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Brother Emsworth Tue Jan 29 21:33:13 2002
Another Wodehouse Passage...

[The poetic Lancelot Mulliner, seemingly acquiescing to his uncle Mr. Briggs' desire that he accept employment in his pickle factory.]

"I still consider that slicing up cucumbers and dipping them in vinegar is a poor life-work for a man with the Promethean fire within him; but I propose to place at the disposal of the Briggs Breakfast Pickle my poetic gifts." "Well, that's better than nothing. I've just been correcting the proofs of the last thing our man turned in. It's really excellent. Listen:

'Soon, soon all human Joys must end: Grim Death approaches with his sickle: Courage! There is still time, my friend, To eat a Briggs's Breakfast Pickle.' If you could give us something like that -" Lancelot raised his eyebrows. His lip curled. "The little thing I have dashed off is not quite like that." "Oh, you've written something, eh?" "A mere morceau. You would care to hear it?" "Fire away, my boy." Lancelot produced his manuscript and cleared his throat. He began to read in a low, musical voice.

"DARKLING (A Threnody) BY L. BASSINGTON MULLINER (Copyright in all languages, including the Scandinavian) (The dramatic, musical-comedy, and motion-picture rights of this Threnody are strictly reserved. Applications for these should be made to the author)" "What is a Threnody?" asked Mr Briggs. "This is," said Lancelot. He cleared his throat again and resumed. "Black branches, Like a corpse's withered hands, Waving against the blacker sky: Chill winds, Bitter like the tang of half-remembered sins; Bats wheeling mournfully through the air, And on the ground Worms, Toads, Frogs, And nameless creeping things; And all around Desolation, Doom, Dyspepsia, And Despair. I am a bat that wheels through the air of Fate; I am a worm that wriggles in a swamp of Disillusionment; I am a despairing toad; I have got dyspepsia." He paused. His uncle's eyes were protruding rather like those of a nameless creeping frog.

(Excerpt from "Came the Dawn" (1927), by P. G. Wodehouse)

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