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Ballad of the Jelly-Cake
by Eugene Field (1850-1895)

A little boy whose name was Tim
   Once ate some jelly-cake for tea---
Which cake did not agree with him,
   As by the sequel you shall see.
"My darling child," his mother said,
   "Pray do not eat that jelly-cake,
For, after you have gone to bed,
   I fear 't will make your stomach ache!"
But foolish little Tim demurred
Unto his mother's warning word.

That night, while all the household slept,
   Tim felt an awful pain, and then
From out the dark a nightmare leapt
   And stood upon his abdomen!
"I cannot breathe!" the infant cried---
   "Oh, Mrs. Nightmare, pity take!"
"There is no mercy," she replied,
   "For boys who feast on jelly-cake!"
And so, despite the moans of Tim,
The cruel nightmare went for him.

At first, she 'd tickle Timmy's toes
   Or roughly smite his baby cheek---
And now she 'd rudely tweak his nose
   And other petty vengeance wreak;
And then, with hobnails in her shoes
   And her two horrid eyes aflame,
The mare proceeded to amuse,
   Herself by prancing o'er his frame---
First to his throbbing brow, and then
Back to his little feet again.

At last, fantastic, wild, and weird,
   And clad in garments ghastly grim,
A scowling hoodoo band appeared
   And joined in worrying little Tim.
Each member of this hoodoo horde
   Surrounded Tim with fierce ado
And with long, cruel gimlets bored
   His aching system through and through,
And while they labored all night long
The nightmare neighed a dismal song.

Next morning, looking pale and wild,
   Poor little Tim emerged from bed---
"Good gracious! what can ail the child!"
   His agitated mother said.
"We live to learn," responded he,
   "And I have lived to learn to take
Plain bread and butter for my tea,
   And never, never, jelly-cake!
For when my hulk with pastry teems,
I must expect unpleasant dreams!"

 

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