A Haven Marred
Jones is a man exceeding meek
And henpecked, so his neighbours say,
Who, one glad evening every week,
Sought sanctuary in his queer way.
At his suburban picture show
He'd sit and gloat, in mood serene,
Quite recompensed for all his woe
To see dumb women on the screen.
But now the picture house he shuns;
His week becomes one weary drag;
For, 'mid the crash of 'he-men's' guns,
Even the female shadows nag!
I sing of the hat, of the human lid,
The cadev, the tile, or whatever you please,
The thing that we wear - or our fathers did
For the making of comfort and greater ease.
Man suffers a roof up over his head
'Gainst the wind and the weather, to keep them out;
But as for a woman, when all is said,
It's the very last thing she thinks about.
Why queer 'creations' should deck her brow,
Or the back of her neck, or her small pink ear,
She hasn't the least idea, I vow;
For out of the blue come things of fear,
And, all in a night as it were - like that
Every matron and maid in town
Abandons the saucer she had for a hat
For a thing like a billy-can upside down.
Weird fruit salads and flower-decked tiles,
Dingle-dangles, roosters and bows,
Furs and feathers have served the styles
And what is the next craze no man knows.
But the cruel thing that I have heard said
I still deny, as I ever denied:
That the crazy affairs on the feminine head
Give evidence clear of the stuff inside.
The Fate Of A Harpist
There is women, yer Worship, of various kinds:
An' some of 'em's fluffy a' foolish,
An' some is sispicious an' mean in their minds,
An' others fair set-like an' mulish.
There is some, as I owns, is real kind - tho' not many,
As maybe yer Worship 'as coped with - if any.
But wot can you do with a woman wot 'arps?
I am arskin' the Bench, as a man an' a male
Wot sticks to 'er subjeck an' cavils an' carps,
Wot won't be put orf it, but 'ammers an' 'arps
Till you rock like a ship in a gale.
I'm a plain, placid man, an' me patience is vast;
But the patience of angels gits wobbly at last.
For she 'arps on me 'abits, she 'arps in me ears,
She 'arps on me cricket an' listenin' in;
She 'arps an' she 'arps, till I'm full of strange fears;
For I knows there's no end once I 'ear 'er begin.
So, am I to be blamed if I rise in me passion
An' seek for to send 'er where 'arpin's the fashion?
For wot can you do with a woman wot 'arps?
I slung 'er bokays while me 'anger was 'ot.
I was full to the teeth of 'er flats an' 'er sharps;
So I slung 'er bokays, while she 'ammers an' 'arps
(An' them flowers was till in the pot.)
Well, I needn't say more; for she's told all the rest.
But I craves yer man' mercy; an' 'opes for the best.
I wondered wot was doin'. First I seen
Ole Missus Flood wave signals to Doreen.
I'm in the paddick slashin' down some ferns;
She's comin' up the road; an' if she turns
An 'andspring I won't be su'prised a bit,
The way she's caperin', an' goin' it.
She yells out some remark when she gets near,
Which I don't catch, I'm too fur off to 'ear.
An' then Doreen comes prancin' to our door,
An' Missus Flood she sprints, an' yells some more;
My wife runs to the gate an' waves 'er arms...
But I lays low; I'm used to these alarms.
A married bloke, in time, 'e learns a bit;
An' 'e ain't over keen to throw a fit
Each time the women calls the fire-reel out.
It's jist a trifle 'e'll know all about
When things get normal. That's a point I learn;
So I saws wood, an' keeps on cutting fern.
At least, I cut a few. I got to give
Reel fac's, an' own I was inquisitive;
An' these 'ere fireworks gets me fair perplexed.
I watch the 'ouse to see wot 'appens next;
But nothin's doin'. They jist goes in,
An' leaves me wonderin' wot's caused the din.
I stands it for a full 'arf-hour or more;
Then gets dead sick uv starin' at the door.
I goes down to the 'ouse an' 'unts about
To find some 'baccer, which I 'ave no doubt
Is in me trousers pocket all the while.
When I goes in, the talk stops, an' they smile.
I sez I've lost me smoke, an' search a bit,
An' ask Doreen wot 'as become uv it,
An' turns the mantelshelf all upside-down,
An' looks inside the teapot, with a frown;
Then gives it up, an' owns I'd like a drink;
When Missus Flood sez, 'Bill, wot do you think?'
Now, ain't that like a woman? Spare me days,
I'll never get resigned to all their ways.
When they 'as news to tell they smile, an' wink,
An' bottle it, an' ask yeh wot yeh think.
It's jist a silly game uv theirs, an' so,
I gives the countersign: 'Wot? I dunno.'
'Then guess,' she sez. Well, I'm a patient bloke,
So I sits down an' starts to cut a smoke.
(To play this game yeh've got to persevere.)
'Couldn't,' I sez, 'if I guessed for a year';
Then lights me pipe, an' waits for 'er to speak.
At last she says, 'Jim's comin' back next week!'
'Go on,' sez I; an' puffs away awhile
Quite unconcerned. But for to see 'er smile
Was jist a treat: 'er eyes was shinin' bright,
An' she grow'd ten years younger in a night.
Jist 'ere, Doreen she sez to me, 'Good Lor,
Wot do yeh want two plugs uv 'baccer for?'
I takes me pipe out uv me mouth an' stares,
An' stammers, 'Must 'ave found a piece - somewheres.'
But, by the way she smiles - so extra sweet
I know she twigs me game, an' I am beat.
'Fancy,' she sez. 'Yeh're absent-minded, dear.
Sure there was nothin' else yeh wanted 'ere?'
'Nothin',' I sez, an' feels a first-prize fool;
An' goes outside, an' grabs the nearest tool.
It was the crosscut; so I works like mad
To keep me self-respeck from goin' bad.
'This game,' I tells meself, 'will do yeh good.
You ain't proficient, yet, at sawin' wood.'
Half A Man
'I wash me 'ands uv 'im,' I tells 'em straight.
'You women can do wot yeh dash well like.
I leave this 'arf a man to 'is own fate;
I've done me bit, an' now I'm gone on strike.
Do wot yeh please; but don't arsk 'elp from me;
'E's give me nerves; so now I'll let 'im be.'
Doreen an' ole Mar Flood 'as got a scheme.
They've been conspirin' for a week or more
About this Digger Smith, an' now they dream
They've got 'is fucher waitin' in cold store
To 'and 'im out, an' fix 'im up for life.
But they've got Buckley's, as I tells me wife.
I've seen them whisperin' up in our room.
Now they wants me to join in the debate;
But 'Nix,' I tells 'em. 'I ain't in the boom,
An' Digger Smith ain't risin' to me bait;
'E's fur too fly a fish for me to catch,
An' two designin' women ain't 'is match.'
I puts me foot down firm, an' tells 'em, No!
