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´╗┐Title: Kensington Rhymes
Author: MacKenzie, Compton, 1883-1972
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Kensington Rhymes" ***

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the Internet Archive.



KENSINGTON RHYMES

[Illustration: THE PUNCH AND JUDY SHOW]



KENSINGTON

RHYMES

BY COMPTON MACKENZIE

ILLUSTRATED BY J. R. MONSELL

LONDON: MARTIN SECKER

NUMBER FIVE JOHN STREET ADELPHI

First published 1912

PRINTED BY

BALLANTYNE & COMPANY LTD

AT THE BALLANTYNE PRESS

TAVISTOCK STREET COVENT GARDEN

LONDON


TO

ETHEL LONG



CONTENTS

                                                                    PAGE

OUR HOUSE                                                             11

OUR SQUARE                                                            15

THE DANCING CLASS                                                     17

MY SISTER AT A PARTY                                                  22

KISSING GAMES                                                         26

A BALLAD OF THE ROUND POND                                            28

TOWN AND COUNTRY                                                      35

POOR LAVENDER GIRLS                                                   37

SUMMER HOLIDAYS                                                       39

THE UNPLEASANT MOON                                                   42

SUGGESTIONS ABOUT SLEEP                                               44

THE RARE BURGLAR                                                      47

THE GERMAN BAND                                                       49

THE DECEITFUL RAT-TAT                                                 53

THE CAGE IN THE PILLAR BOX                                            54

THE FORTUNATE COALMEN                                                 57

THE PAVEMENT ARTIST                                                   60

SWEEPS                                                                63

GREENGROCERS                                                          65

CHRISTMAS NOT FAR OFF                                                 66

THE DISAPPOINTMENT                                                    67

TREASURE TROVE                                                        68

A VISIT TO MY AUNT                                                    73

DON QUIXOTE                                                           77

THE WET DAY                                                           84

LAST WORDS                                                            87



KENSINGTON RHYMES

[Illustration: OUR HOUSE]

    OUR house is very high and red,
       The steps are very white,
    The balcony is full of flowers,
       The knocker's very bright.

    The hall has got a coloured lamp,
       A rack for father's hat,
    And pegs for coats: a curious word[A]
       Is printed on the mat.

    The kitchen ticks too loud at night,
       It is a horrid place;
    Black-beetles run about the floor
       At a most dreadful pace.

    The cellar is quite black with coal,
       The cat goes scratching there;
    People go tramping past above,
       But nobody knows where.

    The dining-room has rosy walls,
       And silver knives and forks,
    And when I listen at the door,
       I hear the popping corks.

    The library smells like new boots,
       It is a woolly room;
    The housemaid comes at eight o'clock
       And sweeps it with a broom.

    The staircase has a thousand rods
       That rattle if you kick,
    And when the twilight makes it blue
       I rush up very quick.

    The landing is a dismal place,
       The bannisters creak so,
    The door-knobs twinkle horribly,
       The gas is always low.

    The drawing-room is cold and white,
       The chairs have crooked legs;
    Silk ladies rustle in and out
       While Fido sits and begs.

    The bathroom is a trickling room,
      And always smells of paint,
    The cupboard's full of medicine
      For fever, cold or faint.

    My bedroom is a brassy room
       With pictures on the wall:
    It's rather full of nurse's clothes
       But then my own are small.

    Our house is very high and red,
       The steps are very white,
    The balcony is full of flowers,
       The knocker's very bright.

  [A] Nobody knows what SALVE means

[Illustration: OUR SQUARE]

    OUR square is really most select,
       Infectious children, dogs and cats
    Are not allowed to come inside,
       Nor any people from the flats.

    I have a sweetheart in the square,
       I bring her pebbles that I find,
    And curious shapes in mould, and sticks,
       And kiss her when she does not mind.

    She wears a dress of crackling white,
       A shiny sash of pink or blue,
    And over these a pinafore,
       And she comes out at half-past two.

