Punch, Brothers, Punch 335
*'A blue trip slip for an eight-cent fare, a buff trip slip for a six-cent fare," and so on and so on, without peace or respite. The day's work was ruined — I could see that plainly enough. I gave up and drifted down-town, and presently discovered that my feet were keeping time to that relentless jingle. When I could stand it no longer I altered my step. But it did no good; those rhymes accommodated themselves to the new step and went on harassing me just as before. I returned home, and suffered all the afternoon; suffered all through an unconscious and unrefreshing dinner; suffered, and cried, and jingled all through the evening; went to bed and rolled, tossed, and jingled right along, the same as ever; got up at midnight frantic, and tried to read; but there was nothing visible upon the whirling page except " Punch! punch in the presence of the passenjare." By sunrise I was out of my mind, and everybody marveled and was distressed at the idiotic burden of my ravings—"Punch! oh, punch! punch in the presence of the passenjare !"
Two days later, on Saturday morning, I arose, a tottering wreck, and went forth to fulfill an engagement
with a valued friend, the Rev. Mr.-------, to walk to the
Talcott Tower, ten miles distant. He stared at me,
but asked no questions. We started. Mr.-------talked,
talked, talked — as is his wont. I said nothing;
I heard nothing. At the end of a mile, Mr.-------
" Mark, are you sick? I never saw a man look so haggard and worn and absent-minded. Say something, do! "
Drearily, without enthusiasm, I said: "Punch, brothers, punch with care ! Punch in the presence of the passenjare!"
My friend eyed me blankly, looked perplexed, then said: