Mistress O'Hara lives down by the sea,
A skittish and beautiful widow is she;
She has black shiny tresses, and curly buff toes,
And a heavenly tilt to the tip of her nose!
She has three little children, the eldest is four
(Nurse says he is naughty enough to be more);
The Twins are dear dumplings, and they and their brother
Are always in scrapes--
Of one kind, or another.
This morning poor Mistress O'Hara looks blue,
As indeed she has every reason to do;
For the third time this week Nurse has come in to say,
"If you please 'm, the children have all run away!"
"Oh! bother those children--well, first let us look
In the larder, to see what provisions they took;
If the pumpkin pie's gone, they are off for the day,
If they only took raisins, they're not far away."
They look in the larder, and what do you think?
Find nothing whatever to eat or to drink.
"Alack!" says the Cook; "it is just as I feared:
The whole of my dinner has clean disappeared."
"This is really too bad," says Mama, in a rage,
As she slips on her pattens and turns down the page
Of the book she is reading, and starts out to find
The darlings, to give them a piece of her mind!
She takes a big stick and makes tracks for the sea,
Where she's pretty well sure all the truants will be;
Yama-Guchi, she knows, leads the Twins by the nose,
And they patiently follow wherever he goes.
Sure enough, the first things that she sees on the shore
Are footprints, and further on several more--
And still further on there are two little rows
Of shoes, and some other superfluous clo'es.
But where are the children? The children are gone
Oh! doesn't poor Mistress O'Hara take on!
She weeps and she wails and she tears out her hair,
And rolls on the sands in the depths of despair.
The sand it is gritty, the sand it is dry,
It scratches her nose and gets into her eye;
Her throat feels as if she had swallowed a peck,
And the rolling soon gives her a crick in her neck.
So she picks up her pattens, her stick and her fan,
And bundles her hair up as well as she can.
Next minute it all stands on end with surprise:
She stares and she stares, disbelieving her eyes--
For there, as if just newly dropped from the skies,
Are the children, all looking as chirpy as flies;
But what flabbergasts the poor lady the most
Is the sight of a MER-BABY, dumped on a post.
Such a queer little object she never has seen,
It has eyes big as saucers, all glazy and green;
A mere speck of a nose, scarcely raised from its face,
And a mouth that meanders all over the place.
Yama-Guchi is dancing and shouting with glee--
"Did you come from the earth, or the sky, or the sea?"
While the Twins, with amazement struck utterly dumb,
Stand solemnly gazing, each sucking a thumb.
They implore it to speak, but they are not prepared
For the size of its mouth, and are horribly scared;
Making sure it is going to swallow them all--
Yet its voice when it speaks is quite squeaky and small.
"My name's Fishy-Winkle--I live in the sea,
To-day I played truant from school, for a spree;
But, oh! how I wish that I never had come,
For the tide has gone out and I cannot get home."
"Cheer up, Fishy-Winkle, and don't make a fuss,
Get into the go-cart and run off with us;
We've rations for dinner and also for tea,
You will find it much
nicer than under the sea."
They bring up the go-cart and Fishy jumps down.
"The more haste, the less speed," for he falls on his crown;
No matter, he's in now; they're off and--Houp La!
They are soon out of reach of their furious Ma!