Childhood
        
THE STORY OF RUTHLESS MIKE AND RECKLESS JOHN
by J. Struther As John and Michael did not like Their governess, Miss Marlinespike, They did their utmost every day To drive that worthy soul away. They perched wet sponges on the door; They sprinkled tin-tacks on the floor; They smeared her spectacles with soap, Lassoed her with a skipping-rope And placed a hedgehog, lately dead, Right in the middle of her bed. I shudder to report the sins Devised by these ingenious twins; But still, undaunted, undismayed, Miss Marlinspike just stayed and stayed. Says Ruthless Mike to Reckless John: "These gentle hints must not go on." Says Reckless John to Ruthless Mike: "We must bump off Miss Marlinospike." (This horrid phrase, I fear, had been Picked up from gangsters on the screen.) "But how?" says Mike. "We have no gat" (" No gun" was what he meant by that), "And stainless nursery table-knives Are not, much use for taking lives." "I know!" cries John. "We'll have to give her A good hard push into the river." But Michael quickly crushes him: 'You fool—Miss Marlinespike can swim." One day their dear mamma was sent, By way of an advertisement, A sample tube of "Kreemidew," Which on the floor she idly threw. Michael and John with one accord Retreived it for their private hoard, And, oh! their triumph as they read: "VANISHING CREAM" was what it said. At last—or so it seemed to them— They would get rid of poor Miss M.; And, though quite dead they'd have preferred her, Perhaps 'twas best to do no murder. At tea-time they contrived to spread The stuff in secret on some bread, Then passed their governess the plate And watched in silence while she ate. Miss M. had scarcely time to mutter "There's something queer about this butter . . ." Before her voice grew thin and small Till it was hardly heard at all, While gradually her hands arid face Both vanished into empty space; Soon all the rest dissolved as well— Until, miraculous to tell, There was nobody to be seen Where poor Miss Marlinespike had been. Cries Ruthless Mike to Reckless John: "Hip, hip, hooray! She's really gone!" Cries Reckless John to Ruthless Mike: "Now we can do just what we like!" "Oh, no, you can't," a whisper said From somewhere just above his head, And then he shed unmanly tears For unseen hands had boxed his ears; While Mike, across a ghostly knee, Was soon as sore as sore could be. A wretched life from that day on Led Hapless Mike and Luckless John; For unexpected prods and slaps And cuffs and clouts and tweaks and raps Were showered all day from empty air Upon the miserable pair, While always the reproachful sound Of whispering followed them around. Children, pray be warned by them: Make the best of your Miss M. Better one you do not love Than a disembodied gov.'
The end