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The Scornful Colonel

Fun, X - 25th September 1869



Illustration by Gilbert  

Though not, as common rumour says,
Remarkable in other ways,
No haughty, supercilious swell
Could scorn so well as COLONEL BELL.

At sight of snobs his lip would curl —
His lip would quiver, twist, and twirl
In an astonishing degree —
He often curled his lip at me.

His men, to give them all their due,
Were most accomplished sneerers, too:
Their Colonel gave them, with a will,
Six daily hours of sneering drill.

"Now, by your right, prepare to 'Whish'!
Come, all at once and smartly, 'Pish'!
Prepare to 'Bah'! By sections, 'Phew'!
Good! At three hundred yards, 'Pooh-pooh'!"

And though (as I can prove too well)
They could not sneer like COLONEL BELL,
Still, not to flatter them a jot,
They were a supercilious lot.

Some two-and-thirty years ago
He sailed to fight the Paynim foe,
For then a dreadful war began
'Tween England and the Ottoman.

Once, going round his daily beats
In Stamboul's uninviting streets,
He heard these words, in accents clear,
"Oh. Little Stranger, welcome here!"

     
Illustration by Gilbert  

The Colonel stopped — he had no choice.
For, ah! it was a WOMAN'S voice!
And through a window dark and grim
Two EYES flashed, lightning-like, on him.

Such eyes! So soft — so full of soul!
Such silent pathos in their roll!
No deadlier weapon women wield:
Au reste, her face was quite concealed.

"Oh, sir," the vision whispered, "though
You're certainly our country's foe,
Let's hail the emblematic dove
As subjects of One Monarch — Love!"

"Oh, ma'am," he said — I will not stay
To tell you all he chose to say;
But all the workings of his brain
Were in the same impassioned strain.

"Oh, sir," the eyes replied, "I fear
You dare not penetrate up here
I'm no mere drab in humble life,
I was the Sultan's favourite wife!"

"Oh, ma'am!!!" said he — suffice to add,
The gallant Colonel, rapture-mad,
This graceful sentiment displays
In fifty-seven different ways.

He sought the Hareem's portals wide,
He sneered the sentinel aside,
And when his scornful eyeballs flashed,
The very guard fell back abashed!

     
Illustration by Gilbert  

On cloth of gold in negligé,
The Sultan's former fancy lay;
He saw that once (in early life)
She might have been his favourite wife.

ZARLINE (her name) with one big bound,
Threw COLONEL BELL her arms around,
And danced her best, but truth to tell,
She was a creaky, old gazelle.

The Colonel gazed — then turned away;
Love fled, and Duty held its sway:
That sterner stuff that, near and far,
Makes British warriors what they are.

"Why BELL, my boy, come, come, what's this?
Unmanned by thoughts of simple bliss?
Unsoldiered by a lovely girl?"
The warrior's lip resumed its curl.

     
Illustration by Gilbert  

But ah, too late. The Sultan's ears
Much sharpened by his jealous fears
Had overheard, behind a screen,
The creakiness of fair ZARLINE!

The Colonel soon was seized and bound;
He struggled not, but looked around,
Relying on the wide-spread fear
Instilled by his notorious sneer.

But ah! the move was ill-designed;
The Sultan he was old and blind,
And all the Hareem's soldiers then
Were elderly, short-sighted men!

     
Illustration by Gilbert  

Those soldiers soon contrived to pack
The gallant Colonel in a sack;
But, mindful of his scornful fame,
LIEUTENANT-COLONEL BELL died game.

The Bosphorus, with gloomy roll,
Closed mournfully upon his soul;
Its billows sang the only knell
That mourned LIEUTENANT-COLONEL BELL!

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