"R pore dear Par," she sez, "'e kept a store."
An' then she weeps an' stares 'ard at the floor.
"Twas thro' 'is death," she sez, "we wus rejuiced
To this," she sez… An' then she weeps some more.
"'Er Par," she sez, "me poor late 'usband, kept
An 'ay an' corn store. 'E'd no faults ixcept
'Im fallin' 'eavy orf a load o' charf
W'ich—killed 'im—on the——" 'Struth! But 'ow she wept.
She blows 'er nose an' sniffs. "'E would 'a' made,"
She sez, "A lot uv money in the trade.
But, 'im took orf so sudden-like, we found
'E 'adn't kept 'is life insurince paid.
"To think," she sez, "a child o' mine should be
Rejuiced to workin' in a factory!
If 'er pore Par 'e 'adn't died," she sobs…
I sez, "It wus a bit o' luck fer me."
Then I gits red as 'ell, "That is—I mean,"
I sez, "I might 'a' never met Doreen
If 'e 'ad not"—an' 'ere I lose me block—
"I 'ope," I sez, "'E snuffed it quick and clean."
An' that wus 'ow I made me first deboo.
I'd dodged it cunnin' fer a month or two.
Doreen she sez, " You'll 'ave to meet my Mar,
Some day," she sez. An' so I seen it thro'.
I'd pictered some stern female in a cap
Wot puts the fear o' Gawd into a chap.
An' 'ere she wus, aweepin' in 'er tea
An' drippin' moistcher like a leeky tap.
Two dilly sort o' dawgs made out o' delf
Stares 'ard at me frum orf the mantelshelf.
I seemed to symperthise wiv them there pups;
I felt so stiff an' brittle-like meself.
Clobber? Me trosso, 'ead to foot, wus noo—
Got up regardless, fer this interview.
Stiff shirt, a Yankee soot split up the back,
A tie wiv yeller spots an' stripes o' blue.
Me cuffs kep' playin' wiv me nervis fears,
Me patent leathers nearly brought the tears,
An' there I sits wiv, "Yes, mum. Thanks. Indeed?"
Me stand-up collar sorin' orf me ears.
Some more tea, Willy?
"Life's 'ard," she sez, an' then she brightens up.
"Still, we 'ave alwus 'ad our bite and sup.
Doreen's been sich a help; she 'as indeed.
'Ave another cup."
Willy! O 'ell! 'Ere wus a flamin' pill!
A moniker that alwus makes me ill.
"If it's the same to you, mum," I replies,
"I answer quicker to the name o' Bill."
Up goes 'er 'ands an' eyes, "That vulgar name!
No, Willy, but it isn't all the same,
My fucher son must be respectable."
"Orright," I sez, "I s'pose it's in the game."
"Me fucher son," she sez, "right on frum this
Must not take anythink I say amiss.
I know me jooty be me son-in-lor;
So, Willy, come an' give yer Mar a kiss."
I done it. Tho' I dunno 'ow I did.
"Dear boy," she sez, "to do as you are bid.
Be kind to 'er," she sobs, "my little girl!"
An' then I kiss Doreen. Sez she "Ah Kid!"
Doreen! Ar 'ow 'er pretty eyes did shine.
No sight on earth or 'Eaven's 'arf so fine,
An' as they looked at me she seemed to say
"I'm proud of 'im, I am, an' 'e is mine."
There wus a sort o' glimmer in 'er eye,
An' 'appy, nervis look, 'arf proud, 'arf shy;
I seen 'er in me mind be'ind the cups
In our own little kipsie, by an' by.
An' then when Mar-in-lor an' me began
To tork of 'ouse'old things an' scheme an' plan,
A sudden thort fair jolts me where I live:
"These is my wimmin folk ! An' I'm a man!"
It's wot they calls responsibility.
All of a 'cap that feelin' come to me;
An' somew'ere in me 'ead I seemed to feel
A sneakin' sort o' wish that I wus free.
'Ere's me 'oo never took no 'eed o' life,
Investin' in a mar-in-lor an' wife:
Someone to battle fer besides meself,
Somethink to love an' shield frum care an' strife.
It makes yeh solim when yeh come to think
Wot love and marridge means. Ar, strike me pink!
It ain't all sighs and kisses. It's yer life.
An' ere's me tremblin' on the bloomin' brink.
"'Er pore dead Par," she sez, an' gulps a sob.
An' then I tells 'er 'ow I got a job,
As storeman down at Jones's printin' joint,
A decent sort o' cop at fifty bob.
Then things get 'ome-like; an' we torks till late,
An' tries to tease Doreen to fix the date,
An' she gits suddin soft and tender-like,
An' cries a bit, when we parts at the gate.
An' as I'm moochin' 'omeward frum the car
A suddin notion stops me wiv a jar—
Wot if Doreen, I thinks, should grow to be
A fat ole weepin' willer like 'er Mar!
O, 'Struth! It won't bear thinkin' uv! It's crook
An' I'm a mean, unfeelin' dawg to look
At things like that. Doreen's Doreen to me,
The sweetest peach on w'ich a man wus shook.
'Er "pore dear Par"… I s'pose 'e 'ad 'is day.
An' kissed an' smooged an' loved 'er in 'is way.
An' wed an' took 'is chances like a man—
But, Gawd, this splicin' racket ain't all play.
Love is a gamble, an' there ain't no certs.
Some day, I s'pose, I'll git wise to the skirts,
An' learn to take the bitter wiv the sweet…
But, strike me purple! "Willie!" That's wot 'urts.