DIGGER SMITH by C.J. Dennis
XI. SAWIN' WOOD
I wondered wot was doin'. First I seen
Ole Missus Flood wave signals to Doreen.
I'm in the paddick slashin' down some ferns;
She's comin' up the road; an' if she turns
An 'andspring I won't be su'prised a bit,
The way she's caperin', an' goin' it.
She yells out some remark when she gets near,
Which I don't catch, I'm too fur off to 'ear.
An' then Doreen comes prancin' to our door,
An' Missus Flood she sprints, an' yells some more;
My wife runs to the gate an' waves 'er arms...
But I lays low; I'm used to these alarms.
A married bloke, in time, 'e learns a bit;
An' 'e ain't over keen to throw a fit
Each time the women calls the fire-reel out.
It's jist a trifle 'e'll know all about
When things get normal. That's a point I learn;
So I saws wood, an' keeps on cutting fern.
At least, I cut a few. I got to give
Reel fac's, an' own I was inquisitive;
An' these 'ere fireworks gets me fair perplexed.
I watch the 'ouse to see wot 'appens next;
But nothin's doin'. They jist goes in,
An' leaves me wonderin' wot's caused the din.
I stands it for a full 'arf-hour or more;
Then gets dead sick uv starin' at the door.
I goes down to the 'ouse an' 'unts about
To find some 'baccer, which I 'ave no doubt
Is in me trousers pocket all the while.
When I goes in, the talk stops, an' they smile.
I sez I've lost me smoke, an' search a bit,
An' ask Doreen wot 'as become uv it,
An' turns the mantelshelf all upside-down,
An' looks inside the teapot, with a frown;
Then gives it up, an' owns I'd like a drink;
When Missus Flood sez, "Bill, wot do you think?"
Now, ain't that like a woman? Spare me days,
I'll never get resigned to all their ways.
When they 'as news to tell they smile, an' wink,
An' bottle it, an' ask yeh wot yeh think.
It's jist a silly game uv theirs, an' so,
I gives the countersign: "Wot? I dunno."
"Then guess," she sez. Well, I'm a patient bloke,
So I sits down an' starts to cut a smoke.
(To play this game yeh've got to persevere.)
"Couldn't," I sez, "if I guessed for a year";
Then lights me pipe, an' waits for 'er to speak.
At last she says, "Jim's comin' back next week!"
"Go on," sez I; an' puffs away awhile
Quite unconcerned. But for to see 'er smile
Was jist a treat: 'er eyes was shinin' bright,
An' she grow'd ten years younger in a night.
Jist 'ere, Doreen she sez to me, "Good Lor,
Wot do yeh want two plugs uv 'baccer for?"
I takes me pipe out uv me mouth an' stares,
An' stammers, "Must 'ave found a piece -- somewheres."
But, by the way she smiles -- so extra sweet --
I know she twigs me game, an' I am beat.
"Fancy," she sez. "Yeh're absent-minded, dear.
Sure there was nothin' else yeh wanted 'ere?"
"Nothin'," I sez, an' feels a first-prize fool;
An' goes outside, an' grabs the nearest tool.
It was the crosscut; so I works like mad
To keep me self-respeck from goin' bad.
"This game," I tells meself, "will do yeh good.
You ain't proficient, yet, at sawin' wood."