    Her legs are tall and thin and black,
       Her eyes are very large and brown,
    And as she walks along the paths,
       Her frock moves slowly up and down.

    We all have sweethearts in our square,
       And when the winter comes again,
    We shall go to the dancing-class
       And watch them walking through the rain.

[Illustration: THE DANCING CLASS]

[Illustration: THE DANCING CLASS]

    EACH week on Friday night at six
       Our dancing-class begins:
    Two ladies dressed in white appear
       And play two violins.

    It's really meant for boys at school,
       But girls can also come,
    And when you walk inside the room
       You hear a pleasant hum.

    The older boys wear Eton suits,
       The younger boys white tops;
    We stand together in a row
       And practise curious hops.

    The dancing-master shows the step
       With many a puff and grunt;
    He has a red silk handkerchief
       Stuck grandly in his front.

    He's awfully excitable,
       His wrists are very strong,
    He drags you up and down the room
       Whenever you go wrong.

    And when you're going very wrong,
       The girls begin to laugh;
    And when you're pushed back in your place,
       The boys turn round and chaff.

    We've learnt the polka and the waltz,
       We've _got_ the ladies' chain;
    Although he says our final bows
       Give him enormous pain.

    The floor is very slippery,
       It's difficult to walk
    From one end to the other end
       Unless you sort of stalk.

    And when the steps have all been done,
       He takes you by the arm
    To choose a partner for the dance--
       It makes you get quite warm.

    You have to bow and look polite,
       And ask with a grimace
    The pleasure of the next quadrille,
       And slouch into your place.

    He always picks out girls you hate,
       I really don't know why,
    And when you look across the room
       It almost makes you cry

    To see the girl you would have picked
       Dance with another boy
    Without a single smile for you,
       Determined to annoy.

    Your heart beats very loud and quick,
       Your breath comes very fast,
    You pinch your partner in the chain--
       But dances end at last.

    You think you will not look at her,
       You look the other way;
    Yet when she beckons with her fan,
       You instantly obey.

    How quick the evening gallops by
       And eight o'clock comes soon,
    But not till you've arranged to meet
       To-morrow afternoon.

[Illustration: MY SISTER AT A PARTY]

    I HEAR the piano, the party's begun;
    Hurry up! hurry up! there is going to be fun.
    Leave your wrap in the hall and tie up your shoes,
    There isn't a moment, a moment to lose.
    Take a peep at the dining-room as you go by,
    Lemonade, claret cup, orange wine you will spy:
    And they're going to have two sorts of ices this year,
    Both strawberry-cream and vanilla, I hear.
    Twelve dances are down on the programme, I see.
    Oh, do up your gloves, she is waiting for me!
    I hear the piano, the polka's begun!
    Oh, why does your beastly old sash come undone!
    That's right, are your ready? now don't you forget
    To say how d'ye do and express your regret
    That Miss Perkins[B] is laid up in bed with a cold--
    It isn't my place--just you do as you're told.
    I say, look at Frank,[C] he's behaving as though
    He was playing with cads in a field full of snow;
    He's sliding about on the slippery floor
    All over the room with the kid from next door.
    It's a jolly good thing that Miss Perkins' in bed,
    They'll probably send old Eliza[D] instead.
    When we hear that she's come, we'll just not attend,
    Or tell her we never go home till the end.
    They give all the maids when they come, orange wine--
    I say, do you think I might ask her for nine.
    All right, only don't say I danced more than twice;
    If you do, I'll say you have had more than one ice.
    Mother said that you could? She said one of each?
    You'd better look out or I'll jolly well peach.
    You don't care if I do? All right, just you wait!
    You'll tell Mrs. Jones we were not to be late?
    I'm not pinching at all, you beastly young sneak!
    You _won't_ follow me round when we play hide and seek!
    There's Dorothy![E] Pax! You can eat what you like,
    And to-morrow I'll give you a ride on my bike.

[B] Miss Perkins is our governess]

[C] He's my brother

[D] Eliza is our housemaid

[E] She's an awfully decent girl I know.

