“If you once let him begin a Poem,” he said to Sylvie,
“he’ll never leave off again! He never does!”
“Did he ever begin a Poem and not leave off again?” Sylvie enquired.
“Three times,” said the Professor.
Bruno raised himself on tiptoe, till his lips were on a level with
Sylvie’s ear. “What became of them three Poems?” he whispered.
“Is he saying them all, now?”
“Hush!” said Sylvie. “The Other Professor is speaking!”
“I’ll say it very quick,” murmured the Other Professor, with downcast
eyes, and melancholy voice, which contrasted oddly with his face, as he
had forgotten to leave off smiling. (“At least it wasn’t exactly a
smile,” as Sylvie said afterwards: “it looked as if his mouth was made
“Go on then,” said the Professor. “What must be must be.”
“Remember that!” Sylvie whispered to Bruno, “It’s a very good rule for
whenever you hurt yourself.”
“And it’s a very good rule for whenever I make a noise,” said the saucy
little fellow. “So you remember it too, Miss!”
“Whatever do you mean?” said Sylvie, trying to frown, a thing she never
managed particularly well.
“Oftens and oftens,” said Bruno, “haven’t oo told me ‘ There mustn’t be
so much noise, Bruno!’ when I’ve tolded oo ‘There must!’ Why, there
isn’t no rules at all about ‘There mustn’t’! But oo never believes me!”
“As if any one could believe you, you wicked wicked boy!” said Sylvie.
The words were severe enough, but I am of opinion that, when you are
really anxious to impress a criminal with a sense of his guilt, you
ought not to pronounce the sentence with your lips quite close to his
cheek–since a kiss at the end of it, however accidental, weakens the
PETER AND PAUL.
“As I was saying,” the Other Professor resumed, “if you’ll just think
over any Poem, that contains the words–such as
‘Peter is poor,’ said noble Paul,
‘And I have always been his friend:
And, though my means to give are small,
At least I can afford to lend.
How few, in this cold age of greed,
Do good, except on selfish grounds!
But I can feel for Peter’s need,
And I WILL LEND HIM FIFTY POUNDS!’
How great was Peter’s joy to find
His friend in such a genial vein!
How cheerfully the bond he signed,
To pay the money back again!
‘We ca’n’t,’ said Paul, ‘be too precise:
‘Tis best to fix the very day:
So, by a learned friend’s advice,
I’ve made it Noon, the Fourth of May.
[Image…’How cheefully the bond he signed!’]
But this is April! Peter said.
‘The First of April, as I think.
Five little weeks will soon be fled:
One scarcely will have time to wink!
Give me a year to speculate–
To buy and sell–to drive a trade–‘
Said Paul ‘I cannot change the date.
On May the Fourth it must be paid.’
‘Well, well!’ said Peter, with a sigh.
‘Hand me the cash, and I will go.
I’ll form a Joint-Stock Company,
And turn an honest pound or so.’
‘I’m grieved,’ said Paul, ‘to seem unkind:
The money shalt of course be lent:
But, for a week or two, I find
It will not be convenient.’
So, week by week, poor Peter came
And turned in heaviness away;
For still the answer was the same,
‘I cannot manage it to-day.’
And now the April showers were dry–
The five short weeks were nearly spent–
Yet still he got the old reply,
‘It is not quite convenient!’
The Fourth arrived, and punctual Paul
Came, with his legal friend, at noon.
‘I thought it best,’ said he, ‘to call:
One cannot settle things too soon.’
Poor Peter shuddered in despair:
His flowing locks he wildly tore:
And very soon his yellow hair
Was lying all about the floor.
The legal friend was standing by,
With sudden pity half unmanned:
The tear-drop trembled in his eye,
The signed agreement in his hand:
But when at length the legal soul
Resumed its customary force,
‘The Law,’ he said, ‘we ca’n’t control:
Pay, or the Law must take its course!’
Said Paul ‘How bitterly I rue