Childhood
MATILDA
(who told such dreadful lies.)
by
Hillaire Belloc

Matilda told such Dreadful Lies, 
It made one Gasp and Stretch one’s Eyes;
Her Aunt, who, from her Earliest Youth, 
Had kept a Strict Regard for Truth, 
Attempted to believe Matilda: 
The effort very nearly killed her, 
And would have done so, had not she 
Discovered this Infirmity. 
For once, towards the Close of Day,
Matilda, growing tired of play, 
And finding she was left to alone, 
Went tiptoe to the telephone 
And summoned the Immediate Aid 
Of London’s Nobel Fire-Brigade. 
Within an hour the Gallant Band 
Were pouring in on every hand, 
From Putney, Hackney Downs and Bow, 
With Courage high and Hearts a-glow 
They galloped, roaring though the Town, 
"Matilda’s House is Burning Down" 
Inspired by British Cheers and Loud 
Proceeding from the Frenzied Crowd, 
They ran their ladders through a score 
Of windows on the Ball Room Floor; 
And took Peculiar Pains to Souse 
The Pictures up and down the House, 
Until Matilda’s Aunt succeeded 
In showing them they were not needed 
And even then she had to pay 
To get the Men to go away! . . . . . 
It happened that a few Weeks later 
Here aunt was off to the Theatre 
To see that Interesting Play 
The Second Mrs. Tanqueray. 
She had refused to take her Niece 
To hear this Entertaining Piece: 
A Deprivation Just and Wise 
To Punish her for Telling Lies.
That Night a Fire did break out- 
You should have heard Matilda Shout! 
You should have heard her Scream and Bawl, 
And throw the window up and call 
To People passing in the Street- 
(The rapidly increasing Heat 
Encouraging her to obtain 
Their confidence)-but it was all in vain! 
For every time She shouted "Fire!" 
They only answered "Little Liar!" 
And therefore when her Aunt returned, 
Matilda, and the House, were burned.
The end