The Orange

Charles Lamb

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The month was June, the day was hot,
And Philip had an orange got,
The fruit was fragrant, tempting, bright,
Refreshing to the smell and sight;
Not of that puny size which calls
Poor customers to common stalls,
But large and massy, full of juice,
As any Lima can produce.
The liquor would, if squeezëd out,
Have filled a tumbler--thereabout.

The happy boy, with greedy eyes,
Surveys and re-surveys his prize.
He turns it round, and longs to drain,
And with the juice his lips to stain,
His throat and lips were parched with heat;
The orange seemed to cry, Come eat,
He from his pocket draws a knife--
When in his thoughts there rose a strife,
Which folks experience when they wish
Yet scruple to begin a dish,
And by their hesitation own
It is too good to eat alone.
But appetite o'er indecision
Prevails, and Philip makes incision.

The melting fruit in quarters came,--
Just then there passëd by a dame,
One of the poorer sort she seemed,
As by her garb you would have deemed,--
Who in her toil-worn arms did hold
A sickly infant ten months old;
That from a fever, caught in spring,
Was slowly then recovering.
The child, attracted by the view
Of that fair orange, feebly threw
A languid look--perhaps the smell
Convinced it that there sure must dwell
A corresponding sweetness there,
Where lodged a scent so good and rare--
Perhaps the smell the fruit did give
Felt healing and restorative--
For never had the child been graced
To know such dainties by their taste.

When Philip saw the infant crave,
He straightway to the mother gave
His quartered orange; nor would stay
To hear her thanks, but tripped away.
Then to the next clear spring he ran
To quench his drought, a happy man!

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