An'--wilt--yeh--take--this--woman--fer--to--be Yer--wedded--wife?-- .. . O, strike me! Will I wot? Take 'er? Doreen? 'E stan's there arstin' me! As if 'e thort per'aps I'd rather not! Take 'er? 'E seemed to think 'er kind was got Like cigarette-cards, fer the arstin'. Still, I does me stunt in this 'ere hitchin' rot, An' speaks me piece: "Righto!" I sez, "I will." "I will," I sez. An' tho' a joyful shout Come from me bustin' 'eart--I know it did-- Me voice got sorter mangled comin' out, An' makes me whisper like a frightened kid. "I will," I squeaks. An' I'd 'a' give a quid To 'ad it on the quite, wivout this fuss, An' orl the starin' crowd that Mar 'ad bid To see this solim hitchin' up of us. "Fer--rich-er--er--fer--poorer." So 'e bleats. "In--sick-ness--an'--in--'ealth," ... An' there I stands, An' dunno 'arf the chatter I repeats, Nor wot the 'ell to do wiv my two 'ands. But 'e don't 'urry puttin' on our brands -- This white-'aired pilot-bloke -- but gives it lip, Dressed in 'is little shirt, wiv frills an' bands. "In sick-ness--an'--in--" Ar! I got the pip! An' once I missed me turn; an' Ginger Mick, 'Oo's my best-man, 'e ups an' beefs it out. "I will!" 'e 'owls; an' fetches me a kick. "Your turn to chin!" 'e tips wiv a shout. An' there I'm standin' like a gawky lout. (Aw, spare me! But I seemed to be all 'ands!) An' wonders wot 'e's goin' crook about, Wiv 'arf a mind to crack 'im where 'e stands. O, lumme! But ole Ginger was a trick! Got up regardless fer the solim rite. ('E 'awks the bunnies when 'e toils, does Mick) An' twice I saw 'im feelin' fer a light To start a fag; an' trembles lest 'e might, Thro' force o' habit like. 'E's nervis too; That's plain, fer orl 'is air o' bluff an' skite; An' jist as keen as me to see it thro'. But, 'struth, the wimmnin! 'Ow they love this frill! Fer Auntie Liz, an' Mar, o' course, wus there; An' Mar's two uncles' wives, an' Cousin Lil, An' 'arf a dozen more to grin and stare. I couldn't make me 'ands fit anywhere! I felt like I wus up afore the Beak! But my Doreen she never turns a 'air, Nor misses once when it's 'er turn to speak. Ar, strike! No more swell marridges fer me! It seems a blinded year afore 'e's done. We could 'a' fixed it in the registree Twice over 'fore this cove 'ad 'arf begun. I s'pose the wimmin git some sorter fun Wiv all this guyver, an 'is nibs's shirt. But, seems to me, it takes the bloomin' bun, This stylish splicin' uv a bloke an' skirt. "To--be--yer--weddid--wife--" Aw, take a pull! Wot in the 'ell's 'e think I come there for? An' so 'e drawls an' drones until I'm full, An' wants to do a duck clean out the door. An' yet, fer orl 'is 'igh-falutin' jor, Ole Snowy wus a reel good-meanin' bloke. If 'twasn't fer the 'oly look 'e wore Yeh'd think 'e piled it on jist fer a joke. An', when at last 'e shuts 'is little book, I 'eaves a sigh that nearly bust me vest. But 'Eavens! Now 'ere's muvver goin' crook! An' sobbin' awful on me manly chest! (I wish she'd give them water-works a rest.) "My little girl!" she 'owls. "O, treat 'er well! She's young -- too young to leave 'er muvver's nest!" "Orright, ole chook," I nearly sez. Oh, 'ell! An' then we 'as a beano up at Mar's -- A slap-up feed, wiv wine an' two big geese. Doreen sits next ter me, 'er eyes like stars. O, 'ow I wished their blessed yap would cease! The Parson-bloke 'e speaks a little piece, That makes me blush an' 'ang me silly 'ead. 'E sez 'e 'opes our lovin' will increase -- I likes that pilot fer the things 'e said. 'E sez Doreen an' me is in a boat, An' sailin' on the matrimonial sea. 'E sez as 'ow 'e hopes we'll allus float In peace an' joy, from storm an' danger free. Then muvver gits to weepin' in 'er tea; An' Auntie Liz sobs like a winded colt; An' Cousin Lil comes 'round an' kisses me; Until I feel I'll 'ave to do a bolt. Then Ginger gits end-up an' makes a speech -- ('E'd 'ad a couple, but 'e wasn't shick.) "My cobber 'ere," 'e sez, "'as copped a peach! Of orl the barrer-load she is the pick! I 'opes 'e won't fergit 'is pals too quick As wus 'is frien's in olden days, becors, I'm trusting later on," sez Ginger Mick, "To celebrate the chris'nin'." ... 'Oly wars! At last Doreen an' me we gits away, An' leaves 'em doin' nothin' to the scram (We're honey-moonin' down beside the Bay.) I gives a 'arf a dollar to the man Wot drives the cab; an' like two kids we ran To ketch the train -- Ah, strike! I could 'a' flown! We gets the carridge right agen the van. She whistles, jolts, an' starts ... An' we're alone! Doreen an' me! My precious bit o' fluff! Me own true weddid wife! ... An' we're alone! She seems so frail, an' me so big an' rough -- I dunno wot this feelin' is that's grown Inside me 'ere that makes me feel I own A thing so tender like I fear to squeeze Too 'ard fer fear she'll break ... Then, wiv a groan I starts to 'ear a coot call, "Tickets, please!" You could 'a' outed me right on the spot! I wus so rattled when that porter spoke. Fer, 'struth! Them tickets I 'ad fair forgot! But 'e fist laughs, an' takes it fer a joke. "We must ixcuse," 'e sez, "new-married folk." An' I pays up, an' grins, an' blushes red.... It shows 'ow married life improves a bloke: If I'd bin single I'd 'a' punched 'is head!
This poem was originally published in The Bulletin, 4 March 1915, p43 under the title "The Hitching of the Sentimental Bloke".
|Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2002-07|