He was a Glug of simple charm; He wished no living creature harm. His kindly smile like sunlight fell On all about, and wished them well. Yet, ‘spite the cheerful soul of Sym, The great Sir Stodge detested him.
The stern Sir Stodge and all his Swanks– Proud Glugs of divers grades and ranks, With learning and attainments great– Had never learned to conquer hate. And, failing in their A. B. C., Were whipt by Master Destiny.
‘Twas thus that Gosh’s famous schools Turned out great hordes of learned fools: Turned out the ship without a sail, Turned out the kite with leaden tail, Turned out the mind that could not soar Because of foolish weights it bore.
Because there’d been no father Joi To guide the quick mind of a boy Away from thoughts of hate and blame, Wisdom in these was but a name. But ‘mid the Glugs they count him wise Who walks with cunning in his eyes.
His task well done, his three rhymes writ, Sym rose at morn, and packed his kit. “At last!” he cried. “Off and away To meet again the spendthrift Day, As he comes climbing in the East, To bless with largesse man and beast.
“Again the fields where wild things run! And trees, all spreading to the sun, Run not, because, of all things blest, Their chosen place contents them best. O come, my little prick-eared dog!” . . . But, “Halt!” exclaimed his Nibs of Quog.
“Nay,” said the Mayor. “Not so fast! The day climbs high, but sinks at last. And trees, all spreading to the sun, Are slain because they cannot run. The great Sir Stodge, filled full of hate, Has challenged you to hold debate.
“On Monday, in the Market Square, He and his Swanks will all be there, Sharp to the tick at half-past two, To knock the stuffing out of you. And if your stuffing so be spread, Then is the Cause of Quog stone dead.
“In this debate I’d have you find, With all the cunning of your mind, Sure victory for Quog’s great Cause, And swift defeat for Stodge’s laws.” “But cunning I have none,” quoth Sym. The Mayor slowly winked at him.
“Ah!” cried his Worship. “Sly; so sly!” (Again he drooped his dexter eye) “I’ve read you thro’; I’ve marked you well. You’re cunning as an imp from Hell . . . Nay, keep your temper; for I can Withal admire a clever man.
“Who rhymes with such a subtle art May never claim a simple part. I’ll make of you a Glug of rank, With something handy in the bank, And fixed opinions, which, you know, With fixed deposits always go.
“I’ll give you anything you crave: A great, high headstone to your grave, A salary, a scarlet coat, A handsome wife, a house, a vote, A title, or a humbled foe.” But Sym said, “No,” and ever, “No.”
“Then,” shouted Quog, “your aid I claim For Gosh, and in your country’s name I bid you fight the Cause of Quog, Or be for ever named a dog! The Cause of Quog, the weal of Gosh Are one! Amen. Down with King Splosh!”
Sym looked his Worship in the eye, As solemnly he made reply: “If ’tis to serve my native land, On Monday I shall be at hand. But what am I ‘mid such great men?” His Worship winked his eye again . . .
‘Twas Monday in the Market Square; Sir Stodge and all his Swanks were there. And almost every Glug in Gosh Had bolted lunch and had a wash And cleaned his boots, and sallied out To gloat upon Sir Stodge’s rout.
And certain sly and knowing Glugs, With sundry nudges, winks and shrugs, Passed round the hint that up on high, Behind some window near the sky, Where he could see yet not be seen, King Splosh was present with his Queen.
“Glugs,” said the chairman. “Glugs of Gosh; By order of our good King Splosh, The Tinker and Sir Stodge shall meet, And here, without unseemly heat, Debate the question of the day, Which is–However, let me say–
“I do not wish to waste your time. So, first shall speak this man of rhyme; And, when Sir Stodge has voiced his view, The Glugs shall judge between the two. This verdict from the folk of Gosh Will be accepted by King Splosh.”
As when, like teasing vagabonds, The sly winds buffet sullen ponds, The face of Stodge grew dark with rage, When Sym stepped forth upon the stage. But all the Glugs, with one accord, A chorus of approval roared.
Said Sym: “Kind friends, and fellow Glugs; My trade is mending pots and mugs. I tinker kettles, and I rhyme To please myself and pass the time, Just as my fancy wandereth.” (“He’s minel” quoth Stodge, below his breath.)
Said Sym: “Why I am here to-day I know not; tho’ I’ve heard them say That strife and hatred play some part In this great meeting at the Mart. Nay, brothers, why should hatred lodge . . . “That’s ultra vires!” thundered Stodge.
“‘Tis ultra vires!” cried the Knight. “Besides, it isn’t half polite. And e’en the dullest Glug should know, ‘Tis not pro bono publico. Nay, Glugs, this fellow is no class. Remember! Vincit veritas!”
With sidelong looks and sheepish grins, Like men found out in secret sins, Glug gazed at Glug in nervous dread; Till one with claims to learning said, “Sir Stodge is talking Greek, you know. He may be bad, but never low.”
Then those who had no word of Greek Felt lifted up to hear him speak. “Ah, learning, learning,” others said. ‘Tis fine to have a clever head.” And here and there a nervous cheer Was heard, and someone growled, “Hear, hear.”
“Kind friends,” said Sym . . . But, at a glance, The ‘cute Sir Stodge had seen his chance. “Quid nuncl” he cried. “O noble Glugs, This fellow takes you all for mugs. I ask him, where’s his quid pro quo? I ask again, quo warranto?
“Shall this man filch our wits from us With his furor poeticus? Nay!” cried Sir Stodge. “You must agree, If you will hark a while to me And at the Glugs’ collective head He flung strange language, ages dead.
With mystic phrases from the Law, With many an old and rusty saw, With well-worn mottoes, which he took Haphazard from the copy-book, For half an hour the learned Knight Belaboured them with all his might.
And, as they wakened from their daze, Their murmurs grew to shouts of praise. Glugs who’d reviled him overnight All in a moment saw the light. “O learned man! 0 seer!” cried they. . . . And education won the day.
Then, quickly to Sir Stodge’s side There bounded, in a single stride, His Nibs of Quog; and flinging wide His arms, “O victory!” he cried. “I’m with Sir Stodge, 0 Glugs of Gosh! And we have won! Long live King Splosh!”
Then pointing angrily at Sym, Cried Quog, “This is the end of him! For months I’ve marked his crafty dodge, To bring dishonour to Sir Stodge. I’ve lured him here, the traitrous dog, And shamed him!” quoth his Nibs of Quog.
Hoots for the Tinker tore the air, As Sym went, wisely, otherwhere. Cheers for Sir Stodge were long and loud; And, as amid his Swanks he bowed, To mark his thanks and honest pride, His Nibs of Quog bowed by his side.
The Thursday after that, at three, The King invited Quog to tea. Quoth Quog, “It was a task to bilk . . . (I thank you; sugar, please, and milk) . . . To bilk this Tinker and his pranks. A scurvy rogue! . . . (Ah, two lumps, thanks.)
“A scurvy rogue!” continued Quog. ‘Twas easy to outwit the dog. Altho’, perhaps, I risked my life– I’ve heard he’s handy with a knife. Ah, well, ’twas for my country’s sake . . . (Thanks; just one slice of currant cake.)”