[Illustration: KISSING GAMES]

    POSTMAN'S Knock! Postman's Knock!
    A letter for the girl next door,
    And two pence, please, to pay.

    Kiss in the Ring! Kiss in the Ring!
    She's fallen down upon the floor,
    I don't know what to say.

    Postman's Knock! Postman's Knock!
    I wish that I had asked for more;
    At games you must obey.

    Kiss in the Ring! Kiss in the Ring!
    When running after her I tore
    Her frock the other day.

    Postman's Knock! Postman's Knock!
    A letter for the girl next door,
    And a shilling she must pay.[F]

[F] But she didn't

[Illustration: BALLAD OF THE ROUND POND]

    THE Round Pond is a fine pond
       With fine ships sailing there,
    Cutters, yachts and men-o'-war,
     And sailor-boys everywhere.

    Paper boats they hug the shore,
       And row-boats move with string
    But cutters, yachts and larger ships
       Sail on like anything.

[Illustration: THE ROUND POND]

    It was the schooner _Kensington_,
       Set out one Saturday:
    The wind was blowing from the east,
       The sky was cold and grey.

    Her crew stood on the quarter-deck
       And stared across the sea,
    With two brass cannon in the stern
       For the Royal Artillery.

    The Royal Tin Artillery
       Had faced the sea before,
    They had fallen in the bath one night
       And heard the waste-plug roar.

    They were rescued by the nursery maid
       And put on the ledge to dry;
    And they looked more like the Volunteers
       Than the Royal Artillery.

    For the blue had all come off their clothes,
       And they afterwards wore grey;
    But they stood by the cannon like Marines
       That famous Saturday.

    The crew of the schooner _Kensington_
       Were Dutchmen to a man,
    With wooden legs and painted eyes;
       But the Captain he was bran.

    His blood was of the brownest bran
       And his clothes were full of tucks;
    But he fell in the sea half-way across,
       And was eaten up by ducks.

    We launched the boat at half-past three,
       And stood on the bank to watch,
    And some friends of mine who were fishing there
    Had a wonderful minnow-catch.

    Fifteen minnows were caught at once
       In an ancient ginger jar,
    When a shout went up that the _Kensington_
       Was heeling over too far.

    Too far for a five-and-sixpenny ship
       That was warranted not to upset;
    But she righted herself in half a tick
       Though the crew got very wet.

    The crew got very wet indeed;
       The Artillery all fell down,
    And lay on their backs for the rest of the voyage
       For fear they were going to drown.

    The schooner _Kensington_ sailed on
       Across the wild Round Pond,
    And we ran along the gravel-bank
       With a hook stuck into a wand.

    A hook stuck into a wand to guide
       The schooner safe ashore
    To incandescent harbour lights
       And a dock on the school-room floor.

    But suddenly the wind dropped dead.
       And a calm came over the sea,
    And a terrible rumour got abroad
       It was time to go home to tea.

    We whistled loud, we whistled long,
       The whole of that afternoon;
    But there wasn't wind enough to float
       A twopenny pink balloon.

    And the other chaps upon the bank
       Looked anxiously out to sea;
    For their sweethearts and sisters were going home,
       And they feared for the cake at tea.

     *       *       *       *       *

    It was the schooner _Kensington_
       Came in at dead of night
    With many another gallant ship
       And one unlucky kite.

    The keeper found them at break of day,
       And locked them up quite dry
    In his little green hut, with a notice that
       On Monday we must apply.

    So on Sunday after church we went
       To stare at them through the door;
    And we saw the schooner _Kensington_
       Keel upwards on the floor.

    But though we stood on the tips of our toes,
       And craned our necks to see,
    We could not spot the wooden-legged crew
    Or the Royal Artillery.

[Illustration: TOWN AND COUNTRY]

    THEY say that country children have
       Most fierce adventures every night,
    With owls and bats and giant moths
       That flutter to the candle-light.

    They say that country children search
       For earwigs underneath the sheets,
    That creeping animals abound
       Upon the wooden window-seats.

