'A Comedy Of Errors' In Seven Acts / Part 8
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COUNT LUIE, (_reflectively_): Thine adversaries, though at vantage now, Should be subdued by strategy and guile.

I from sore strait triumphant did emerge Through trenchant pen of a compatriot.

This n.o.ble scion of Democracy Did wield a telling blow in my behalf And thrust the adversary 'neath the rib, Laying him low in controversial dust.

SIR WINDBAG, (_eagerly_): His name? his name? that I may quick engage This champion to bolster up my cause.

COUNT LUIE, (_whispers mysteriously_): He is but small in stature, but, ye goods, His valor fits his name, which is, La Mutt.



Dramatis Personae

_Francos:_ . . . . . _High c.o.c.kalorum._ _Sir Higgs:_ . . . . _First High Councillor._ _Sir Henmart:_ . . . _Second Councillor._ _Sir Windbag:_ . . . _Third Councillor._

_Scene: Official Residence._

FRANCOS: I greet thee, gentlemen, to conclave sweet.

Wisdom hath whispered in mine willing ear That we unc.u.mbered by the darker tint Of those who meet us at official board Could better sound the depths of special woes Which daily do beset us as we toil With earnest hearts to boost the public weal By filling vacant posts with Democrats!

SIR WINDBAG: But, Francos, list; a more disturbing mob, Whose crop is filled with discord and contempt, On which they daily feed, I ne'er have sized.

'Twere well to laws enact to hold in curb These brainless cubs who wield a p.r.i.c.king quill And words indite with vitriol for an ink, Which burns the meaning into quiv'ring brain And leaveth scars which time can ne'er efface.

A son of Erin in official place Did eulogize my effort at the club; And I, elated, loaned it to the press For publication if the writer willed; But scruples seemed to fill his vacuous mind, Hence it was hidden from the public gaze.

Now it hath disappeared, and Rumor saith 'Tis to be published in a stealthy way.

Zounds! 'tis enough to cause the blood to course Like mercury adown the burning veins.

Could I but lay my eager hands upon The thiefly neck, I'd wring it with good zest.

FRANCOS: But, Windbag; why didst thou thy tongue unloose, And set it wagging vaporings and froth?

Thou mightest have known the foe didst ready stand To thrust thy words adown thy choking throat.

Imprudence on its shoulders ever bears A burden which may crush its author down; 'Twere best to keep the pen in constant leash, For, words, indited not, work little harm.

SIR WINDBAG: But softly, Sire, Thy record is not clean, If but tradition wears a truthful garb.

Plug hats and coats of a latest Tammany style And "pleasure saturnine" did figure cut When first thy mouth did voice the burning thoughts That trickled from a brain much overwrought By meditation on conditions here Which bore so heavy on this downtrod race.

FRANCOS: Alas! 'tis true. Indoctrined by the words So eloquently voiced by one who long Hath dwelt within this city, where before The bar he wondrous reputation gained, I waited not to form a judgment sound, But leaning on a faith of fiction born, Awoke to find selfseeking underneath Each silver work this vampire spouted forth.

SIR WINDBAG: Francos, indeed thou hast my sympathy For this fat prophet wore an honest mien So that e'en I who boast a subtile brain Did fall before his wordy blandishments.

'Tis well! we then are quits. But why this call?

What matter of great import draws us here?

FRANCOS: _(to Windbag)_ The welfare of our party is at stake.

"Our" is the word, for thou the Rubicon Hast crossed, and henceforth--lest thou bolt again-- Deep in our councils, e'er thy duty calls.

SIR HIGGS: Most honored sirs, why this entanglement?

Both, through the want of deep experience, Have, as the sacred writer once did say, "Over the whiffle trees foolishly kicked."

SIR HENMART: Ha, Ha! Sir Higgs, the Bible saith not so!

But but let it pa.s.s. We politicians read The party platform more than sacred word, And make it standard for our daily lives.

FRANCOS: But, sirs, the matter pertinent this hour Involves the honor of our party's name.

