by: Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953)
WHO TOLD LIES, AND WAS BURNED
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 alone,
- Went tiptoe to the Telephone
- And summoned the Immediate Aid
- Of London's Noble 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 through 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
- Her 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 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.
POEMS BY HILAIRE BELLOC
"Matilda" is reprinted
from Cautionary Tales. Hilaire Belloc. 1907.