A Mistake




Of the two hundred fellows at School
I'm no fool,
So I flatter myself, yet confess
My cunning is less
Than a new boy's whose virulent blows
Brought blood to my nose.

When the term was young at its birth,
And no dearth
Of money perplexed us, I saw
Bear-sullen and raw
A new boy uncombed and uncouth,
An ink-spotted youth.

Whose visage suggestive of woe
Attracted me so
That I went to him full of good feeling,
An angel of healing
Self-appointed, and said ' 'Tis relief
To pour out one's grief

To one whose experience immense
Has given him sense.'
He drying his eyes on his cuff
Pluckt heart up, enough
To answer, all snivel and snuffling:
'Some beggars were scuffling

And hurt him' (I think 'twas his knee
Suffered most in the spree.)
Then fled. Now it chanced I'd a share
In that little affair,
Hit some one, who knows? Did I care
For the how, when or where?

Then I asked him, 'Describe me this youth,
With spirit and truth; '
He produced a description, full, fervid,
In speech unreserved,
Of myself as I stood at the time
Of that Corridor crime:

Wound up his long speech, with a vow,
(I've forgotten it now—
The words in their fullness and flavour)
To instruct in behaviour
The person who smote him; then I
With eagle-grey eye,

In manner most melodramatic
Transfixed the lunatic
And said, 'I am he, do your worst
O Urchin accursed!'
And he glared at me hard for a space,
Then full in my face

Threw himself, laying hold of my throat
He fixed there and smote.—
Tho' I beat on his head with my fist
He would not desist;
This continued, not much to my glory.
To finish my story—

I was pummelled, kicked, scratched, torn, and smitten,
Bemauled and bebitten,
Till I gave up the field, and departed,
Upset and downhearted.

With a new boy you don't know, don't quarrel,
Is my long-winded anecdote 's moral.