ERE the steamer bore him Eastward, Sleary was engaged to marry
An attractive girl at Tunbridge, whom he called "my little Carrie."
Sleary's pay was very modest; Sleary was the other way.
Who can cook a two-plate dinner on eight poor rupees a day?
Long he pondered o'er the question in his scantly furnished quarters -
Then proposed to Minnie Boffkin, eldest of Judge Boffkin's daughters.
Certainly an impecunious Subaltern was not a catch,
But the Boffkins knew that Minnie mightn't make another match.
So they recognised the business and, to feed and clothe the bride,
Got him made a Something Something somewhere on the Bombay side.
Anyhow, the billet carried pay enough for him to marry -
As the artless Sleary put it: - "Just the thing for me and Carrie."
Did he, therefore, jilt Miss Boffkin - impulse of a baser mind?
No! He started epileptic fits of an appalling kind.
[Of his modus operandi only this much I could gather: -
"Pears's shaving sticks will give you little taste and lots of lather."]
Frequently in public places his affliction used to smite
Sleary with distressing vigour -- always in the Boffkins' sight.
Ere a week was over Minnie weepingly returned his ring,
Told him his "unhappy weakness" stopped all thought of marrying.
Sleary bore the information with a chastened holy joy, -
Epileptic fits don't matter in Political employ, -
Wired three short words to Carrie - took his ticket, packed his kit -
Bade farewell to Minnie Boffkin in one last, long, lingering fit.
Four weeks later, Carrie Sleary read - and laughed until she wept -
Mrs. Boffkin's warning letter on the "wretched epilept." . . .
Year by year, in pious patience, vengeful Mrs. Boffkin sits
Waiting for the Sleary babies to develop Sleary's fits.