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Monday, January 02, 2012

Guest Blogger: Guy Wetmore Carryl

How Rudeness and Kindness Were Justly Rewarded
by Guy Wetmore Carryl (1873-1904)

        ONCE on a time, long years ago
        (Just when I quite forget),
        Two maidens lived beside the Po,
        One blonde and one brunette.
        The blonde one's character was mild,
        From morning until night she smiled,
        Whereas the one whose hair was brown
        Did little else than pine and frown.
        (I think one ought to draw the line
        At girls who always frown and pine!)
        The blonde one learned to play the harp,
        Like all accomplished dames,
        And trained her voice to take C sharp
        As well as Emma Eames;
        Made baskets out of scented grass,
        And paper-weights of hammered brass,
        And lots of other odds and ends
        For gentleman and lady friends.
        (I think it takes a deal of sense
        To manufacture gifts for gents!)
        The dark one wore an air of gloom,
        Proclaimed the world a bore,
        And took her breakfast in her room
        Three mornings out of four.
        With crankiness she seemed imbued,
        And everything she said was rude:
        She sniffed, and sneered, and, what is more,
        When very much provoked, she swore!
        (I think that I could never care
        For any girl who'd learned to swear!)
        One day the blonde was striding past
        A forest, all alone,
        When all at once her eyes she cast
        Upon a wrinkled crone,
        Who tottered near with shaking knees,
        And said: "A penny, if you please!"
        And you will learn with some surprise
        This was a fairy in disguise!
        (I think it must be hard to know
        A fairy who's incognito!)
        The maiden filled her trembling palms
        With coinage of the realm.
        The fairy said: "Take back your alms!
        My heart they overwhelm.
        Henceforth at every word shall slip
        A pearl or ruby from your lip!"
        And, when the girl got home that night, -
        She found the fairy's words were right!
        (I think there are not many girls
        Whose words are worth their weight in pearls!)
        It happened that the cross brunette,
        Ten minutes later, came
        Along the self-same road, and met
        That bent and wrinkled dame,
        Who asked her humbly for a sou.
        The girl replied: "Get out with you!"
        The fairy cried: "Each word you drop,
        A toad from out your mouth shall hop!"
        (I think that nothing incommodes
        One's speech like uninvited toads!)
        And so it was, the cheerful blonde
        Lived on in joy and bliss,
        And grew pecunious, beyond
        The dreams of avarice
        And to a nice young man was wed,
        And I have often heard it said
        No other man who ever walked
        Most loved his wife when most she talked!
        (I think this very fact, forsooth,
        Goes far to prove I tell the truth!)
        The cross brunette the fairy's joke
        By hook or crook survived,
        But still at every word she spoke
        An ugly toad arrived,
        Until at last she had to come
        To feigning she was wholly dumb,
        Whereat the suitors swarmed around,
        And soon a wealthy mate she found.
        (I think nobody ever knew
        The happier husband of the two!)
        The Moral of the tale is: Bah!
        Nous avons change tout cela.
        No clear idea I hope to strike
        Of what our nicest girl is like,
        But she whose best young man I am
        Is not an oyster, nor a clam!

"How Rudeness and Kindness Were Justly Rewarded" is reprinted from Grimm Tales Made Gay. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1902.

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