Pieces People Ask For/Cicely and the Bears

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For other versions of this work, see Shock-headed Cicely and the Two Bears.



"Oh, yes! Oh, yes! Oh, yes! ding-dong!"
The bellman's voice is loud and strong;
So is his bell: "Oh, yes! ding-dong!"
He wears a coat with golden lace;
See how the people of the place
Come running to hear what the bellman says!
"Oh, yes! Sir Nicholas Hildebrand
Has just returned from the Holy Land,
And freely offers his heart and hand—
Oh, yes! Oh, yes! Oh, yes! ding-dong!"
All the women hurry along,
Maids and widows, a clattering throng.
"Oh, sir, you are hard to understand!
To whom does he offer his heart and hand?
Explain your meaning, we do command!"
"Oh, yes! ding-dong! you shall understand!
Oh, yes! Sir Nicholas Hildebrand
Invites the ladies of this land
To feast with him, in his castle strong,
This very day at three. Ding-dong!
Oh, yes! Oh, yes! Oh, yes! ding-dong!"
Then all the women went off to dress,
Mary, Margaret, Bridget, Bess,
Patty, and more than I can guess.
They powdered their hair with golden dust,
And bought new ribbons—they said they must-
But none of them painted, we will trust.
Long before the time arrives,
All the women that could be wives
Are dressed within an inch of their lives.

Meanwhile Sir Nicholas Hiklebrand
Had brought with him from the Holy Land
A couple of bears—Oh, that was grand!
He tamed the bears, and they loved him true:
Whatever he told them they would do—
Hark! 'tis the town-clock striking two!


Among the maidens of low degree
The poorest of all was Cicely—
A shabbier girl could hardly be.
"Oh, I should like to see the feast,
But my frock is old, my shoes are pieced,
My hair is rough!"—(It never was greased.)
The clock struck three! She durst not go!
But she heard the band, and, to see the show,
Crept after the people that went in a row.
When Cicely came to the castle gate,
The porter exclaimed, "Miss Shaggypate,
The hall is full, and you come too late!"
Just then the music made a din,
Flute, and cymbal, and culverin,
And Cicely, with a squeeze, got in.
Oh, what a sight! Full fifty score
Of dames that Cicely knew, and more,
Filling the hall from dais to door!
The dresses were like a garden bed,
Green and gold, and blue and red—
Poor Cicely thought of her tossy head!
She heard the singing—she heard the clatter—
Clang of flagon and clink of platter—
But, oh, the feast was no such matter!
For she saw Sir Nicholas himself,
Raised on a dais just like a shelf.
And fell in love with him—shabby elf!
Her heart beat quick; aside she stepped:
Under the tapestry she crept,
Tousling her tossy hair, and wept!
Her cheeks were wet, her eyes were red.
"Who makes that noise?" the ladies said;
"Turn out that girl with the shaggy head!"


Just then there was heard a double roar,
That shook the place, both wall and floor:
Everybody looked to the door.
It was a roar, it was a growl;
The ladies set up a little howl,
And flapped and clucked like frightened fowl.
Sir Hildebrand for silence begs—
In walked the bears on their hinder legs,
Wise as owls, and merry as grigs!
The dark girls tore their hair of sable;
The fair girls hid underneath the table;
Some fainted ; to move they were not able.
But most of them could scream and screech—
Sir Nicholas Hildebrand made a speech—
"Order, ladies, I do beseech!"
The bears looked hard at Cicely,
Because her hair hung wild and free—
"Related to us, miss, you must be!"
Then Cicely, filling two plates of gold
As full of cherries as they could hold,
Walked up to the bears, and spoke out bold:
"Welcome to you! and to you Mr. Bear!
Will you take a chair? will you take a chair?
This is an honor, we do declare!"
Sir Hildebrand strode up to see,
Saying, "Who may this maiden be?
Ladies, this is the wife for me!"
Almost before they could understand,
He took up Cicely by the hand,
And danced with her a saraband.
Her hair was rough as a parlor broom;
It swung, it swirled all round the room—
Those ladies were vexed, we may presume.
Sir Nicholas kissed her on the face,
And set her beside him on the dais,
And made her the lady of the place.
The nuptials soon they did prepare,
With a silver comb for Cicely's hair:
There were bands of music everywhere,
And in that beautiful bridal show
Both the bears were seen to go

Upon their hind legs to and fro!
Now every year on the wedding-day
The boys and girls come out to play,
And scramble for cherries as they may.
With a cheer for this and the other bear,
And a cheer for Sir Nicholas, free and fair,
And a cheer for Cis, of the tossy hair—
With one cheer more (if you will wait)
For every girl with a curly pate,
Who keeps her hair in a proper state.
Sing bear's grease! curling- irons to sell!
Sing combs and brushes! sing tortoise-shell!
Oh, yes! ding-dong! the crier, the bell!
Isn't this a pretty tale to tell?

Lilliput Levee.