UPON A WALL OF MEDIUM HEIGHT
|Drawing by Peter Newell|
A boastful boy, and he was quite
And what aroused a most intense
Disgust in passers-by
Was his abnormal impudence
In hailing them with “Hi!”
While by his kicks he loosened bricks
The girls to terrify.
When thus for half an hour or more
He’d played his idle tricks,
And wounded something like a score
Of people with the bricks,
A man who kept a fuel shop
Across from where he sat
Remarked: “Well, this has
got to stop.”
Then, snatching up his hat,
And sallying out, began to shout:
“Look here! Come down from that!”
The boastful boy to laugh began,
As laughs a vapid clown,
And cried: “It takes a bigger man
Than you to call me down!
This wall is smooth, this wall is high,
And safe from every one.
No acrobat could do what I
Had been and gone and done!”
Though this reviled, the other smiled,
And said: “Just wait, my son!”
Then to the interested throng
That watched across the way
He showed with smiling face a long
And slender Henry Clay,
Remarking: “In upon my shelves
All kinds of coal there are.
Step in, my friends, and help yourselves.
And he who first can jar
That wretched urchin off his perch
Will get this good cigar.”
The throng this task did not disdain,
But threw with heart and soul,
Till round the youth there raged a rain
Of lumps of cannel-coal.
He dodged for all that he was worth,
Till one bombarder deft
Triumphant brought him down to earth,
Of vanity bereft.
“I see,” said he, “that this is the
Coal day when I get left.”
The moral is that fuel can
Become the tool of fate
When thrown upon a little man,
Instead of on a grate.
This story proves that when a brat
Imagines he’s admired,
And acts in such a fashion that
He makes his neighbors tired,
That little fool, who’s much too cool;
Gets warmed when coal is fired.
– Guy Wetmore Carryl, from Mother Goose for Grown-Ups, Harper & Brothers, 1900