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Title: Rose of Spadgers
Author: C. J. Dennis
eBook No.: 0500941h.html
Language: English
Date first posted: 2005
Most recent update: 2021

This eBook was produced by: Walter Moore

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Rose of Spadgers

C. J. Dennis


The Faltering Knight
Termarter Sorce
A Holy War
The Crusaders
“’Ave a ’eart!”
The Knight’s Return
The Also-ran
A Woman’s Way
“Stone the Crows”
Listener’s Luck
The Dance
Spike Wegg
The Glossary



I’ve crawled; I’ve eaten dirt; I’ve lied a treat;
I’ve dodged the cops an’ led a double life;
I’ve readied up wild tales to tell me wife,
W’ich afterwards I’ve ’ad to take an’ eat
Red raw. Aw, I been goin’ it to beat
A big massed band: mixin’ with sin an’ strife,
Gettin’ me bellers punchered with a knife
An’ all but endin’ up in Russell Street.

I’ve mixed it—with the blessin’ uv the church—
Down there in Spadgers, fightin’ mad, an’ blind
With ’oly rage. I’ve ’ad full leaf to smirch
Me tongue with sich rude words as come to mind,
Becos I ’ated leavin’ in the lurch
Wot Ginger Mick, me cobber, left be’ind.

Don’t git me wrong. I never went an’ planned
No gory all-in scraps or double deals.
But one thing follered on another ’eels,
Jist like they do in life, until I land
Flop in the soup—surprised, you understand,
But not averse; jist like a feller feels
’Oo reaches fer the water-jug at meals
An’ finds a dinkum gargle in ’is ’and.

Su’prised but not averse. That puts it right
An’, if Fate ’as these things all fixed before,
Well, wot’s a bloke to do, to ’oo a fight
Was not unwelkim in the days of yore?
Pertickler when ’e knows ’is cause is right
An’ ’as a gorspil spritiker to ongcore.

Regardin’ morils, I was on a cert;
Fer if I’d missed the step an’ fell frum grace
By rudely pushin’ in me brother’s face
Without no just ixcuse, it might uv ’urt.
But this Spike Wegg—the narsty little squirt!—
Collected ’is becos ther’ was no trace
Uv virchoo in the cow. ’Is aims was base
When ’e laid out to tempt a honest skirt.

An’ so me arm was strong becoz me cause
Was on the square, an’ I don’t ’esitate.
The parson bloke, ’e sez all moril laws
They justified me act . . . . But, anyrate,
Before I crools this yarn we better pause
Till I gives you the dope an’ git it straight.

Now, Ginger Mick, me cobber, went to war,
An’ on Gallipoli, ’e wandered West.
Per’aps, less said about ’is life the best;
It was ’is death that shoved along ’is score.
But that tale’s old; an’ Ginger ain’t no more.
’E done ’is bit an’ faded, like the rest
’Oo fought an’ fell an’ left wot they loved best
In ’opes they’d be dealt fair by pals of yore.

An’ all Mick left was Rose. “Look after Rose.
Mafeesh!” ’e sez when ’e was on the brink.
An’ there was thousan’s like ’im, I suppose.
I ain’t no moralizer fer to think
Wot others ort to do; I only knows
I ’ad me job, frum w’ich I durstn’t shrink.

Unless you ’ave a beat down Spadgers way
I don’t ixpect you ever met with Rose.
She don’t move in yer circle, I suppose,
Or call to bite a bun upon yer Day.
An’ if yeh got a intro, I dare say
Yeh’d take it snifty an’ turn up yer nose.
Now that we don’t need Micks to fight our foes
Them an’ their Roses ’as to fade away.

They ’ave to simmer down an’ not ubtrude,
Now we are safe an’ finished with the war.
We don’t intend to be unkind or rude
Or crayfish on the things we said before
Uv our brave boys. An’, as fer gratichood,
Well, there’s a Guv’mint, ain’t there? Wot’s it for?

But Mick buzzed orf too quick to wed a bride
An’ leave a widder doo fer Guv’mint aid.
Spite uv ole Spadgers, Rose was still a maid;
An’ spite uv Spadgers, she still ’as ’er pride
That wouldn’t let ’er whimper if she tried,
Or profit by ’er misery, an’ trade
On Mick’s departin’ an’ the noise it made.
I know ’er. An’ I know she’d sooner died.

I know ’er. But to them that never knows,
An’ never tries to know the ’earts an’ ways
Uv common folk, there wusn’t much to Rose
That called fer any speshul loud ’Oorays—
Nothin’ ’eroic. She’s jist “one uv those”—
One uv the ruck that don’t attract our gaze.

I guess you wasn’t born down Spadgers way,
Or spent yer child’ood in the gutter there
Jist runnin’ wild, or dragged up be the ’air
Till you was fit to earn a bit of pay
By honest toil or—any other way.
You never ’ad to battle to keep square,
Or learn, first ’and, uv every trap an’ snare
That life ’as waitin’ for yeh day by day.

But I ’ave read about a flower that grows
Once in a while upon a ’eap uv muck.
It ain’t the flower’s own choosin’, I suppose,
An’ bein’ sweet an’ pure is jist its luck.
There’s ’uman blooms I’ve knowed the like uv those,
Strugglin’ in weeds; an’ ’struth! I like their pluck.

Don’t make no error. I ain’t givin’ Rose
The ’igh-bred manners uv some soshul queen.
She weren’t no shrinkin’, simperin’, girleen,
With modest glances droopin’ to ’er toes.
She’d smash a prowlin’ male acrost the nose
As quick as any tart I ever seen.
But, bli’me, she was straight an’ she was clean,
As more than one mauled lady-killer knows.

Straight as a die! An’ jist as clean an’ sweet
An’ thorny as the bloom ’oose name she bears.
To cling on to ’er virchoo weren’t no feat
With ’er; she simply kep’ it unawares
An’ natchril, like people trust their feet,
An’ don’t turn silly ’and-springs on the stairs.

That’s ’ow Mick found, an’ left ’er—straight an’ clean.
She seen the good in ’im long years before
’E proved it good an’ plenty at the war.
She loved an’ mothered ’im becos she seen
The big, softhearted boy ’e’d alwiz been
Be’ind ’is leery ways an’ fightin’ jor,
An’ all ’is little mix-ups with the Lor.
She knoo ’e weren’t the man to treat ’er mean.

They was a proper match. But Mick, ’e goes
An’ slips ’is wind, there, on Gallipoli;
Jist pausin’ to remark, “Look after Rose.”
An’, if them partin’ words weren’t meant fer me,
Well, I’m the gay angora, I suppose,
In this divertin’ slab uv ’istory.

It ain’t no soft romance, with pale pink bows,
This common little tale I ’ave to tell
Concernin’ common on folk, an’ wot befell
When me an’ my ole parson cobber goes
An’ does our bit in lookin’ after Rose.
The Church admits I done my part reel well;
An’ there won’t be no need to ring a bell
Or call the cops in when the langwidge flows.

So, ’ere’s a go. If my remarks is plain
An’ short uv frills, they soots me tale; an’ so,
I ’opes the rood boorjosie will refrain
Frum vulger chuckin’-orf; fer well I know
Ladies an’ gentlemen uv Spadgers Lane
Won’t fail to un’erstand. So, ’ere’s a go.

The Faltering Knight

It knocks me can in, this ere game uv life,
      A bloke gets born, grows up, looks round fer fun,
Dreams dilly dreams, then wakes to find a wife
      An’ fambly round ’im—all ’is young days done.
An’, gazin’ back, sees in ’is youth a man
Scarce reckernised. It fair knocks in me can!

Ther’s me. I never seemed to mark no change
      As I mooched on through life frum year to year;
An’ yet, at times it seems to me dead strange
      That me, uv old, is me, ’oo’s sittin’ ’ere.
Per’aps it ain’t. ’E was a crook young coot,
While I’m a sturdy farmer, growin’ froot.

But, all the same, ’e wouldn’t back an’ fill,
      An’ argue with ’imself, an’ ’esitate,
Once ’e ’ad seen the way. ’E’d find the will
      To go an’ do the thing ’e ’ad to, straight.
That’s ’ow I was; an’ now—Ar, strike a light!
Life gits so mixed I can’t git nothin’ right.

But wot’s the use? A bloke ’as got to own,
      When once ’e ’as responsibility,
Ther’s certin games is better left alone
      Wot might be done if ’e was only free.
Ther’s certin things—Oh, wot’s the flamin’ good?
A ’usband alwiz gits misun’erstood!

It’s no use hintin’. If yeh want it straight,
      Me an’ me wife ain’t seein’ eye to eye:
All ain’t been peace an’ ’armony uv late,
      An’ clouds is comin’ up in our clear sky.
I ain’t to blame, an’ yet, no more’s Doreen.
It’s jist ’ard Fate ’as shoved ’is oar between.

All marrid blokes will understand me well.
      I ain’t addressin’ no remarks to those
’Oo’ve learnt but ’arf uv life. The things I tell
      Is fer the ears uv fellermen that knows:
Them symperthetic ’usbands ’oo ’ave ’eard
The fog-’orn soundin’ in the wifely word.

Fer when stern jooty grips a ’usband’s ’eart
      (That’s me) an’ eggs ’im on to start a scene
That’s like to tear two ’appy lives apart,
      In spite uv all ’er carin’ (That’s Doreen)
Why, there you ’ave a story that would make
A bonzer movie—with a bit uv fake.

But ’ere’s the plot. When my pal, Ginger Mick,
      Chucked in ’is alley in this war we won,
’E left things tangled; fer ’e went too quick
      Fer makin’ last requests uv anyone.
’E jist sez to the world, when last ’e spoke,
“Look after Rose!” . . . ’E was a trustful bloke.

Rose lives in Spadgers Lane. She lived, them days,
      Fer Mick’s returnin’. When ’e never came,
If she lost ’old, an’ took to careless ways,
      Well, I ain’t sayin’ she was much to blame.
An’ I don’t worry, till I ’ear she’s took,
Or thinks uv takin’ on to ways that’s crook.

Although I’m vegetatin’ on a farm,
      I gets a city whisper now an’ then.
An’ when I ’ear she’s like to come to ’arm
      Amongst a push uv naughty spieler men,
I gets the wind up. This is all I see:
Mick was my cobber; so it’s up to me.

That’s all I see, quite clear, with my two eyes.
      But marrid blokes will understand once more,
When I remarks that marrid blokes is wise
      ’Oo ’ave the sense to take a squint through four.
Four eyes is needed in reviewin’ plans—
Their vision’s broader than a single man’s.

But when them four eyes sees two ways at once—
      Gets crossed—Ar, well, ther’s things in marrid life
For which a hint’s enough fer any dunce.
      Ther’s certin things between a man an’ wife
That can’t be quite—But take this fer a fack:
Don’t start things uv a mornin’. It ain’t tack.

That was me first bad break. I should ’ave seen
      The supper things washed up, an’ ’elped a bit,
An’ then ’ave broke it gently to Doreen,
      Promiscus, like I jist ’ad thought uv it.
But I done worse. I blurts wot I’d to say
Upon the mornin’ uv a washin’ day!

There’s gumption fer yeh. Eight years I been hitched—
      Eight years uv trainin’, an’ I fall down flat!
Like some poor, love-sick softy ’oo gets switched
      Fer tellin’ “sweetie” ’e don’t like ’er ’at,
When she’s jist come frum ’avin’ rows no end
About it’s trimmin’ with ’er dearest friend.

I owns me ta’tic’s crook. But, all the same,
      Ther’ weren’t no need fer certin things she said.
Wantin’ to do good acts don’t call fer blame,
      Even on tackless ’usban’s, eight years wed.
A bloke ’oo jist suggests a ’armless plan
Don’t need remindin’ ’e’s a marrid man.

