of socks this fall."
Then she covered my eyes with her hands. "His hands are where
his feet should be!"
     Bud slipped into Annie's arms. He seemed so tired of
worrying. Maybe Bud wouldn't be thinking such bad thoughts
about his father being away so far or getting shot at by
rebels or such.
     "What else? Annie," Bud wanted to know feeling more
tired all the time.
     "One just took off his eyebrows and pasted them over
his lips for a mustache. Yes, he did. And now he's cryin',
`Would - Ah, would I'd me brows again!'"
     "Tell him to put them back," Bud said yawning.
     "I can't," Annie said. "Now they aren't talkin' like
us at all.  Now they're talkin' in their goo-goo language."
     But by this time, when Annie looked down at the boy, Bud
had just kept his eyes closed for too long. Annie noticed he
was asleep in her arms and let him go on sleeping there in
the tall grass beneath the ash tree.
     Annie was the bravest one of all.
     She never forgot her dreams and fancies, peopling the
woods and streams with fairies and goblins and living a life
of unworldly rustic simplicity. When she told her stories
the pulses of the Riley family lept and their hearts danced.
Even neighbor children came to love her stories seeing them
as well as listening to her tell of them.
     But often Annie added, "When David - Mason -Jeffries
comes home, you will look for Annie in all the rooms.  You
will call for her out in the yard, out in the street, and you
will ask, `Where is Annie?' Then will come the answer from
the twilight. Oh, she has gone home."
     The whole Riley family - except Annie taking care of the
baby and Elva May - gathered when the Postmaster came by and
gave Bud's mother a letter out of his hat for her from Reuben
Riley. It was in late June.
     Most of it was about the progress of the war. Father
wrote that an Ohio officer, George McClellan, was given
personal command of the "three months" federal troops, mainly
Ohio and Indiana militia. Then he divided them and sent his
main troops including the Greenfield men to attack Rich
Mountain in Virginia. Reuben reported his men had to climb a
steep slope under fire but that after a brief engagement the
Confederates retreated down the mountain.  Then came the bad
     David - Mason - Jeffries was a casualty. He would not
be coming home.
     Elizabeth shared the news with the older children of the
family but told them they must not tell Annie about David -
Mason - Jeffries until the time was right.
     Bud was one of the older children that got the news.
     He talked a lot to the raggedy man. While the raggedy
man was hard at work mending a fence, Bud told him the bad
news about Annie's beaux and then told him not to tell.
     The raggedy man dropped what he was doing.  It was
like he was shot himself! He dropped his rail on his foot
with a thump and didn't even yell about it.
     Bud went on about something else. "Raggedy man, that
neighbor girl, `Elthy' told me I was `thweet',"
     "Did you say David - Mason - Jeffries was dead?" the
raggedy man insisted on hearing repeated. His eyes were
bright and curious.
     "Yes," Bud said, "and mother says we mustn't tell her.
Now about `Elthy,' isn't it funny how she didn't get mad at
me when I talk to her with a `lithp.' She just thinks that's
how people are supposed to talk."
     But the raggedy man wasn't listening to Bud anymore.
His heart took a leap across the moon and sun and up
somewhere into the stars. He was flying off into a dream
of happiness he never thought possible.
     What could he be thinking of?
     Who would have ever dreamed the raggedy man was going
to build a log cabin out toward the settlement of
Philadelphia on the other side of the Black Swamp?
    Where did he find time 
 with all the chores he had to do?
     But he was going to 
 build this log cabin or bust!
     Raggedy man didn't have
 money to stock nails so he
 did his own timbering and cut
 the logs with notches so they
 lay close together. A boy grown 
 into a man with a dream to
 fuel him can evidently do 
 most anything.
     Every once in a while the 
raggedy man took Bud with him 
to the building site for help. When Bud went there the first time, 
crickets were leaping across the path back to the
raggedy man's log cabin. Bud helped him that day to make
slabs.  Raggedy man cut out openings in the logs for windows
and a door. Now slabs needed to be pinned into the openings
to hold the greased paper for windows until the raggedy man
could buy expensive glass.
     Every time Bud was out there it seemed like singing-
birds filled the air with music.  The raggedy man kept
saying, "Now don't you tell a soul about this or I will
eat you alive!" Then he laughed and winked.