    They say that country children wash
       Their hands in water full of things,
    Tadpoles and newts and wriggling eels,
       Until their hands are pink with stings.

    But this I know, that if they slept
       Far, far away from owls and bats,
    Their hearts would thump tremendously
       To hear outside two fighting cats.

    Two cats that surely must come through
       The inky window-pane and jump,
    With gleaming eyes, upon my bed--
       Ah, then indeed their hearts would thump.

[Illustration: POOR LAVENDER GIRLS]

    LAVENDER, lavender!
       Summer's in town!
    Blue skies and marguerites,
       Mother's new gown!

    Lavender, lavender!
       Summer's in town!
    Blue seas and yellow sands,
       Children have flown.

    Lavender, lavender!
       Bunchy and sweet!
    No one wants lavender
       All down our street.

    Lavender girls in London never learn to play,
    Give them a penny, a penny before you go away.

[Illustration: GOOD-NIGHT]

[Illustration: SUMMER HOLIDAYS]

    WHEN I was small and went to bed
       Before the sun went down,
    My cot was woven out of gold
       Like a princess's gown.

    And in the garden every night,
       I used to hear the birds,
    And from the people on the lawn
       A pleasant sound of words.

    The garden was quite full of pinks
       Whose smell came blowing in
    Through windows open very wide
       Where gnats would dance and spin.

    And as I lay in my cool cot,
       I'd think of daylight hours,
    Poppies and ox-eyed daisies white,
       And all the roadside flowers

    Now lifting up their drooping heads
       In the long-shadow time;
    I'd listen for my mother's step
       The narrow stairs to climb.

    And as she bent to say good-night
       And heard me say my prayer,
    She seemed a bit of mignonette,
       She was so sweet and fair.

    And just as I was dozing off,
       I'd hear some jolly talk
    Of aunts and uncles setting out
       To take their supper-walk.

    I'd hear their voices die away
       In the green curly lane;
    But I was always fast asleep
       When they came back again.

[Illustration: THE UNPLEASANT MOON]

    THE moon is not much use to me,
       She rises far too late:
    I'm fonder of the friendly fire
       That crackles in the grate.

    But when I wake up in the night
       And find the fire asleep,
    His ashes make a horrid noise
       And mice begin to creep.

    And then the moon crawls in between
       The curtains and the floor,
    And when I turn my face away,
       She's crawling round the door.

    Oh, then I wish she was the fire,
       I like his light the most;
    He does not give the furniture
       A sort of shaking ghost.

    I hide my head beneath the clothes
       And shut my eyes up tight,
    And then I see queer dancing wheels
       And spots of coloured light.

    They do not comfort me at all,
       But pass the time away
    Until I hear the milkman's can
       And know that it is day.

[Illustration: SUGGESTIONS ABOUT SLEEP]

    I'VE heard it said that the dustman
       Is responsible for our sleep,
    That he puts a pinch of dust in our eyes
       When the stars begin to peep.

    If this is true it would quite explain
       The horrible dreams that come,
    For the dustman looks a rough sort of chap,
       And his cart smells awfully rum.

[Illustration: THE DUSTMAN]

    I've tried to talk to the dustman,
       But his voice is fearfully hoarse;
    And once I put a penny in the bin--
       It was taken out of course.

    But for all the good it did my dreams,
       I need not have put it in;
    Perhaps he thought that the penny had slipped
       By accident into the bin.

    It seems absurd in this civilised age[G]
       That our dreams should still be bad;
    If the dustman _is_ responsible
       I think he must be mad.

    It's horrid enough to lie awake,
       And count the knobs on the bed;
    But it's horrider far to go to sleep,
       In fact I'd sooner be dead.

    I expect that then if one had bad dreams
       And woke up in a fright,
    There would be an angel somewhere about
       To strike a cheerful light.

    And your governess is not always glad,
       If you wake her up to say
    That a witch has been chasing you down a street
       Where the people have gone away.

[G] Father said this about something.

