“And, Oh, my friends, ’tis sorrow’s
crown of sorrow to remember
That this sacrilegious reptile owed me nought but gratitude,
For I bought him from a showman twenty years since come November,
And I dropped him in the river for his own and others’ good.
“It had grieved me that the spouses of our townsmen,
Should be shocked by river bathers and their indecorous ways,
So I cast my bread, that is, my alligator, on the waters,
And I found it, in a credit balance, after many days.
“Years I waited, but at last there came the
And the out-of-door ablutionists forsook their wicked paths,
And the issues of my handiwork divinely were directed
In a constant flow of custom to the Corporation Baths.
“’Twas a weakling when I bought it; ’twas
so young that you could
But with all its disadvantages I reckoned it would do;
And it did: Oh, lay the moral well to heart and don’t forget it—
Put decorum first, and all things shall be added unto you.
“Lies! all lies! I’ve done with virtue.
Why should I be interested
In the cause of moral progress that I served so long in vain,
When the fifteen hundred odd I’ve so judiciously invested
Will but go to pay the debts of some young rip who marries Jane?
“But the reptile overcomes me; my identity is
Let me hasten to the finish; let my words be few and fit.
I was walking by the river in the starry silence, thinking
Of what Providence had done for me, and I had done for it;
“I had reached the saurian’s rumoured
haunt, where oft in fatal folly
I had dropped garotted dogs to keep his carnal craving up”
(Said Joe Thomson, in a whisper, “That explains my Highland colley!”
Said Bob Williams, sotto voce, “That explains my Dandy pup!").
“I had passed to moral questions, and found
comfort in the notion
That fools are none the worse for things not being what they seem,
When, behold, a seeming log became instinct with life and motion,
And with sudden curvature of tail upset me in the stream.
“Then my leg, as in a vice”—but
here the revelation faltered,
And the medium rose and shook himself, remarking with a smile
That the requisite conditions were irrevocably altered,
For the personality of Biggs was lost in crocodile.
Now, whether Sludge’s story would succeed in
Is more, perhaps, than one has any business to suspect;
But I know that on the strength of it I married Biggs’s daughter,
And I found a certain portion of the narrative correct.
THE AMENITIES OF SHOPPING.
BY LEOPOLD WAGNER.