     Bud went out to help several days later again. They
started on the roof. Topping out the building was the most
tedious work and the raggedy man enjoyed Bud's company.  Four
foot clapboards were laid down in courses on eavesbearer
     The last thing to do was to make a great open fireplace
in the space left open in the end wall.
     Now raggedy man had himself a home all right.
     But what did he have in mind?
     All he would say was he was "speculatin' and hopin'
something would come his way" and he felt like "he was
gainin' on it if only he could get someone to take a
hankerin' to him."
                      FATHER COMES HOME
     Finally father was coming home. Reuben Riley was
mustered out of ninety-day service at Indianapolis in August
with pay of forty two cents to get home. All the militia
veterans not injured or casualties came home too at the same
     Bud heard the news of his father's return while he was
wading in the Branch Crick. Bud enjoyed splashing down at the
Branch with his trousers rolled up above his knees.  The
ripples had the sweet softness of laughter.  Holding his
pants as he could with his hands he liked to kick the water
and look for the deep places.
     Bud didn't get to be alone with his father at first. The
whole county gave the soldiers a glorious reception at a
picnic at Pierson's Grove. Father gave a great speech and
told how the Western men saved West Virginia for the North.
Bud was very proud of his father. How closely he listened
when his heroic father spoke about standing up for Abraham
Lincoln against slaveowners.
     When Annie got to the grove with the rest, there
wasn't any more use trying to keep from her the bad news
about David - Mason - Jeffries. He wasn't coming back.
     When she was told, the orphan girl took off running.
All the town dogs set to barking and began racing after her.
She was trying to hide from the sunlight and hunting for the
darkest shadows. She went out into the deepest woods where no
one could find her.
     Annie didn't return until long after midnight that
night.  Then she went straight to her straw mat but her cries
couldn't be hidden. There's never shame in crying when bad
things happen.
     Now there was no David - Mason - Jeffries to take Annie
home. Maybe all her life now she would have to stay a hired
girl streaked with soot, come to help mother, poor and with
hands used to pans and kettles... and without a dream.
     Annie didn't feel like telling stories?
     The world didn't seem the same.
     There was nothing Bud could do...or so he thought
until the raggedy man asked him for a favor.  He was
mysterious. He said he was going to see if Annie would give
him a chance. The favor he asked for came from his heart.
     All this happened a little later on in the Fall when
things got settled down and there was frost on the pumpkins
out in the fields and fodder was bunched in shocks.
     So then after Bud and the raggedy man conspired,
events took off.
     It was Bud that went up to Annie and told her how a
bear had the raggedy man up a tree and was closing fast.
Bud was breathing heavy and snorting out the words quick and
     Annie dropped everything. "A bear has the raggedy man?"
Annie yelped out worried to death.
     "Yes, out in the woods," Bud went on with his lies.
     Annie was taken up in fright.
     "We got to go save him," Bud said. "I got father's
shotgun and we'll go get on Hoss and ride out to where the
raggedy man is stavin' off the bear with all his might."
     When they were on the road, Annie demanded more details.
     "Well," Bud said. "I escaped... but here is how it
happened. The raggedy man and I were goin' along and goin'
along, you know, and pretty soon we heard somethin' go
`Wooh!'- Just thataway - `Woo-ooh!' And we were both scared.
So we ran and climbed a tree - A great big tree, we did,-a
sycamore tree.  And then we heard it again. And we looked
 around. It was a bear
 - a great big sure 
enough bear!-No. It
was two bears, it was
 -two great big bears-
One of them was-
the first one was a great
 big bear. -But they just
 both went`Wooh!'-And here
 they came to climb the 
tree and get me and
the raggedy man to eat 
us up!"
     The horse that Annie 
and Bud were on was heading 
west of Greenfield toward 
Philadelphia and a certain log cabin. This was all a big surprise for 
Annie that the raggedy man and Bud worked out. Of course Annie didn't 
know about it.
     "So how far away is 
the raggedy man?" Annie said.
     "He's past the Black Swamp." Then he went on with his
lies. "Here came the great big bear climbing the tree to get
the raggedy man when I ran away and came to get you and pa's
     Annie was taking all this in.
