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Paul Laurence Dunbar

The Lawyers' Ways

I've been list'nin' to them lawyers

In the court house up the street,

An' I've come to the conclusion

That I'm most completely beat.

Fust one feller riz to argy,

An' he boldly waded in

As he dressed the tremblin' pris'ner

In a coat o' deep-dyed sin.

Why, he painted him all over

In a hue o' blackest crime,

An' he smeared his reputation

With the thickest kind o' grime,

Tell I found myself a-wond'rin',

In a misty way and dim,

How the Lord had come to fashion

Sich an awful man as him.

Then the other lawyer started,

An' with brimmin', tearful eyes,

Said his client was a martyr

That was brought to sacrifice.

An' he give to that same pris'ner

Every blessed human grace,

Tell I saw the light o' virtue

Fairly shinin' from his face.

Then I own 'at I was puzzled

How sich things could rightly be;

An' this aggervatin' question

Seems to keep a-puzzlin' me.

So, will some one please inform me,

An' this mystery unroll—

How an angel an' a devil

Can persess the self-same soul?