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    The Speculators

    by William Makepeace Thackeray
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    The night was stormy and dark, The town was shut up in
    sleep: Only those were abroad who were out on a lark, Or
    those who'd no beds to keep.

    I pass'd through the lonely street, The wind did sing and
    blow; I could hear the policeman's feet Clapping to and fro.

    There stood a potato-man In the midst of all the wet; He
    stood with his 'tato-can In the lonely Haymarket.

    Two gents of dismal mien. And dark and greasy rags, Came
    out of a shop for gin Swaggering over the flags:

    Swaggering over the stones,
    These snabby bucks did walk
    And I went and followed those seedy ones,
    And listened to their talk.

    Was I sober or awake?
    Could I believe my ears?
    Those dismal beggars spake
    Of nothing but railroad shares.

    I wondered more and more:
    Says one--"Good friend of mine,
    How many shares have you wrote for
    In the Diddlesee Junction line?"

    "I wrote for twenty," says Jim,
    "But they wouldn't give me one;"
    His comrade straight rebuked him
    For the folly he had done:

    "O Jim, you are unawares
    Of the ways of this bad town;
    _I_ always write for five hundred shares,
    And THEN they put me down."

    "And yet you got no shares,"
    Says Jim, "for all your boast;"
    "I WOULD have wrote," says Jack, "but where
    Was the penny to pay the post?"

    "I lost, for I couldn't pay
    That first instalment up;
    But here's taters smoking hot--I say
    Let's stop, my boy, and sup."

    And at this simple feast
    The while they did regale,
    I drew each ragged capitalist
    Down on my left thumb-nail.

    Their talk did me perplex,
    All night I tumbled and toss'd
    And thought of railroad specs,
    And how money was won and lost.

    "Bless railroads everywhere,"
    I said, "and the world's advance;
    Bless every railroad share
    In Italy, Ireland, France,

    For never a beggar need now despair,
    And every rogue has a chance."
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