’Struth! Don’t I know it? Can I well ferget
      While I still ’ave two ’ealthy ears to ’ark?
Not that she torks an’ mags a lot; but yet
      Ther’s somethin’ in ’er choice uv a remark
That gets there, worse than yappin’ all day long,
An’ makes me pure intentions look dead wrong.

It seems it ain’t right fer a marrid bloke
      To rescue maids. I starts to answer back;
But got took up before I ’ardly spoke,
      An’ innercent designs is painted black.
I calls attention to the knights uv old;
But tin knights an’ romance jist leaves ’er cold.

I read ’er meanin’ plain in ’er cool eye.
      Aw, strike! I ain’t admirin’ Rose! . . . Wot? . . . Me!
But when ’er look sez “Rats!” where’s the reply
      A man can give, an’ keep ’is dignity?
It can’t be done. When they git on that lay,
Wise coves adjourns the meet, an’ fades away.

That’s wot I done. I gits out uv the ’ouse
      All dignified. An’, jist to show ’er ’ow
Reel unconcerned I am, I starts to rouse
      Me neighbour, Wally Free, about ’is cow
Wot’s got in to me cabbages, an’ et
Close on a row uv ’em. I’ll shoot ’er yet!

(A batchelor ’e is, this Wally Free—
      A soljer bloke that come this way last year
An’ took the little farm nex’ door to me.)
      When I gets mad, ’e grins frum ear to ear,
An’ sez, “Cool orf,” ’e sez. “It’s plain your wool
’As been pulled ’ard this mornin’.” ’E’s a fool!

If ’e don’t mend that fence . . . Ar, wot’s the good?
      I lets ’im go, an’ sneaks be’ind the shed,
An’ sits there broodin’ on a pile uv wood . . . 
      Ther’s certin things she might ’ave left unsaid.
Ther’ wasn’t nothin’ fer to make ’er go
An’ dig up chance remarks uv years ago.

Me problem’s this: Either I ’urts Doreen,
      By doin’ things with which she don’t agree,
Or lets Rose slide, an’ treats me cobber mean—
      Ole Ginger Mick, ’oo ’ad no friend but me.
I ain’t a ringtail; but, by gum, it’s tough.
I loves me wife too much to treat ’er rough.

If I was single . . . ’Struth! ’Oo wants to be?
      Fool batchelors can larf their silly larf,
An’ kid theirselves they got a pull on me.
      I’m out uv sorts, that’s all; an’ more than ’arf
Inclined to give some coot a crack, right now
Fer pref’rince, some insultin’ single cow!

Termarter Sorce

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!
      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 couldn’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 hymn. A touch uv queer remorse
Gits me fer ’arf-a-mo’, then goes all wrong.
      Termarter sorce!
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!
      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 comes 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 wasn’t blind,
      Would treat ’er ’usban’ like a block uv wood.
I sez I couldn’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’ snouted
      An’ so be’aved” . . . . 
(She pours the tea, an’ ’ands acrost my cup)
“Would lose their tempers, yes, an’ smash things up!”

I sez—Oh, 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 ’ave to go.”

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’ turnin’ uv a woman’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.


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,
’Oo’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’ sob)
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!



I’m standin’ at the corner uv the Lane—
      The Land called Spadgers—waiting fer ’is jills.
The night’s come chilly, an’ a drizzlin’ rain
      Falls steady where a near-by street lamp spills
A gastly yeller light on stones all wet,
An’ makes the darkest corners darker yet.

Them darkest corners! ’Struth! Wot ain’t I ’eard
      Uv dark deeds done there in the olden days,
When crooks inticed some silly sozzled bird
      Upstage, an’ dealt with ’im in unkind ways—
Bashed ’im with bottles, woodened ’im with boots.
Spadgers was rood to flush an’ festive coots.

If you are flush in Spadgers, ’tain’t good form
      To git too festive, if you valyer thrift.
To flash yer gilt an’ go the pace too warm
      Might make the Lane regard yeh as a gift.
Ther’s nothin’ loose they’re likely to ferget;
An’ all yeh’ve left is ’eadache an’ regret.

Lestwise, that’s ’ow it used to be. They say
      The Lane’s reformed, an’ took to honest trade.
An’ so yeh’d think, to see it uv a day,
      All prim an’ proper. But when ev’nin’s shade
Comes down, an’ fools ’as stacks uv beans to spill,
Why, ’umin nacher’s ’urnin nacher still.

Don’t git me wrong. An’ jist in case you might
      Misjudge the gents ’oo plys their callin’ there,
In Spadgers darkest corners uv a night,
      Wot time a shikkered mug ’as gonce to spare,
I’d jist ixplain they takes their point uv view
Frum diff’rint angles to sich birds as you.

F’rinstance, s’posin’ blokes like me an’ you
      (’Oo is raspectabil, I ’ope) should see
Some prodigal all ’eadin’ fer to do
      A one-ack “Road to Ruin” tragedy,
Would we jist let ’im flop before our eyes
Or, bein’ decint ’umins, put ’im wise?

Would we not try to ’alt the wayward feet
      Uv this ’ere errin’ brother with a word
Before ’is moril knock-out was complete?
      O’ course we would. Advice is cheap, I’ve ’eard.
When sinners miss the step ther’s few men ain’t
Itchin’ like ’ell to preach, an’ be a saint.

Well, s’pose again, the Lane should see a bloke
      Dead keen to splash around ’is surplis wealth
On rapid livin’ till ’e’s bust an’ broke
      An’ rooned in repitation an’ in ’ealth,
Do they tork empty words, an’ let ’im go,
Jist for a chance to say, “I tole yeh so!”

Not them. They say, “’Ere is a wasteful coot
      ’Oo will be sorry ere tamorrer’s sun.”
Per meejim, then, uv bottle or uv boot
      They learn ’im wisdom, an’ ’is sinful fun
Is ended. An’, for quick results, their style
’As all yer preachin’ beaten be a mile.

Quick-action missionaries, you might say.
      When they sees some stray sheep inclined to roam
An’ chuck ’is ’ealth an’ character away,
      They takes stern measures for to lead ’im ’ome.
An’, if they reaps some profits at the game,
Well, ’oo are me an’ you to sling ’em blame?

I’m standin’ at the corner uv the Lane
      Toyin’ with sich thorts idly, when I spys
A furtive coot come sloushin’ through the rain
      An’ stop to size me up with sidelong eyes.
An’ then ’e chats me, with the punkest tale
That ever got a bad man into jail.

I s’pose me face ain’t clear in that ’arf-dark,
      Or else ’e was near-sighted. An’ I s’pose
I mighter seemed to ’im a easy mark—
      Me in me farmer’s ’at an’ country clo’es.
But, strike, it ’urt me pride to think that ’e
Would try to ring that old, old dope on me.

On me! ’Is make-up fairly yelled ’is trade,
      Brandin’ ’im plain a low-down city gun.
The simple country mug was never made
      ’Oo’d wear sich duds. It was all overdone:
’Is moleskin pants, ’is carpet-bag, ’is beard—
Like some cheap stage comeejin ’e appeared.

“Hey, mate,” ’e w’ispers. “Could yeh do a bloke
      “A little favor? Listen—on the square—
“I’ve done me tin. I’m bottle-green, dead broke,
      “An’ can’t git ’ome. I ’aven’t got me fare.
“But ’ere’s me watch—reel gold—belong to Dad.
“Lend us a fiver on it, will yeh, lad?”

A reel gold watch! Oh, ’elp! They worked that lay
      When I was jist a barefoot kid. ’Twas old
When cheap-jacks sweated for their ’ard-earned pay
      At country shows. I knoo the sort of gold—
Priced in the brumy shops four an’ a zac;
An’ ’fore you git’ ’em ’ome the gold’s gone black.

“Send I may live!” I sez. “You got a nerve!
      “That tale’s got w’iskers longer than your own.
“A slice of cold, ’ard quod’s wot you deserve
      “For springin’ duds like that! Lea’ me alone;
“An’ try some kindergarten with that lurk.
“A man’s a right to crack you! Aw, git work!”

But ’e won’t take a ’int nor ’old ’is jaw,
      This amacher in crime with brums to sell,
But breasts right up to me an’ starts to paw.
      Now, likewise, that’s a game I know too well:
Pawin’ with one ’and while the other dips
Into yer—“Back!” I yell, an’ come to grips.

I grab ’im be the throat an’ shake ’im good,
      Ixpectin’ ’is fake w’iskers to come loose.
“A rotten way to earn yer livli’ood!”
      I growl . . . ’E grunts . . . ’Is face is goin’ puce.
“You imitation crook!” I sez agen.
“Wot do yeh mean by swin’lin’ honest men?”

I shake ’im ’ard once more. “The first John ’Op
      “That comes,” I sez, “can ’ave you for a gift!”
Me late idears uv thugs ’as all gone flop:
      Me point uv view, some’ow,’ ’as seemed to shift;
’Tain’t philosophic, like it used to be,
Now someone’s took a fly at thuggin’ me.

’E’s gurglin’ nicely—clawin’ at the air.
      “You pest!” I sez. “You scum! You sewer rat!
“Why can’t yeh earn yer livin’ on the square,
      “An’ be raspectabil?” I’m gettin’ that
Right-thinkin’ I am all one virchus glow.
“Leg—gug—” ’e gurgles, musical. “Leggo!”

We made a pretty pitcher standin’ there—
      Nocturne, as artists sez. I felt, some’ow,
That, underneath the yeller lamp-light’s glare,
      ’Is upturned face (It’s gittin’ purple now)
Was sumpthin’ painters would admire no end . . . . 
Then a sharp voice be’ind me yelps, “Young friend!”

“Young friend,” ’e sez, su’prised, “wot-wot’s amiss?
      Yes; my ole parson friend. I drops the crook.
“You are mustook, young friend,” ’e sez; “for this
      “Is not the man for ’oo we’ve come to look.”
Then ’e stares closer at the gaspin’ gun.
“Why! Bless me ’eart!” ’e chirps. “It’s Daniel Dunn!”

“It’s Mister Dunn,” ’e sez, “from Bungaroo!
      “My farmer friend!” (’Ere was a flamin’ mess!)
“Is this ’ere coot,” I arsts, “well knowed to you?”
      The parson takes another gig. “Why, yes.
“You’re Mister Dunn?” An’ Whiskers answers “’Ick!”
I notice then that Daniel’s partly shick.

A dinkum farmer! Strike! I’m in all wrong!
      “Sorry,” I sez. “My fault. ’Ow could I tell?
“I acted nervis when ’e come along.
      “But, if you’re sure, it might be jist as well
“To intrajuice us, ’coz it would appear
“Ther’s been some slight misun’erstandin’ ’ere.”

Then Snowy twinkles, an’ pufforms the rite.
      (W’iskers ’as got ’is wind back with the spell)
“’Appy to meet yeh, sir,” ’e sez, perlite.
      “Don’t mention it,” sez me. “I ’ope you’re well?’
“Not bad, consid’rin’,” ’e remarks (an’ takes
Me ’and) “the narsty weather.” So we shakes.

Then I ixplain; an’ W’iskers spills ’is tale—
      The old yarn uv the mug ’oo puts ’is trust
In nice new city frien’s uv ’is ’oo fail
      To keep appointments, an’ ’e wakes up bust.
We spring a overdraft, an’ leave ’im there,
Bristlin’ with gratiehood in every ’air.