[Illustration: THE RARE BURGLAR]

    IT'S extremely unusual, my mother declares,
    For a burglar to sleep at the top of the stairs:
    The policemen, she says, are so terribly sure
    That daily the number of burglars gets fewer.
    They are caught by the dozen as morning comes round
    And dragged off to cells very deep underground:
    And there they repent of their wicked bad lives,
    With occasional visits from children and wives.
    So every night when I lie in my bed,
    I listen to hear the policeman's deep tread.
    I've a whistle that hangs on a piece of white cord,
    And it's much more consoling than any tin sword:
    For I know, if I blow, the policeman will come
    And make the old burglar look awfully glum.

[Illustration: THE GERMAN BAND]

    I LOVE to lie in bed and hear
       The jolly German band.
    Why people do not care for it
       I cannot understand.

    They do not mind the orchestra.
       And that makes far more noise;
    They quite forget that music is
       A thing that one enjoys.

    When grown-up people come and call,
       I have to play for them;
    And once a deaf old lady said
       My playing was a gem.

    But it's not true for them to say
       The Carnival de Venise[H]
    With three wrong notes is better than
       A band that plays with ease.

    It comes each week at eight o'clock,
       And when I hear it play,
    I am a knight upon a horse
       And riding far away.

    The lines upon the blanket are
       Six armies marching past,
    Six armies marching on a plain,
       Six armies marching fast.

    Of course I am the general,
       I'm riding at the head;
    But suddenly the music stops
       And then I'm back in bed.

    Each time it plays brings different thoughts,
       Exciting, sad and good.
    I'm sailing in a sailing ship,
       I'm walking in a wood.

    I'm going to the pantomime,
       I'm at the hippodrome.
    But when the music stops, why then
       I always am at home.

    In winter when it's dark at eight,
       The jolly German band
    Drives all unpleasant thoughts away
       Just like a fairy-wand.

    In summer when it's light at eight,
       The German band still plays;
    It makes me think of pleasant things
       And seaside holidays.

    I've heard that it plays out of tune,
       And upsets talking, and
    I've heard it called a nuisance, but
     I love the German band.

[H] This is beastly difficult, and almost so decent as _Rosalie the
Prairie Flower_.

[Illustration: THE DECEITFUL RAT-TAT]

    THE postman has given a loud rat-tat,
       Perhaps it's a parcel for me:
    Elizabeth does go slowly
       To open the door and see.

    Oh dear, it's only a telegram,
       To wait on the stand in the hall
    Till Father comes home in the evening
       Or Mother comes back from a call.

[Illustration: THE CAGE IN THE PILLAR-BOX]

    I WONDER if an animal
       Lives in the pillar-box,
    For when the postman opens it
       You see a cage with locks.

    And surely letters do not want
       A cage with bars and clamps;
    They have no wings, they could not fly,
       They're held by sticky stamps.

    Perhaps the postman keeps a pet,
       A savage beast of prey;
    For lions, seals and diving-birds
       Are fed three times a day.

    And all those figures on the plate
       Are meant perhaps for you
    To learn what time the beast is fed
       Like others at the Zoo.

    And now I come to think of it,
       The postman's coat and hat
    Is not unlike a keeper's who
       Feeds animals with fat.

    Besides, he always shuts the door
       With a tremendous bang,
    As if he feared to see stick out
       An irritable fang.

    But then again I never heard
       The faintest roar or squeak,
    I never saw a sniffing nose
       Or spied a hooky beak.

    So after all perhaps there's not
       A bird, a beast or snake.
    And yet to-morrow I shall post
       A slice of cherry-cake.

[Illustration: THE FORTUNATE COALMEN]

    IT is a pleasant thing to watch
       The coalmen at their work;
    They do not seem to mind the dark
       Where many dangers lurk.

    The braver of them goes below
       Into the cellar black,
    And calls out in a cheerful voice
       To bring another sack.

    The other grunts and groans a lot
       Beneath his load of coal,
    And down the ladder goes with care
       Until he gains the hole.

