The Duel

The duel

Eugene FieldOne of my favorite books when I was a child was “The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat”.

Alas, I can’t find a copy of the cover that I remember from my childhood so this one will have to do.

It’s actually a poem entitled “The Duel” by a 19th century writer named Eugene Field (1850 – 1895) who was known for his light verse for children.

Do a web search on “gingham dog and calico cat” and you’ll find many children’s books have been published over the years using that poem.

I was reminded of it recently when I heard that the CEO’s of Facebook and Twitter are planning a cage match, and it occurred to me, “Wouldn’t it be lovely if the outcome were the same as the duel between the gingham dog and the calico cat?” 


The Duel

By Eugene Field (1850 – 1895)

The gingham dog and the calico cat
Side by side on the table sat;
‘Twas half-past twelve, and (what do you think!)
Nor one nor t’ other had slept a wink!
      The old Dutch clock and the Chinese plate
      Appeared to know as sure as fate
There was going to be a terrible spat.
            (I wasn’t there; I simply state
            What was told to me by the Chinese plate!)

The gingham dog went “Bow-wow-wow!”
And the calico cat replied “Mee-ow!”
The air was littered, an hour or so,
With bits of gingham and calico,
      While the old Dutch clock in the chimney-place
      Up with its hands before its face,
For it always dreaded a family row!
            (Now mind: I’m only telling you
            What the old Dutch clock declares is true!)

The Chinese plate looked very blue,
And wailed, “Oh, dear! what shall we do!”
But the gingham dog and the calico cat
Wallowed this way and tumbled that,
      Employing every tooth and claw
      In the awfullest way you ever saw—
And, oh! how the gingham and calico flew!
            (Don’t fancy I exaggerate—
            I got my news from the Chinese plate!)

Next morning, where the two had sat
They found no trace of dog or cat;
And some folks think unto this day
That burglars stole that pair away!
      But the truth about the cat and pup
      Is this: they ate each other up!
Now what do you really think of that!
            (The old Dutch clock it told me so,
            And that is how I came to know.)

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