Their silly plan's a thing I wouldn't touch.
An' then me wife, for 'arf an hour or so,
Talks to me confident, of nothin' much;
Then, 'fore I know it, I am all red 'ot
Into the scheme, an' leader uv the plot.
'Twas Mar Flood starts it. She got 'old uv 'im --
You know the way they 'ave with poor, weak men --
She drops a tear or two concernin' Jim;
Tells 'im wot women 'ave to bear; an' then
She got 'im talkin', like a woman can.
'E never would 'ave squeaked to any man.
She leads 'im on -- It's crook the way they scheme --
To talk about this girl 'e's let be'ind.
Not that she's pryin'! Why, she wouldn't dream! --
But speakin' uv it might jist ease 'is mind.
Then, 'fore 'e knows, 'e's told, to 'is surprise,
Name an' address -- an' colour uv 'er eyes!
An' then she's off 'ere plottin' with Doreen --
Bustin' a confidence, I tells 'em, flat.
But all me roustin' leaves 'em both serene:
Women don't see a little thing like that.
An' I ain't cooled off yet before they've got
Me workin' for 'em in this crooked plot.
Nex' day Mar Flood she takes 'er Sunday dress
An' 'er best bonnet up to town.
'Er game's to see the girl at this address
An' word 'er in regard to comin' down
To take Smith be su'prise. My part's to fix
A meetin' so there won't be any mix.
I tips, that girl won't 'esitate.
She don't. She comes right back with Mar nex' day,
All uv a fluster. When I see 'er state
I thinks I'd best see Digger straight away;
'Cos if I don't, 'e's bound to 'ear the row,
With 'er: 'Where is 'e? Can't I see 'im now?'
I finds 'im in the paddick down at Flood's.
I 'ums an' 'ars a bit about the crops.
'E don't say nothin': goes on baggin' spuds.
''Ow would yeh like,' I sez to 'im, an' stops.
''Ow would it be' ... 'E stands an' looks at me:
'Now, wot the 'Ell's got into you?' sez 'e.
That don't restore me confidence a bit.
The drarmer isn't goin' as I tipped.
I corfs, an' makes another shot at it;
While 'e looks at me like 'e thinks I'm dipped.
'Well - jist suppose,' I sez; an' then I turn
An' see 'er standin' there among the fern.
She don't want no prelimin'ries, this tart;
She's broke away before they rung the bell;
She's beat the gun, an' got a flyin' start.
Smith makes a funny noise, an' I sez ''Ell!'
Because I tumbles that I'm out uv place.
But, as I went, I caught sight uv 'er face.
That's all I want to know. An', as I ran,
I 'ear's her cry, 'My man! Man an' a 'arf!
Don't fool me with yer talk uv 'arf a man!'...
An' then I 'ear ole Digger start to larf.
It was a funny larf, so 'elp me bob:
Fair in the middle uv it come a sob...
I don't see Digger till the other night.
'Well, 'Arf-a-man,' I sez, ''Ow goes it now?'
'Yes, 'arf a man,' sez 'e. 'Yeh got it right;
I can't change that, alone, not any'ow.
But she is mendin' things.' 'E starts to larf.
'Some day,' 'e sez, 'she'll be the better 'arf.'
A Woman's Way
Women is strange. You take my tip; I'm wise.
I know enough to know I'll never know
The 'uman female mind, or wot su'prise
They 'as in store to bring yer boastin' low.
They keep yeh guessin' wot they're up to nex',
An' then, odds on, it's wot yeh least expecks.
Take me. I know me wife can twist me round
'Er little finger. I don't mind that none.
Wot worries me is that I've never found
Which way I'm gittin' twisted, till it's done.
Women is strange. An' yet, I've got to own
I'd make a orful 'ash uv it, alone.
There's this affair uv Rose. I tells yeh straight,
Suspicious don't describe me state uv mind.
The calm way that Doreen 'as fixed the date
An' all, looks like there's somethin' else be'ind.
Somethin' - not spite or meanness; don't think that.
Me wife purrs sometimes, but she ain't a cat.
But somethin'. I've got far too wise a nob
To be took in by 'er airs uv repose.
I know I said I'd chuck the 'ole darn job
An' leave 'er an' the parson deal with Rose.
But now me mind's uneasy, that's a fack.
I've got to manage things with speshul tack.
That's 'ow I feel - uneasy - when I drive
Down to the train. I'm thinkin' as I goes,
There ain't two women, that I know, alive
More difrint than them two - Doreen an' Rose.
'Ow they will mix together I dunno.
It all depends on 'ow I run the show.
Rose looks dead pale. She ain't got much to say
('Er few poor bits uv luggage make no load)
She smiles when we shake 'ands, an' sez Goodday
Shy like an' strange; an' as we take the road
Back to the farm, I see 'er look around
Big-eyed, like it's some queer new land she's found.
I springs a joke or two. I'm none too bright
Meself; but it's a slap-up sort uv day.
Spring's workin' overtime; to left an' right
Blackwood an' wattle trees is bloomin' gay,
Botchin' the bonzer green with golden dust;
An' magpies in 'em singin' fit to bust.
I sneak a glance at Rose. I can't look long.
'Er lips is trem'lin'; tears is in 'er eye.
Then, glad with life, a thrush beefs out a song
'Longside the road as we go drivin' by.
'Oh, Gawd A'mighty! 'Ark!' I 'ear 'er say,
'An' Spadgers Lane not fifty mile away!'
Not fifty mile away: the frowsy Lane,
Where only dirt an' dreariness 'as sway,
Where every second tale's a tale uv pain,
An' devil's doin's blots the night an' day.
But 'ere is thrushes tootin' songs uv praise.
An' golden blossoms lightin' up our ways.
I speaks a piece to boost this bonzer spot;
Tellin' 'er 'ow the neighbourhood 'as grown,
An' 'ow Dave Brown, jist up the road, 'as got
Ten ton uv spuds per acre, usin' bone.
She don't seem to be list'nin'. She jist stares,
Like someone dreamin' dreams, or thinkin' pray'rs.
Me yap's a dud. No matter 'ow I try,
Me conversation ain't the dinkum brand.
I'm 'opin' that she don't bust out an' cry:
It makes me nervis. But I understand.
Over an' over I can 'ear 'er say,
'An' Spadgers less than fifty mile away!'
We're 'ome at last. Doreen is at the gate.
I hitch the reins, an' quite the eager pup;
Then 'elp Rose down, an' stand aside an' wait
To see 'ow them two size each other up.
But quick - like that - two arms 'as greeted warm
The sobbin' girl… Doreen's run true to form.
''Ome on the bit!' I thinks. But as I turn,
'Ere's Wally Free 'as got to poke 'is dile
Above the fence, where 'e's been cuttin' fern.
The missus spots 'im, an' I seen 'er smile.