    He turns his burden upside down,
       The inside rattles out,
    And a delicious smell of coal
       Gets everywhere about.

    The braver one takes up his spade
       And shovels it away;
    The other wipes his shiny face,
       And asks the time of day.

    But it is very strange to me
       That neither seems to want
    To put the ladder down the hole
       And climb down where I can't.

    A man, they say, once broke his leg
       By falling down a grating,
    And nearly died for want of food,
       Because they kept him waiting

    A week before they pulled him out
       And took him to his home,
    From which he never more went forth
       The London streets to roam.

    But coalmen do not run these risks,
       They have no nurse to frown,
    So they might spend the whole long day
       In climbing up and down.[I]

[I] They are silly not to.

[Illustration: THE PAVEMENT ARTIST]

    I THINK that I should like to be
       A pavement artist best,
    For he has every kind of chalk
       Spread in a cosy nest.

    I have ten pieces in a box,
       Black, yellow, white and blue,
    Pink, red, brown, orange, grey and green,
    But these are far too few.

[Illustration: THE PAVEMENT ARTIST]

    He has a hundred different shades,
       And most uncommon sorts;
    He can draw salmon, queens and chops,
       Wrecks, mutinies and forts.

    His cannon have enormous puffs
       Of the most curly smoke,
    Because he has so many 'greys,'
       Far more than other folk.

    His girls are a delicious pink,
       And mine are rather pale;
    But then I have to be more strict
       For fear my pink should fail.

    His fields have got a splendid green;
       They're full of flowers bright;
    But mine are covered up with snow
       Because my paper's white.

    And yet with all these jolly chalks,
       The artist seems in pain;
    Perhaps because his pictures get
       Rubbed out by showers of rain.

    But what I cannot understand
       Is why each paving-stone
    Has not a drawing on its face,
       Why such a few are done.

    Our walks would be much pleasanter,
       If all the dullest streets
    Were illustrated like a book
       And gay as flags or sweets.

    Of course a lot would get all smudged
       By careless people's tracks,
    But some would tread as I do now
       Only upon the cracks.

[Illustration: SWEEPS]

    MY nurse declares that sweeps are kind,
       Without the slightest inclination
    To steal away a well-dressed child
       Except by nurse's invitation.

    Nurse says that children do not climb
       The tall black chimneys any more;
    She even says (this must be wrong)
       Sweeps enter by the area door.

    But I have seen a chimney-sweep
       Go whooping up and down our street;
    And on his back he had a sack--
       I bet with something good to eat.

[Illustration: GREENGROCERS]

    GREENGROCERS, greengrocers,
       In your green shops,
    With cabbages and cauliflowers
       And tough turnip-tops.

    Mother buys daffodils,
       And apples for me:
    But nurse she buys radishes
       To eat with her tea.

[Illustration: CHRISTMAS NOT FAR OFF]

    NOVEMBER fogs, November fogs,
       A month to Christmas day.
    The world is cold and dirty,
       But the muffin man is gay.

    He rings his bell, he rings his bell
       All through the afternoon:
    He rings his bell to let us know
       That Christmas will come soon.

[Illustration: THE DISAPPOINTMENT]

    THE Punch and Judy man's in sight,
       He's coming down our street,
    He's stopping just before our house--
       Shut up! I bagged that seat.

    I say, the Colonel opposite[J]
       Is sending him away,
    Because he says his wife is ill
       And can't bear noise to-day.

[J] He bagged our ball the other day

[Illustration: TREASURE TROVE]

    AFTER a winter walk, it's nice
       To see the baked-potato man
    Poking his stove and picking out
       The best potatoes from his pan.

    A baked potato on a spike
       Is very like a pirate's head;
    I always think of them again
       Long after when I've gone to bed.

    I bought one coming home from school,
       And as I turned into our street,
    The lamp-posts in the yellow fog
       Sailed like a wicked pirate fleet.

    And all the people in the fog
       Were sailor-men upon a quay;
    The pavement smelt of tar and salt:
       I thought I heard quite close the sea.

