Page:Departmental Ditties and Ballads and Barrack-Room Ballads, Kipling, 1899.djvu/93

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79
THE MARE'S NEST

Then came the crisis, strange to say,
Which turned a good wife to a better.
A telegraphic peon, one day,
Brought her—now, had it been a letter
For Belial Machiavelli, I
Know Jane would just have let it lie.


But 'twas a telegram instead,
Marked "urgent," and her duty plain
To open it. Jane Austen read:—
"Your Lilly's got a cough again.
"Can't understand why she is kept
"At your expense."
Jane Austen wept.


It was a misdirected wire,
Her husband was at Shaitanpore.
She spread her anger, hot as fire,
Through six thin foreign sheets or more,
Sent off that letter, wrote another
To her solicitor—and mother.


Then Belial Machiavelli saw
Her error and, I trust, his own,
Wired to the minion of the Law,

And travelled wifeward—not alone: