The Hunting of the Perl
(Inspired by The Hunting of the Snark by Lewis Carroll.)
“Just the place for a Perl!” the Larry cried,
As he landed his crew with care;
Supporting each one on the top of the tide
By a finger entwined in their hair.
“Just the place for a Perl! I have said it twice:
That alone should encourage the crew.
Just the place for a Perl! I have said it thrice:
What I tell you three times is true.”
The crew was complete: it included a group
Of talented contributors and users,
A wonderful bunch, all of them fun
Some patchers, some pumkings, some golfers
The Larry himself they all praised to the skies–
Such a carriage, such ease and such grace!
Such solemnity, too! One could see he was wise,
The moment one looked in his face!
He had drawn a large map representing the sea,
Without the least vestige of land:
And the crew were much pleased when they found it to be
A map they could all understand.
“The thing can be done,” said the Damian, “I think.
The thing must be done, I am sure.
The thing shall be done! Bring me paper and ink,
The best there is time to procure.”
The Gnat brought paper, portfolio, pens,
And ink in unfailing supplies:
While strange creepy creatures came out of their dens,
And watched them with wondering eyes.
So engrossed was the Damian, he heeded them not,
As he wrote with a pen in each hand,
And explained all the while in a popular style
Which the crew could well understand.
In his genial way he proceeded to say
(Forgetting all laws of propriety,
And that giving instruction, without introduction,
Would have caused quite a thrill in Society),
“Taking Three as the subject to reason about–
A convenient number to state–
We add Seven, and Ten, and then multiply out
By One Thousand diminished by Eight.
“The result we proceed to divide, as you see,
By Nine Hundred and Ninety and Two:
Then subtract Seventeen, and the answer must be
Exactly and perfectly true.
“The method employed I would gladly explain,
While I have it so clear in my head,
If you had but the time… I’ll tell those who remain.
I have so much left to be said.
“In one moment I’ve seen what has hitherto been
Enveloped in absolute mystery,
And without extra charge I will give you at large
A Lesson in Klingon History.”
They sought Perl with thimbles, they sought it with care;
They pursued it with forks and hope;
They threatened its life with a railway-share;
They charmed it with smiles and soap.
And the Chip, inspired with a courage so new
It was a matter of note on #perl,
Rushed madly ahead and was lost to their view
In his zeal to discover the Perl.
They shuddered to think that the chase might fail,
And the Nicholas, excited at last,
Went bounding along on the tip of his tail,
For the daylight was nearly past.
“There is Salzenburg shouting!” the Larry said.
“He is shouting like mad, only hear!
He is waving his hands, he is wagging his head,
He has certainly found a Perl!”
“It’s a Perl!” was the sound that first came to their ears,
And seemed almost too good to be true.
Then followed a torrent of laughter and cheers:
Then the ominous words “It’s a To—”
Then, silence. Some fancied they heard in the air
A weary and wandering sigh
That sounded like “–paz!” but the others declare
It was only a breeze that went by.
While he was seeking with thimbles and care,
A Topaz swiftly drew nigh
And grabbed at the fellow, who shrieked in despair,
For he knew it was useless to fly.
Without rest or pause–while those frumious jaws
Went savagely snapping around—
He skipped and he hopped, and he floundered and flopped.
Till fainting he fell to the ground.
The Topaz fled as the others appeared
Led on by that fear-stricken yell:
And the Larry remarked “It is just as I feared!”
And solemnly tolled on his bell.
Chip was black in the face, and they scarcely could trace
The least likeness to what he had been:
While so great was his fright that his waistcoat turned white–
A wonderful thing to be seen!
To the horror of all who were present that day,
He uprose in full evening dress,
And with senseless grimaces endeavoured to say
What his tongue could no longer express.
Down he sank in a chair–ran his hands through his hair–
And chanted in mimsiest tones
Words whose utter inanity proved his insanity,
While he rattled a couple of bones.
But the danger was past–they landed at last,
With their boxes, portmanteaus, and bags:
Yet at first sight the crew were not pleased with the view
Which consisted of chasms and crags.
The Larry perceived that their spirits were low,
And repeated in musical tone
Some jokes he had kept for a season of woe–
But the crew would do nothing but groan.
He served out some grog with a liberal hand,
And bade them sit down on the beach:
And they could not but own that their Captain looked grand,
As he stood and delivered his speech.
“Friends, Romans, and countrymen, lend me your ears!”
(They were all of them fond of quotations:
So they drank to his health, and they gave him three cheers,
While he served out additional rations).
“Come, listen, my friends, while I tell you again
The five unmistakable whorls
By which you may know, wheresoever you go,
The warranted genuine Perl.”