     "Did I tell you the raggedy man had a gun when he
climbed the tree- So here the bear come climbin' the tree -
and climbin' the tree! Then when he got right close, the
raggedy man just pulled up his gun and shot the bear, he did,
and killed him dead! And then the bear - he fell clean on
down out of the tree - away clean to the ground, he did -
Spling-splung! he fell plum down, and killed him, too!"
     Annie said, "Well, if the raggedy man killed the bear
what's the problem. Raggedy man isn't in danger."
     "Well that left the old bear. The one shot was the
younger one you know. Now the big bear's awful mad, you bet!
And so here came the great big bear, he did, - a'climbin' up
- and up the tree, to get the raggedy man and eat him up!
And so the raggedy man climbed on higher, and higher,
And higher up the tree - and higher - and higher -
And higher'n our house. And that's where the raggedy man is
waiting for us to come get him out of that mess."
     "Well, why didn't the big bear eat him up?" Annie
     "They are both waiting for us to get there with more
load for the raggedy man's gun I spect. The raggedy man
didn't have any more in the gun!"
     But when Bud and Annie got to where Bud was taking her
it wasn't to any perilous spot at all.
     Pretty soon Hoss pulled into the clearing where the
raggedy man was at his log cabin waiting. He was sitting
on a little porch he built onto his log cabin petting a fawn
that started coming around. The little fawn's ears
got stood up and pointy and her tail flipped up to ninety
degrees when Bud and Annie arrived.
     Annie couldn't believe her eyes. She never saw the
raggedy man at his own house before!
     There wasn't any bear business at all!
     Annie came to have her doubts about the truth of
Bud's story anyway.
     Raggedy man came over and helped Annie off Hoss and
looked his Annie straight in the eye. He looked so lonely and
wanting her to know he was serious.
      Raggedy man told her, "I know its strange.  You loved
someone else. I know that you might never love me. But look
what I've done. I've built you a home."
     Annie couldn't hardly believe the raggedy man had done
     Over the door was a sign. It said "ANNIE'S HOME." Annie
held her hand to her mouth when she saw it.
     "Oh, raggedy man," Annie said.
     The raggedy man said, "Deep in my heart, I've been
so lonesome, Annie. I never ever wanted to search for anyone
     "Oh, raggedy man," Annie said.
     "I know I'm not your first choice," raggedy man said.
"But I will love you forever. I can make my love for you
last forever."
     "Oh, raggedy man," Annie said.
     "Well? Annie, will you try to find a way to make it to
love the raggedy man and live here with me and have a family
with me all our own?"
     "Oh, raggedy man," Annie said. "Do you really want me
for a wife?"
      "You bet, Annie," the raggedy man said. "I've loved
you ever so long."
       "Oh, raggedy man," Annie said. "Say! Some hollyhawks
would look good over by the door. And how about some roses
- old fashioned ones - around that porch."
     "Sure, Annie," the raggedy man said.  "Anything for
     The raggedy man was taking all this as good prospects.
So the raggedy man pulled from his pocket a marryin'
     "I was hopin you might marry me, Annie," he said and
showed Annie her name on the license to marry the raggedy
     "Will you have me?" the raggedy man asked Annie.
"Will you stay?"
     "I guess I got to to see the insides," Annie said with
a happy laugh.
     Then with a whoop and hollers, the happy fellow carried
Annie over the threshold of the log cabin and into Annie's
new home.
     Annie bid Bud farewell with a kiss. "Annie has found a
home now."
     Bud rode his horse back to Greenfield.
     Then he went upstairs. After a long and breathless pause
Bud still could hear Annie's faint and quavering voice with
a great tenderness like a belated echo, "Where is Annie?"
     And the reply, "Oh, she has gone home!"
     Now when Bud grew up, he really did become a poet and
one of America's greatest poets at that. One of his poems
was about Annie.
                    LITTLE ORPHANT ANNIE
To all the little children: - The happy ones; and sad ones;
The sober and the silent ones; the boisterous and glad ones;
The good ones - Yes, the good ones, too; and all the lovely
bad ones.
