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Hongree and Mahry

The sun was setting in its wonted west,
When HONGREE, Sub-Lieutenant of Chassoores,
Met MAHRY DAUBIGNY, the Village Rose,
Under the Wizard's Oak - old trysting-place
Of those who loved in rosy Aquitaine.

They thought themselves unwatched, but they were not;
For HONGREE, Sub-Lieutenant of Chassoores,
Found in LIEUTENANT-COLONEL JOOLES DUBOSC
A rival, envious and unscrupulous,
Who thought it not foul scorn to dodge his steps,
And listen, unperceived, to all that passed
Between the simple little Village Rose
And HONGREE, Sub-Lieutenant of Chassoores.

A clumsy barrack-bully was DUBOSC,
Quite unfamiliar with the well-bred tact
That animates a proper gentleman
In dealing with a girl of humble rank.
You'll understand his coarseness when I say
He would have married MAHRY DAUBIGNY,
And dragged the unsophisticated girl
Into the whirl of fashionable life,
For which her singularly rustic ways,
Her breeding (moral, but extremely rude),
Her language (chaste, but ungrammatical),
Would absolutely have unfitted her.
How different to this unreflecting boor
Was HONGREE, Sub-Lieutenant of Chassoores.

Contemporary with the incident
Related in our opening paragraph,
Was that sad war 'twixt Gallia and ourselves
That followed on the treaty signed at Troyes;
And so LIEUTENANT-COLONEL JOOLES DUBOSC
(Brave soldier, he, with all his faults of style)
And HONGREE, Sub-Lieutenant of Chassoores,
Were sent by CHARLES of France against the lines
Of our Sixth HENRY (Fourteen twenty-nine),
To drive his legions out of Aquitaine.

When HONGREE, Sub-Lieutenant of Chassoores,
Returned, suspecting nothing, to his camp,
After his meeting with the Village Rose,
He found inside his barrack letter-box
A note from the commanding officer,
Requiring his attendance at head-quarters.
He went, and found LIEUTENANT-COLONEL JOOLES.

"Young HONGREE, Sub-Lieutenant of Chassoores,
This night we shall attack the English camp:
Be the 'forlorn hope' yours - you'll lead it, sir,
And lead it too with credit, I've no doubt.
As every man must certainly be killed
(For you are twenty 'gainst two thousand men),
It is not likely that you will return.
But what of that? you'll have the benefit
Of knowing that you die a soldier's death."

Obedience was young HONGREE'S strongest point,
But he imagined that he only owed
Allegiance to his MAHRY and his King.
"If MAHRY bade me lead these fated men,
I'd lead them -but I do not think she would.
If CHARLES, my King, said, 'Go, my son, and die,'
I'd go, of course - my duty would be clear.
But MAHRY is in bed asleep, I hope,
And CHARLES, my King, a hundred leagues from this.
As for LIEUTENANT-COLONEL JOOLES DUBOSC,
How know I that our monarch would approve
The order he has given me to-night?
My King I've sworn in all things to obey -
I'll only take my orders from my King!"
Thus HONGREE, Sub-Lieutenant of Chassoores,
Interpreted the terms of his commission.

And HONGREE, who was wise as he was good,
Disguised himself that night in ample cloak,
Round flapping hat, and vizor mask of black,
And made, unnoticed, for the English camp.
He passed the unsuspecting sentinels
(Who little thought a man in this disguise
Could be a proper object of suspicion),
And ere the curfew bell had boomed "lights out,"
He found in audience Bedford's haughty Duke.

"Your Grace," he said, "start not - be not alarmed,
Although a Frenchman stands before your eyes.
I'm HONGREE, Sub-Lieutenant of Chassoores.
My Colonel will attack your camp to-night,
And orders me to lead the hope forlorn.
Now I am sure our excellent KING CHARLES
Would not approve of this; but he's away
A hundred leagues, and rather more than that.
So, utterly devoted to my King,
Blinded by my attachment to the throne,
And having but its interest at heart,
I feel it is my duty to disclose
All schemes that emanate from COLONEL JOOLES,
If I believe that they are not the kind
Of schemes that our good monarch would approve."

"But how," said Bedford's Duke, "do you propose
That we should overthrow your Colonel's scheme?"
And HONGREE, Sub-Lieutenant of Chassoores,
Replied at once with never-failing tact:
"Oh, sir, I know this cursed country well.
Entrust yourself and all your host to me;
I'll lead you safely by a secret path
Into the heart of COLONEL JOOLES' array,
And you can then attack them unprepared,
And slay my fellow-countrymen unarmed."

The thing was done.
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:41 min read
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William Schwenck Gilbert

Sir William Schwenck Gilbert was an English dramatist librettist poet and illustrator best known for his fourteen comic operas produced in collaboration with the composer Sir Arthur Sullivan of which the most famous include HMS Pinafore The Pirates of Penzance and one of the most frequently performed works in the history of musical theatre The Mikado These as well as most of their other Savoy operas continue to be performed regularly throughout the English-speaking world and beyond by opera companies repertory companies schools and community theatre groups Lines from these works have become part of the English language such as short sharp shock What never Well hardly ever and Let the punishment fit the crime Gilbert also wrote the Bab Ballads an extensive collection of light verse accompanied by his own comical drawings His creative output included over 75 plays and libretti numerous stories poems lyrics and various other comic and serious pieces His plays and realistic style of stage direction inspired other dramatists including Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw According to The Cambridge History of English and American Literature Gilberts lyrical facility and his mastery of metre raised the poetical quality of comic opera to a position that it had never reached before and has not reached since Source - Wikipedia more…

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