“Jist goes to show,” I sez to Snowy then.
      ““If I ’ad not—well, not detained yer friend,
“’E mighter fallen in with reel rough men
      “An’ ended up all narsty in the end.
“I feel to-night, some’ow, me luck’s dead in,
“An’ I could give some crook a rotten spin.”

“Young friend,” sez Snowy, solemn, “should we meet
      “This man we seek to-night—this feller Wegg,
“Try to be diplermatic an’ discreet;
      “Reason with ’im; no vi’lince, friend, I beg.”
“Wot? Vi’lince? Me?” I chirps. (I’m bublin’ now)
“Wot do yeh know bout that? I’ll kiss the cow!”


The Crusaders

“Peter the ’Ermit was a ’oly bloke,”
      The parson sez, “wot chivvied coves to war.”
      “Too right,” I chips. “I’ve ’eard that yarn before.”
“Brave knights sprung straight to arms where’er ’e spoke.”
“Sure thing,” sez I. “It muster been no joke
      “Tinnin’ yer frame in them dead days uv yore
      Before yeh starts to tap a foeman’s gore.”

“Peter the ’Ermit was a man inspired,”
      The parson sez. We’re moochin’ up the Lane,
      Snoopin’ around for news we might obtain
Uv this Spike Wegg, the man ’oo I am ’ired
To snatch by ’ook or crook, jist as required
      By circs, frum out the sev’ril sins wot stain
      ’Is wicked soul. I ’ope me meanin’s plain.

“Peter the ’Ermit,” sez the parson, “saw
      “No ’arm in vi’lince when the cause was just.
      “While ’e deplored, no doubt, the fightin’ lust,
“’E preached—” “’Old on,” I sez. “’Ere comes the Law:
“’Ere’s Brannigan, the cop. Pos’pone the jaw
      “Till we confer. I got idears ’e must
      “Keep track uv Spike; if ’e toils fer ’is crust.”

“Spike Wegg?” growls Brannigan. “I know that bloke;
      “An’ ’e’s the one sweet soul I long to see.
      “That shrinkin’ vi’lit ’ates publicity
“Jist now,” sez Brannigan. “Spike Wegg’s in smoke.
“Oh, jist concerns a cove ’e tried to croak.
      “’E’s snug in some joint round about, maybe.
      “If you should meet, remember ’im to me.”

The cop passed on. “Peter the ’Ermit was
      “A ri’chus man,” the parson sez, “wot knoo—”
      “’Old ’ard!” I begs. “Jist for a hour or two
“I wouldn’t go an’ nurse sich thorts, becoz
“Too much soul-ferritin’ might put the moz
      “On this ’ere expedition. I’ll ’elp you
      “To search our conscience when the job is through.

“I know yer doubts,” I sez, “an’ ’ow you ’ate
      “The thorts uv stoush, an’ ’old ’ard blows in dread.
      “But Pete the ’Ermit’s been a long time dead.
“’E’ll keep. But we are in the ’ands uv Fate,
“An’ ’oly spruikers uv a ancient date
      “Don’t ’elp. I quite agrees with all you’ve said
      “But—” “Say no more,” ’e answers. “Lead ahead.”

“But, all the same,” ’e sez, “I want no fight.”
      “Right ’ere, be’ind this ’oardin’,” I replies,
      “A two-up school’s in session. If we spies
“About a bit, there is a chance we might
“Git news—” Jist then the spotter comes to light.
      I word ’im gentle, with some ’asty lies:
      I’m seekin’ Spike. See? Can ’e put me wise?

“Spike Wegg?” (At first ’e only twigs meself)
      “’E’s gone—” (’E spots the parson standin’ by)
      A cold, ’ard glimmer comes in ’is fish eye:
“’Ere! Wot’s the game?” ’e yelps. “Are you a shelf?”
“’Ave sense!” I larfs. “I got a bit uv pelf,
      An’ thort I’d like to take a little fly—”
      “Buzz orfl” ’e orders. So we done a guy.

“Blank number one,” I sez. The parson sighed.
      “Joshuer fought, an’ never seemed to shrink—”
      “Now, look,” I tells ’im. “Honest. Don’t you think
“Them Bible blokes ’oo’ve ’ad their day an’ died
“Is best fergot until we’re ’ome an’ dried?
      “Now, up the street ’ere, is a little sink
      “Uv sin that does a traffic in strong drink.”

“Sly grog?” ’e arsts. But I sez, “’Ush! This place
      “Is kep’ by Mother Weems, ’oo’s sof’, blue eye
      “An’ snow-white ’air would make yeh ’shamed an’ shy
“To brand ’er name with any sich disgrace.
“’Er kind, sweet smile, ’er innercint ole face.
      “Beams like a blessin’. Still, we’ll ’ave a try
      “To word the dear ole dame, an’ pump ’er dry.”

’Is nibs stands in the shadders while I knock.
      Mother unlocks the door, an’ smiles, an’ peers
      Into me face. She wears ’er three score years
Reel sweet, in lacy cap an’ neat black frock.
Then: “Bill,” she cries. “You’ve give me quite a shock!
      “Why, dearie, I ain’t seen you for long years.
      “Come in.” ’Er kind ole eyes seem close to tears.

“Dearie, come in,” she chirps. But I pretend
      I’m on reel urgent biz; I got to ’aste
      “Jist for ole times,” she pleads. “One little taste.”
“I can’t,” I sez. “I’m lookin’ for a friend,
“Spike Wegg, for ’oo I’ve certin news no end
      “Important; an’ I got no time to waste.”
      “Wot? Spike?” she sez. “I ’ear ’e’s bein’ chased.”

“’E’s bein’ chased,” she sez, “by D’s, I’ve ’eard.”
      “Too true,” I owns. “’E’s got no time to lose.”
      “Well, maybe, if you was to try Ah Foo’s—
The privit room—” Then, as ’is rev’rince stirred,
She seen ’is choker. “’Oo the ’ell’s this bird?
      “Is this a frame?” she shrieks . . . Without adoos,
      We slap the pavemint with four ’asty shoes.

But, as along the sloppy lane we race,
      ’Er ’or words tumble after in a flood:
      “You pimps! You dirty swine! I’ll ’ave yer blood!”
“’Eavings!” the parson gasps. “With that sweet face!”
“’Er words,” I answer, “do seem outer place.”
      “Vile words, that I ’ave scarce ’arf understud.”
      Sez Snowy, shoshin’ in a pool uv mud.

We reach Ah Foo’s. “Now, ’ere,” I sez, “is where
      “You stop outside. Twice you ’ave put me queer
      “It’s a lone ’and I mean to play in ’ere.
“You ’ang around an’ breathe the ’olesome air.”
“Young friend,” ’e sez, “I go with you in there.
      “I’ve led you into this. Why should I fear
      “The danger? ’Tis me jooty to be near.”

Snowy’s a game un! I lob in the shop,
      The parson paddin’ after on the floor.
      Ah Foo looks up. “Not there!” ’e squeaks. “Wha’ for?”
But we sail past the Chow without a stop,
Straight for the little crib up near the top
      That I knoo well in sinful days uv yore . . . 
      I turn the knob; an’ sling aside the door.

Beside a table, fearin’ ’arm from none,
      Spike an’ another bloke is teet-ah-teet.
      Quick on the knock, Spike Wegg jumps to ’is feet
An’ jerks a ’and be’ind ’im for ’is gun.
I rush ’im, grab a chair up as I run,
      An’ swing it with a aim that ain’t too neat.
      Spike ducks aside; an’, with a bump, we meet.

An’ then we mix it. Strife an’ merry ’ell
      Breaks loose a treat, an’ things git movin’ fast.
      An’, as a Chinese jar goes crashin’ past,
’Igh o’er the din I ’ears the parson’s yell:
      “Hit! Hit ’im ’ard young friend. Chastise ’im well!
      “Hit ’im!” . . . The ’oly war is in full blast;
      An’ Pete the ’Ermit’s come to light at last.


“’Ave a ’eart!”

“’Ere! ’Ave a ’eart!” ’e sez. “Why, love a duck!
      “A ’uman bein’ ain’t a choppin’ block!
“There ain’t no call fer you to go an’ chuck
      “A man about when ’e ’as took the knock.
“Gaw! Do yeh want to bust ’im all apart!
          “’Ere! ’Ave a ’eart!

“Aw, ’ave a ’eart!” ’e weeps. “A fight’s a fight;
      “But, strike me bandy, this is bloody war!
“It’s murder! An’ you got no blasted right
      “To arst a ’uman man to come fer more.
“’E ’ad no chance with you right frum the start.
          “Aw, ’ave a ’eart!

“Yeh’ve pulped ’is dile,” ’e whines; “yeh’ve pinched ’is gun;
      “Yeh’ve bunged ’is eye ’an bashed in ’arf ’is teeth.
“’Struth! Ain’t yeh satisfied with wot yeh’ve done?
      “Or are you out to fit ’im fer a wreath?
“The man’s ’arf dead a’ready! Wot’s yer dart?
          “Say, ’ave a ’eart!”

I never did ’ear sich a bloke to squeal
      About a trifle. This ’ere pal uv Spike’s
Don’t seem to ’ave the stummick fer a deal
      Uv solid stoush: rough work don’t soot ’is likes.
’E ain’t done much but blather frum the start,
          “’Ere ’ave a ’eart!”

A rat-face coot ’e is, with rat-like nerves
      That’s got all jangled with ixceedin’ fright,
While I am ’andin’ Spike wot ’e deserves.
      But twice ’e tried to trip me in the fight,
The little skunk, now sobbin’ like a tart,
          “Aw, ’ave a ’eart!”

This ’ere’s the pretty pitcher in Ah Foo’s
      Back privit room: Spike Wegg, well on the floor,
Is bleedin’ pretty, with a bonzer bruise
      Paintin’ one eye, an’ ’arf ’is clobber tore.
While me, the conq’rin’ ’ero, stan’s above
          ’Owlin’ me love.

The rat-face mutt is dancin’ up an’ down;
      Ah Foo is singin’ jazz in raw Chinee;
The parson’s starin’ at me with a frown,
      As if ’e thort sich things could never be;
An’ I’m some bloke ’e’s but ’arf rekernised
          ’E’s ’ipnertised.

Foo’s furniture is scattered any’ow,
      Artisic like, in bits about the floor.
An’ ’arf a dozen blokes, drawn by the row,
      Nosey but nervis, ’overs near the door.
I ain’t no pitcher orf no chocklit box.
          I’ve took some knocks.

I ain’t no pitcher. But—O Glory!—But
      Ther’s dicky-birds awarblin’ in me soul!
To think that I ain’t lost that upper-cut!
      An’ my left-’ook’s still with me, good an’ whole.
I feared me punch was dead; but I was wrong.
          Me ’eart’s all song!

Then, as Spike makes a move, I raised me mits
      Fearin’ a foul; an’ Rat-face does ’is block.
’E loosens up a string uv epi-tits
      That seem to jolt the parson with a shock.
Filthy an’ free they was, make no mistakes.
          Then Snowy wakes.

All through the fight ’e ’ad seemed kind uv dazed,
      Ubsorbin’ it like some saint in a dream.
But now ’e straightened up, ’is ole eyes blazed
      An’, as the filth flowed in a red-’ot stream,
’Is voice blew in like cool winds frum the south:
          “Shut that foul mouth!”

“Shut your vile mouth, or, by the Lord!—” ’Is ’and
      Went up, an’ there was anger on ’is face.
But Rat-face ducked. ’E weren’t the man to stand
      Agin that figger uv avengin’ grace.
Ducked, or ’e might uv stopped one ’oly smite
          Frum Snowy’s right.

