Pearson’s Magazine (UK), June 1909

Wasted Sympathy.


As down the street at eve I went,
 I met a sad-faced man:
Across his alabaster brow
 A gloomy furrow ran.
“There goes,” I thought, “a man on whom
 Misfortune’s paid a call.”
And I was right, for, as we met,
I heard him murmur, quite upset;
 “I’ve lost my little all!”

I touched him on the arm, and said:
 “You’ll pardon me, no doubt,
For asking how this painful state
 Of things has come about.
Did you invest in stocks and shares
 Which took a sudden fall?”
He muttered, with a glassy stare
(Vaguely, as if I wasn’t there):
 “I’ve lost my little all!”

I tried again. “Perhaps,” I said,
 “You made some foolish bet,
As is the custom, I’ve been told,
 Of those in the Smart Set?
Perhaps you kept on playing bridge
 For stakes a shade too tall?”
My words again were wasted, for
He answered this and nothing more:
 “I’ve lost my little all!”

I shook him by the arm, and cried:
 “Come, tell me more, I beg.”
I tapped him on the shoulder, and
 I pinched him in the leg.
I put my lips against his ear,
 And then began to bawl.
He merely heaved a gentle sigh,
And made once more his old reply:
 “I’ve lost my little all!”

I left him then, and went my way,
 Since he would not explain.
I passed a cobbler’s shop next day,
 And saw the man again.
I watched him sit there, mending shoes,
 His back against the wall;
And noted with some interest
That now no more was he distressed—
 He’d found his little awl.

P. G. W.