"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.

Not that I want to.  This 'ere women's craze
   Fer torkin' over things is jist 'ot air;
   An' never reely gits 'em anywhere.
It don't concern me if they yap fer days.
   My bloomin' troubles!  But, as I jist said,
   I can't 'elp 'earin' as they pass the shed.

"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.

"Ah, wot's the use?" she sez.  "You 'ave been good --
   Too good -- an' it's ungrateful I should grieve;
   But when it comes the time that I must leave
All this an' -- Oh, I should 'ave understood.
   I was a fool to come.  I should 'ave know
   'Ow it would be. I should 'ave stayed alone."

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!  Would n't any bloke
   Feel great to 'ear 'is wife say things like that?
   I know I've earned it; but it knocked me flat.
"Been lucky in 'er man." That's 'ow she spoke.
   "The dear ole simple block'ead," sez Doreen.
   "'E's reel good 'earted, though 'e's orful green."

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 'ad n'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."

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2002-06