VI. THE STROR 'AT COOT
Ar, wimmin! Wot a blinded fool I've been! I arsts meself, wot else could I ixpeck? I done me block complete on this Doreen, An' now me 'eart is broke, me life's a wreck! The dreams I dreamed, the dilly thorts I thunk Is up the pole, an' joy 'as done a bunk. Wimmin! O strike! I orter known the game! Their tricks is crook, their arts is all dead snide. The 'ole world over tarts is all the same; All soft an' smilin' wiv no 'eart inside. But she fair doped me wiv 'er winnin' ways, Then crooled me pitch fer all me mortal days. They're all the same! A man 'as got to be Stric' master if 'e wants to snare 'em sure. 'E 'as to take a stand an' let 'em see That triflin' is a thing 'e won't indure. 'E wants to show 'em that 'e 'olds command, So they will smooge an' feed out of 'is 'and. 'E needs to make 'em feel 'e is the boss, An' kid 'e's careless uv the joys they give. 'E 'as to make 'em think 'e'll feel no loss To part wiv any tart 'e's trackin' wiv. That all their pretty ways is crook pretence Is plain to any bloke wiv common-sense. But when the birds is nestin' in the spring, An' when the soft green leaves is in the bud, 'E drops 'is bundle to some fluffy thing. 'E pays'er 'omage -- an' 'is name is Mud. She plays wiv 'im an' kids 'im on a treat, Until she 'as 'im crawlin' at 'er feet. An' then, when 'e's fair orf 'is top wiv love, When she 'as got 'im good an' 'ad 'er fun, She slings 'im over like a carst-orf glove, To let the other tarts see wot she's done. All vanity, deceit an' 'eartless kid! I orter known; an', spare me days, I did! I knoo. But when I looked into 'er eyes -- Them shinin' eyes o' blue all soft wiv love -- Wiv mimic love -- they seemed to 'ipnertize. I wus content to place 'er 'igh above. I wus content to make of 'er a queen; An' so she seemed them days ... O, 'struth! ... Doreen! I knoo. But when I stroked 'er glossy 'air Wiv rev'rint 'ands, 'er cheek pressed close to mine, Me lonely life seemed robbed of all its care; I dreams me dreams, an' 'ope begun to shine. An' when she 'eld 'er lips fer me to kiss ... Ar, wot's the use? I'm done wiv all o' this! Wimmin! ... oh, I ain't jealous! Spare me days! Me? Jealous uv a knock-kneed coot like that! 'Im! Wiv 'is cute stror 'at an' pretty ways! I'd be a mug to squeal or whip the cat. I'm glad, I am -- glad 'cos I know I'm free! There ain't no call to tork o' jealousy. I tells meself I'm well out o' the game; Fer look, I mighter married 'er -- an' then.... Ar strike! 'Er voice wus music when my name Wus on 'er lips on them glad ev'nin's when We useter meet. An' then to think she'd go ... No, I ain't jealous -- but -- Ar, I dunno! I took a derry on this stror 'at coot First time I seen 'im dodgin' round Doreen. 'Im, wiv 'is giddy tie an' Yankee soot, Ferever yappin' like a tork-machine About "The Hoffis" where 'e 'ad a grip.... The way 'e smiled at 'er give me the pip! She sez I stoushed 'im, when I promised fair To chuck it, even to a friendly spar. Stoushed 'im! I never roughed 'is pretty 'air! I only spanked 'im gentle, fer 'is mar. If I'd 'a' jabbed 'im once, there would 'a' been An inquest; an' I sez so to Doreen. I mighter took an' cracked 'im in the street, When she was wiv 'im there lars' Fridee night. But don't I keep me temper when we met? An' don't I raise me lid an' act perlite? I only jerks me elbow in 'is ribs, To give the gentle office to 'is nibs. Stoushed 'im! I owns I met 'im on the quiet, An' worded 'im about a small affair; An' when 'e won't put up 'is 'ands to fight -- ('E sez, "Fer public brawls 'e didn't care") -- I lays 'im 'cross me knee, the mother's joy, An' smacks 'im 'earty, like a naughty boy. An' now Doreen she sez I've broke me vow, An' mags about this coot's pore, "wounded pride." An' then, o' course, we 'as a ding-dong row, Wiv 'ot an' stormy words on either side. She sez I done it outer jealousy, An' so, we parts fer ever -- 'er an' me. Me jealous? Jealous of that cross-eyed cow! I set 'im 'cos I couldn't sight 'is face. 'Is yappin' hair got on me nerves, some'ow. I couldn't stand 'im 'angin' round 'er place. A coot like that! ... But it don't matter much, She's welkim to 'im if she fancies such. I swear I'll never track wiv 'er no more; I'll never look on 'er side o' the street -- Unless she comes an' begs me pardin for Them things she said to me in angry 'eat. She can't ixpeck fer me to smooge an' crawl. I ain't at any woman's beck an' call. Wimmin! I've took a tumble to their game. I've got the 'ole bang tribe o' cliners set! The 'ole world over they are all the same: Crook to the core the bunch of 'em -- an' yet We could 'a' been that 'appy, 'er an' me ... But, wot's it matter? Ain't I glad I'm free? A bloke wiv commin-sense 'as got to own There's little 'appiness in married life. The smoogin' game is better left alone, Fer tarts is few that makes the ideel wife. An' them's the sort that loves wivout disguise, An' thinks the sun shines in their 'usban's' eyes. But when the birds is matin' in the spring, An' when the tender leaves begin to bud, A feelin' comes -- a dilly sorter thing -- That seems to sorter swamp 'im like a flood. An' when the fever 'ere inside 'im burns, Then freedom ain't the thing fer wot 'e yearns. But I 'ave chucked it all. An' yet - I own I dreams me dreams when soft Spring breezes stirs; An' often, when I'm moonin' 'ere alone, A lispin' maid, wiv 'air an' eyes like 'ers, 'Oo calls me "dad," she climbs upon me knee, An' yaps 'er pretty baby tork to me. I sorter we a little 'out, it seems, Wiv someone waitin' for me at the gate . . . Ar, where's the gang in dreamin' barmy dreams, I've dreamed before, and nearly woke too late. Sich 'appiness could never last fer long, We're strangers -- 'less she owns that she was wrong. To call 'er back I'll never lift a 'and; She'll never 'ear frum me by word or sign. Per'aps, some day, she'll come to understand The mess she's made o' this 'ere life o' mine. Oh, I ain't much to look at, I admit. But 'im! The knock-kneed, swivel-eyed misfit? ...
This poem was originally published in The Bulletin, 12 February 1914, p47 with minor spelling and punctuation changes.
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