Little Orphant Annie's come to our house to stay,
An' wash the cups an' saucers up, an' brush the crumbs away,
An' shoo the chickens off the porch, an' dust the hearth, an'
An' make the fire, an' bake the bread, an' earn her board-an-
An' all us other childern, when the supper-things is done,
We set around the kitchen fire an' has the mostest fun,
A-listenin' to the witch-tales 'at Annie tells about,
An' the Gobble-uns 'at gits you
             Ef you
Wunst they wuz a little boy wouldn't say his prayers, -
An' when he went to bed at night, away up-stairs,
His Mammy heerd him holler, an' his Daddy heerd him bawl,
An' when they turn't the kivvers down, he wuzn't there at
An' they seeked him in the rafter-room, an' cubby-hole, an'
An seeked him up the chimbly-flue, an' ever'-wheres, I guess;
But all they ever found wuz thist his pants an' roundabout: -
An' the Gobble-uns 'll git you
             Ef you
An' one time a little girl 'ud allus laugh an' grin,
An' make fun of ever' one, an' all her blood-an'-kin;
An' wunst, when they was "company," an' ole folks wuz there,
She mocked 'em an' shocked 'em, an' said she didn't care!
An' thist as she kicked her heels, an' turn't to run an'
They wuz two great big Black Things a-standin' by her side,
An' they snatched her through the ceilin' 'for she knowed
what she's about!
An' the Gobble-uns 'll git you
             Ef you
An' little Orphant Annie says, when the blaze is blue,
An' the lamp-wick sputters, an' the wind goes woo-oo!
An' you hear the crickets quit, an' the moon is gray,
An' the lightnin'bugs in dew is all squenched away, -
You better mind yer parunts, an' yer teachurs fond an' dear,
An' cherish them 'at loves you, an' dry the orphant's tear,
An' he'p the pore an' needy ones 'at clusters all about,
Er the Gobble-uns 'll git you
             Ef you

     The account of this story comes primarily from original
source materials written by James Whitcomb Riley himself and
draws upon Riley's great body of children's poetry and prose.
To James Whitcomb Riley, Annie wasn't just some ordinary
hired orphan girl who worked for "board and keep." Annie was
an elf child.
     History reveals that Annie's mother died when she was
very young and her father when she was ten. After that Annie
was on her own until her uncle, John 
Rittenhouse, found her in the hills around 
Liberty, Indiana and took her to his home
near Greenfield. Then he put her out to 
work dressed in black
the way orphans dressed.
     And that's how she came to live with 
the Riley family
in town.
     The mother in the Riley family needed 
PHOTOGRAPH OF THE REAL    the help. She had four living children 
"LITTLE ORPHANT ANNIE"    and memories of the baby, Celeste, who
                          died so very young. Frontier American 
life was very hard. The new baby, Alex, they called "Hum," was a 
little chunk of
shavers and sick so much and the tiny six year old girl, Elva
May, clung close to her mother day in and day out. People
couldn't believe how cheerful Elizabeth, the mother, always
was. The older boy, John, was in his teen-aged years and was
a printer's devil for the newspaper where Uncle Mart worked
     Bud, at eleven, was left to himself a lot.  He usually
wore a little blue roundabout and a soft white felt hat with
no banding  or lining.  His hair was very light and cut
short.  His eyes were big and blue and his face freckled. He
was small in size and found it hard to compete with the other
boys in athletic contests and games.
     When Annie came, the Rileys called her their "guest"
and came to love her as a member of the family.
     Bud and Annie became fast friends. They shared
mischievous ways and bright laughter. Annie wasn't like a
nanny but more like an older sister and friend. She was older
than Bud all right but not so bossy. She didn't give a fig if
Bud crowded down his food too fast or sipped his soup so
awful loud. She never complained about being an orphan girl
nor crawfished back into her past. Her world was peopled by
fairies, giants and wunks, dwarfs, squidgicums and goblins.
     Annie's life was different because she had her work to
do. Her chores were done mainly in the kitchen and her place
was to be near the hearth. All the cooking for frontier
Hoosier families before the Civil War was done in a large
open fireplace.  As Annie sat in a corner of the room by the
fire she was often covered with ashes.  You could sometimes
hardly tell she was a slender little wan-cheeked teenaged
girl dressed in black. She wasn't just a teenaged girl
though. Her elf spirit shone just as light gleams even on a
cloudy day. She always spoke kindly if mysteriously and she
always promised both Bud and herself, "Someday, I will go
     For many years nothing was known about Mary Alice
(Smith) Gray who was the "hired girl." This was Annie's real
name. The name itself is a source of confusion. The girl was
not married and named Mary Alice Smith when she worked
for "board and keep" at the Riley home. The family called
her "Allie." The name was shortened from Alice. In fact the
original name of the orphan of the famous poem was "Little
Orphant Allie" as published in the INDIANAPOLIS (IN) JOURNAL
newspaper of November 15, 1885 under the title, "The Elf
Child." Subsequenly Riley changed the name of the poem to
"Little Orphant Annie," and it was under that name that the
poem became the most popular American children's poem of all
time and helped establish for Riley the title of "Children's
Poet" for the United States as Riley's friend Rudyard Kipling
was the "Children's Poet" for the British Empire.