An' then she calls to 'im: 'Oh, Mister Free,
Come in,' she sez, 'an' 'ave a cup uv tea.'
There's tack! A woman dunno wot it means.
What does that blighter want with cups uv tea?
A privit, fambly meet - an' 'ere Doreen's
Muckin' it all by draggin' in this Free.
She might 'ave knowed that Rose ain't feelin' prime,
An' don't want no strange comp'ny at the time.
Free an' 'is thievin' cow! But, all the same,
'Is yap did seem to cheer Rose up a lot.
An' after, when 'e'd bunged 'is lanky frame
Back to 'is job, Doreen sez, 'Ain't you got
No work at all to do outside to-day?
Us two must 'ave a tork; so run away.'
I went… I went becoz, if I 'ad stayed,
Me few remarks might 'ave been pretty 'or.
Gawbli'me! 'Oo is 'ead uv this parade?
Did I plan out the scheme, or did I not?
I've worked fer this, I've worried night an' day;
An' now it's fixed, I'm tole to 'run away.'
Women is strange. I s'pose I oughter be
Contented; though I never understands.
But when I score, it 'urts me dignerty
To 'ave the credit grabbed out uv me 'ands.
I shouldn't look fer credit, p'raps; an' then,
Women is strange. But bli'me! So is men!
Hi, it's a funny world! This mornin' when I woke
I saw red robin on the fence, an' heard the words he spoke.
Red robin, he's a perky chap, an' this was his refrain:
'Dear, it's a pity that poor Jenny is so plain.'
To talk like that about his wife! It had me scandalized.
I'd heard him singin' so before, but never recognised
The meaning of his chatter, or that he could be so vain:
'Dear, it's a pity that poor Jenny is so plain.'
I don't know how, I don't know why, but this reminded me
I was promised to the widow for this Sunday night to tea.
I'd promised her for weeks an' weeks, until she pinned me down.
I recollects this is the day, an' gets up with a frown.
I was thinkin' of the widow while I gets me clobber on -
Like a feller will start thinkin' of the times that's past an' gone.
An', while my thoughts is runnin' so, that bird chips in again:
'Dear, it's a pity that poor Jenny is so plain.'
Now, the widow's name is Jenny, an' it strikes me sort of queer
That my thoughts should be upon her when that robin's song I hear.
She ain't so homely neither; but she never could compare
With a certain bonzer vision with the sunlight in her hair.
When I wander down that evenin', she come smilin' to the gate,
An' her look is calculatin', as she scolds because I'm late.
She takes my hat an' sits me down an' heaves a little sigh.
But I get a queer sensation from that glimmer in her eye.
She starts to talk about the mill, an' then about the strike,
An' then she digs Ben Murray up an' treats him nasty-like;
She treats him crool an' cattish, as them soft, sweet women can.
But I ups an' tells her plainly that I think Ben is a man.
First round to me. But she comes back, an' says Ben is a cad
Who's made a laughin'-stock of her, an' treated her reel bad.
I twig she's out for sympathy; so counters that, an' says
That Ben's a broken-hearted man about the mill these days.
The second round to me on points; an' I was havin' hopes.
(I might have known that widows were familiar with the ropes.)
'But he'd never make a husband!' says the widow, with a sigh.
An' again I gets a warnin' from that glimmer in her eye.
I says I ain't no judge of that; an' treats it with a laugh.
But she keeps the talk on 'usbands for a minute an' a half.
I can't do much but spar a bit, an' keep her out of range;
So the third round is the widow's; an' the fight takes on a change.
I'm longin' for a breather, for I've done my nerve a lot,
When suddenly she starts on 'Love,' an' makes the pace reel hot.
In half a jiff she has me on the ropes, an' breathin' hard,
With not a fight inside me - I can only duck an' guard.
She uppercuts me with a sigh, an' jabs me with a glance.
(When a widow is the fighter, has a single bloke a chance?)
Her short-arm blows are amorous, most lovin' is her lunge;
Until it's just a touch an' go I don't throw up the sponge.
I use my head-piece here a bit to wriggle from the fix;
For the widow is a winner 'less I fluke a win by tricks.
An' I lets a reel mean notion (that I don't seek to excuse),
when I interrupts her rudely with, 'But have you heard the news?'
Now, to a woman, that's a lead dead certain of a score,
An' a question that the keenest is unable to ignore.
An' good old Curiosity comes in to second me,
As I saw her struggle hopeless, an' 'What news is that?' says she.
An' here I spins a lovely yarn, a gloomy hard-luck tale
Of how I've done my money in, an' I'm about to fail,
How my house an' land is mortgaged, how I've muddled my affairs
Through foolin' round with racin' bets and rotten minin' shares.
I saw the fight was easy mine the minute I begun;
An', after half a dozen words, the time-keep counted 'One.'
An' when I finish that sad tale there ain't the slightest doubt
I am winner of the contest, an' the widow's down an' out.
But not for long. Although she's lost, the widow is dead game:
'I'm sorry, Mister Jim,' says she, 'for both your loss an' shame.
All things is changed between us now, of course; the past is dead.
An' what you were about to say you please will leave unsaid.'
. . . . . . . . . .
I was thinkin' in the evenin' over how I had escaped,
An' how the widow took it all - the way she stared an' gaped.
She looked her plainest at that time; but that don't matter now;
For, plain or fair, I know of one who's fairer, anyhow.
I tells meself that beauty ain't a thing to count with man,
An' I would never choose a wife on that unthinkin' plan.
No robin was awake, I swear; but still I heard that strain;
'Dear, it's a pity that poor Jenny is so plain.'
An Appeal To Women
O ye women! WIMMIN! WEEMIN!!
See our tears repentant streamin'!
See the pearly drops a-gleamin',
Streamin' from our rheumy eye!
Mark our weskits palpitatin'.
Pray ye, be accommodation'.
Spare a thought commiseratin',
Say the Tory shall not die!
Spare him, who has been your master,
From political disaster.
Doom approaches fast and faster.
Save him - and the Marriage Tie!
Long ago, when, in the gloaming,
Hungry mastodons went roaming
With a view to seeking out what they might scoff.
There was little chance of spooning
In the park; and honey-mooning,
As a fashion, was most obviously 'off.'
For a honeymoon's a failure, and the gladness of it's gone
If you spend the latter end of it inside a mastodon.
So the troglodyte, new-married,
Cut his honeymoon, and tarried
In his cavern with his little bit of frock;
And instead of hugs and kisses,
He caressed his lawful missus
With a bit of cold, hard tertiary rock.
For the 'proper sphere' for women in that neolithic race
Was amongst the goods and chattels, and she had to keep her place.
But, as troglodytes expanded,
Rose a section that demanded
More consideration for the women-folk;
And the good old Tory faction
Met, and moved to 'take some action'
To oppose this foolish Socialistic joke.
