HERE, little folks, listen; I’ll tell you a tale,
Though to shock and surprise you I fear it won’t fail;
Of Master John Dawdle my story must be,
Who, I’m sorry to say, is related to me.
And yet, after all, he’s a nice little fellow:
His eyes are dark brown and his hair is pale yellow;
And though not very clever or tall, it is true
He is better than many, if worse than a few.
But he dawdles at breakfast, he dawdles at tea—
He’s the greatest small dawdle that ever could be;
And when in his bedroom, it is his delight
To dawdle in dressing at morning and night.
And oh! if you saw him sit over a sum,
You’d much wish to pinch him with finger and thumb;
And then, if you scold him, he looks up so meek;
Dear me! one would think that he hardly could speak.
Each morning the same he comes tumbling down,
And often enough is received with a frown,
And a terrible warning of something severe
Unless on the morrow he sooner appear.
But where does he live? That I’d rather not say,
Though, if truth must be told, I have met him to-day;
I meant just to pass him with merely a bow,
But he stopped and conversed for a minute or so.
“Well, where are you going?” politely said I;
To which he replied, with a groan and a sigh,
“I’ve been doing my Latin from breakfast till dinner,
And pretty hard work that is for a beginner.”
“But now I suppose you are going to play
And have pleasure and fun for the rest of the day?”
“Indeed, but I’m not—there’s that bothering sum;
And then there’s a tiresome old copy to come.”
“Dear me!” I replied, and I thought it quite sad
There should be such hard work for one poor little lad;
But just at that moment a lady passed by,
And her words soon made clear that mistaken was I:
“Now, then, Mr. Dawdle, get out of my way!
I suppose you intended to stop here all day;
The bell has done ringing, and yet, I declare,
Your hands are not washed, nor yet brushed is your hair.”
“Ho, ho!” I exclaimed; “Mr. Dawdle, indeed!”
And I took myself off with all possible speed,
Quite distressed that I should for a moment be seen
With one who so lazy and careless had been.
So now, if you please, we will wish him good-bye;
And if you should meet him by chance, as did I,
Just bid him good-morning, and say that a friend
(Only don’t mention names) hopes he soon may amend.