“Young friend,” ’E turns to me. An’ then I ’ear
      A yell: “The cops! The cops is in the Lane!
“Parson,” I sez, “we are de tropp, I fear.
      “Mid ’appier scenes I’ll vencher to ixplain.
“’Ang to me ’and, an’ wave no fond farewell;
          “But run like ’ell!”

Some say wrong livin’ reaps no good reward.
      Well, I dunno. If I ’ad not cut loose
In Spadgers, in them days long, long deplored,
      ’Ow could I knowed the run uv Foo’s caboose?
That back-way entrance, used fer Chiner’s friends’
          Un’oly ends.

Out by a green door; down a flight uv stairs;
      Along a passige; up another flight;
Through ’arf a dozen rooms, broadcastin’ scares
      To twenty yellow men, pea-green with fright;
Me an’ the parson, through that ’eathen land,
          Trips ’and in ’and.

Out uv dark corners, voices ’ere an’ there
      Break sudden with a jabberin’ sing-song,
Like magpies flutin’ on the mornin’ air.
      We pays no ’eed to them, but plug along,
Twistin’ an’ turnin’ through them secret ways,
          Like in a maze.

I bust a bolted door. The parson gasps:
      The air inside is ’eavy with the drug.
A fat Chow goggles at the broken hasps;
      Another dreams un’eedin’ on a rug.
Out by the other door-past piles uv fruit—
          ’Ow we did scoot!

Red lanterns—lacquer-work—brass pots—strange smells—
      Silk curtains—slippers—baskets—ginger jars—
A squealin’ Chinee fiddle-tinklin’ bells—
      Queer works uv art—filth—fowls—ducks—iron bars
To winders—All pass by us in a stream,
          Like ’twuz a dream.

Down to a cellar; up agen, an’ out—
      Bananers—brandy jars—we rush pell-mell,
Turnin’ to left, to right, then round about
      (The parson, after, said it seemed like ’ell)
Through one last orful pong, then up a stair
          Into clean air.

We’re in a little yard; no thing to stop
      Our flight to freedom but a fence. “Now, jump!”
I grabs ’is rev’rince, ’eaves ’im to the top,
      An’ bungs me own frame over with a bump.
“Dam!” sez the parson—or it sounded so—
          But I dunno.

Seems that ’is coat got ’itched up on a nail.
      ’E jerks it free an’ gently comes to earth.
“Peter the ’ermit’s ’ome!” I sez. “All ’ail!”
      An’ makes punk noises indicatin’ mirth.
The parson, ’e walks on, as still as death.
          Seems out o’ breath.

I walk beside ’im; but ’e sez no word.
      To put it straight, I’m feelin’ pretty mean—
Feelin’ a bit ashamed uv wot’s occurred—
      But still, I never planned to ’ave no scene
With Spike. I didn’t start the flamin’ row,
          Not any’ow.

I tells ’im so. But still ’e never spoke.
      I arsts ’im ’ow else could the thing be done.
I tells ’im straight I’d let no flamin’ bloke
      Take pot shots at me with no flamin’ gun.
’E stops, an’ pats me shoulder with ’is ’and:
          “I understand.

“Young friend.” ’Is face is orful stern an’ grave.
      “The brawl was not your seekin’, we’ll suppose.
“But does it ’elp this girl we wish to save?
      “’Ow can sich mad brutality serve Rose?
“May be, in anger, you fergot, young friend,
          “Our Christian end?”

“Not on yer life!” I tells ’im. “Spike’s in soak,
      “Whether the cops ’ave got ’im now or not.
“An’ that removes one interferin’ bloke
      “Wot ’ad a mind to queer our ’oly plot.
“Tomorrer we’ll find Rose, an’ work good works
          “With gentler lurks.”

“Gentler?” ’e sez. “I ’ope so.” Still ’e’s grave.
      “The ways uv ’Eaven’s strange,” ’e sez, “an’ yours
“Is stranger still. Yet all may work to save
      “One strugglin’ soul, if ’Eaven’s grace endures.”
’E’s dreadful solemn. I must own I feel
          Grieved a great deal.

“Your face,” ’e sez, “is very badly cut—”
      “Now, look,” I chips. “’Old on. Let’s git this right.
“’Oo was it tried to stoush that rat-face mutt?
      “’Oo was it barracked for me in the fight?
“’Oo was it used that word uv evul sense
          “Up on that fence?”

“Young friend!” . . . Indignant? ’Struth! I see ’im try
      To keep reel stern. But soon I rekernise
The little twinkle stealin’ in ’is eye,
      That won’t keep out, no matter ’ow ’e tries.
An’ then—’is twitchin’ lips smile wide apart:
          “Aw, ’ave a ’eart!”



“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
                  Raw misery.

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 ’eart is all pure gold
      An’ ’uman charity.
For, all that girl was suff’rin’, 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
      “’Oo’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 ’eard. 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!”


The Knight’s Return

The conq’rin’ ’ero! Me? Yes, I don’t think.
      This mornin’ when I catch the train fer ’ome,
It’s far more like a walloped pup I slink
      To kennel, with resolves no more to roam.
Crusades is orf. I’m fer the simple life,
      ’Ome with me trustin’ wife
          All safe frum strife.

I’ve read uv knights returnin’ full uv gyp,
      Back to the bewchus lady in the tower.
They never seemed to git dumestic pip
      In them brave days when knighthood was in flower.
But times is changed; an’ ’usbands ’as to leed;
      Fer knight’ood’s run to seed;
          It ’as indeed.

Snowy, the parson, came to say farewell
      “Young friend,” ’e sez, “You’ve did a Christian ack—
“A noble deed that you’ll be glad to tell
      “An’ boast uv to yer wife when you git back.”
“Too true,” I sez, reel chirpy. “She’ll be proud,
      “I’ll blab it to the crowd—
          “If I’m allowed.”

“Good-bye! Good Luck!” ’e sez. “I’ll see to Rose,
      “Make yer mind easy. Ierdine yer face.
“Bless yeh! Good luck, young friend!” An’ orf we goes—
      Me an’ me conscience arguin’ the case.
An’, as we pick up speed an’ race along,
      The rails make up a song:
          “Yer in all wrong!”

“Yer in all wrong! Yer in all wrong! Yeh blob!
      “Why did yeh want to go an’ ’unt fer Spike?
“Yer in all wrong! Becoz yeh liked the job.
      “That’s wot. An’ don’t pretend yeh didn’t like.
“Yer in all wrong! Wot will yeh tell Doreen?
      “Yeh’ll ’ate to ’ave a scene.
          “Don’t yeh feel mean?”

Two stations on, a w’iskered coot gits in
      I seem to sort uv rekernise, some’ow.
But all at once I place ’im, an’ I grin.
      But ’e don’t jerry; ’e’s stone sober now.
It’s ’im I scragged in Spadgers—number one—
      The late suspected gun.
          It’s Danny Dunn.

“Sold that watch yet, ole cobber?” I remarks.
      ’E grabs ’is bag, an’ views me battered dile,
With sudden fears uv spielers an’ their larks.
      But I ixplain,’an’ ’e digs up a smile.
“Ah, yes,” ’e drawls. “We met two nights ago
      But I was—well, you know—
          Well—jist so-so.”

’E pipes me dile again, then stammers out,
      “I’m sorry, sonny. Stone the crows! It’s sad
“To see yer face so orful cut about.
      “I never thort I walloped you so bad.
“I’m sorry, lad, that we should come to blows.
      “Black eye? An’ wot a nose!
          “Oh, stone the crows!”

I ease ’is guilty mind about me phiz,
      An’ we’re good cobbers in a ’arf a tick.
Then ’e wades in an’ tells me ’oo ’e is—
      (’E ain’t a bad ole coot when ’e ain’t shick)—
“I ain’t dead broke,” ’e sez. “That night, yeh know,
      “I was cleaned out uv dough,

Lookin’ fer land ’e is; an’ ’as ’is eye
      Upon a little farm jist close to me.
If ’e decides to take it by-an’-by,
      “Why, stone the crows! I’ll look yous up,” sez ’e.
“I need some friends: I ain’t got wife nor chick;
      An’ yous will like me quick —
          When I ain’t shick.”

I leaves ’im tork. Me own affairs won’t let
      Me pay much ’eed to all ’e ’as to say.
But, while ’e’s spoutin’, sudden like I get
      A bright idear that brings one ’opeful ray.
One thing I ’eard pertickler while ’e spoke;
      ’E is a single bloke.
          I lets that soak.

But later on I wished ’e’d sling ’is mag.
      The nearer ’ome I get the worse I feel;
The worse I feel, the more I chew the rag;
      The more I chew the rag, this crooked deal
I’ve served Doreen looks black an’ blacker yet.
      I worry till I get
          All one cold sweat.

I walk ’ome frum the station, thinkin’ ’ard.
      Wot can I tell me wife? Gawstruth! I been
Eight long years wed, an’ never ’ad to guard
      Me tongue before. Wot can I tell Doreen?
An’ there she’s waitin’ ’arf ways down our hill . . . 
      She takes one look . . . “Why! Bill!”
          I stands stock still.

“Oh, yes, me face,” I larfs. “O’ course. Me face.
      “I clean fergot. I—well—to tell the truth,
“I—Don’t look scared—I—Oh, it’s no disgrace.
      “That dentist. Yes, yes! Pullin’ out me tooth.
“Reel butcher. Nearly frachered both me jors.
      “Yes, dear, let’s go indoors.”
          (Wow! ’Oly wars!)

“Poor Bill! Poor Dear! ’E must ’ave been a brute.”
      She kisses me fair on me busted lip;
An’ all me fears is stilled be that serloot.
      Ar, wot a fool I was to ’ave the pip.
The game is mine before I ’ardly tried.
      Dead easy, ’ow I lied!
          I’m ’ome an’ dried.

Yet . . . I dunno. Me triump’ don’t last long.
      ’Twuz low down, some way, ’ow I took ’er in—
Like pinchin’ frum a kid. I feel dead wrong.
      The parson calls it “conshusniss uv sin.”
I might be; but it’s got me worried now:
      An’ conshuns is a cow,
          That I’ll allow.

Take it frum me. To ’ave a lovin’ wife
      Fussin’ an’ pettin’ you, jist through a lie—
Like ’er this ev’nin’—crools all married life.
      If you can’t look ’er fair bang in the eye
An’ feel you’ve earned that trust frum first to last.
      You’re ’eadin’ downward fast . . . 
          But Rose—Oh, blast!


The Also-ran

I know I’m dull. I know I got a brain
      That’s only fit fer fertilizin’ ’air.
I don’t arst for bokays: I ain’t that vain;
      But fair is fair.
An’ when yeh think yer somethin’ uv a man,
It ’urts to find yerself a also-ran.

’Urts like one thing. To git sent to the pack
      When you ’ave ’ad idears you’re ace an’ king
An’ all the pitcher cards down to the jack
      Is like to sting
Yer vanity. I thort I was some use,
An’ now I’m valyid as a ’umble dooce.

Don’t mind my sulks. I s’pose I ’as swelled ’ead;
      But gittin’ snouted ain’t wot I expeck.
Aw, they can ’ave it on their own! I’m full
      Up to the neck!
Never no more! I chuck good works right ’ere . . . 
But lets start frum the start an’ git it clear.

I own I used me nut. Fer marriage brings
      Experience to stop yeh actin’ rash.
I’ve missed the step before through rushin’ things,
      An’ come a crash.
I planned it out all careful frum the start;
Me taticks was a reel fine work uv art.

Me problem’s this: The noos ’as to be broke
      Concernin’ Rose. Doreen ’as to he told.
The ’ow an’ when that bit uv noos is spoke
      I’ve learnt uv old.
I’m shrood. I wait. I watch me chance to act.
The trick’s to know the time an’ place exact.