But they had a way of dealing with such people in those days;
And, therefore, rocks gave way to clubs and other gentler ways.
Hark, O, woman! WOMMAN! WOOMAN!!
You would not be so inhuman
As to seal the Tory's doom an'
Join the Socialist hordes?
O, ye women of the classes!
Rise ye in your cultured masses!
Haste, before the Tory passes.
Be ye saviours of your lords.
Lo, have we not fought your battles!
(Hark! The foeman's armor rattles!)
Would ye be his toys and chattels?
Save us from Progression's swords!
Passing down the ancient ages,
Skipping many pregnant pages,
We arrive at that old magnate of the mines
Solomon, in all his glory
Rich monopolist and Tory,
Who possessed some wives and countless concubines.
And I shall not pause to dwell upon the Queen of Sheba's visit;
For such gossip isn't tolerated 'midst the 'naicest,' is it?
After that wise king was pensioned,
Someone (who and when not mentioned)
Said that men should have no more than one wife each.
Then the good old crusted Tory
Rose, with language loud and gory,
And delivered a prolonged impassioned speech.
He called this new proposal 'Socialist froth and foam
That attacked the marriage contract and the sanctity of home.'
Ay, he raved with indignation,
Formed an ancient Federation
Of Defence, and backed it up with piles of cash.
But the rabid 'One-wife' section
Fought and carried the election,
And their legislation ill-advised and rash.
Old Time has sprinted somewhat since that scheme was first begun,
And now the Tory (I'm informed) is satisfied with one.
O, ye women! WIMMIN! WEEMIN!!
Don't ye hear the Tory screamin'?
All along he's been esteemin'
Womankind, since ages dim.
He has pampered you and prized you;
E'er adored and idolised you,
And, moreover, recognised you
As his equal. Fly to him!
Has he not passed legislation
Granting you emancipation?
If you'd save your reputation
Haste to grant his ev'ry whim!
Once again, with hasty fingers,
Let us turn the page. Who lingers
There will find that ancient history repeats.
O'er and o'er the same old story,
Telling how the dear old Tory
Abdicates (perhaps) when womankind entreats.
Well, he did admit her equal to his dog at any rate.
So we'll pass - with your permission - to affairs of recent date.
Ah! did not the tender Tory
Listen to her tearful story
When she pleaded for a vote a while ago?
Did he not cry out in anguish
To behold his sister languish
For the franchise that the men enjoyed! Oh no.
'Tis recorded - mayhap wrongly - that he fought her tooth and nail.
And he sneered at her pretensions, but his sneers did not prevail.
Does the Tory change? I doubt it.
Watch him, how he goes about it,
Like his prototype the troglodyte B.C.,
When her mood he wants to soften,
See him smite her hard and often
With large, heavy chunks of deadly orat'ry.
But the outlook of she-troglodytes has much improved to-day;
For, although they may not now it, they're his last and only stay.
Hark ye, women! Women voters!
Social queens and League promoters!
Are ye ever to be doters
On the male-bird of your type!
Since Tory Adam bit the pippin
He has blamed you for his slippin'
And his sinnin'. Here's a rippin'
Chance to pay back ev'ry stripe.
Nay, it were a shame to lose it.
You have got the franchise - use it!
HE said that you would abuse it.
Now! TMUMBS DOWN! The time is ripe!
In Spadger's Lane
Ole Mother Moon 'oo yanks 'er beamin' dile
Acrost the sky when we've grown sick o' day,
She's like some fat ole Jane 'oo loves to smile
On all concerned, an' smooth our faults away;
An', like a woman, tries to 'ide again
The sores an' scars crool day 'as made too plain.
To all the earth she gives the soft glad-eye;
She picks no fav'rits in this world o' men;
She peeps in nooks, where 'appy lovers sigh,
To make their job more bonzer still; an' then,
O'er Spadger's Lane she waves a podgy 'and,
An' turns the scowlin' slums to Fairyland.
Aw, strike! I'm gettin' soft in my ole age!
I'm growin' mushy wiv the passin' years.
Me! that 'as called it weakness to ingage
In sloppy thorts that coax the pearly tears.
But say, me state o' mind I can't ixplain
When I seen Rose lars' night in Spadger's Lane.
'Twas Spadger's Lane where Ginger Mick 'ung out
Before 'e took to follerin' the Flag;
The Lane that echoed to 'is drunken shout
When 'e lobbed 'omeward on a gaudy jag.
Now Spadger's Lane knows Ginger Mick no more,
Fer 'e's become an 'ero at the War.
A flamin' 'ero at the War, that's Mick.
An' Rose - 'is Rose, is waitin' in the Lane,
Nursin' 'er achin' 'eart, an' lookin' sick
As she crawls out to work an' 'ome again,
Givin' the bird to blokes 'oo'd be 'er 'friend,'
An' prayin', wiv the rest, fer wars to end.
Quite right; I'm growin' sloppy fer a cert;
But I must git it orf me chest or bust.
So 'ere's a song about a grievin' skirt,
An' love, an' Ginger Mick, an' maiden trust!
The choky sort o' song that fetches tears
When blokes is full o' sentiment-or beers.
Lars' night, when I sneaks down to taste again
The sights an' sounds I used to know so well,
The moon wus shinin' over Spadger's Lane,
Sof'nin' the sorrer where 'er kind light fell:
Sof'nin' an' soothin', like it wus 'er plan
To make ixcuses fer the sins uv man.
Frum shadder inter shadder, up the street,
A prowlin' moll sneaks by, wiv eyes all 'ate,
Dodgin' some unseen John, 'oo's sure, slow feet
Comes tappin' after, certin as 'er fate;
In some back crib, a shicker's loud 'owled verse
Stops sudden, wiv a crash, an' then a curse.
Low down, a splotch o' red, where 'angs a blind
Before the winder uv a Chow caboose,
Shines in the dead black wall, an' frum be'ind,
Like all the cats o' Chinertown broke loose,
A mad Chow fiddle wails a two-note toon…
An' then I seen 'er, underneath the moon.
Rosie the Rip they calls 'er int he Lane;
Fer she wus alwus willin' wiv 'er 'an's,
An' uses 'em to make 'er meanin' plain
In ways theat Spadger's beauties understan's.
But when ole Ginger played to snare 'er 'eart,
Rosie the Rip wus jist the soft, weak tart.
'Igh in 'er winder she wus leanin' out,
Swappin' remarks wiv fat ole Mother Moon.
The things around I clean Fergot about
Fergot the fiddle an' its crook Chow toon;
I only seen one woman in the light
Achin' to learn 'er forchin frum the night.
Ole Ginger's Rose! To see 'er sittin' there,
The moonlight shinin' fair into 'er face,
An' sort o' touchin' gentle on 'er 'air,
It made me fair fergit the time an' place.
