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The Banker's Fate

489    They sought it with thimbles, they sought it with care;

490        They pursued it with forks and hope;

491    They threatened its life with a railway-share;

492        They charmed it with smiles and soap.

 

493    And the Banker, inspired with a courage so new

494        It was matter for general remark,

495    Rushed madly ahead and was lost to their view

496        In his zeal to discover the Snark

 

497    But while he was seeking with thimbles and care,

498        A Bandersnatch swiftly drew nigh

499    And grabbed at the Banker, who shrieked in despair,

500        For he knew it was useless to fly.

 

501    He offered large discount—he offered a cheque

502        (Drawn “to bearer”) for seven-pounds-ten:

503    But the Bandersnatch merely extended its neck

504        And grabbed at the Banker again.

 

505    Without rest or pause—while those frumious jaws

506        Went savagely snapping around-

507    He skipped and he hopped, and he floundered and flopped,

508        Till fainting he fell to the ground.

 

509    The Bandersnatch fled as the others appeared

510        Led on by that fear-stricken yell:

511    And the Bellman remarked “It is just as I feared!”

512        And solemnly tolled on his bell.

 

513    He was black in the face, and they scarcely could trace

514        The least likeness to what he had been:

515    While so great was his fright that his waistcoat turned white-

516        A wonderful thing to be seen!

 

517    To the horror of all who were present that day.

518        He uprose in full evening dress,

519    And with senseless grimaces endeavoured to say

520        What his tongue could no longer express.

 

521    Down he sank in a chair—ran his hands through his hair—

522        And chanted in mimsiest tones

523    Words whose utter inanity proved his insanity,

524        While he rattled a couple of bones.

 

525    “Leave him here to his fate—it is getting so late!”

526        The Bellman exclaimed in a fright.

527    “We have lost half the day. Any further delay,

528        And we sha’nt catch a Snark before night!”

 

 

Illustration by Henry Holiday (cut by Joseph Swain) to the chapter The Banker's Fate in Lewis Carroll's The Hunting of the Snark (1876).

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Taken on March 24, 2010