Presented one evening at court,
Two beauties of virtue and praise,
A third stayed at home with her books;
All daughters of Count Bolognese.
The studious youngest girl, Ague,
Wanted nothing of marital bliss.
Let her sisters have husbands and children,
She’d pursue academics as Miss.
The next day the Count was in glory,
As suitors assailed his front door;
Detailing for his youngest daughter,
A plan he’d not mentioned before.
“Just think of the future, my Ague,
Once your sisters are married anon.
With nieces and nephews to plague you,
How busy you’ll be thereupon!”
“No more reading, or travel, or science,
Or similar, silly pursuits!
You’ll spend every waking hour tending,
Your sisters’ precocious offshoots!”
While it’s true that she hadn’t foreseen this,
She was rapidly forming a plan.
If they threatened her own future status,
She must blot them all out, to a man.
“Papa,” she advised, “tell my sisters
Not to hasten their toilette or tress.
I will gladly attend to their callers,
So they might attend to their dress.”
Impressed with this calm acquiescence
And sisterly deference displayed,
The Count hurried off to the others
To make sure they were duly arrayed.
Then she milled through the numerous suitors,
Plying each with some wine or a word,
Inspiring combative behavior
Until duels had thinned out half the herd.
As servants were cleaning up blood stains
And her sisters not yet appeared,
The rest then withdrew for the evening,
Or at least ’til the bodies were cleared.
The next day the gents were as eager,
If somewhat less teeming, it’s true.
Digitalis allowed our sweet Ague
To lessen their number by two.
Another was felled by a blow dart
And a virulent form of the pox.
He languished ’til just after supper,
Then had to go home in a box.
The third day returned only stalwarts
Untroubled by talk of a “curse.”
By noon a half dozen were leaving,
All prone in the back of a hearse.
Day four saw just one man left standing,
Preparing to kneel for a bride,
Disposed to choose one of the sisters,
He studied the two to decide.
The eldest now seemed a bit anxious.
All the “courting” had taken its toll.
She’d developed a quivering eye-twitch
And a stutter she couldn’t control.
The second fared not that much better.
She now giggled quite inapropos.
And her turn for the soiled and bedraggled
Might certainly frighten this beau.
But alas! He collapsed of consumption,
Contracted, it seemed, on the spot,
Forestalling his choice and proposal
With the impulse to drop dead and rot.
This last was too much for her sisters,
Who presently screamed and ran mad.
The Count took to sleeping in hedgerows,
Having lost every prospect he’d had.
And so it would pass that Miss Ague
Earned a life she alone was to plan,
Proving mode and societal custom
Are as frail and as mortal as man.