So the Whither and the Why alike mysterious were counted;
And as Faith steps in to aid where baffled Reason must retire,
There were those averred so good a man as Biggs might well have
Up to glory like Elijah in a chariot of fire!
For indeed he was a good man; when he sat beside the
Of the Bath-house at his pigeon-hole, a saint within a frame,
We used to think his face was as the face of an immortal,
As he handed us our tickets, and took payment for the same.
And, Oh, the sweet advice with which he made of such
A duplicate detergent for our morals and our limbs—
For he taught us that decorum was the essence of salvation,
And that cleanliness and godliness were merely synonyms;
But that open-air ablution in the river was a treason
To the purer instincts, fit for dogs and aborigines,
And that wrath at such misconduct was the providential reason
For the jaws of alligators and the tails of stingarees.
But, alas, our friend was gone, our guide, philosopher,
And we doubled our potations, just to clear the inner view;
But we only saw the darklier through the bottom of the pewter,
And the mystery seemed likewise to be multiplied by two.
And the worst was that our failure to unriddle the
In the “rags” of rival towns was made a byword and a scoff,
Till each soul in the community felt branded with the stigma
Of the unexplained suspicion of poor Biggs’s taking off.
So a dozen of us rose and swore this thing should
be no longer:
Though the means that Nature furnished had been tried without
There were forces supersensual that higher were and stronger,
And with consentaneous clamour we pronounced for the occult.
Then Joe Thomson slung a tenner, and Jack Robinson
And each according to his means respectively disbursed;
And a letter in your humble servant’s most seductive manner
Was despatched to Sludge the Medium, recently of Darlinghurst.
“I am Biggs,” the spirit said (’twas
through the medium’s lips he
But the voice that spoke, the accent, too, were Biggs’s very own,
Be it, therefore, not set down to our unmerited discredit,
That collectively we sickened as we recognised the tone).
“From a saurian interior, Christian friends,
I now address you”—
(And “Oh heaven!” or its correlative, groaned shuddering we)—
“While there yet remains a scrap of my identity, for, bless you,
This ungodly alligator’s fast assimilating me.
“For although through nine abysmal days I’ve
fought with his
Being hostile to his processes and loth to pulpify,
It is rapidly becoming a most complicated question
How much of me is crocodile, how much of him is I.