You blokes unmarrid ain’t got no idear
      Uv ’ow successful ’usbands works their ’eads.
It’s like a feller strugglin’ to keep clear
      A thousand threads.
Once let ’em tangle, an’ you take the blame.
You’re up to putty; an’ yeh’ve lost the game.

“Funny,” I sez, “that we should mention Mick.
      “In town I met that girl—(Wot’s ’er name? Rose)
“By accident. Poor thing looks orful sick . . . . 
      “Well, I suppose
“She ’as ’er worries . . . . Lost ’er job, yeh know.”
Doreen don’t take much int’rest. She sez, “Oh?”

“She’s wot?” . . . I can’t say more. “Well,” sez me wife,
      “Seein’ you arst ’er, why all this su’prise?”
“Seein’ you ’ad a fight, an’ risked yer life,
      “An’ got black eyes,
“An’ played the ’ero, as the parson says,
“You ort to know. I’ve knowed,” she sez, “fer days.”

Snowy! To think that parson cove would go
      An’ let me down to flounder in the mud,
An’ scheme, an’ lie, an’ work the game reel low,
      To come a thud!
“Yeh mean to say,” I arsts, mad as can be,
“Yeh’ve fixed all this without consultin’ me?

“Yeh mean to say I ’aven’t got the right
      “To know wot’s goin’ on in my own ’ouse?
“Yeh mean to sa” —“There, Bill,” she sez, “keep quite.
      “Why should you rouse?
“You told me nothin’. Parson wrote to me;
“An’ we fixed things without yer ’elp,” sez she.

Women! She sits an’ tells me this dead cold!
      To think I’ve worked an’ worried till I’m tired,
An’ squeezed me brain a treat, jist to be told
       I ain’t required!
“You was too modest, Bill, to let me ’ear
“About that fight,” she sez. “Now, weren’t you, dear?”

Modest? Aw, well. I s’pose I am—a bit.
      A feller can’t go skitin’ all ’is days.
But, spite uv ’er nice way uv takin’ it,
      An’ all ’er praise
An’ that, I got to own I’m feelin’ ’urt
Fer to git treated like a bit uv dirt.

Nex’ mornin’ I ain’t feelin’ none too good:
      That snub still ’urt. I potter round about;
Then go across to where ’e’s choppin’ wood
      To ’ave it out
With Wally Free about ’is thievin’ cow.
But that pie-faced galoot won’t ’ave a row.

I’ll ’ave the lor on ’im, I tells ’im straight.
      Me fence ’er out? ’E’s got to fence ’er in!
The lor sez that. But all the lors I state
      Jist gits a grin.
That’s all. ’E grins a sight too much, that bloke.
Clean through the piece, I seem to be the joke.

I know I’m dull. I know me brain’s jist meant
      To nourish ’air-roots. But I ’ave me pride.
An’ when I toils an’ frets, an’ then gits sent
      To stand aside,
I know me place: I don’t need to be shown.
I’m done! An’ they can ’ave it on their own.


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 ’ot.
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!


“Stone the Crows”

“Why stone the crows!” ’e sez. “I like ’er style,
      “But alwiz, some’ow, women ’ave appeared
“Set fer to ’old me orf a ’arf a mile.
      “I dunno wot’s agin me: p’raps me beard.
“But, some’ow, when I speak ’em soft they run.
“I ain’t no ladies’ man,” sez Danny Dunn.

“I like ’er style,” ’e sez. “Wot’s ’er name? Rose.
      “The neatest filly that I ever see.
“She’d run in double splendid. But I s’pose,
      “She’d never ’arness with the likes uv me.
“Wot age you tell me? Risin’ twenty-nine?
“Well, stone the flamin’ crows! She’d do me fine.

“I wonder can she milk? Don’t look that kind.
      “But even if she don’t I wouldn’t care—
“Not much. Stone all the crows! I’d ’arf a mind
      “To ’ave a shave an’ ’ang me ’at up there.
“But I ain’t got the knack uv it, yeh know,
“Or I’d been spliced this twenty year ago.”

Ole Danny Dunn ’as been to pay ’is call
      An’ tell us ’e’ll be settlin’ down ’ere soon.
’E lobbed in on us sudden, ziff an’ all,
      An’ ain’t done nothin’ all the afternoon
But lap up tea an’ stare pop-eyed at Rose,
’E ain’t said nothin’ much but “Stone the crows!”

Now, as I sees ’im orf, down by the gate,
      ’E’s chirpin’ love-songs like a nestin’ thrush.
Rose ’as ’im by the w’iskers, sure as fate;
      Fer Spring ’as sent ’im soft all uv a rush.
’E’s got the beans; an’ so she’s fixed fer life,
If Danny’s game to arst ’er fer ’is wife.

An’ so me scheme works out all on its own.
      I grabbed the notion that day in the train,
When Danny tole me that ’e lived alone.
      I reckoned, then, I’d ’ave to use me brain;
But ’ere ’e is, stonin’ the crows a treat,
An’ keen to sling is pile at Rose’s feet.

I’ll show ’em! Them ’oo thinks I got no brains
      Will crash when Rose is Mrs. Danny Dunn.
Doreen don’t need to go to too much pains
      To show me that she thinks I’ve nex’ to none,
When I take on a job I don’t let go
Until I’ve fixed it, all sirgarneo.

“Listen,” sez Danny. “Do yeh think a man
      “’As any chance? I know I don’t dress neat.”
“Sling it!” I sez. “Don’t be a also-ran.
      “Go in bald-’eaded! Rush ’er orf ’er feet!
“They don’t know wot they want: women ain’t got
“No minds, till some strong man shows wot is wot.

“I’ll ’elp,” I tells ’im, “if you play the game.
      “Don’t give ’er time to think. Take ’er be storm.
“Many’s the lover’s bowed ’is ’ead in shame
      “Becoz ’e was afraid to woo too warm.
“Be masterful! Show ’er ’oo’s boss! ’Ave grit!
“That’s wot I done, an’ come ’ome on the bit.

“Look at me now. I got a wife wot ’eeds
      “My lightest wish. Uv course, I ain’t unkind;
“But I’m boss uv the show, becoz she needs
      “A man to lean upon, an’ guide ’er mind.”
“By gum!” sez Danny; “but that must be fine.
“That’s ’ow I’d like to ’ave a wife uv mine.”

I tells ’im there’s a dance on Fridee night;
      ’E must be there, tricked out in nobby clo’es
An’ all spruced up. I’ll see it fixed up right
      So ’e can make the goin’ good with Rose.
“I don’t dance much,” ’e sez. “But p’raps me luck’s
“Changed round; an’ stone the crows! I’ll chance the ducks!”

So far, ribuck. I’m no back number yet;
      Although they treats me as brainless yob.
I may be slow to start; but, don’t ferget,
      I still got some idears back uv me nob.
An’ once I’ve got Rose wed an’ fixed fer life
I might su’prise respeck out uv me wife.

I might, but—Listen. Can you tell me this:
      Why am I takin’ all these speshul pains,
An’ worried lest me plans will go amiss?
      Why am I so dead set to use me brains?
Dunno; no more than you; fer, spare me days!
A man’s a puzzle to ’imself, some ways.


Listener’s Luck

“My sort,” she sez, “don’t meet no fairy prince.”
      I can’t ’elp ’earin’ part uv wot was said
      While I am sortin’ taters in the shed.
They’ve ’ad these secret confabs ever since
      Rose came. ’Er an’ Doreen’s been ’eart to ’eart,
      ’Oldin’ pow-wows in which I got no part.

“My sort,” sez Rose, “don’t meet no fairy prince.”
      ’Er voice seems sort uv lonely like an’ sad.
      “Ah well,” she sez, “there’s jobs still to be ’ad
“Down in the fact’ries. I ain’t one to wince
      “Frum all the knocks I’ve ’ad—an’ will ’ave. Still,
      “Sometimes I git fed-up against me will.

“Some women ’ave the luck,” she sez; “like you.
      “Their lives seem made fer love an’ joy an’ sport,
      “But I’m jist one uv the unlucky sort.
“I’ve give up dreamin’ dreams: they don’t come true.
      “There ain’t no love or joy or sport fer me.
      “Life’s made me ’ard; an’ ’ard I got to be.”

“Oh, rubbidge!” sez Doreen. “You’ve got the blues,
      “We all ’ave bad luck some times, but it mends.
      “An’ you’re still young, my dear; you ’ave your friends.
“Why should you think that you must alwiz lose?
      “The sun’s still shinin’; birds still sing, an’ court;
      “An’ men still marry.” Rose sez, “Not my sort.”

An’ then—Aw, well, I thort I knoo me wife,
      ’Ow she can be so gentle an’ so kind,
      An’ all the tenderness that’s in ’er mind;
As I’ve ’ad cause to know through married life.
      But never ’ave I ’eard ’er wisdom speak
      Sich words before. It left me wond’rin’—meek.

Yes, meek I felt—an’ proud, all in the one:
      Proud fer to know ’ow fine my wife can be;
      Meek fer to think she cares fer sich as me.
“’Ope lasts,” I ’ear ’er say, “till life is done.
      “An’ life can bring us joy, I know it can.
      “I know; fer I’ve been lucky in my man.”

There’s a wife for yeh! Green! Think in the ’ead!
      To think she’d go an’ tork be’ind me back,
      Gossip, an’ paint me character that black!
I’m glad I can’t ’ear more uv wot was said.
      They wander off, down by the creek somewhere.
      Green! Well, I said that women talk ’ot air.

I thinks uv Danny Dunn, an’ wot I’ve planned.
      Doreen don’t know wot I got up me sleeve;
      An’ Rose don’t know that she won’t ’ave to leave,
Not once I come to light an’ take a ’and.
      Block’ead won’t be the name they’ll call me then.
      Women can tork; but action needs us men.

Yet, I dunno. Some ways it ain’t so fine.
      Spite uv ’is money, Danny ain’t much catch.
      It seems a pity Rose can’t make a match
That’s reel romantic, like Doreen’s an’ mine;
      But then again, although ’e’s old an’ plain,
      Danny’s a kinder fate than Spadgers Lane.

Bit later on I see Rose standin’ by
      That bridge frum where Mick waved ’is last farewell
      When ’e went smilin’ to the war, an’ fell.
’Ow diffrint if ’e ’adn’t come to die,
      I thinks. Life’s orful sad, some ways.
      Though it’s ’ard to be sad on these Spring days.

Doreen ’as left, fer reasons uv ’er own;
      An’ Rose is gazin’ down into the stream,
      Lost, like it seems, in some un’appy dream.
She looks perthetic standin’ there alone.
      Wis’ful she looks. But when I’ve turned away
      I git a shock to ’ear ’er larfin’ gay.

It’s that coot Wally Free; ’e’s with ’er now.
      Funny ’ow ’is fool chatter makes ’er smile,
      An’ shove ’er troubles under fer a while.
(Pity ’e don’t pay more ’eed to ’is cow
      Instid uv loafin’ there. ’E’s got no sense.
      I’m sick uv tellin’ ’im to mend that fence.)

’Er sort don’t meet no fairy prince . . . Ar, well.
      Fairy gawdfathers, p’raps, wot once was knights,
      Might take a turn at puttin’ things to rights.
Green? Block’ead, am I? You can’t alwiz tell.
      Wait till I wave me magic mit at Rose,
      An’ turn ’er into “Mrs. Stone-the-crows.”


The Dance

“Heirlums,” ’e sez. “I’ve ’ad the trousiz pressed.
      “Me father married in ’em, that ’e did.
“See this ’ere fancy vest?
              “See this ’ere lid?
“Me gran’dad brought that frum ’is native land
“In forty-two—an’ then ’twas second-’and.”

