Lapsus Calami (Aug 1891)/To Mrs B.

To Mrs. B  (1891) 

First published in the "Rescued from the Waste Paper Basket" section of the third edition of Lapsus Calami, "To Mrs. B" was omitted in the posthumous edition.

The sumptuous board of you know who
Was rich with unaccustomed splendour:
The host, a gallant man and true,
Beamed like a newly polished fender:
And more than one important guest
With visible delight was swelling:
But that which I remember best
Is just a phrase:—"How's Helen?"

I sat, a melancholy man,
Beside a newly-married lady,
And wondered how, if I began,
To shun the trivial, dull and shady;
When through the dinner-din I caught
A question I remember well, in
My hours of retrospective thought:
My neighbour said:—"How's Helen?"

I do not know how Helen was:
—She's almost always doing fairly—:
Nor do I greatly care, because
The question, which was asked so squarely,
Produced an excellent effect
Both then and since: it's truth I'm telling;
And that is why I recollect
The simple phrase: "How's Helen?"

This work was published before January 1, 1928, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.