Plain Language From Truthful James

by Bret Harte
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"The Heathen Chinee Is Peculiar"

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Last Updated on January 19, 2017, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 142

Context: In this monologue in the rough Western dialect, the speaker attempts to show, with an incident from his own experience, that Chinese are full of deceit and cunning. He and his partner, Bill Nye, are attempting to win from a Chinese, Ah Sin, at euchre, through a cache of cards in Nye's sleeve. Their devices backfire, however, as Ah Sin mysteriously continues to win at a game of which he says he is ignorant. Bill Nye at last assaults Ah Sin; and in the struggle it is discovered that his long fingernails are coated with wax, and that he has twenty-four packs of cards up his sleeves.

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.

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