Clobber? Oh, ’el! Pants uv wild shepherd’s plaid,
      A coat that might ’ave knocked the cliners flat
When father was a lad,
              A tall, pot ’at
That caught the mange back in the diggin’s days,
A fancy vest that called fer loud ’oorays.

But loud ’oorays don’t ’arf ixpress my rage
      When Danny comes upholstered fer the jig.
I’ve seen it on the stage,
              Rat comic rig;
But never at a country dance before
’Ave I seen sich crook duds as Danny wore.

“You want to crool my scheme,” I sez, “with rags
      “Like that? This ain’t no fancy dress affair.
“Wot sort uv tile an’ bags
              “Is them to wear?”
But ’e don’t tumble; ’e’s as pleased as pie.
“By gum,” ’e sez, “this ort to catch ’er eye.”

“You posin’fer a comic film, or wot?”
      I arsts ’im—“with noorotic togs like those!
“Jazz clobber! Ain’t you got
              “No decent clo’es?”
But ’e’s too tickled with ’imself to ’eed.
“This orter catch ’er eye,” ’e sez, “this tweed.”

It caught ’er eye, all right, an’ many more.
      They starts to come before the daylight fades;
An’, fer a hour before
              The crowd parades,
Ole Danny ’eld the centre uv the stage,
While I stood orf an’ chewed me silent rage.

That’s ’ow it alwiz is: I try to show
      ’Ow I can use me bean in deep-laid lurks;
An’ then some fool must go
              An’ bust the works.
’Ere, I ’ave planned a coop in slap-up-style,
An’ Danny spikes me guns with gran’pa’s tile.

Rose never seemed so free frum ugly dreams,
      Not since she came, as that night at the dance;
But my matchmakin’ schemes
              Makes no advance;
Fer every time I gits a chance to score,
Doreen butts in, an’ crools me pitch once more.

Reel thortless, women is. She ort to seen
      I ’ad intents—in spite uv Danny’s clo’es—
An’ that ’e was reel keen.
              Concernin’ Rose.
Not ’er. She larfs, an’ chatters with the push,
As if rich ’usbands grew on every bush.

Once, f’rinstance, I gits busy when I seen
      Rose sittin’ out; an’ brings Dan on the run.
“Why, mercy!” sez Doreen.
              “’Ere’s Mister Dunn
“Perlite enough to arst me fer a dance.
“’E knows us marrid ones don’t git much chance.”

An’ there she grabs ’im, fair out uv me ’ands!
      An’ lets young Wally Free git off with Rose;
While like a fool I stands,
              Kickin’ me toes
An’ cursin’ all the fool things women do.
I’d think ’twas done apurpis, less I knoo.

That’s ’ow it was all night. I schemed a treat,
      Workin’ shrood points, an’ sweatin’ blood, almost;
But every time I’m beat
              Right on the post.
All me matchrnakin’s bust—the task uv days—
Through Danny’s duds an’ my wife’s tackless ways.

Nice chaperong she is! While Free an’ Rose
      Dance ’arf the night Doreen jist sits an’ beams.
When I seen that, up goes
              My ’opes an’ schemes.
But all that Danny sez is, “Stone the crows!
“Yeh’d think I’d took ’er eye, with them good clo’es.”

When we git ’ome that night I shows me spleen
      By ’intin’ Rose will be left on the shelf.
An’ then I see Doreen
              Smile to ’erself.
“I wouldn’t be su’prised,” she sez, “to see
“Rose marrid, some fine day, to Wally Free.”

To Wally Free! Yeh could ’ave knocked me flat
      With ’arf a brick. I seen it in a flash.
A grinnin’ coot like that!
              Without no cash!
Besides, a man ’oo’d keep a thievin’ cow
Like ’is, won’t make no ’usband any’ow.

I’m sick uv everything. It ain’t no joke.
      I’ve tried to do good works; an’ now I’ve found
When you git ’elpin’ folk
              They jist turn round
An’ bite the ’and that feeds ’em, so to speak.
An’ yet they sez the strong should ’elp the weak.

Wot rot! . . . I wisht I ’ad some reel ixcuse
      To push some face in, jist to ease me mind.
Spike Wegg, ’e ’ad ’is use—
              ’Im an’ ’is kind.
If I could give me ole left-’ook one swing,
I might feel kinder like to everything.


Spike Wegg

Me photer’s in the papers! ’Oly wars!
      A ’ero, I’ve been called in big, black type.
      I ’ad idears the time was close on ripe
              Fer some applorse
To come my way, on top uv all me bumps.
Now it’s come sudden, an’ it’s come in lumps.

I’ve given interviews, an’ ’ad me dile
      Bang on the front page torkin’ to a ’tec’.
      Limelight? I’m swimmin’ in it to the neck!
              Me sunny smile
Beams on the crowd. Misun’erstandin’s past;
An’ I ’ave come into me own, at last.

But all the spot-light ain’t alone fer me;
      ’Arf, I am glad to say, is made to shine
      Upon that firm an’ trusted friend uv mine,
              Ole Wally Free—
A man, I’ve alwiz said, ’oo’d make ’is mark . . . 
But, case you ’aven’t ’eard the story, ’ark:

Spike Wegg—Yes, ’im. I thort, the same as you,
      That ’e was dished an’ done fer in the Lane.
      I don’t ixpeck to cross ’is tracks again;
              An’ never knoo
That ’e ’ad swore to git me one uv those
Fine days, an’ make ’is alley good with Rose.

Spike ’ad been aimin’ ’igh in ’is profesh.
      Bank robberies, an’ sich, was ’is noo lurk;
      An’ one big job ’ad set the cops to work
              To plan a fresh
Campaign agin this crook. They want ’im more
Than ever they ’ave wanted ’im before.

They yearn fer ’im, reel passionit, they do.
      Press an’ perlice both ’ankers fer ’im sore.
      “Where is Spike Wegg?” the daily ’eadlines roar.
              But no one knoo.
Or them that did ’ad fancies to be dumb.
The oysters uv the underworld was mum.

It was the big sensation uv the day.
      Near ’arf the Force was nosin’ fer the bloke
      Wot done the deed; but Spike was well in smoke,
              An’ like to stay.
Shots ’ad been fired; an’ one poor coot was plugged.
An’ now the crowd arsts, “Why ain’t no one jugged?”

That’s ’ow the land lies when, one day, I go
      Down to the orchid paddick, where I see
      A strange cove playin’ spy be’ind a tree.
              I seem to know
The shape uv that there sneakin’, slinkin’ frame,
An’ walk across to git on to ’is game.

It was red-’ot! I grunt, an’ break away
      To ’old ’im orf. I’m battlin’ fer me life—
      All-in, a cert; fer ’e’s still got the knife.
              An’, by the way
’E looks, I know it’s either ’im or me
’As an appointment at the cemet’ry.

I’ve often wondered ’ow a feller feels
      When ’e is due to wave the world good-bye.
      They say ’is past life flicks before ’is eye
              Like movie reels.
My past life never troubled me a heap.
All that I want to do is go to sleep.

I’m gittin’ weak; I’m coughin’, chokey like;
      Me legs is wobbly, an’ I’m orful ill.
      But I ’ave got some fight left in me still.
              I look at Spike;
An’ there I see the dirty look wot shows
’E’s got me where ’e wants me—an’ ’e knows.

I think that’s where I fell. Nex’ thing I see
      Is Spike Wegg down, an’ fair on top uv ’im
      Some one that’s breathin’ ard an’ fightin’ grim.
              It’s Wally Free!
It’s good old Wally! ’E ’as got Spike pinned,
Both ’ands, an’ kneelin’ ’eavy on ’is wind.

So fur so good. But I ain’t outed yet.
      On ’ands an’ knees I crawls to reach ’em, slow.
      (Spike’s got the knife, an’ Wally daren’t let go)
              Then, as I get
Close up, I ’ear Rose screamin’, then me wife.
I’m faint. I twist Spike’s arm—an’ grab the knife.

That’s all. At least, as far as I’m concerned,
      I took no further interest in the show.
      The things wot ’appened subsekint I know
              Frum wot I learned
When I come-to, tucked in me little bed,
Me chest on fire, an’ cold packs on me ’ead.

I ’ear they tied Spike up with ’arness straps
      An’ bits uv ’ay-band, till the John ’Ops come;
      An’ watched ’im workin’ out a mental sum—
              Free an’ some chaps—
Uv ’ow much time ’e’d git fer this last plot
An’ other jobs. The answer was, a lot.

Then that nex’ day! an’ after, fer a week!
      Yeh’d think I owned the winner uv a Cup.
      Pressmen, perlice, the parson, all rush up;
              An’ I’ve to speak
Me piece, to be took down in black an’ white,
In case I chuck a seven overnight.

The papers done us proud. Near every day
      Some uv ’em printed photers uv me map
      (Looked at some ways, I ain’t too crook a chap)
              But, anyway
I’ve ’ad enough. I wish they’d let me be.
I’m sick uv all this cheap publicity.

But sich is fame. Less than a month ago.
      The whole thing started with a naggin’ tooth.
      Now I am famis; an’, to tell the truth—
              Well, I dunno—
I’d ’ardly like to bet yeh that I don’t
Git arst to act in pitchers—but I won’t.



A man’s a mug. I’ve worked the ’ole thing out
      To-day, down in the orchard where I sat
      Runnin’ the wheels red-’ot beneath me ’at,
An’ wras’lin’ fervud with a sudden doubt—
      A doubt wot’s plugged me fair bang on the point
      An’ jolted all me glad dreams out uv joint.

It’s been a pearlin’ day. The birds above
      Up in the trees sung fit to break their ’earts.
It seemed, some’ow, the ’ole world’s makin’ love,
      Ixceptin’ me. An’ then an’ there I starts
To think things out an’ git me bearin’s straight,
Becoz—Well, I ain’t been meself uv late.

I’ve flopped. It was the parson put me wise,
      Before ’e left. I ’ad been full uv skite.
      I was the ’ero uv the piece all right.
Me chest was out, me ’ead was twice the size
      It used to be. I felt I was king-pin.
      Didn’t the papers ’ave me photer in?

I was that puffed with pride I never stopped
      To search me soul fer signs uv wear an’ tear.
I loved meself so much I never dropped
      To any blot or blemish anywhere.
The Lord ’Igh Muck-a-muck, wot done the trick,
An’ dug the Murray with ’is little pick.

When I think back on it I go all ’ot.
      I was that blind I never even seen,
      Nor looked to see no changes in Doreen.
I was content to ’ave ’er on the spot
      Dodgin’ about the ’ouse in ’er calm way,
      To chirp, “Yes, Bill,” to everything I say.

The parson punchered me. ’E’s alwiz ’ad
      A trick uv callin’ me by fancy names.
In town ’e christened me “Sir Gally’ad,”
      ’Oo was, it seems, a knight wot rescued dames,
But never spoke out uv ’is turn to none,
Becoz ’is ’eart was pure. ’E took the bun.

But now “Narcissy” is the moniker
      ’E wishes on me; an’ I arst fer light.
      “Narcissy?” I remarks. “Don’t sound perlite.
“’Oo was this bird? There looks to be a slur
      “Or somethin’ sly about that cissy touch.”
      “A bloke,” ’e sez, “’oo liked ’imself too much.”

I looks quick fer that twinkle in ’is eye
      Wot tells me if ’e’s kiddin’ me or not.
But it ain’t there. “Fair dinkum,” I reply,
      “You don’t mean—You ain’t ’intin’ that I’ve got—”
“I mean,” ’e sez, “you should give thanks through life
“That you ’ave been so lucky in your wife.”

