To give good Horace perfect rest
They lay awhile at ease.
They found a hammock suited best,
Exchanging quip and merry jest
With frogs and bumble-bees,
And Edward helped stray leaves and twigs
Along the stream with gentle digs.
When Horace was quite well again
They set out on their way.
One day they heard a distant strain
And, tramping o'er the dusty plain
With music loud and gay,
A brawny-chested regiment
Marched past, on death or glory bent.
The sight so fired brave Edward's soul,
He set off in the rear.
Said he, "The cavalry's our goal,
—A charger is your proper role;"
But Horace shook with fear.
"If we," he thought, "the foe should seek,
I shall be mutton in a week!"
But when they reached the barrack-yard
And wanted to enlist,
The sergeant called out to the guard
Their measurements, punched Edward hard
And gave his neck a twist.
"You've got no chest at all," said he.
"No good!" thought Edward tearfully.
"It's not my fault I've got no chest,
They should have made it broad,"
He grumbled; but with noble zest
He searched the country east and west
To find some noble lord
Who might excuse his tender age
And take him on to be his page.
And when at last he did succeed,
While Horace stayed indoors,
He took two poodles on a lead
Out walking every day. Their breed
Was such that on all fours
They utterly disdained to go,
Like Lion, Unicorn and Co.
They led poor Edward such a dance,
He scarce could hold them in;
They tugged as if their only chance
In life was to get home to France
And join their kith and kin.
At last they got away by force,
And Edward got the sack—of course.
He wandered on with Horace till
They reached a sheltered spot,
And watched with quite an envious thrill
Two boys who handled with great skill
A trim, fast-sailing yacht.
"O for an opportunity,"
Sighed Edward, "to put out to sea!"
The chance they wanted soon occurred
—The boys went in to tea.
By thoughts of danger undeterred
They boarded, tacked and, in a word,
Were happy as could be.
They did not see the rising cloud
That threatened every spar and shroud.
With all their sails set to the breeze,
They were quite unprepared
To meet the squall. Great tow'ring seas
Tossed them about like shipwrecked peas;
They would most ill have fared
Had not a tortoise saved the twain
—He who derailed the railway train.
He took them on his brawny back
And swam with them ashore.
"This slight return I owe for lack
Of thought," said he, "when o'er the track
I crawled;—I'd do much more,
But this, at least, will prove to you
How much that sad event I rue."
They thanked him for his kindly deed
And then resumed their march,
But when the time was come to feed
They found they'd nought to meet the need
Except a piece of starch.
Said Edward, "This will never do;
Your wool, old chap, would be like glue."
They had no work, they had no food,
But hungrier they grew.
At last said Horace, "What's the good
Of starving slowly? In the wood
There's game enough for two.
I feel quite faint, so get a gun
And see what you can shoot, my son."
This was for Edward the last straw,
And so he took a gun;
For Horace he would brave the law,
Whate'er betide. So when he saw
A hare start up and run,
He took fair aim with steady wrist
And fired— but luckily he missed.
A policeman heard the loud report
And hurried to the scene.
He hailed the poachers off to court,
And there their shrift was very short
—The judge's wit was keen:
He sentenced them to prison-shop
And hoped that long in there they'd stop.
Now prison-shop, of course, is where
All dolls, when made, must go
Until some maiden, kind and fair,
Buys them and saves them from despair.
And this is why, you know,
They have such eager, anxious eyes,
As each to catch your notice tries.
So Edward was marched off to jail
And guarded night and day
Amid a throng of beauties frail,
While Horace, looking somewhat pale,
Scanned all who passed that way,
For both of them hoped she would see
And rescue them from misery.
At last there came a day of joy,
She stopped before the shop,
And with her was a handsome boy;
They viewed with interest each toy
From yacht to humming-top.
(They were, I may remark off-hand,
Penelope and Hildebrand.)
Cold beads of perspiration stood
On Edward's frantic brow;
He feared lest his own mother should
Not notice him (as if she could
Have missed her own son, now !).
But, scarcely glancing at the rest,
Pen saw at once he was the best.
"O what a pleasant person, look!"
She cried to Hildebrand,
"I must have him by hook or crook!"
—In point of fact 'twas by a hook
Held in the shopman's hand,
Which hoisted Edward by the seat,
A part adapted for the feat.
Now Pen had put her pennies by
To save poor dolls from fate
By buying them, and you should try
To do the same. The Buttoneye
Was marked, "Price two and eight."
'Twas dear, but Pen was quite content
To think her savings so well spent.
The ransom very soon was paid
And Edward, once more free,
Borne off in triumph. Though arrayed
In shabby coat and trousers frayed
And baggy at the knee,
He was more precious to Pen's heart
Than if they'd been quite new and smart.
And faithful Horace, too, was bought
—Pen saw by Edward's eye
No freedom for himself he sought
If his pet lamb's fate should be fraught
With doubt—he'd rather die.
But Horace had to run like mad,
So fast a pace his mistress had.
"I'd go through twice as much for this,"
Thought Edward with a sigh
As he received his hundredth kiss,
And Horace, wrapped in wool and bliss,
Just winked the other eye.
And how they relished, to be sure,
The other dolls' discomfiture!
"I know the hard times you've been through,"
Said Pen, and kissed them both,
"But nothing now need worry you
For here your life begins anew—"
("Hurray!" fat Horace quoth),
"—And when we seek the country air
I'm sure we'll find adventures there."
And Pen proved quite a prophetess
For, shortly after that,
They met a lovely—well, what?—guess!
What dream of perfect loveliness
D'you think I'm hinting at?
Well, if your Dad is pleased with you,
Perhaps he'll buy you that book too.