I feels I'm peepin' where I never ought,
An' tries 'arf not to 'ear the words I caught.
One soljer's sweetheart, that wus wot I seen:
One out o' thousands grievin' thro' the land.
A tart frum Spadger's or a weepin' queen
Wot's there between 'em, when yeh understand
She 'olds fer Mick, wiv all 'is ugly chiv,
The best a lovin' woman 'as to give.
The best a woman 'as to give - Aw, 'Struth!
When war, an' grief, an' trouble's on the land
Sometimes a bloke gits glimpses uv the truth
An' sweats 'is soul to try an' understand . . .
An' then the World, like some offishus John,
Shoves out a beefy 'and, an' moves 'im on.
So I seen Rose; an' so, on that same night
I seen a million women grievin' there.
Ole Mother Moon she showed to me a sight
She sees around the World, most everyw'ere
Sneakin' beneath the shadder uv the wall
I seen, an' learned, an' understood it all.
An' as I looks at Rosie, dreamin' there,
'Er 'ead drops on 'er arms . . . I seems to wake;
I sees the moonlight streamin' on 'er 'air;
I 'ears 'er sobbin' like 'er 'eart ud break.
An' me there, pryin' on 'er misery.
'Gawstruth!' I sez, 'This ain't no place fer me!'
On my tip-toes I sneaks the way I came
(The crook Chow fiddle ain't done yowlin' yet)
An' tho' I tells it to me bitter shame
I'm gittin' soft as 'ell - me eyes wus wet.
An' that stern John, as I go moochin' by
Serloots me wiv a cold, unfeelin' eye.
The fat ole Mother Moon she's got a 'eart.
An' so I like to think, when she looks down
Wiv 'er soft gaze upon some weepin tart
In bonzer gardens or the slums o' town;
She soothes 'em, mother-like, wiv podgy 'ands,
An' makes 'em dream agen uv peaceful lands.
'Ah, wot's the use?' she sez. 'Lea' me alone!
Why can't I go to 'ell in my own way?
I never arst you 'ere to mag an' moan.
Nor yet,' she sez, 'to pray.
I'll take wot's comin', an' whine no excuse.
So wot's the use?
'Me life's me own!' she sez. 'You got a nerve
You two - to interfere in my affairs.
Git out an' give advise where it may serve:
Stay 'ome an' bleat yer pray'rs.
Did I come pleadin' for yer pity? No!
Well, why not go?'
Pride! Dilly pride an' down-an'-out despair:
When them two meet there's somethin' got to break.
I got that way, to see 'er sittin' there,
I felt like I could take
That 'arf-starved frame uv 'er's by might an' main,
An' shake 'er sane.
That's 'ow it is when me an' parson roam
Down to the paradise wot Spadgers knows,
To find the 'ovel that she calls 'er 'ome,
An' 'ave a word with Rose.
Imgagin' 'igh-strung cliners in dispute
Ain't my long suit.
'Huh! Rescue work!' she sneers. 'Er eyes is bright;
'Er voice is 'ard. 'I'm a deservin' case.
Me? Fancy! Don't I look a pretty sight
To come to savin' grace?
Pity the sinner - Aw, don't come that trick!
It makes me sick!'
'Isterical she was, or nearly so:
Too little grub, an' too much time to fret
Ingrowin' grouch sich as few women know,
Or want to know - an' yet,
When I glance at the parson, there I see
I've knowed ole Snowy since the days uv old;
Yet never 'ad I got so close to see
A world-wise man 'oo's 'cart is all pure gold
An' 'uman charity.
For, all that girl was suff'rln', well I knoo,
'E suffered too.
'My child,' 'e sez, 'I don't come 'ere to preach.
You're a good girl; an' when -' 'Oo sez I ain't?
'Oo sez I ain't?' 'Er voice is near a screech.
'I'm no hymn-singin' saint;
But you're a bit too previous givin' me
This third degree.'
An' then she starts to laugh. I'd 'ate to see
A woman laugh or look like that again.
She's in the dinkum 'igh-strikes now; to me
That's showin' pretty plain.
She's like a torchered thing - 'arf crazy - wild ....
'Take thort, my child.
'Take thort,' the parson sez. 'I only ask
Before you risk all for a life uv crime
You'll 'esitate. Is that too 'ard to task?
May there not come a time -'
'Time? Yes,' I chips. 'You'll git that fer yer pains.
Ar, brush yer brains!'
The parson sighs. 'This man,' 'E sez, 'this Wegg
'Oo dazzles you with tork uv gains frum sin
Is 'e dependable? Think well, I beg -'
'Beg nothin',' I chips in.
'To beg decoy ducks ain't the proper tack.
She wants a smack!'
The parson groans. 'I've offered you,' 'e starts.
'Offer 'er nothin'! Can't you pick 'er like?
No dinkum 'elp is any good to tarts
'0o'd fall fer sich as Spike.
She's short uv grit to battle on 'er own,
An' stand alone.'
That done it. If I'd let the parson gone
An' come the mild an' gentle, sure enough,
She'd 'ad the willies. When the dames take on,
The game's to treat 'em rough.
That's wot I've 'card. It woke Rose up, all right,
An' full uv fight.
'Alone?' she sez. 'I've stood alone, Gawd knows!
Alone an' honest, battlin' on the square.
An' now - Oh, damn your charity! I've chose!
I'm down; an' I don't care.
I'm fer the easy life an' pretty clo'es.
That's that!' sez Rose.
The cause looks blue. Wot more was to be said?
An' then, all on me own, I weaves right there
The bright idear wot after bowed me 'ead
In sorrer an' despair.
I didn't ort to be let out alone.
That much I own.
'Ah, well,' I sez, resigned, 'if that's the life,
It's no use sayin' wot I come to say.
Which was,' I sez, 'a message frum me wife
Arstin' you 'ome to stay.'
'Your wife?' I nods. 'If you 'ad cared to come.'
She seems struck dumb.
'Your wife?' she sez. 'Wot does she know uv me?'
Then pride an' 'er suspicions makes 'er flare:
'Is this more pretty schemes fer charity?
Why should she arst me there?'
'Why? Well, you ort to know,' I answer, quick.
'Account uv Mick.'
Down on 'er folded arms 'er 'ead went, flop.
At larst our 'oly cause is won, I know.
She sobbed until I thort she'd never stop:
It 'urt to see 'er so;
Yet I felt glad the way I'd worked me nob
An' let 'er sob,
'That's tore it,' I remarks be'ind me 'and.
The parson nods. 'E's smilin' now all gay.
Ten minutes later, an' the 'ole thing's planned
Fer Rose's 'oliday.
We put the acid on, an' scold an' tease
Till she agrees.
Once we're outside the parson takes me 'and.
