**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Poem.

Enjoy this? Share it!


by [?]


H’lo, Pitts!
Observe, good friends, I have a volume here
Myself am author of–a noble book
To train the infant mind (delightful task!)
It tells how one Samantha Brown, age, six,
A gutter-bunking slave to rum, was saved
By Vinegar Bitters, went to church and now
Has an account at the Pacific Bank.
I’ll read the whole work to you.

Heaven forbid!
I’ve elsewhere an engagement.

I am deaf.

MCDONALD (reading regardless):

“Once on a time there lived”—-

(Enter Mrs. Hayes.)
Behold our queen!


Her eyes upon the ground
Before her feet she low’rs,
Walking, in thought profound,
As ’twere, upon all fours.
Her visage is austere,
Her gait a high parade;
At every step you hear
The sloshing lemonade!

MRS. HAYES (to herself):

Once, sitting in the White House, hard at work
Signing State papers (Rutherford was there,
Knitting some hose) a sudden glory fell
Upon my paper. I looked up and saw
An angel, holding in his hand a rod
Wherewith he struck me. Smarting with the blow
I rose and (cuffing Rutherford) inquired:
“Wherefore this chastisement?” The angel said:
“Four years you have been President, and still
There’s rum!”–then flew to Heaven. Contrite, I swore
Such oath as lady Methodist might take,
My second term should medicine my first.
The people would not have it that way; so
I seek some candidate who’ll take my soul–
My spirit of reform, fresh from my breast,
And give me his instead; and thus equipped
With my imperious and fiery essence,
Drive the Drink-Demon from the land and fill
The people up with water till their teeth
Are all afloat.

(St. John discovers himself.)
What, you?


Aye, Madam, I’ll
Swap souls with you and lead the cold sea-green
Amphibians of Prohibition on,
Pallid of nose and webbed of foot, swim-bladdered,
Gifted with gills, invincible!


Stand forth and consummate the interchange.

(While McDonald and Pitts-Stevens modestly turn their
backs, the latter blushing a delicate shrimp-pink, St. John and
Mrs. Hayes effect an exchange of immortal parts. When the
transfer is complete McDonald turns and advances, uncorking
a bottle of Vinegar Bitters

MCDONALD (chanting):

Nectar compounded of simples
Cocted in Stygian shades–
Acids of wrinkles and pimples
From faces of ancient maids–
Acrid precipitates sunken
From tempers of scolding wives
Whose husbands, uncommonly drunken,
Are commonly found in dives,–
With this I baptize and appoint thee
(to St. John.)
To marshal the vinophobe ranks.
In the name of Dambosh I anoint thee
(pours the liquid down St. John’s back.)
As King of aquatical cranks!

(The liquid blisters the royal back, and His Majesty starts
on a dead run, energetically exclaiming. Exit St. John


My soul! My soul! I’ll never get it back
Unless I follow nimbly on his track.
(Exit Mrs. Hayes.)


O my! he’s such a beautiful young man!
I’ll follow, too, and catch him if I can.
(Exit Pitts-Stevens.)


He scarce is visible, his dust so great!
Methinks for so obscure a candidate
He runs quite well. But as for Prohibition–
I mean myself to hold the first position.

(Produces a pocket flask, topes a cruel quantity of double-distilled
thunder-and-lightning out of it, smiles so grimly as to
darken all the stage and sings

Though fortunes vary let all be merry,
And then if e’er a disaster befall,
At Styx’s ferry is Charon’s wherry
In easy call.

Upon a ripple of golden tipple
That tipsy ship’ll convey you best.
To king and cripple, the bottle’s the nipple
Of Nature’s breast!