Government muddles, departments dazed, Fear and confusion wherever he gazed; Order insulted, authority spurned, Dread and distraction wherever he turned– Oh, the great King Splosh was a sad, sore king, With never a statesman to straighten the thing.
Glus all importunate urging their claims, With selfish intent and ulterior aims, Glugs with petitions for this and for that, Standing ten-deep on the royal door-mat, Raging when nobody answered their ring– Oh, the great King Splosh was a careworn king.
And he looked to the right, and he glanced to the left, And he glared at the roof like a monarch bereft Of his wisdom and wits and his wealth all in one; And, at least once a minute, asked, “What’s to be done?” But the Swanks stood around him and answered, with groans, “Your majesty, Gosh is half buried in stones!”
“How now?” cried the King. “Is there not in my land One Glug who can cope with this dreadful demand: A rich man, a poor man, a beggar man, thief– I reck not his rank so he lessen my grief– A soldier, a sailor, a–” Raising his head, With relief in his eye, “Now, I mind me!” he said.
“I mind me a Tinker, and what once befel, When I think, on the whole, he was treated not well. But he shall be honoured, and he shall be famed If he read me this riddle. But how is he named? Some commonplace title, like-Simon?-No-Sym! Go, send out my riders, and scour Gosh for him.”
They rode for a day to the sea in the South, Calling the name of him, hand to the mouth. They rode for a day to the hills in the East, But signs of a tinker saw never the least. Then they rode to the North thro’ a whole day long, And paused in the even to hark to a song.
“Kettles and pans! Kettles and pans! Oh, who can show tresses like Emily Ann’s? Brown in the shadow and gold at the tips, Bright as the smile on her beckoning lips. Bring out your kettle! 0 kettle or pan! So I buy me a ribbon for Emily Ann.”
With his feet in the grass, and his back to a tree, Merry as only a tinker can be, Busily tinkering, mending a pan, Singing as only a merry man can . . . “Sym!” cried the riders. ” ‘Tis thus you are styled?” And he paused in his singing, and nodded and smiled.
Said he: “Last eve, when the sun was low, Down thro’ the bracken I watched her go– Down thro’ the bracken, with simple grace– And the glory of eve shone full on her face; And there on the sky-line it lingered a span, So loth to be leaving my Emily Arm.”
With hands to their faces the riders smiled. “Sym,” they said–“be it so you’re styled– Behold, great Splosh, our sorrowing King, Has sent us hither, that we may bring To the palace in Gosh a Glug so named, That he may be honoured and justly famed.”
“Yet,” said Sym, as he tinkered his can, “What should you know of her, Emily Ann? Early as cock-crow yester morn I watched young sunbeams, newly born, As out of the East they frolicked and ran, Eager to greet her, my Emily Arm.”
“King Splosh,” said the riders, “is bowed with grief; And the glory of Gosh is a yellowing leaf. Up with you, Tinker! There’s work ahead. With a King forsaken, and Swanks in dread, To whom may we turn for the salving of man?” And Sym, he answered them, “Emily Ann.”
Said he: “Whenever I watch her pass, With her skirts so high o’er the dew-wet grass, I envy every blade the bruise It earns in the cause of her twinkling shoes. Oh, the dew-wet grass, where this morn she ran, Was doubly jewelled for Emily Ann.”
“But haste!” they cried. “By the palace gates A sorrowing king for a tinker waits. And what shall we answer our Lord the King If never a tinker hence we bring, To tinker a kingdom so sore amiss?” But Sym, he said to them, “Answer him this:
‘Every eve, when the clock chimes eight, I kiss her fair, by her mother’s gate: Twice, all reverent, on the brow- Once for a pray’r, and once for a vow; Twice on her eyes that they may shine, Then, full on the mouth because she’s mine.”‘
“Calf!” sneered the riders. “O Tinker, heed! Mount and away with us, we must speed. All Gosh is agog for the coming of Sym. Garlands and greatness are waiting for him: Garlands of roses, and garments of red And a chaplet for crowning a conqueror’s head.”
“Listen,” quoth Sym, as he stirred his fire. “Once in my life have I known desire. Then, Oh, but the touch of her kindled a flame That burns as a sun by the candle of fame. And a blessing and boon for a poor tinker man Looks out from the eyes of my Emily Ann.”
Then they said to him, “Fool! Do you cast aside Promise of honour, and place, and pride, Gold for the asking, and power o’er men- Working your will with the stroke of a pen? Vexed were the King if you ride not with us.” But Sym, he said to them, “Answer him thus:
‘Ease and honour and leave to live– These are the gifts that a king may give ‘Twas over the meadow I saw her first; And my lips grew parched like a man athirst Oh, my treasure was ne’er in the gift of man; For the gods have given me Emily Ann.”
“Listen,” said they, “O you crazy Sym. Roses perish, and eyes grow dim. Lustre fades from the fairest hair. Who weds a woman links arms with care. But women there are in the city of Gosh– Ay, even the daughters of good King Splosh. . .”
“Care,” said Sym, “is a weed that springs Even to-day in the gardens of kings. And I, who have lived ‘neath the tent of the skies, Know of the flowers, and which to prize . . . Give you good even! For now I must jog.” And he whistled him once to his little red dog.
Into the meadow and over the stile, Off went the tinker man, singing the while; Down by the bracken patch, over the hill, With the little red dog at the heel of him still. And back, as he soberly sauntered along, There came to the riders the tail of his song.
“Kettles and pots! Kettles and pans! Strong is my arm if the cause it be man’s. But a fig for the cause of a cunning old king; For Emily Ann will be mine in the Spring. Then nought shall I labour for Splosh or his plans; Tho’ I’ll mend him a kettle. Ho, kettles and pans!”