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The Devil's Dictionary

by Ambrose Bierce
RESPIRATOR
RESPLENDENT

RESPITE

-n.

A suspension of hostilities against a sentenced assassin, to enable the Executive to determine whether the murder may not have been done by the prosecuting attorney. Any break in the continuity of a disagreeable expectation.

 Altgeld upon his incandescend bed
Lay, an attendant demon at his head.
 "O cruel cook, pray grant me some relief —
Some respite from the roast, however brief."
 "Remember how on earth I pardoned all
Your friends in Illinois when held in thrall."
 "Unhappy soul! for that alone you squirm
O'er fire unquenched, a never-dying worm.
 "Yet, for I pity your uneasy state,
Your doom I'll mollify and pains abate.
 "Naught, for a season, shall your comfort mar,
Not even the memory of who you are."
 Throughout eternal space dread silence fell;
Heaven trembled as Compassion entered Hell.
 "As long, sweet demon, let my respite be
As, governing down here, I'd respite thee."
 "As long, poor soul, as any of the pack
You thrust from jail consumed in getting back."
 A genial chill affected Altgeld's hide
While they were turning him on t'other side.

- Joel Spate Woop