- The tear-drop trembled in his eye,
- The signed agreement in his hand:
- But when at length the legal soul
- Resumed its customary force,
- 'The Law,' he said, 'we ca'n't control:
- Pay, or the Law must take its course!'
- Said Paul 'How bitterly I rue
- That fatal morning when I called!
- Consider, Peter, what you do!
- You won't be richer when you're bald!
- Think you, by rending curls away,
- To make your difficulties less?
- Forbear this violence, I pray:
- You do but add to my distress!'
- 'Not willingly would I inflict,'
- Said Peter, 'on that noble heart
- One needless pang. Yet why so strict?
- Is this to act a friendly part?
- However legal it may be
- To pay what never has been lent,
- This style of business seems to me
- Extremely inconvenient!
- 'No Nobleness of soul have I,
- Like some that in this Age are found!'
- (Paul blushed in sheer humility,
- And cast his eyes upon the ground)
- 'This debt will simply swallow all,
- And make my life a life of woe!'
- 'Nay, nay, nay Peter!' answered Paul.
- 'You must not rail on Fortune so!
- 'You have enough to eat and drink:
- You are respected in the world:
- And at the barber's, as I think,
- You often get your whiskers curled.
- Though Nobleness you ca'n't attain
- To any very great extent--
- The path of Honesty is plain,
- However inconvenient!'
- "Tis true, 'said Peter,' I'm alive:
- I keep my station in the world:
- Once in the week I just contrive
- To get my whiskers oiled and curled.
- But my assets are very low:
- My little income's overspent:
- To trench on capital, you know,
- Is always inconvenient!'
- 'But pay your debts!' cried honest Paul.
- 'My gentle Peter, pay your debts!
- What matter if it swallows all
- That you describe as your "assets"?
- Already you're an hour behind:
- Yet Generosity is best.
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