THE COURTSHIP OF TIMOTHY HORN
by
W.W. Fink

From 'Heywood's One Shilling Comic Recitations and Readings'
 The most marvellous mortal that ever was born,
You would say, had you known him, was Timothy Horn, 
Tall, bony, and broad, an angular giant, 
And awkward as well; yet his limbs were so pliant.
They seemed, when he used them, like rainbows in trouble, 
Whose motions no word could describe except 'wabble.' 
And yet, strange to say, in the country, where Tim 
Felt confident no one was looking at him, 
His step was as firm, and his carriage as free 
And stately as ever Apollo's could be. 
It was only a habit, through modesty born,
Of trying to walk without drawing attention, 
Which gave to the movements of Timothy Horn
The boneless, loose, limber appearance I mention. 
Always first at a fire, and first through the flame,
To rescue the inmates, half-roasted and choking, 
He returned with his arms full of people, but came
With his hair and his eyebrows white-crinkled and smoking;
And then, if they thanked him, so strange was his habit, 
He'd take the first byway and run like a rabbit. 
One night as he sat by his mother and read 
'Miles Standish's Courtship,' she stopped him and said,
Very gently, ' Dear Tim, you are now twenty-eight
Don't you think it is time you were taking a mate?'
'Oh, mother!... who'd have such a great awkward fel...'
But the words were cut short by the clang of a bell,
And away to the fire sped Timothy Horn.
'Twas the six-storey house of Professor Van Dorn;
He had built it, expressly, uncommonly high,
The better to study the air and the sky,
With a vision unvexed by the smoke from the town,
The professor himself had gone up to an air-way,
To shut off the draught, and he couldn't get down,
For the demon of flame was cremating the stairway;
But, forgetting himself in his love for the sciences,
Van Dorn brought some strange scientific appliances 
To the sixth-storey window, set down his barometer, 
And, holding aloft a new patent thermometer,
Grew absorbed in a theme he would call therapeutical
The effect of the heat on a wart on his cuticle. 
They shouted to warn him... but, horror appalling, 
The roof was ablaze and the rafters were falling. 
Alas! he was far above human assistance, 
For their ladders would only reach half of the distance. 
And a son of old Ireland muttered, 'Begorry! 
If he only had builded his bashtely sixth shtorey 
Jihsts under the third, we could rishcue him nately ; 
But now he'll be cooked and dishfigured complately!' 
A thousand pale faces looked up at Van Dorn, 
When in through the circle sprang Timothy Horn, 
Caught a shawl from the form of the scientist's daughter, 
And, plunging it deep in a bucket of water, 
Enveloped his head before any one spoke, 
Sprang up the red stairs, and was lost in the smoke. 
Brave men held their breath, but they saw in a minute 
The shawl at the window, the professor rolled in it ;
Then it vanished, and then-the roof fell! The floors under 
Were torn from their places and hurled to the ground, 
With such a concussion the air all around
Was a chaos or ashes and cinders and thunder.
'They are lost!' 'They are saved! 'As if blown by the fall, 
Tim shot from the house like a blazing red comet, or 
Anything sudden, and shook from the shawl
The professor, still holding his precious thermometer, 
Who smiled on his daughter, and tenderly said, 
As he dusted the ashes of hair from his head, 
'Weep not for our lost scientific appliances! 
The biggest of blazes can't burn up the sciences!'
But Tim, what of him? When he heard the wild shout 
Of the people, he tried to, but could not, get out;
For their praise ran so high, and still higher and higher, 
He wished in his heart he was back in the fire. 
There wasn't much left of his facial expression
You wouldn't have guessed him to be a Caucasian,
His hair had the friz of the African fashion. 
Now it happened Miss Stella Corona Van Dorn 
Had always admired brave Timothy Horn; 
But now, on account of her terrible fright, 
Or, more likely, because of the pitiful sight 
Of a barbecued father and fricaseed Tim, 
She felt a resistless attraction toward him,
And, her quicksilver heart mounting high above zero, 
She, throwing her arms round the neck of her hero, 
Aimed a kiss at his lips, but it landed instead 
On his swiftly averted decarbonised head.
Then her lovers: Jim, Joseph, Sam, Thomas, and Harry
Broke forth into laughter, uncommonly merry; 
But, alas! for their laughter, for Timothy Horn 
Threw an arm around Stella Corona Van Dorn, 
And, swiftly advancing as proud as a lion,
Hurled his fist at each smile that he fixed his fierce eyes on, 
'Till the faces of Harry, Jim, Joseph, and Sam 
Look like they'd been kissed by a battering-ram. 
Then he doubled his fist for the battle anew, 
'Oh Tim!' cried Corona. 'Oh, what shall I do? 
I'm afraid you will kill them, and then they'll hang you! 
And I'll be a wid-oh...!' 'Whose widow? ' gasped Tim. 
'Why, yours, you dear stupid!' she whispered to him. 
Then he tightened his clasp around Stella Van Dorn, 
And that was the courtship of Timothy Born.  
The end