When first I reached these sh.o.r.es, one Seldonskip, As scrivener, did bear me company.

Alas! he captive fell to woman's wiles And with a former gallant measured arms Hence I was forced, if peace were to be kept, To send him "kiting" to his distant home.

This strippling came of Democratic stock, Hence, to protect our party from dire shame, I tried to keep the cause of his deport A secret close, within official halls.

But emissaries from the spying press Did quick discern the matter and did blaze It on the pages of their various sheets And point with scorn at Democratic worth!

SIR HENMART: But, Sire, 'tis in the past, and what have we To do with fool gyratings of this callow youth?

In Kansas we do low within the grave Deep bury memories that prove unkind.

FRANCOS: Ah, sir, thy words deep meaning ever bear, And if the past were all I'd bid it sleep.

But now a new distemper hath appeared; For one who was selected for his worth And whom I boasted as a model man, Within whose veins did course a newer blood, Hath fool-like fallen on his knees before The G.o.ddess Venus, and to Bacchus fell A willing victim; while his babbling mouth Did spew dire boastings of official pull, While Folly's goblet filled unto the brim Slopped over, when in wordy contest, he With _green_-winged parrot did engage, and fain Its neck would there have wrung because its hue Proclaimed not sympathy with those who bear The orange flag when they procession make!

The guardsmen of the peace should ever soar On wings of probity and moral worth As Erin's Isle had furnished many such I deemed I'd found a jewel in the rough; But when there trickled through the spying press A literary effort from his pen, Wherein he said a woman "clumb" a wall My faith in his attainments quick did fade.

SIR HIGGS: But, Sire, this dire misfortune comes in trail Of boosting all who wear the party tag.

If I should speak the promptings of my heart, 'Twould to be give this fool a parting kick.

SIR WINDBAG: But there be may in this bristling mob Who slur at all who from proud Caesar's hand Have gladly licked the crumbs his bounty gave To soothe the hunger of his starving host.

FRANCOS: Ha! Thou hast hit the nail upon the head, These b.u.mpkins must not have a new made food For laughter at our misadventure here, Hence it were wise to send this fellow off As if he in the path of duty treads.

Nor must we breathe but that his quick return Will fill expectant hearts with honest joy, Thus may we darken shades of memory.

SIR HENMART: But did this officer a contest wage, With her whose heart went out unto her bird?

FRANCOS: What! hast thou heard, on wings of rumor borne, This matter in full detail free discussed?

SIR HIGGS: Sir, 'tis but common chatter on the streets.

And naught can hide it from the public gaze.

FRANCOS: Alas, there is one remedy in view We all must strong denial ever make.

Oh, that one of the sc.u.m so strong entrenched Had by his conduct rendered me a chance!

I would his vileness on the nonce have voiced, But now 'twere best to cloud this matter well.

SIR HIGGS: Methinks this scuttling goes too far by half In ousting tried officials from their posts.

'Twere wise to zeal politic well repay, But still, efficiency should ever bring Reward. And this, indeed, involves us all, For dire distempers in the tropics breed: Hence it were best to kindly caution woo.

FRANCOS: Sir Higgs, indeed thou ever reasonst well.

Sore ills encompa.s.s us on every side And now do pests my happy home invade, Bearing dire fevers on their pigmy wings, Alas, the song they sing rejoiceth that Efficient doctors, who did battle wage Against them, are removed and in their place Incompetents installed. Indeed, their stings Convincing plea do ever make that we Should quick return to paths trodden before And wage crusade against the swarming pests Until their songs are legends of the past.

SIR WINDBAG: But hold, sweet Francos: did not G.o.d design That e'en the insect should his life enjoy?

Indeed, his joyous song of grat.i.tude Doth only cease that he may puncture make To meet requirements which G.o.d hath ordained.

Hence it were well to nature's laws obey, For e'en this insect, as it wings its way, Hath fond desire, and "_knows just what it wants_."

FRANCOS, SIR HIGGS and HENMART (_in concert:_) Oh Rats! Rats!! Rats!!!