Punch, Brothers, Punch 337
the rhymes myself. Say them over just once more, and then I'll have them, sure."
I said them over. Then Mr.-------said them. He
made one little mistake, which I corrected. The next time and the next he got them right. Now a great burden seemed to tumble from my shoulders. That torturing jingle departed out of my brain, and a grateful sense of rest and peace descended upon me. I was light-hearted enough to sing; and I did sing for half an hour, straight along, as we went jogging homeward. Then my freed tongue found blessed speech again, and the pent talk of many a weary hour began to gush and flow. It flowed on and on, joyously, jubilantly, un-til the fountain was empty and dry. As I wrung my friend's hand at parting, I said:
" Haven't we had a royal good time! But now I remember, you haven't said a word for two hours. Come, come, out with something!"
The Rev. Mr.-------turned a lack-lustre eye upon
me, drew a deep sigh, and said, without animation, without apparent consciousness:
" Punch, brothers, punch with care! Punch in the presence of the passenjare !"
A pang shot through me as I said to myself, " Poor fellow, poor fellow! he has got it, now."
I did not see Mr.-------for two or three days after
that. Then, on Tuesday evening, he staggered into my presence and sank dejectedly into a seat. He was pale, worn; he was a wreck. He lifted his faded eyes to my face and said:
"Ah, Mark, it was a ruinous investment that I made in those heartless rhymes. They have ridden me like a nightmare, day and night, hour after hour, to this very moment. Since I saw you I have suffered the torments of the lost. Saturday evening I had a sudden call, by telegraph, and took the night train for Boston. 22**