’E don’t ’arp on the toon; but turns away.
      “Your daffydils,” ’e sez, “makes quite a show.”
      An’ latter, when it came ’is time to go,
’E shakes me ’and reel arty, twinklin’ gay . . . 
      But, “lucky in me wife?” Where did I ’ear
      Somethin’ like that before? It sounds dead queer.

I seeks the orchard, with a sickly grin,
      To sort meself out straight an’ git a grip.
      Them ’ints the parson drops give me the pip.
I don’t quite see where daffydils comes in;
      But, “lucky in me wife!” Why, spare me days,
      Yeh’d think I beat ’er, by the things ’e says!

I tries to kid meself: to back me skite,
      An’ ’old that wad uv self-content I ’ad.
It ain’t no use. I know the parson’s right:
      Clean through the piece I ’ave been actin’ bad.
I’ve been so full uv Me, I’ve treated ’er
Like she was—well, a bit uv furnicher.

Yet, “furnicher” don’t seem to put it good.
      Nothin’ so wooden don’t describe Doreen.
      All through the game, some’ow, she’s alwiz been—
Well, somewhere ’andy, ’elpin’ where she could,
      An’ manidgin’, an’ . . . Bli’me! Now I see!
      Wot she did manidge was the block’ead—me! . . . 

Well, I’m the goat. I s’pose I should ’ave seen
      I wasn’t ’ead an’ tail uv all the show.
A bit uv putty in ’er ’ands I been!
      An’ so bullheaded that I didn’t know.
Only fer ’er things might ’ave—Spare me days!
I never will git used to women’s ways.

Only fer ’er Rose might . . . But wot’s the use?
      Shakespeare ’as said it right: the world’s a stage;
      An’ all us ’uman ducks an’ dames ingage
In actin’ parts. Mostly the men cut loose,
      An’ fights, an’ throws their weight about a lot.
      But, listen. It’s the women weave the plot.

The women . . . Well, it’s been a bonnie day.
      Blue-bonnets, dodgin’ in an’ out the ferns,
Looks like blue chips uv sky come down to play.
      An’ down the valley, where the creek track turns,
I see Rose, arm-in-arm with Wally Free.
The ’ole world’s makin’ love, ixceptin’ me.

Huh! Women! . . . Yes; a man’s a mug, all right . . . 
      I sees the sof’ clouds sailin’ in the sky,
      An’ bits uv thistledown go driftin’ by.
“Jist like men’s lives,” I think. An’ then I sight,
      Fair in me cabbages, ole Wally’s cow.
      That fence—But them plants ain’t worth savin’, now.

Women . . . I wonder ’oo Narcissy was . . . 
      Green trees agin blue ’ills don’t look ’arf bad . . . 
I s’pose ’e got the cissy part becoz
      ’Is ways was womanish. Well, serve ’im glad
That cow uv Wally’s ort to milk a treat
With plenty good young cabbage plants to eat.

Women is often ’elpful—in a sense . . . 
      Lord, it’s a lazy day! Before it fails,
      I better git a ’ammer an’ some nails
An’ dodge acrost an’ mend that bit uv fence.
      It’s up to me to try an’ put things right,
      An’—well, I’ll ’elp Doreen wash up tonight.



