THERE once was a toper—I'll not tell his name—
Who had for his comfort a scolding old dame;
And often and often he wished himself dead,
For, if drunk he came home, she would beat him to bed.
He spent all his evenings away from his home,
And, when he returned, he would sneakingly come
And try to walk straightly, and say not a word—
Just to keep his dear wife from abusing her lord;
For if he dared say his tongue was his own,
'Twould set her tongue going, in no gentle tone,
And she'd huff him, and cuff him, and call him hard names,
And he'd sigh to be rid of all scolding old dames.
It happened, one night, on a frolic he went,
He stayed till his very last penny was spent;
But how to go home, and get safely to bed,
Was the thing on his heart that most heavily weighed.
But home he must go; so he caught up his hat,
And off he went singing, by this and by that,
"I'll pluck up my courage; I guess she's in bed.
If she a'nt, 'tis no matter, I'm sure. Who's afraid?"
He came to his door; he lingered until
He peeped, and he listened, and all seemed quite still,
In he went, and his wife, sure enough, was in bed!
"Oh!" says he, "it's just as I thought. Who's afraid?"
He crept about softly, and spoke not a word;
His wife seemed to sleep, for she never e'en stirred!
Thought he, "For this night, then, my fortune is made:
For my dear, scolding wife is asleep! Who's afraid?"
But soon he felt thirsty; and slyly he rose,
And, groping around, to the table he goes,
The pitcher found empty, and so was the bowl,
The pail, and the tumblers—she'd emptied the whole!
At length, in a corner, a vessel he found!
Says he, "Here's something to drink, I'll be bound!"
And eagerly seizing, he lifted it up—
And drank it all off in one long, hearty sup!
It tasted so queerly; and what could it be?
He wondered. It neither was water nor tea!
Just then a thought struck him and filled him with fear:
"Oh! it must be the poison for rats, I declare!"
And loudly he called on his dear, sleeping wife,
And begged her to rise; "for," said he, "on my life
I fear it was poison the bowl did contain.
Oh dear! yes, it was poison; I now feel the pain!"
"And what made you dry, sir?" the wife sharply cried.
"'Twould serve you just right if from poison you died;
And you've done a fine job, and you'd now better march,
For just see, you brute, you have drunk all my starch!"