Railway Tales

by Anonymous Said the Officer Commanding, ''Tis a pleasant Winter day And I want a heap of blankets and I want 'em right away And I want a lot of uniforms and overcoats and boots To preserve the Martial Vigour of our promising recruits For Napoleon, or Hannibal, or Caesar, I am told Found soldiers fought much better when protected from the cold And I trust my Observations are in Military Form But I love my little Army, and I'd like to have it warm.' And the Quartermaster answered with a wan official smile 'I shall send a Requisition in the Legal Form and Style To the Acting Tenth Assistant in the Board of Speed Control Who will docket it and poke it in the Proper Pigeonhole When the eighteenth Under-Deputy has found it hiding there He will specify and advertise with Customary Care So, in time, they'll give a contract - though I cannot tell you when But I think you'll get your blankets when the robins nest again. Said the Officer Commanding, as he pulled his graying hair 'I should like to have some Rifles, if you have a few to spare I should like to have some Cannon and a ton or so of Shell Just any kind that's shootable will answer very well For hostile guns are hurling Shot with personal intent And Etiquette demands that we return the compliment. Besides, they say that Wellington and Grane, and several more Considered Weapons requisite to Victory in War.' Said the Second Chief Retarder of the Board of War Delay 'We appreciate your ardour, but, you know, this isn't play Through the skill of chosen experts, by applying every test We must zealously determine what Invention is the best Should the fortunate inventor be a personable man Whom the Board delights to honour, we shall formulate a plan Thus, observing Due Precautions, we shall bear your case in mind And I'm sure you'll have your cannon when the peace is being signed.' What a lesson to a Nation, eager, tense, and passion-flushed Is a smoothly working Bureau that refuses to be rushed With its calm, divine, aloofness, with its cold, judicial Staff Like a great MIll, grinding grandly, though the Grist thereof be Chaff! Pleas are fultile, needs are nothing, haste or change means Waste of Force Men may starve or die, but matters still must take their course Patience, patience! Great the system - slow, at times, yet sure as fate What a pity, shame, and outrage that the enemy won't wait.
The end