'Without your 'elp, your wit, we would 'ave failed.'
'Aw, easy work,' I answer, feelin' grand,
Like some ole knight, tin-mailed.
Then, sudden, like a load uv punchered tyres,
Me pride ixpires.
'Young friend,' 'e starts...... 'No, not too young; but old
Old with the cares,' I sez, 'uv fambly life.
This might 'ave been dead right when knights was bold;
But wot about me wife?
She don't know nothin'! I 'ave done me dash
Through actin' rash.'
'A trifle!' sez 'is rev'rince. 'Tut!' sez 'e.
'I'll promise you fair sailin' with Doreen.'
''Tain't that so much,' I sez, 'wot troubles me.'
'Trouble? Wot you mean?'
I grins at 'im. 'Me conscience,' I reply.
'I've tole a lie!'
A Holy War
'Young friend!' . . . I tries to duck, but miss the bus.
'E sees me first, an' 'as me by the 'and.
'Young friend!' 'e sez; an' starts to make a fuss
At meetin' me. 'Why, this,' 'e sez, 'is grand!
Events is workin' better than I planned.
It's Providence that I should meet you thus.
You're jist the man,' 'e sez, 'to make a stand,
An' strive for us.
'Young friend,' 'e sez, 'allow me to explain
But wot 'e 'as to say too well I knows.
I got the stren'th uv it in Spadgers Lane
Not 'arf an hour before'and, when I goes
To see if I could pick up news uv Rose,
After that dentist let me off the chain.
('Painless,' 'e's labelled. So 'e is, I s'pose.
I 'ad the pain.)
'Young friend,' 'e sez. I let 'im 'ave 'is say;
Though I'm already wise to all 'e said
The queer old parson, with 'is gentle way
('E tied Doreen an' me when we was wed)
I likes 'im, from 'is ole soft, snowy 'ead
Down to 'is boots. 'E ain't the sort to pray
When folks needs bread.
Yeh'd think that 'e was simple as a child;
An' so 'e is, some ways; but, by and by,
While 'e is talkin' churchy-like an' mild,
Yeh catch a tiny twinkle in 'is eye
Which gives the office that 'e's pretty fly
To cunnin' lurks. 'E ain't to be beguiled
With fairy tales. An' when I've seen 'em try
'E's only smiled.
'Young friend,' 'e sez, 'I am beset by foes.
The Church,' 'e sez, 'is in a quandary.'
An' then 'e takes an' spills out all 'is woes,
An' 'ints that this 'ere job is up to me.
'Yer aid - per'aps yer strong right arm,' sez 'e,
'Is needed if we are to rescue Rose
From wot base schemes an' wot iniquity
Gawd only knows.'
This is the sorry tale. Rose, sick, an' low
In funds an' frien's, an' far too proud to beg,
Is gittin' sorely tempted fer to go
Into the spielin' trade by one Spike Wegg.
I knoo this Spike uv old; a reel bad egg,
'0o's easy livin' is to git in tow
Some country mug, an' pull 'is little leg
Fer all 'is dough.
A crooked crook is Spike amongst the crooks,
A rat, 'oo'd come the double on 'is friends;
Flash in 'is ways, but innercint in looks
Which 'e works well fer 'is un'oly ends.
'It's 'ard to know,' sez Snowy, 'why Fate sends
Sich men among us, or why justice brooks
Their evil ways, which they but seldom mends
Except in books.
'Young friend,' 'e sez, 'You're known in Spadgers Lane.
You know their ways. We must seek out this man.
With 'er, pray'r an' persuasion 'ave been vain.
I've pleaded, but she's bound to 'is vile plan.
I'd 'ave you treat 'im gently, if you can;
But if you can't, well - I need not explain.'
('E twinkles 'ere) 'I'm growin' partisan;
I must refrain.'
'Do you mean stoush?' I sez. 'Fer if yeh do
I warn yeh that a scrap might put me queer.'
'Young friend,' sez 'e, 'I leave the means to you.
Far be it from the Church to interfere
With noble works.' But I sez, 'Now, look 'ere,
I got a wife at 'ome; you know 'er, too.
Ther's certin things I never could make clear
If once she knoo.
'I got a wife,' I sez, 'an' loves 'er well,
Like I loves peace an' quite. An' if I goes
Down into Spadgers, raisin' merry 'ell,
Breakin' the peace an' things account uv Rose,
Where that might land me goodness only knows.
'Ow women sees these things no man can tell.
I've done with stoush,' I sez. ''Ard knocks an' blows
'Ave took a spell.
'I've done with stoush,' I sez. But in some place
Deep in me 'eart a voice begun to sing;
A lurin' little voice, with motives base…
It's ten long years since I was in a ring,
Ten years since I gave that left 'ook a swing.
Ten weary years since I pushed in a face;
An' 'ere's a chance to 'ave a little fling
With no disgrace.
'Stoush? Stoush, young friend?' 'e sez. 'Where 'ave I 'eard
That term? I gather it refers to strife.
But there,' 'e sez, 'why quarrel with a word?
As you 'ave said, indeed, I know yer wife;
An' should she 'ear you went where vice is rife
To battle fer the right - But it's absurd
To look fer gallantry in modrin life.
It's a rare bird.
'Young friend,' 'e sez. An' quicker than a wink
'Is twinklin' eyes grew sudden very grave.
'Young friend,' 'e sez, 'I know jist wot yeh think
Uv 'ow us parsons blather an' be'ave.
But I 'ave 'ere a woman's soul to save
A lonely woman, tremblin' on the brink
Uv black perdition, blacker than the grave.
An' she must sink.
'Yes, she must sink,' 'e sez. 'For I 'ave done
All that a man uv my poor parts can do.
An' I 'ave failed! There was not anyone
That I could turn to, till I met with you.
But now that 'ope 'as gone - an' 'er 'ope too.'
''Old on,' I sez. 'Just let me think for one
Brief 'alf-a-mo. I'd love a crack or two
At this flash gun.'
'Righto,' I sez (an' turns me back on doubt)
'I'm with yeh, parson. I go down to-night
To Spadgers, an' jist looks this Spike Wegg out.'
'Young friend,' 'e sez, 'be sure you've chosen right.
Remember, I do not desire a fight.
But if - ' 'Now don't you fret,' I sez, 'about
No vi'lince. If I'm forced, it will be quite
A friendly clout.'
'Young friend,' 'e sez, 'if you go, I go too.
Maybe, by counsel, I may yet injuce
This evil man - ' 'It ain't no game for you,'
I argues with 'im. But it ain't no use.
'I go!' 'e sez, an' won't take no ixcuse.
So that's all fixed. An' us crusaders two
Goes down to-night to Spadgers, to cut loose
Till all is blue.
'Ow can Doreen make trouble or git sore?
(Already I can 'ear 'er scold an' so
But this ain't stoushin'. It's a 'oly war!
