Deborah's Parrot, a Village Tale by Mary Darby Robinson
'Twas in a little western town An ancient Maiden dwelt: Her name was MISS, or MISTRESS, Brown, Or DEBORAH, or DEBBY: She Was doom'd a Spinster pure to be, For soft delights her breast ne'er felt: Yet, she had watchful Ears and Eyes For ev'ry youthful neighbour, And never did she cease to labour A tripping female to surprize.
And why was she so wond'rous pure, So stiff, so solemn--so demure? Why did she watch with so much care The roving youth, the wand'ring fair? The tattler, Fame, has said that she A Spinster's life had long detested, But 'twas her quiet destiny, Never to be molested !-- And had Miss DEBBY'S form been grac'd, Fame adds,--She had not been so chaste;-- But since for frailty she would roam, She ne'er was taught--to look at home .
Miss DEBBY was of mien demure And blush'd, like any maid ! She could not saucy man endure Lest she should be betray'd! She never fail'd at dance or fair To watch the wily lurcher's snare; At Church, she was a model Godly! Though sometimes she had other eyes Than those, uplifted to the skies, Leering most oddly! And Scandal, ever busy, thought She rarely practic'd--what she taught.
Her dress was always stiff brocade, With laces broad and dear; Fine Cobwebs ! that would thinly shade Her shrivell'd cheek of sallow hue, While, like a Spider, her keen eye, Which never shed soft pity's tear, Small holes in others geer could spy, And microscopic follies, prying view. And sorely vex'd was ev'ry simple thing That wander'd near her never-tiring sting!
Miss DEBBY had a PARROT, who, If Fame speaks true, Could prate, and tell what neighbours did, And yet the saucy rogue was never chid! Sometimes, he talk'd of roving Spouses Who wander'd from their quiet houses: Sometimes, he call'd a Spinster pure By names, that Virtue can't indure! And sometimes told an ancient Dame Such tales as made her blush with shame! Then gabbled how a giddy Miss Would give the boist'rous Squire a kiss! But chiefly he was taught to cry, Who with the Parson toy'd? O fie! "
This little joke, Miss DEBBY taught him, To vex a young and pretty neighbour; But by her scandal-zealous labour To shame she brought him! For, the Old PARROT, like his teacher Was but a false and canting preacher, And many a gamesome pair had sworn Such lessons were not to be borne.
At last, Miss DEBBY sore was flouted And by her angry neighbours scouted; She never knew one hour of rest, Of ev'ry Saucy Boor, the jest: The young despis'd her, and the Sage Look'd back on Time's impartial page; They knew that youth was giv'n to prove The season of extatic joy, That none but Cynics would destroy, The early buds of Love. They also knew that DEBBY sigh'd For charms that envious Time deny'd; That she was vex'd with jealous Spleen That Hymen pass'd her by, unseen.
For though the Spinster's wealth was known, Gold will not purchase Love--alone . She, and her PARROT, now were thought The torments of their little Sphere; He, because mischievously taught, And She, because a maid austere !-- In short, she deem'd it wise to leave A Place, where none remain'd, to grieve.
Soon, to a distant town remov'd, Miss DEBBY'S gold an husband bought; And all she had her PARROT taught, (Her PARROT now no more belov'd,) Was quite forgotten. But, alas! As Fate would have it come to pass, Her Spouse was giv'n to jealous rage, For, both in Person and in Age , He was the partner of his love, Ordain'd her second Self to prove!
One day, Old JENKINS had been out With merry friends to dine, And, freely talking, had, no doubt Been also free with wine. One said, of all the wanton gay In the whole parish search it round, None like the PARSON could be found, Where a frail Maid was in the way. Another thought the Parson sure To win the heart of maid or wife; And would have freely pledg'd his life That young, or old, or rich or poor None could defy The magic of his roving eye!
JENKINS went home, but all the night He dream'd of this strange tale! Yet, bless'd his stars ! with proud delight, His partner was not young, nor frail. Next morning, at the breakfast table. The PARROT, loud as he was able, Was heard repeatedly to cry, Who with the Parson toy'd? O fie!"
Old JENKINS listen'd, and grew pale, The PARROT then, more loudly scream'd, And MISTRESS JENKINS heard the tale And much alarm'd she seem'd! Trembling she tried to stop his breath, Her lips and cheek as pale as death! The more she trembled, still the more Old JENKINS view'd her o'er and o'er; And now her yellow cheek was spread With blushes of the deepest red.
And now again the PARROT'S Tale Made his old Tutoress doubly pale; For cowardice and guilt, they say Are the twin brothers of the soul; So MISTRESS JENKINS, her dismay Could not controul! While the accuser, now grown bold, Thrice o'er, the tale of mischief told.
Now JENKINS from the table rose, "Who with the Parson toy'd? " he cried. "So MISTRESS FRAILTY, you must play, "And sport, your wanton hours away. "And with your gold, a pretty joke, "You thought to buy a pleasant cloak; "A screen to hide your shame--but know "I will not blind to ruin go.-- "I am no modern Spouse , dy'e see, "Gold will not gild disgrace, with me!" Some say he seiz'd his fearful bride, And came to blows! Day after day, the contest dire Augmented, with resistless ire! And many a drubbing DEBBY bought For mischief, she her PARROT taught!
Thus, SLANDER turns against its maker; And if this little Story reaches A SPINSTER, who her PARROT teaches, Let her a better task pursue, And here, the certain VENGEANCE view Which surely will, in TIME, O'ERTAKE HER.