How The Babes In The Wood Showed They Couldn't Be Beaten

A poem by Guy Wetmore Carryl

A man of kind and noble mind
Was H. Gustavus Hyde.
'Twould be amiss to add to this
At present, for he died,
In full possession of his senses,
The day before my tale commences.

One half his gold his four-year-old
Son Paul was known to win,
And Beatrix, whose age was six,
For all the rest came in,
Perceiving which, their Uncle Ben did
A thing that people said was splendid.

For by the hand he took them, and
Remarked in accents smooth:
"One thing I ask. Be mine the task
These stricken babes to soothe!
My country home is really charming:
I'll teach them all the joys of farming."

One halcyon week they fished his creek,
And watched him do the chores,
In haylofts hid, and, shouting, slid
Down sloping cellar doors:--
Because this life to bliss was equal
The more distressing is the sequel.

Concealing guile beneath a smile,
He took them to a wood,
And, with severe and most austere
Injunctions to be good,
He left them seated on a gateway,
And took his own departure straightway.

Though much afraid, the children stayed
From ten till nearly eight;
At times they wept, at times they slept,
But never left the gate:
Until the swift suspicion crossed them
That Uncle Benjamin had lost them.

Then, quite unnerved, young Paul observed:
"It's like a dreadful dream,
And Uncle Ben has fallen ten
Per cent. in my esteem.
Not only did he first usurp us,
But now he's left us here on purpose!"

* * * * *

For countless years their childish fears
Have made the reader pale,
For countless years the public's tears
Have started at the tale,
For countless years much detestation
Has been expressed for their relation.

So draw a veil across the dale
Where stood that ghastly gate.
No need to tell. You know full well
What was their touching fate,
And how with leaves each little dead breast
Was covered by a Robin Redbreast!

But when they found them on the ground,
Although their life had ceased,
Quite near to Paul there lay a small
White paper, neatly creased.
"Because of lack of any merit,
B. Hyde," it ran, "we disinherit!"


The Moral: If you deeply long
To punish one who's done you wrong,
Though in your lifetime fail you may,
Where there's a will, there is a way!

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