     Riley himself fueled the interest in locating Mary Alice
Smith. He published a famous article in the INDIANAPOLIS (IN)
JOURNAL of September 30, 1882 entitled "Where is Mary Alice
Smith?" Apparently her married name escaped him if he had any
memory of it at all due to his young age when the marriage of
"Annie" to Wesley Gray took place.
     When found, Mary Alice (Smith) Gray simply did not
realize that she was the famous subject of the poem.  She
did, however, become a popular character in the American
national scene after Riley brught her to the stage of the
Grand Opera House in Indianapolis (IN) in January 1888 during
one of Riley's famous readings. On that occasion, Riley
repeated the whole story of the little slender orphan girl
dressed in black who was dropped off at the Riley Home and
told the children so many stories of goblins, wunks and
elves. The audience welcomed "Little Orphant Annie" to the
stage with great applause.
     The recognition of "Little Orphant Annie"  did not
change her lifestyle in the least. Although she was in great
demand as a visitor to schools, she did so merely to inform
the enthralled children about her work at the Riley home and
tell stories about the famous poet. She recalled Riley as a
"tease" and said he drew ugly pictures of his playmates to
annoy them. No amount of publicity affected her and she
always returned to the log cabin built by her husband, Wesley
Gray, where she lived and raised her many children.
     The tale of "Annie" was adopted by many other artists
and writers after Riley's death.  Among the "Annies" is the
Raggedy Ann doll, America's most popular children's doll
during much of the Twentieth Century. The name derived from a
combination of the names of two of Riley's most popular
children's poems, "Little Orphant Annie" and "The Raggedy
Man." The originator of the doll, Johnny Gruelle, whose
artist father had been a friend of James Whitcomb Riley, also
turned "Annie" into a comic strip character.  The comic strip
artist Harold Gray, however, used "Annie" in a much longer
running nationally syndicated comic strip of the same name.
"Annie" has appeared on Broadway in New York City several
times commencing in the play, "Homefolks" (1918), "Little
Orphant Annie" (1935), and the more recent "Annie" (1977).
The movie version of "Annie," a Columbia Pictures release,
continues to enjoy wide audiences.  Based upon this cycle, I
would expect "Annie" to reappear any time. The poem "Little
Orphant Annie" remains in print in many, many publications.
     I must include a note of apology. In my heart I wished
so to footnote this text. A "sugar" tree to Hoosier pioneers
was the sugar maple tree. The farmers of frontier days
"cradled" grain to harvest it. Few readers will have tried to
climb a sycamore tree as Bud proposes in his tale about the
bear. Pioneer children would have known how slick such a tree
would be to climb.
     As to James Whitcomb Riley, his life was one of great
homelessness, loneliness, and poverty until roughly his late
middle-aged years when his fame resulted in greater wealth
from book sales than that of any poet before or since. I
have outlined this life on the basis of Riley's own cryptic
autobiographical poem, "The Flying Islands of the Night," in
THE NIGHT in most libraries nationwide.
     Riley's friend Rudyard Kipling knew where his American
friend's heart rested.  The noted poet of the British CHILD'S
GARDEN OF VERSES, wrote of Riley:
                          TO J.W.R.
           "Your trail runs to the westward,
            And mine to my own place;
            There is water between our lodges,
            And you cannot see my face.
            And it is well - for crying
            Should neither be written nor seen,
            But if I call you Smoke-in-the-Eyes,
            I know you will know what I mean."
Riley ached for the lost child in himself and expressed to
his audience the great lessons of living and loving humbly
and presenting oneself to the world and the God of that world
in innocent lifestyle as a child.