Nonfiction > Lionel Strachey, et al., eds. > The World’s Wit and Humor > American
The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes.  1906.
Vols. I–V: American
A Poem of Every-Day Life
By Albert Gallatin Riddle (1816–1902)
HE tore him from the merry throng
  Within the billiard hall;
He was gotten up regardlessly
  To pay his party call.
His thoughts were dire and dark within,        5
  Discourteous to fate:
“Ah, me! these social debts incurred
  Are hard to liquidate.”
His boots were slender, long, and trim;
  His collar tall and swell;        10
His hats were made by Dunlap,
  And his coats were cut by Bell;
A symphony in black and white,
  “Of our set” the pride,
Yet he lingered on his way—        15
  He would that he had died.
His feet caressed the lonely way,
  The pave gave forth no sound;
They seemed in pitying silence clothed—
  West End-ward he was bound.        20
He approached the mansion stealthily,
  The step looked cold and chill;
He glanced into the vestibule,
  But all was calm and still.
He fingered nervously the bell,        25
  His card-case in his hand;
He saw the mirror in the hall—
  Solemn, stately, grand.
Suddenly his spirits rose;
  The drawing-room looked dim;        30
The menial filled his soul with joy
  With “No, there’s no one in.”
With fiendish glee he stole away;
  His heart was gay and light,
Happy that he went and paid        35
  His party call that night.
His steps turned to the billiard hall,
  Blissfully he trod;
He entered: “What, returned so soon?”
  Replied: “She’s out, thank God!”        40
Sixteen cues were put to rest
  Within their upright beds,
And sixteen different tiles were placed
  On sixteen level heads;
Sixteen men upon the street        45
  In solid phalanx all,
And sixteen men on duty bent
  To pay their party call.
When the fairest of her sex came home
  At early dawn, I ween,        50
She slowly looked the cards all out—
  They numbered seventeen.
With calm relief she raised her eyes,
  Filled with grateful light,
“Oh, merciful Fate, look down and see        55
  What I’ve escaped this night!”

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