    I heard a whisper as I went,
       'The Jolly Roger's at the peak';
    A bullfinch in a lighted room
       Was a parrot in a far-off creek.

    The parlour-maid at Twenty-two
       Was black-eyed Susan, and beyond,
    The plane-tree was a cocoa-palm;
       The crossing-sweeper was marooned.

    And as I got close to our house,
       I was an English midshipman;
    My satchel was an old sea-chest,
       My copy-book a treasure-plan.

    And then a wondrous thing occurred,
       The strangest thing I ever knew:
    I found a shining sixpence, though
       I don't suppose you'll think it true.

    I hardly dared to look at it,
       Afraid that it would only prove
    A bit of tin, a Bovril coin,
       And not a proper treasure-trove.

    I told my brother and he thought
       We'd better hide it out of sight,
    In case the pirates should attack
       Our bedroom on that foggy night.

    The baked potato in my coat
       Was just exactly Captain Kidd;
    So both of us declared at once
       That there the sixpence must be hid.

    We took our sister's sailor-doll
       And put his clothes upon a stick,
    And spent the evening doing this
       Instead of my arithmetic.

    We made a glorious cocked-hat
       Of paper-painted Prussian blue,
    We put the pirate on the stick,
       And stuck the sixpence first with glue.

    Deep in my mother's window-box
       Next day we buried Captain Kidd;
    My sister never could find out
       Where all her sailor-clothes were hid.

    We made a map to show the place
       And wrote directions in red ink;
    But when we dug the treasure up,
       I dropped it down the kitchen sink.

[Illustration: A VISIT TO MY AUNT]

    AUNT JANE with whom I sometimes stay
       Has a very curious house,
    As quiet as Aunt Jane herself,
       As quiet as a mouse.

    It's always Autumn when I go
       And raining every day:
    The garden's full of shrubs and paths
       I'm sent out there to play.

    The paths are green and full of moss,
       The shrubs are wet and dark:
    It's like a secret corner in
       A sort of nightmare park.

    I walk about the paths alone
       And look at roots and leaves,
    And once behind a laurel bush
       I saw a Pierrot's[K] sleeves.

    I thought of him that night in bed,
       I was afraid he'd climb
    And peep against the window-pane
       And say a horrid rhyme.

    And when I heard the rain outside
       Dripping upon the sill,
    I thought I heard his footsteps too,
       And oh, I did lie still.

[K] Like one in my Aunt's French picture-book

    I saw his shadow dance about
       Like a shadow on a sheet;
    I saw his eyes, like currants black,
       And his white velvet feet.

    My aunt's house is a quiet house,
       The servants never speak:
    She goes to sleep each afternoon:
       I stay there for a week.

    The rooms have got a woolly smell,
       They're full of little things--
    Tall clocks and fat blue china bowls
       And birds with coloured wings.

    I tinkle all the candlesticks
       Upon the mantelpiece:
    They wave long after I have gone,
       And never seem to cease.

    The drawing-room is full of shawls,
       With footstools everywhere,
    And prickly cushions stuck upright
       Upon each bristly chair.

    I'm glad when I go home again
       Into the shining lamps
    And comfortable sound of streets,
       And see my book of stamps.

[Illustration: DON QUIXOTE]

[Illustration: DON QUIXOTE]

    THE clock is striking four o'clock,
       It is not time for tea.
    Although the night is marching up
       And I can hardly see.

    I'm reading in the library
       In a most enormous chair;
    The fire is just the very kind
       That makes you want to stare.

    I'm looking at the largest book
       That ever yet was seen;
    They say I shall not understand
       This tale till I'm fourteen.

    Don Quixote is the name of it
       With pictures on each page;
    The way that he was treated puts
       Me in a fearful rage.

    Don Quixote was a tall thin man
       Whose thoughts were just like mine,
    He saw queer things, he heard queer sounds
       Though he was more than nine.

    He used to lie in bed and watch
       The hilly counterpane.
    And see strange little knights-at-arms
       Go riding down a plain.

