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Page 289


[The story of Menippus and the Empusa has run together in the following craze of
rhyme. Though slightly modernized in its present construction, it retains the peculiarities
of the fable.]

I will tell you the tale of Menippus the Lycian,
A jolly young fellow, but far from a rich 'un,
Who was just twenty-five
And the fairest alive,
Who fell mad in love with a charming Phœnician.
On the road to Cenchrea
He first chanced to see her,
And rich as a Jew did the damsel appear —
All covered with jewels and elegant laces,
With rings and such things to add to her graces,
And smiles like the Hours'
In heavenly bowers,
That Mahomet held out for Moslem “devours.”
Then she gave Menippus an invitation
To visit her as he 'd inclination,
At her suburban habitation,
Near beautiful Corinth village;
She promised him wines that beat creation,
And fruit from every clime and nation,
Besides a hint at sly flirtation,
And other delectable pillage.
And then Menippus gave her his card,
And swore by his gods, and swore very hard,
That she was a trump,
And he was a gump
If he did n't at such opportunity jump.
His amorous flame
Had n't given her name,
But this to Menippus was all the same,
For he was in love, and lovers we know
Are the stupidest people the world can show.
So he went straightway to see her as bid,
And she vowed she loved but him, she did,
And she gave him money and gave him wine,
And the path of life seemed all divine,
A precious dream that would ne'er grow dim,
And the world was a jolly old world for him,


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Until Apollonius, the mighty magician,
Came down like a sluice on the fair Phœnician.
Says he, “My sonny,
There 's gall in your honey —
Look out for breakers and bogus money!
This lady, whose charms you delightedly howl,
Is — this in your ear — a condemnible ghoul,
Empusa hight,
Whose appetite
In things forbidden of men takes delight;
Of a kind who entrap in their infamous mesh
The nice young fellows with tender flesh,
And, pepperless, saltless, eat them fresh!
And this, my friend,
Will be your end,
If you don't to my present words attend:
She only waits for the wedding-day
To dish you up in an epicure way.
She 's a serpent, a toad,
And you take up a load,
If you travel with her the marital road.”
Then young Menippus, scratching his head,
Thus to the sage Apollonius said:
“To-morrow, old fellow, I 'm to be wed.
I 'll not be wrecked with the port in sight,
You need n't try me thus to fright;
And, did n't I think
That you never drink,
I 'd certainly say you were rather tight!
Not one word you 've said is true, man,
For I assure you she 's no such woman;
So, as sure as a gun,
By to-morrow's sun
She and your humble servant are one,
And if you 're there you may see the fun.”
The day shone bright,
And the bride, all in white,
Like a being of light,
In accustomed garb of the bride bedight,
Was called by all a delectable sight.
And the men and maids of Corinth were there,
To see that the nuptials were put through fair;


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But just as the Corinthian minister
Had opened his head,
And only said,
“You twain I wed,”
A voice cried out, “Yes, over the sinister!”
When, as all wondered what it could mean,
Old Apollonius stepped on the scene.
He forbade the marriage, and told them to stay,
For the bride was n't one in a marrying way —
That she was a ghoul,
A being most foul,
And tying this knot there 'd be Dickens to pay.
Then all may see
What a row there must be —
The lady raved like none but she;
And she vowed that in Tophet's gulf she 'd toss over
Every one that was called a philosopher.
But old Apollonius, quite up to trap,
For all of her violence cared not a snap.
He told her he 'd soon cut her off root and branch,
If she did n't instantly vamose the ranch;
She cried and took on,
And was loth to be gone,
But, charged with her crime, she admitted the corn;
Then passed from their view,
And the riches all flew,
And the jewels crumbled to ashes, too;
And poor Menippus, as we are told,
Scratched his head in wonder, and muttered, “sold.”
Youths, don't at hasty marriages jump,
For every woman may not be a trump.
Remember Menippus's lucky escape,
And use all care to avoid a bad scrape,
Or else you may find yourself, maugre your groans,
Wife-eaten — wife-eaten — body and bones.