The blessin' uv the Church is on the job.
I'm a church-worker, with full leave to lob
A sacrid left on Spike Wegg's wicked jor.
Jist let me! Once! An' after, s'elp me bob,
Never no more!
Government muddles, departments dazed,
Fear and confusion wherever he gazed;
Order insulted, authority spurned,
Dread and distraction wherever he turned
Oh, the great King Splosh was a sad, sore king,
With never a statesman to straighten the thing.
Glus all importunate urging their claims,
With selfish intent and ulterior aims,
Glugs with petitions for this and for that,
Standing ten-deep on the royal door-mat,
Raging when nobody answered their ring -
Oh, the great King Splosh was a careworn king.
And he looked to the right, and he glanced to the left,
And he glared at the roof like a monarch bereft
Of his wisdom and wits and his wealth all in one;
And, at least once a minute, asked, 'What's to be done?'
But the Swanks stood around him and answered, with groans,
'Your majesty, Gosh is half buried in stones!'
'How now?' cried the King. 'Is there not in my land
One Glug who can cope with this dreadful demand:
A rich man, a poor man, a beggar man, thief
I reck not his rank so he lessen my grief
A soldier, a sailor, a - ' Raising his head,
With relief in his eye, 'Now, I mind me!' he said.
'I mind me a Tinker, and what once befel,
When I think, on the whole, he was treated not well.
But he shall be honoured, and he shall be famed
If he read me this riddle. But how is he named?
Some commonplace title, like-Simon?-No-Sym!
Go, send out my riders, and scour Gosh for him.'
They rode for a day to the sea in the South,
Calling the name of him, hand to the mouth.
They rode for a day to the hills in the East,
But signs of a tinker saw never the least.
Then they rode to the North thro' a whole day long,
And paused in the even to hark to a song.
'Kettles and pans! Kettles and pans!
Oh, who can show tresses like Emily Ann's?
Brown in the shadow and gold at the tips,
Bright as the smile on her beckoning lips.
Bring out your kettle! 0 kettle or pan!
So I buy me a ribband for Emily Ann.'
With his feet in the grass, and his back to a tree,
Merry as only a tinker can be,
Busily tinkering, mending a pan,
Singing as only a merry man can . . .
'Sym!' cried the riders. ' 'Tis thus you are styled?'
And he paused in his singing, and nodded and smiled.
Said he: 'Last eve, when the sun was low,
Down thro' the bracken I watched her go
Down thro' the bracken, with simple grace
And the glory of eve shone full on her face;
And there on the sky-line it lingered a span,
So loth to be leaving my Emily Arm.'
With hands to their faces the riders smiled.
'Sym,' they said - 'be it so you're styled
Behold, great Splosh, our sorrowing King,
Has sent us hither, that we may bring
To the palace in Gosh a Glug so named,
That he may be honoured and justly famed.'
'Yet,' said Sym, as he tinkered his can,
'What should you know of her, Emily Ann?
Early as cock-crow yester morn
I watched young sunbeams, newly born,
As out of the East they frolicked and ran,
Eager to greet her, my Emily Arm.'
'King Splosh,' said the riders, 'is bowed with grief;
And the glory of Gosh is a yellowing leaf.
Up with you, Tinker! There's work ahead.
With a King forsaken, and Swanks in dread,
To whom may we turn for the salving of man?'
And Sym, he answered them, 'Emily Ann.'
Said he: 'Whenever I watch her pass,
With her skirts so high o'er the dew-wet grass,
I envy every blade the bruise
It earns in the cause of her twinkling shoes.
Oh, the dew-wet grass, where this morn she ran,
Was doubly jewelled for Emily Ann.'
'But haste!' they cried. 'By the palace gates
A sorrowing king for a tinker waits.
And what shall we answer our Lord the King
If never a tinker hence we bring,
To tinker a kingdom so sore amiss?'
But Sym, he said to them, 'Answer him this:
'Every eve, when the clock chimes eight,
I kiss her fair, by her mother's gate:
Twice, all reverent, on the brow-
Once for a pray'r, and once for a vow;
Twice on her eyes that they may shine,
Then, full on the mouth because she's mine.''
'Calf!' sneered the riders. 'O Tinker, heed!
Mount and away with us, we must speed.
All Gosh is agog for the coming of Sym.
Garlands and greatness are waiting for him:
Garlands of roses, and garments of red
And a chaplet for crowning a conqueror's head.'
'Listen,' quoth Sym, as he stirred his fire.
'Once in my life have I known desire.
Then, Oh, but the touch of her kindled a flame
That burns as a sun by the candle of fame.
And a blessing and boon for a poor tinker man
Looks out from the eyes of my Emily Ann.'
Then they said to him, 'Fool! Do you cast aside
Promise of honour, and place, and pride,
Gold for the asking, and power o'er men
Working your will with the stroke of a pen?
Vexed were the King if you ride not with us.'
But Sym, he said to them, 'Answer him thus:
'Ease and honour and leave to live
These are the gifts that a king may give
'Twas over the meadow I saw her first;
And my lips grew parched like a man athirst
Oh, my treasure was ne'er in the gift of man;
For the gods have given me Emily Ann.'
'Listen,' said they, 'O you crazy Sym.
Roses perish, and eyes grow dim.
Lustre fades from the fairest hair.
Who weds a woman links arms with care.
But women there are in the city of Gosh -
Ay, even the daughters of good King Splosh. . .'
'Care,' said Sym, 'is a weed that springs
Even to-day in the gardens of kings.
And I, who have lived 'neath the tent of the skies,
Know of the flowers, and which to prize . . .
Give you good even! For now I must jog.'
And he whistled him once to his little red dog.
Into the meadow and over the stile,
Off went the tinker man, singing the while;
Down by the bracken patch, over the hill,
With the little red dog at the heel of him still.
And back, as he soberly sauntered along,
There came to the riders the tail of his song.
'Kettles and pots! Kettles and pans!
Strong is my arm if the cause it be man's.
But a fig for the cause of a cunning old king;
For Emily Ann will be mine in the Spring.
Then nought shall I labour for Splosh or his plans;
Tho' I'll mend him a kettle. Ho, kettles and pans!'
It wasn't kid stakes. I 'ad no crook lurk
To act deceivin', or to treat 'er mean.
I'm old enough to know them games don't work
Not with Doreen.
Besides, deceit ain't in me bag uv tricks.
I got a few; but there is some that sticks.
Sticks in me gizzard. Some blokes sees no wrong
In workin' points, an' thinks it bonzer sport
To trifle with a wife's belief, so long
As they ain't cort.
But, when yeh play the game on dead straight lines,
It 'urts to be accused uv base designs.
It starts this mornin'. I wake with a tooth
That's squirmin' like a basketful uv snakes.