    His room was simply crowded with
       Enchanters, dwarfs and elves,
    And dragons used to go to sleep
      Upon the darkest shelves.

    He used to think that common things
      Were really very strange,
    Like me who saw a goblin once
      Upon our kitchen-range.

    He saw big giants in the clouds
       Marching and fighting there:
    He used to listen to the leaves
       And think it was a bear.

    He found some armour that belonged
       To people long ago,
    And rode away to fight and save
       Princesses from the foe.

    But every one behaved to him
       As if they were his nurse:
    They said he was old-fashioned and
       They said he was a curse.

    He used to play at 'let's pretend'
       And charge a flock of sheep;
    He used to read in bed at night
       Instead of going to sleep.

    There was not anything of which
       He could not make a game;
    He must have been a jolly chap--
       Don Quixote was his name.

    He had adventures every day,
       He simply made them come;
    But all his family shook their heads
       And said that he was rum.

    They burnt his books, they shut him up,
       They threw enormous stones.
    Some beastly fellows beat him too
       And almost broke his bones.

    It makes me simply furious,
       It _nearly_ makes me cry
    To see him lying in the road--
       I hope he will not die.

    He did not mean to misbehave,
       He wanted just to play;
    Some people think my games are bad--
       They did the other day.

    A cousin came to stay with us
       To see the Lord Mayor's Show,
    And we were playing 'Ancient Greeks,'
       A game you all must know.

    Andromeda we gave to her,
       Perseus was given to me;
    My kiddy brother was the beast,
       The nursery floor the sea.

    We tied her to the rock with string,
       The rock was Nurse's bed,
    Medusa's head was Nurse's hat--
       We ruined it, she said.

    And as the floor was rather dry,
       We got the water-jug,
    And slooshed it all about the room
       And simply sopped the rug.

    My kiddy brother was the beast,
       I killed him with the poker;
    My kiddy cousin screamed and yelled
       As if we _meant_ to soak her.

    So we were punished just because
       We played at 'let's pretend.'
    Don Quixote would have understood,
       He would have been our friend.

    Hullo! there goes the bell for tea;
       They've lighted up the hall,
    And I must go and wash my hands
       And fetch Miss Perkins' shawl.

[Illustration: THE WET DAY]

    THE wettest days in London
       Are quite a jolly spree:
    Our house is like an island,
       The wet street like a sea.

    The rain beats on our windows
       And splashes on the sill;
    But the dining-room's a jungle,
       The staircase is a hill.

    Our camping-ground's the nursery,
       The hall's a coral-reef;
    My sister's cot's a schooner,
       And Nurse an Indian chief.

    Miss Perkins is a pirate,
       The maids are cannibals;
    They have orgies in the pantry
       Unless a person calls.

    We've guns and swords and pistols,
       We've several sorts of flags;
    By shooting on the hillside
       We've got some splendid bags.

    We found a grand volcano
       Close to the servants' room,
    It really was the cistern,
       But it made a fearful boom.

    In all our expeditions
       My brother is the crew,
    I'm midshipman and captain--
       Of course it's rather few,

    But then my kiddie sister
       Has _got_ to be the beasts
    Which we go out a-hunting
       In order to have feasts.

    Our feasts are bread and butter,
       And sometimes bread and jam--
    That is, if when we're shooting
       No doors are made to slam.

    The wettest days in London
       Are quite a jolly spree;
    And sometimes, though not often,
       Our friends come in to tea.

[Illustration: LAST WORDS]

    IF, Percy, you have money in your pocket,
       For Algernon I hope you'll buy this book,
    But when you've bought it, do let Algy read it,
       And let your kiddy sister have a look.

    This good advice applies to you, young Godfrey,
       To Wilfred and to Michael and to Claude,
    To James, Guy, Basil, Archibald and Eustace,
       And also to Diana, Joan and Maud.

    Philip, to you the last must be spoken;
       Tell people of this book round Kensington;
    Mention with kind encouragement the Author,
       And get the money from your Uncle John.

THE END





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