A.I.F.—Australian Imperial Forces.
Alley, to toss in the.—To give up the ghost.
Also ran, The.—On the turf, horses that fail to secure a leading place; hence, obscure persons, nonentities.
’Ammer-lock (Hammer-lock).—A favourite and effective hold in wrestling.
Ar.—An exclamation expressing joy, sorrow, surprise, etc., according to the manner of utterance.
’Ard Case (Hard Case).—A shrewd or humorous person.
’Ayseed (Hayseed).—A rustic.
Back Chat.—Impudent repartee.
Back and Fill.—To vacillate; to shuffle.
Back the Barrer.—To intervene without invitation.
Barmy (Balmy).—Foolish; silly.
Beak.—A magistrate. (Possibly from Anglo-Saxon, Beag—a magistrate).
Beano.—A feast.
Beans.—Coins; money.
Beat.—Puzzled; defeated.
Beat, off the.—Out of the usual routine.
Beef (to beef it out).—To declaim vociferously.
Bellers (Bellows).—The lungs.
Biff.—To smite.
Bird, to give the.—To treat with derision.
Blighter.—A worthless fellow.
Bli’ me.—An oath with the fangs drawn.
Blither.—To talk at random, foolishly.
Blob.—A shapeless mass.
Block.—The head. To lose or do in the block.—To become flustered; excited; angry; to lose confidence. To keep the block.—To remain calm; dispassionate.
Block, the.—A fashionable city walk.
Bloke.—A male adult of the genus homo.
Blubber, blub.—To weep.
Bluff.—Cunning practice; make believe. v. To deceive; to mislead.
Bob.—A shilling.
Bokays.—Compliments, flattery.
Boko.—The nose.
Bonzer, boshter, bosker.—Adjectives expressing the superlative of excellence.
Bong-tong.—Patrician (Fr. bon ton).
Boodle.—Money; wealth.
Book.—A bookie, q.v.
Bookie.—A book-maker (turf); one who makes a betting book on sporting events.
Boot, to put in the.—To kick a prostrate foe.
Boss.—Master; employer.
Break (to break away, to do a break).—To depart in haste.
Breast up to.—To accost.
Brisket.—The chest.
Brown.—A copper coin.
Brums.—Tawdry finery (from Brummagem—Birmingham).
Buckley’s (Chance).—A forlorn hope.
Buck up.—Cheer up.
Bump.—To meet; to accost aggressively.
Bun, to take the.—To take the prize (used ironically).
Bundle, to drop the.—To surrender; to give up hope.
Bunk.—To sleep in a “bunk” or rough bed. To do a bunk.—To depart.
Bunnies, to hawk the.—To peddle rabbits.
Bus, to miss the.—To neglect opportunities.
Caboose.—A small dwelling.
Carlton.—A Melbourne Football Team.
Cat, to whip the.—To cry over spilt milk; i.e., to whip the cat that has spilt the milk.
C.B.—Confined to barracks.
Cert.—A certainty; a foregone conclusion.
Chase yourself.—Depart; avaunt; “fade away.” q.v.
Chat.—To address tentatively; to “word,” q.v.
Cheque, to pass in one’s.—To depart this life.
Chest, to get it off one’s.—To deliver aspeech; express one’s feelings.
Chew, to chew it over; to chew the rag.—To sulk; to nurse a grievance.
Chiack.—Vulgar banter; coarse invective.
Chin.—To talk; to wag the chin.
Chip.—To “chat,” q.v. Chip in.—To intervene.
Chiv.—The face.
Chow.—A native of far Cathay.
Chuck up.—To relinquish. Chuck off.—To chaff; to employ sarcasm.
Chump.—A foolish fellow.
Chunk.—A lump; a mass.
Clean.—Completely; utterly.
Click.—A clique; a “push.”
Cliner.—A young unmarried female.
Clobber.—Raiment; vesture.
Cobber.—A boon companion.
Collect.—To receive one’s deserts.
Colour-line.—In pugilism, the line drawn by white boxers excluding
coloured fighters—for divers reasons.
Conk.—The nose.
Coot.—A person of no account (used contemptuously).
Cop.—To seize; to secure; also s., an avocation, a “job.”
Cop (or Copper).—A police constable.
Copper-top.—Red head.
Copper show.—A copper mine.
Count, to take the.—In pugilism, to remain prostrate for ten counted seconds, and thus lose the fight.
Cove.—A “chap” or “bloke.” q.v. (Gipsy).
Cow.—A thoroughly unworthy, not to say despicable person, place, thing or circumstance.
Crack.—To smite. s. A blow.
Crack a boo.—To divulge a secret; to betray emotion.
Crack hardy.—To suppress emotion; to endure patiently; to keep a secret.
Cray.—A crayfish.
Crib.—A dwelling.
Croak.—To die.
Crook.—A dishonest or evil person.
Crook.—Unwell; dishonest; spurious; fraudulent. Superlative, Dead Crook.
Crool (cruel) the pitch.—To frustrate; to interfere with one’s schemes or welfare.
Crust.—Sustenance; a livelihood.
Cut it out.—Omit it; discontinue it.
Dago.—A native of Southern Europe.
Dash, to do one’s.—To reach one’s Waterloo.
Date.—An appointment.
Dawg (dog).—A contemptible person; ostentation. To put on dawg.—To behave in an arrogant manner.
Dead.—In a superlative degree; very.
Deal.—To deal it out; to administer punishment; abuse, etc.
Deener.—A shilling (Fr. Denier. Denarius, a Roman silver coin).
Derry.—An aversion; a feud; a dislike.
Dickin.—A term signifying disgust or disbelief.
Dile (dial).—The face.
Dilly.—Foolish; half-witted.
Ding Dong.—Strenuous.
Dinkum.—Honest; true. “The Dinkum Oil.”—The truth.
Dirt.—Opprobrium, a mean speech or action.
Dirty left.—A formidable left fist.
Divvies.—Dividends; profits.
Dizzy limit.—The utmost; the superlative degree.
Do in.—To defeat; to kill; to spend.
Done me luck.—Lost my good fortune.
Dope.—A drug; adulterated liquor. v. To administer drugs.
Dot in the eye, to.—To strike in the eye.
Douse.—To extinguish (Anglo-Saxon).
Drive a quill.—To write with a pen; to work in an office.
Duck, to do a.—(See “break.”)
Duds.—Personal apparel (Scotch).
Dunno.—Do not know.
Dutch.—German; any native of Central Europe.
’Eads (Heads).—The authorities; inner council.
’Eadin’.—“Heading browns;” tossing pennies.
’Ead over Turkey.—Heels over head.
’Ead Serang.—The chief; the leader.
’Eavyweight.—A boxer of the heaviest class.
’Ell fer leather.—In extreme haste.
End up, to get.—To raise to one’s feet.
Fade away, to.—To retire; to withdraw.
Fag.—A cigarette.
Fair.—Extreme; positive.
Fair thing.—A wise proceeding; an obvious duty.
Fake.—A swindle; a hoax.
Finger.—An eccentric or amusing person.
Flam.—Nonsense, makebelieve.
Flash.—Ostentatious; showy but counterfeit.
Float, to.—To give up the ghost.
Fluff, a bit of.—A young female person.
Foot (me foot).—A term expressing ridicule.
Frame.—The body.
Funk, to.—To fear; to lose courage.
Furphy.—An idle rumour; a canard.
Galoot.—A simpleton.
Game.—Occupation; scheme; design.
Gawsave.—The National Anthem.
Gazob.—A fool; a blunderer.
Geewhizz.—Exclamation expressing surprise,
Get, to do a.—To retreat hastily.
Gilt.—Money; wealth.
Give, to.—In one sense, to care.
Gizzard.—The heart.
Glarssy.—The glassy eye; a glance of cold disdain. The Glassey Alley.—The favourite; the most admired.
Glim.—A light.
Going (while the going is good).—While the path is clear.
Gone (fair gone).—Overcome, as with emotion.
Goo-goo eyes.—Loving glances.
Gorspil-cove.—A minister of the Gospel.
Grafter.—One who toils hard or willingly.
Griffin, the straight.—The truth; secret information.
Grip.—Occupation; employment.
Groggy.—Unsteady; dazed.
Grouch.—To mope; to grumble.
Guy.—A foolish fellow.
Guy, to do a.—To retire.
Handies.—A fondling of hands between lovers.
Hanfg out.—To reside; to last.
Hang-over.—The aftermath of the night before.
High-falutin’.—High sounding; boastful.
Hitch, to.—To wed.
Hitched.—Entangled in the bonds of holy matrimony.
Hit things up.—To behave strenuously; riotously.
Hot.—Excessive; extreme.
Hump, the.—A fit of depression.
Hump, to.—To carry as a swag or other burden.
Imshee.—Begone; retreat; to take yourself off.
Intro.—Introduction; knock-down. q.v.
It (to be It).—To assume a position of supreme importance.
Jab.—To strike smartly.
Jane.—A woman.
Jiff.—A very brief period.
Job, to.—To smite.
Joes.—Melancholy thoughts.
John.—A policeman.
Joint, to jump the.—To assume command; to occupy the “joint,”i.e., establishment, situation, place of business.
Jolt, to pass a.—To deliver a short, sharp blow.
Jor.—The jaw.
Jorb (job).—Avocation; employment.
Josser.—A simple fellow.
Jug.—A prison.
Keeps, for.—For ever; permanently.
Kid.—A child.
Kid, to.—To deceive; to persuade by flattery.
Kid Stakes.—Pretence.
King Pin.—The leader; the person of chief importance.
Kip.—A small chip used for tossing pennies in the occult game of two-up.
Kipsie.—A house; the home.
Knob.—The head; one in authority.
Knock-down.—A ceremony insisted upon by ladies who decline to be “picked up”; a formal introduction.
Knock-out drops.—Drugged or impure liquor.
Knock-out punch.—A knock-down blow.
Knut.—A fop; a well-dressed idler.
Lark.—A practical joke; a sportive jest.
Leery.—Vulgar; low.
Leeuwin.—Cape Leeuwin on the South-West coast of Australia.
Lid.—The hat. To dip the lid.—To raise the hat.
Limit.—The end; the full length.
Line up.—To approach; to accost.
Lip.—Impertinence. To give it lip.—To talk vociferously.
Little Bourke.—Little Bourke Street, Melbourne, Australia.
Little Lons.—Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, Australia.
Lob, to.—To arrive.
’Loo.—Woolloomooloo, a part of Sydney.
Lumme.—Love me.
Lurk.—A plan of action; a regular occupation.
Mafeesh.—Finish; I am finished.
Mag.—To scold or talk noisily.
Mallee.—A species of Eucalypt; the country where the Mallee grows.
Mash.—To woo; to pay court. s. A lover.
Maul.—To lays hands upon, either violently or with affection.
Meet, a.—An assignation.
Mill.—A bout of fisticuffs.
Mix.—To mix it; to fight strenuously.
Mizzle.—To disappear; to depart suddenly.
Mo.—Abbreviation of “moment.”
Moll.—A woman of loose character.
Moniker.—A name; a title; a signature.
Mooch.—To saunter about aimlessly.
Moon.—To loiter.
Mud, my name is.—i.e., I am utterly discredited.
Mug, to.—To kiss.
Mullock, to poke.—To deride; to tease.
Nark.—s., a spoil-sport; a churlish fellow.
Nark, to.—To annoy; to foil.
Narked.—Angered; foiled.
Neck, to get in the.—To receive severe punishment, i.e., “Where the chicken got the axe.”
Nerve.—Confidence; impudence.
Nick.—Physical condition; good health.
Nipper.—A small boy.
Nose around, to.—To seek out inquisitively.
Nothing (ironically).—Literally “something considerable.”
Odds, above the.—Beyond the average; outside the pale.
Oopizootics.—An undiagnosed complaint.
Orfis (office).—A warning; a word of advice; a hint.
Oricle (oracle), to work the.—To secure desired results.
Orl (all in).—Without limit or restriction.
’To Socks.—Gaily coloured hose.
Out, to.—To render unconscious with a blow.
Out, all.—Quite exhausted; fully extended.
Pack, to send to the.—To relegate to obscurity.
Pal.—A friend; a mate (Gipsy).
Pard.—A partner; a mate.
Pass (pass ’im one).—To deliver a blow.
Pat, on one’s.—Alone; single-handed.
Peach.—A desirable young woman; “fresh as a peach.”
Peb (pebble).—A flash fellow; a “larrikin.”
Phiz.—The face.
Pick at.—To chaff; to annoy.
Pick up, to.—To dispense with the ceremony of a “knock-down” or introduction.
Pilot cove.—A clergyman.
Pile it on.—To rant; to exaggerate.
Pinch.—To steal; to place under arrest.
Pip.—A fit of depression.
Pitch a tale.—To trump up an excuse; to weave a romance.
Plant.—To bury.
Plug.—To smite with the fist.
Plug along, to.—To proceed doggedly.
Plunk.—An exclamation expressing the impact of a blow.
Podgy.—Fat; plump.
Point.—The region of the jaw; much sought after by pugilists.
Point, to.—To seize unfair advantage; to scheme.
Pole, up the.—Distraught through anger, fear, etc.; also, disappeared, vanished.
Pot, a.—A considerable amount; as a “pot of money.”
Pot, the old.—The male parent (from “Rhyming Slang,” the “old pot and pan”—the “old man.”)
Prad.—A horse.
Pug.—A pugilist.
Pull, to take a.—To desist; to discontinue.
Punch a cow.—To conduct a team of oxen.
Punter.—The natural prey of a “bookie.” q.v.
Push.—A company of rowdy fellows gathered together for ungentle purposes.
Queer the pitch.—To frustrate; to fool.
Quid.—A sovereign, or pound sterling.
Rabbit, to run the.—To convey liquor from a public-house.
Rag, to chew the.—To grieve; to brood.
Rag, to sky the.—To throw a towel into the air in token of surrender (pugilism).
Rain, to keep out of the.—To avoid danger; to act with caution.
Rat.—A street urchin; a wharf loafer.
Rattled.—Excited; confused.
Red ’ot.—Extreme; out-and-out.
Registry.—The office of a Registrar.
Ribuck.—Correct, genuine; an interjection signifying assent.
Rile.—To annoy. Riled.—Roused to anger.
Ring, the.—The arena of a prize-fight
Ring, the dead.—A remarkable likeness.
Rise, a.—An accession of fortune; an improvement.
Rocks.—A locality in Sydney.
Rorty.—Boisterous; rowdy.
Roust, or Rouse.—To upbraid with many words.
’Roy.—Fitzroy, a suburb of Melbourne; its football team.
Run against.—To meet more or less unexpectedly.
Saints.—A football team of St. Kilda, Victoria,
Sandy blight.—Ophthalmia.
Savvy.—Common-sense; shrewdness.
School.—A club; a clique of gamblers, or others.
Set, to.—To attack; to regard with disfavour.
Set, to have.—To have marked down for punishment or revenge.
Shick, shickered.—Intoxicated.
Shicker.—Intoxicating liquor.
Shinty.—A game resembling hockey.
Shook.—Stolen; disturbed.
Shook, on.—Infatuated.
Shyin’ or Shine.—Excellent; desirable.
Sight.—To tolerate; to permit; also to see; observe.
Sir Garneo.—In perfect order; satisfactory.
Sky the wipe.—See “Rag.”
Skirt or bit of skirt.—A female.
Skite.—To boast. Skiter.—A boaster
Slab.—A portion; a tall, awkward fellow.
Slanter.—Spurious; unfair.
Slap-up.—Admirable; excellent.
Slats.—The ribs.
Slaver.—One engaged in the “white slave traffic.”
Slick.—Smart; deft; quick.
Slope, to.—To elope; to leave in haste.
Sloppy.—Lachrymose; maudlin.
Slushy.—A toiler in a scullery.
Smooge.—To flatter or fawn; to bill and coo.
Smooger.—A sycophant; a courtier.
Snag.—A hindrance; formidable opponent.
Snake-’eaded.—Annoyed; vindictive.
Snake juice.—Strong drink.
Snare.—To acquire; to seize; to win.
Snide.—Inferior; of no account.
Snob.—A bootmaker.
Snout.—To bear a grudge.
Snouted.—Treated with disfavour.
Snuff, or snuff it.—To expire.
Sock it into.—To administer physical punishment.
Solid.—Severe; severely.
So-long.—A form of farewell.
Sool.—To attack; to urge on.
Soot, leadin’.—A chief attribute.
Sore, to get.—To become aggrieved.
Sore-head.—A curmudgeon.
Sour, to turn, or get.—To become pessimistic or discontented.
Spank.—To chastise maternal-wise.
Spar.—A gentle bout at fisticuffs.
Spare me days.—A pious ejaculation.
Splash.—To expend.
Splice.—To join in matrimony.
Spout.—To preach or speak at length.
Sprag.—To accost truculently.
Spruik.—To deliver a speech, as a showman.
Square.—Upright, honest.
Square an’ all.—Of a truth; verily.
Squiz.—A brief glance.
Stand-orf.—Retiring; reticent.
Stajum.—Stadium, where prize-fights are conducted.
Stiffened.—Bought over.
Stiff-un.—A corpse.
Stoke.—To nourish; to eat.
Stop a pot.—To quaff ale.
Stoush.—To punch with the fist. s. Violence.
Straight, on the.—In fair and honest fashion.
Strangle-hold.—An ungentle embrace in wrestling.
Strength of it.—The truth of it; the value of it.
Stretch, to do a.—To serve a term of imprisonment.
Strike.—The innocuous remnant of a hardy curse.
Strike.—To discover; to meet.
Strong, going.—Proceeding with vigour.
’Struth.—An emaciated oath.
Stunt.—A performance; a tale.
Swad, Swaddy.—A private soldier.
Swank.—Affectation; ostentation.
Swap.—To exchange.
Swell.—An exalted person.
Swig.—A draught of water or other liquid.
Tabbie.—A female.
Take ’em on.—Engage them in battle.
Take it out.—To undergo imprisonment in lieu of a fine.
Tart.—A young woman (contraction of sweetheart).
Tenner.—A ten-pound note.
Time, to do.—To serve a term in prison.
Time, to have no time for.—To regard with impatient disfavour.
Tip.—To forecast; to give; to warn.
Tip.—A warning; a prognostication; a hint.
Tipple.—Strong drink; to indulge in strong drink.
Toff.—An exalted person.
Tom.—A girl.
Took.—Arrested; apprehended.
Top, off one’s.—Out of one’s mind.
Top off, to.—To knock down; to assault.
Touch.—Manner; mode; fashion.
Toss in the towel.—See “Rag.”
Tough.—Unfortunate; hardy; also a “tug.” q.v.
Tough luck.—Misfortune.
Track with.—To woo; to “go walking with.”
Treat, a.—Excessively; abundantly.
Tucked away.—Interred.
Tug.—An uncouth fellow; a hardy rogue.
Tumble to, or to take a tumble.—To comprehend suddenly.
Turkey, head over.—Heels over head.
Turn down.—To reject; to dismiss.
Turn, out of one’s.—Impertinently; uninvited.
Twig.—To observe; to espy.
Two-up School.—A gambling den.
Umpty.—An indefinite numeral.
Upper-cut.—In pugilism, an upward blow.
Up to us.—Our turn; our duty.
Vag, on the.—Under the provisions of the Vagrancy Act.
Wallop.—To beat; chastise.
Waster.—A reprobate; an utterly useless and unworthy person.
Waterworks, to turn on the.—To shed tears.
Welt.—A blow.
Wet, to get.—To become incensed; ill-tempered.
White (white man).—A true, sterling fellow.
White-headed boy.—A favourite; a pet.
Willin’.—Strenuous; hearty.
Win, a.—Success.
Wise, to get.—To comprehend; to unmask deceit.
Wolf.—To eat.
Word.—To accost with fair speech.
Wot price.—Behold; how now!
Yakker.—Hard Toil.
Yap.—To talk volubly.
Yowling.—Wailing; caterwauling.


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