Per'aps I groan a bit, to tell the truth;
An' then she wakes,
An' arsts me wot I'm makin' faces for.
I glare at 'er, an' nurse me achin' jor.
That was no very 'appy mornin' song.
I ain't excusin' my end uv the joke;
But, after that, things seem to go all wrong.
She never spoke
One narsty word; but, while the chops she serves,
'Er shrieks uv silence fair got on me nerves.
She might 'ave arst wot ailed me. Spare me days I
She seen that I was crook. She seen me face
Swelled like a poisoned pup's. She only says,
'Please to say grace.'
I mumbles ... Then, in tones that wakes brute force,
She twitters, 'Will yeh take termarter sorce?'
I could n't eat no breakfast. Just the sight
Uv sweet things give me tooth a new, worse ache.
Sez she: 'You seem to lost yer apetite.
'Ave some seed cake.'
Seed cake! Gawstruth! I'm there in agerny,
An' she, 'oo swore to love, sits mockin' me.
At last, when our small son gits orf to school,
I goes an' sits down sulkin' on a couch.
''Ave you a toothache, Bill?' sez she, quite cool,
'Or jist plain grouch?
Yer face looks funny. P'raps yer gittin' fat.'
I glare at 'er an' answer, 'Huh!' . . like that.
That one word, 'Huh,' said in a certain way,
'Eart-felt an' with intention-it can well
Make the beginnin's uv a perfick day
A perfick 'ell.
So I sez 'Huh! ...... an' then done my ole trick
(A low-down lurk) uv gittin' orf-stage quick.
It was a slap-up day. The wattle's gold
'Ad jist began to peep among the green;
An' dafferdils, commencin' to unfold,
They make the scene
A pitcher that - 'Struth! 'Ow that tooth did ache!
An', cravin' symperthy, I git - seed cake!
It was a bonzer day! The thrush's song
Rose like a nymn. A touch uv queer remorse
Gits me fer 'arf-a-mo', then goes all wrong.
Women don't understand, it's all too plain.
Termarter sorce, she sez, an' me in pain!
I dunno 'ow the mornin' muddled through.
That naggin' tooth was gittin' reel red-'ot.
I 'ad a 'arf a dozen things to do,
An' slummed the lot.
Then, jist before I goes fer mornin' tea,
I start another row with Wally Free.
I tells 'im if that fence ain't mended - now
I'll summons 'im. But 'e jist stands an' grins.
'E's always grinnin'. Silly lookin' cow I
An' fer two pins
I'd go acrost an' give 'is eye a poke.
'E's far too 'appy - fer a single bloke.
While I am boilin' 'ot, Doreen conies out
To call me fer me mornin' cup o' tea.
I turn an' answer with a savage shout.
'Dear me!' sez she.
'You seem to be put out this mornin', Bill.
'E'll mend the fence, all right. I'm sure 'e will.'
'Aw! It ain't that,' I sez .... Then I let go,
When once we git inside, an' ease me mind
By tellin' 'er some things she ought to know.
I seemed to find
A lot uv things that 'elped to make me sore;
An' they remind me uv a 'ole lot more.
I tells 'er that no wife, 'oo was n't blind,
Would treat 'er 'usban' like a block uv wood.
I sez I could n't understand 'er mind
Blowed if I could!
I tells 'er that no woman with a brain
An' 'eart would smile to see a man in pain.
I sez some wives - some sorts uv wives, uv course,
If you was lyin' dead, no more to wake,
Would arst yeh if yeh liked termarter sorse,
Or else seed cake.
I sez I don't look for no fond caress,
But symperthy, an' un'erstandin'? Yes!
I sez, sarcastic, that I 'ave no doubt
Some wives might think termarters an' seed cake
Was 'andy sorts uv things to 'ave about
To stop toothache.
But wot I liked in wives, once in a while,
Was commin-sense. (An' 'ere, I seen 'er smile).
An' then I sez: 'Gorbli' me! Ain't I worked
Me fingers to the bone, an' toiled an' slaved?
Some fellers, if their wives 'ad smiled an' sn-drked
An' so be'aved' ......
(She pours the tea, an' 'ands acrost my cup)
'Would lose their tempers, yes, an' smash things up!'
I sez - 0h, other things in that same strain.
I ain't got any fancy to recall.
(That tooth jist 'ad me jumpin' mad with pain)
But through it all,
With them fool speeches bubblin' in me throat,
I saw meself a bleatin', babblin' goat.
I gulps me tea; already 'arf ashamed
Uv more than 'arf I'd said. But is me wife
All 'umble, like a woman 'oo's been blamed?
Not on yer life!
She answers me as if she was me mar.
'There, there,' she sez. 'Wot a big kid you are!'
I gulps more tea; an' tells 'er, anyway,
Me toothache ain't a thing to joke about;
An' I will 'ave to go to town to-day
An' 'ave it out.
At that, she looks at me with 'er calm eyes
Searchin' me through an' through 'fore she replies.
Then, 'Bill,' sez she, 'tell me the honest truth:
Does your tooth ache, or is this an excuse?
Why, yesterd'y you 'ad no achin' tooth .......
Aw, wot's the use!
'Excuse! Wot for?' I yells. But she sez, 'Oh,
If it's that bad I s'pose you'll 'aye to go.'
'Excuse!' I sez. 'I know wot's in yer mind.
Yeh think I can't read wonien's thoughts, I s'pose.
Yeh think that I planned this so I could find
Wot's 'appened Rose.
Yeh think I've come the double, lied an' schemed
About a thing I never even dreamed!
'Yeh think -' 'There, there!' she sez to me again,
Soothin' an' soft, still like a patient mar.
'It's plain you'll never understand, you men,
Wot women are,
Their thorts, their feelin's, 'ow they fear an' doubt.
Why, Bill, it's only you I think about.'
I knoo. Somewhere inside me silly nob
I knoo wot thort it is she won't explain.
She feared, if I got with the old, crook mob
In Spadgers Lane
That I might miss the step. I've never queered
The pitch in eight long years; an' yet she feared.
'I'll promise you - ' I starts. But she sez, 'Don't!
Don't promise wot you might regret some day.
I trust you, Bill; an' well I know you won't
Choose the wrong way.
Women are silly sometimes. Let's ferget
All that was said .... Is that tooth achin' yet?'
I gives it up! ... It's fairly got me beat,
The twists an' turin' uv a wonian's mind.
Nex' thing, she's smilin' up at me so sweet,
So soft an' kind
That I - with things still in me mind to tell -
I melts - jist like I always do. Ah, well!
It was a snodger day! . . . The apple trees
Was white with bloom. All things seemed good to me
(Except that tooth). Then by the fence I sees
Poor Wally Free,
Pretendin' to be happy with 'is plough.
Poor lonely coot! I pity 'im, some'ow.