Rudyard Kipling

The Mare's Nest

Jane Austen Beecher Stowe de Rouse Was good beyond all earthly need; But, on the other hand, her spouse Was very, very bad indeed. He smoked cigars, called churches slow, And raced -- but this she did not know. For Belial Machiavelli kept The little fact a secret, and, Though o'er his minor sins she wept, Jane Austen did not understand That Lilly -- thirteen-two and bay Absorbed one-half her husband's pay. She was so good, she made hime worse; (Some women are like this, I think;) He taught her parrot how to curse, Her Assam monkey how to drink. He vexed her righteous soul until She went up, and he went down hill. Then came the crisis, strange to say, Which turned a good wife to a better. A telegraphic peon, one day, Brought her -- now, had it been a letter For Belial Machiavelli, I Know Jane would just have let it lie. But 'twas a telegram instead, Marked "urgent," and her duty plain To open it. Jane Austen read: "Your Lilly's got a cough again. Can't understand why she is kept At your expense." Jane Austen wept. It was a misdirected wire. Her husband was at Shaitanpore. She spread her anger, hot as fire, Through six thin foreign sheets or more. Sent off that letter, wrote another To her solicitor -- and mother. Then Belial Machiavelli saw Her error and, I trust, his own, Wired to the minion of the Law, And traveled wifeward -- not alone. For Lilly -- thirteen-two and bay -- Came in a horse-box all the way. There was a scene -- a weep or two -- With many kisses. Austen Jane Rode Lilly all the season through, And never opened wires again. She races now with Belial. This Is very sad, but so it is.

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