Barcroft
Henry
Boake

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Josephus Riley

                                    The rum was rich and rare,
                                    There were wagers in the air,
The atmosphere was rosy, and the tongues were
                  wagging free;
                                    But one
was in the revel
                                    Whose occiput was level -
Plain Josephus Riley, from the North Countree.

                                    The conversation's flow
                                    Was not devoid of “blow,”
And neither was it wanting in the plain, colloquial “D.”
                  With a most ingenuous smile -
                  "This here is not my style,"
Said plain Josephus Riley, from the North Countree.

                                    "And I wouldn't be averse
                                    To emptying my purse,
And laying some small wager with the present
                  companee,
                                    To cut the matter short -
                                    Foot racing is my forte,"
Said plain Josephus Riley, from the North Countree.

                                    “I think it's on the cards
                                    That I can run three hundred yards
(The match to be decided where you gentlemen
                  agree)
                                    Against your fleetest horse;
                                    The race would prove a source
Of pleasure," said Josephus, from the North Countree.

                                    "To equalise the task,
                                    This little start I ask -
The rider, ere he follows, must imbibe a cup of tea;
                                    A simple breakfast-cup
                                    He will have to swallow up.
That's me
- Josephus Riley, from the North
                  Countree."

                                    Then a “knowing 'un” looked wise,
                                    “Begged to apologise;
But might he ask what temp'rature the liquid was
                  to be!
                                    Would it come from out the pot
                                    Milkless, steaming, boiling-hot?”
"Oh, not at all," said Riley, from the North
                  Countree.

                                    "Allow me to explain;
                                    I do observe with pain,
This jocular reflection on my native honestee,
                                    My bump of truth is huge,
                                    I'd scorn a subterfuge" -
Said plain Josephus Riley, from the North Countree.

                                    “Before the parties start
                                    I'll take the Judge apart
To prove, by tasting, whether I have tampered with
                  the tea;
                                    And I beg to state again
                                    Your suspicions give me pain,"
Said plain Josephus Riley, from the North Countree.

                                    Then they were all satisfied
                                    That the match was "boneefied,"
The bond was signed, and Riley went to "preparate”
                  the tea;
                                    But his slow, ambiguous smile
                                    Would have seemed to token guile
In any man but Riley, from the North Countree.

                                    He brought the fatal cup -
                                    By its saucer covered up -
The Judge examined its contents with awful gravitee,
                                    Then read the papers o'er,
                                    But could not find a flaw:
"Wade in! Josephus Riley, from the North Countree."

                                    Then the “wagerer” just bowed,
                                    And, passing through the crowd,
He handed up the beverage unto the “wageree;”
                                    And off across the flat,
                                    Springing gaily, pit-a-pat,
Went plain Josephus Riley, from the North Countree.

                                    But behind him what a yell
                                    Of execration fell
From lips that lent themselves to shapes of great
                  profanitee!
                                    For the people of that town
                                    Were done a lovely brown
By plain Josephus Riley, from the North Countree.

                                    And here's the reason why:
                                    The tea was simply DRY,
You might eat
it, but to drink it was impossibilitee;
                                    But, curious to state,
                                    Men did not appreciate
This hum'rous innovation from the North Countree.

                                    You'll understand, of course,
                                    That wager was a source
Of very little profit to the hapless “wageree,”
                                    And, dating from that day,
                                    I much regret to say,
Men look askance at Riley, from the North Countree.