"The proper thing, as you were late, Was certainly to go: But, with the roads in such a state, I got the Knight-Mayor's leave to wait For half an hour or so."
"Who's the Knight-Mayor?" I cried. Instead Of answering my question, "Well, if you don't know THAT," he said, "Either you never go to bed, Or you've a grand digestion!
"He goes about and sits on folk That eat too much at night: His duties are to pinch, and poke, And squeeze them till they nearly choke." (I said "It serves them right!")
"And folk who sup on things like these--" He muttered, "eggs and bacon - Lobster--and duck--and toasted cheese - If they don't get an awful squeeze, I'm very much mistaken!
"He is immensely fat, and so Well suits the occupation: In point of fact, if you must know, We used to call him years ago, THE MAYOR AND CORPORATION!
"The day he was elected Mayor I KNOW that every Sprite meant To vote for ME, but did not dare - He was so frantic with despair And furious with excitement.
"When it was over, for a whim, He ran to tell the King; And being the reverse of slim, A two-mile trot was not for him A very easy thing.
"So, to reward him for his run (As it was baking hot, And he was over twenty stone), The King proceeded, half in fun, To knight him on the spot."
"'Twas a great liberty to take!" (I fired up like a rocket). "He did it just for punning's sake: 'The man,' says Johnson, 'that would make A pun, would pick a pocket!'"
"A man," said he, "is not a King." I argued for a while, And did my best to prove the thing - The Phantom merely listening With a contemptuous smile.
At last, when, breath and patience spent, I had recourse to smoking - "Your AIM," he said, "is excellent: But--when you call it ARGUMENT - Of course you're only joking?"
Stung by his cold and snaky eye, I roused myself at length To say "At least I do defy The veriest sceptic to deny That union is strength!"
"That's true enough," said he, "yet stay--" I listened in all meekness - "UNION is strength, I'm bound to say; In fact, the thing's as clear as day; But ONIONS are a weakness."
As one who strives a hill to climb, Who never climbed before: Who finds it, in a little time, Grow every moment less sublime, And votes the thing a bore:
Yet, having once begun to try, Dares not desert his quest, But, climbing, ever keeps his eye On one small hut against the sky Wherein he hopes to rest:
Who climbs till nerve and force are spent, With many a puff and pant: Who still, as rises the ascent, In language grows more violent, Although in breath more scant:
Who, climbing, gains at length the place That crowns the upward track. And, entering with unsteady pace, Receives a buffet in the face That lands him on his back:
And feels himself, like one in sleep, Glide swiftly down again, A helpless weight, from steep to steep, Till, with a headlong giddy sweep, He drops upon the plain -
So I, that had resolved to bring Conviction to a ghost, And found it quite a different thing From any human arguing, Yet dared not quit my post
But, keeping still the end in view To which I hoped to come, I strove to prove the matter true By putting everything I knew Into an axiom:
Commencing every single phrase With 'therefore' or 'because,' I blindly reeled, a hundred ways, About the syllogistic maze, Unconscious where I was.
Quoth he "That's regular clap-trap: Don't bluster any more. Now DO be cool and take a nap! Such a ridiculous old chap Was never seen before!
"You're like a man I used to meet, Who got one day so furious In arguing, the simple heat Scorched both his slippers off his feet!" I said "THAT'S VERY CURIOUS!"
"Well, it IS curious, I agree, And sounds perhaps like fibs: But still it's true as true can be - As sure as your name's Tibbs," said he. I said "My name's NOT Tibbs."
"NOT Tibbs!" he cried--his tone became A shade or two less hearty - "Why, no," said I. "My proper name Is Tibbets--" "Tibbets?" "Aye, the same." "Why, then YOU'RE NOT THE PARTY!"
With that he struck the board a blow That shivered half the glasses. "Why couldn't you have told me so Three quarters of an hour ago, You prince of all the asses?
"To walk four miles through mud and rain, To spend the night in smoking, And then to find that it's in vain - And I've to do it all again - It's really TOO provoking!
"Don't talk!" he cried, as I began To mutter some excuse. "Who can have patience with a man That's got no more discretion than An idiotic goose?
"To keep me waiting here, instead Of telling me at once That this was not the house!" he said. "There, that'll do--be off to bed! Don't gape like that, you dunce!"
"It's very fine to throw the blame On ME in such a fashion! Why didn't you enquire my name The very minute that you came?" I answered in a passion.