XII. UNCLE JIM
"I got no time fer wasters, lad," sez 'e, "Give me a man wiv grit," sez Uncle Jim. 'E bores 'is cute ole eyes right into me, While I stares 'ard an' gives it back to 'im. Then orl at once 'e grips me 'and in 'is: "Some'ow," 'e sez, "I likes yer ugly phiz." "You got a look," 'e sez, "like you could stay; Altho' yeh mauls King's English when yeh yaps, An' 'angs flash frills on ev'rythink yeh say. I ain't no grammarist meself, per'aps, But langwidge is a 'elp, I owns," sez Unk, "When things is goin' crook." An' 'ere 'e wunk. "Yeh'll find it tough," 'e sez, "to knuckle down. Good farmin' is a gift -- like spoutin' slang. Yeh'll 'ave to cut the luxuries o' town, An' chuck the manners of this back-street gang; Fer country life ain't cigarettes and beer." "I'm game," I sez. Sez Uncle, "Put it 'ere!" Like that I took the plunge, an' slung the game. I've parted wiv them joys I 'eld most dear; I've sent the leery bloke that bore me name Clean to the pack wivout one pearly tear; An' frum the ashes of a ne'er-do-well A bloomin' farmer's blossomin' like 'ell. Farmer! That's me! Wiv this 'ere strong right 'and I've gripped the plough; and blistered jist a treat. Doreen an' me 'as gone upon the land. Yours truly fer the burden an' the 'eat! Yours truly fer upendin' chunks o' soil! The 'ealthy, 'ardy, 'appy son o' toil! I owns I've 'ankered fer me former joys; I've 'ad me hours o' broodin' on me woes; I've missed the comp'ny, an' I've missed the noise, The football matches an' the picter shows. I've missed -- but, say, it makes me feel fair mean To whip the cat; an' then see my Doreen. To see the colour comin' in 'er cheeks, To see 'er eyes grow brighter day be day, The new, glad way she looks an' laughs an' speaks Is worf ten times the things I've chucked away. An' there's a secret, whispered in the dark, 'As made me 'eart sing like a flamin' lark. Jist let me tell yeh 'ow it come about. The things that I've been thro' 'ud fill a book. Right frum me birf Fate played to knock me out; The 'and that I 'ad dealt to me was crook! Then comes Doreen, an' patches up me parst; Now Forchin's come to bunk wiv me at larst. First orf, one night poor Mar gits suddin fits, An' floats wivout the time to wave "good-byes." Doreen is orl broke up the day she flits; It tears me 'eart in two the way she cries. To see 'er grief, it almost made me glad I never knowed the mar I must 'ave 'ad. We done poor Muvver proud when she went out -- A slap-up send-orf, trimmed wiv tears an' crape. An' then fer weeks Doreen she mopes about, An' life takes on a gloomy sorter shape. I watch 'er face git pale, 'er eyes grow dim; Till -- like some 'airy angel -- comes ole Jim. A cherub togged in sunburn an' a beard An' duds that shouted "'Ayseed!" fer a mile: Care took the count the minute 'e appeared, An' sorrer shrivelled up before 'is smile, 'E got the 'ammer-lock on my good-will The minute that 'e sez, "So, this is Bill." It's got me beat. Doreen's late Par, some way, Was second cousin to 'is bruvver's wife. Somethin' like that. In less than 'arf a day It seemed 'e'd been my uncle orl me life. 'E takes me 'and: "I dunno 'ow it is," 'E sez, "but, lad, I likes that ugly phiz." An' when 'e'd stayed wiv us a little while The 'ouse begun to look like 'ome once more. Doreen she brightens up beneath 'is smile, An' 'ugs 'im till I kids I'm gettin' sore. Then, late one night, 'e opens up 'is scheme, An' passes me wot looks like some fond dream. 'E 'as a little fruit-farm, doin' well; 'E saved a tidy bit to see 'im thro'; 'E's gittin' old fer toil, an' wants a spell; An' 'ere's a 'ome jist waitin' fer us two. "It's 'ers an' yours fer keeps when I am gone," Sez Uncle Jim. "Lad, will yeh take it on?" So that's the strength of it. An' 'ere's me now A flamin' berry farmer, full o' toil; Playin' joo-jitsoo wiv an' 'orse an' plough, An' coaxin' fancy tucker frum the soil, An' longin', while I wrestles with the rake, Fer days when me poor back fergits to ache. Me days an' nights is full of schemes an' plans To figger profits an' cut out the loss; An' when the pickin's on, I 'ave me 'an's To take me orders while I act the boss; It's sorter sweet to 'ave the right to rouse.... An' my Doreen's the lady of the 'ouse. To see 'er bustlin' 'round about the place, Full of the simple joy o' doin' things, That thoughtful, 'appy look upon 'er face, That 'ope an' peace an' pride o' labour brings, Is worth the crowd of joys I knoo one time, An' makes regrettin' 'em seem like a crime. An' ev'ry little while ole Uncle Jim Comes up to stay a bit an' pass a tip. It gives us 'eart jist fer to look at 'im, An' feel the friendship in 'is warm 'and-grip. 'Im, wiv the sunburn on 'is kind ole dile; 'Im, wiv the sunbeams in 'is sweet ole smile. "I got no time fer wasters, lad," sez 'e, "But that there ugly mug o' yourn I trust." An' so I reckon that it's up to me To make a bloomin' do of it or bust. I got to take the back-ache wiv the rest, An' plug along, an' do me little best. Luck ain't no steady visitor, I know; But now an' then it calls -- fer look at me! You wouldn't take me, 'bout a year ago, Free gratis wiv a shillin' pound o' tea; Then, in a blessed leap, ole Forchin lands A missus an' a farm fair in me 'ands.
|Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2002-07|