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The Auctioneer’s Gift

The auctioneer leaped on a chair, and bold and loud and clear.
He poured his cataract of words, just like an auctioneer.

An auction sale of furniture, where some hard mortgagee
Was bound to get his money back, and pay his lawyer’s fee.
A humorist of wide renown, this doughty auctioneer.

His joking raised the loud guffaw, and bought the answering jeer.
He scattered round his jests, like rain, on the unjust and the just;
Sam Sleetman said he “laughed so much he thought he would bust.”

He knocked down bureaus, beds, and stoves, and clocks and chandeliers,
And a grand piano, which he swore would “last a thousand years;”

He rattled out the crockery, and sold the silverware;
At last they passed him up to sell a little baby’s chair.
“How much? How much? Come, make a bid; is all your money spent?”

And then a cheap, facetious wag came up and bid, “One cent!”

Just then a sad-faced woman, who stood in silence there,
Broke down and cried, “My baby’s chair!” My poor, dead baby’s chair!”

“Here, madam, take your baby’s chair,” said the softened auctioneer,
“I know its value all too well, my baby died last year;

And if the owner of the chair, our friend, the mortgagee, objects to this proceeding,
let him send the bill to me!”

Gone was the tone of raillery; the humorist auctioneer.
Turned shamefaced from his audience, to brush away a tear;

The laughing crowd was awed and still, no tearless eye was there.
When the weeping woman reached and took her little baby’s chair.

-S.W. Foss, 1891