A MAN’S a mug. I’ve worked the ’ole thing out To-day, down in the orchard where I sat Runnin’ the wheels red-’ot beneath me ’at, An’ wras’lin’ fervud with a sudden doubt— A doubt wot’s plugged me fair bang on the point An’ jolted all me glad dreams out uv joint.
It’s been a pearlin’ day. The birds above Up in the trees sung fit to break their ’earts. It seemed, some’ow, the ’ole world’s makin’ love, Ixceptin’ me. An’ then an’ there I starts To think things out an’ git me bearin’s straight, Becoz—Well, I ain’t been meself uv late.
I’ve flopped. It was the parson put me wise, Before ’e left. I ’ad been full uv skite. I was the ’ero uv the piece all right. Me chest was out, me ’ead was twice the size It used to be. I felt I was king-pin. Did n’t the papers ’ave me photer in?
I was that puffed with pride I never stopped To search me soul fer signs uv wear an’ tear. I loved meself so much I never dropped To any blot or blemish anywhere. The Lord ’Igh Muck-a-muck, wot done the trick, An’ dug the Murray with ’is little pick.
When I think back on it I go all ’ot. I was that blind I never even seen, Nor looked to see no changes in Doreen. I was content to ’ave ’er on the spot Dodgin’ about the ’ouse in ’er calm way, To chirp, “Yes, Bill,” to everything I say.
The parson punchered me. ’E’s alwiz ’ad A trick uv callin’ me by fancy names. In town ’e christened me “Sir Gally’ad,” ’Oo was, it seems, a knight wot rescued dames, But never spoke out uv ’is turn to none, Becoz ’is ’eart was pure. ’E took the bun.
But now “Narcissy” is the moniker ’E wishes on me; an’ I arst fer light. “Narcissy?” I remarks. “Don’t sound perlite. “’Oo was this bird? There looks to be a slur “Or somethin’ sly about that cissy touch.” “A bloke,” ’e sez, “’oo liked ’imself too much.”
I looks quick fer that twinkle in ’is eye Wot tells me if ’e’s kiddin’ me or not. But it ain’t there. “Fair dinkum,” I reply, “You don’t mean—You ain’t ’intin’ that I’ve got—” “I mean,” ’e sez, “you should give thanks through life “That you ’ave been so lucky in your wife.”
’E don’t ’arp on the toon; but turns away. “Your daffydils,” ’e sez, “makes quite a show.” An’ latter, when it came ’is time to go, ’E shakes me ’and reel arty, twinklin’ gay . . . But, “lucky in me wife?” Where did I ’ear Somethin’ like that before? It sounds dead queer.
I seeks the orchard, with a sickly grin, To sort meself out straight an’ git a grip. Them ’ints the parson drops give me the pip. I don’t quite see where daffydils comes in; But, “lucky in me wife!” Why, spare me days, Yeh’d think I beat ’er, by the things ’e says!
I tries to kid meself: to back me skite, An’ ’old that wad uv self-content I ’ad. It ain’t no use. I know the parson’s right: Clean through the piece I ’ave been actin’ bad. I’ve been so full uv Me, I’ve treated ’er Like she was—well, a bit uv furnicher.
Yet, “furnicher” don’t seem to put it good. Nothin’ so wooden don’t describe Doreen. All through the game, some’ow, she’s alwiz been— Well, somewhere ’andy, ’elpin’ where she could, An’ manidgin’, an’ . . . Bli’me! Now I see! Wot she did manidge was the block’ead—me! . . .
Well, I’m the goat. I s’pose I should ’ave seen I was n’t ’ead an’ tail uv all the show. A bit uv putty in ’er ’ands I been! An’ so bullheaded that I did n’t know. Only fer ’er things might ’ave—Spare me days! I never will git used to women’s ways.
Only fer ’er Rose might . . . But wot’s the use? Shakespeare ’as said it right: the world’s a stage; An’ all us ’uman ducks an’ dames ingage In actin’ parts. Mostly the men cut loose, An’ fights, an’ throws their weight about a lot. But, listen. It’s the women weave the plot.
The women . . . Well, it’s been a bonnie day. Blue-bonnets, dodgin’ in an’ out the ferns, Looks like blue chips uv sky come down to play. An’ down the valley, where the creek track turns, I see Rose, arm-in-arm with Wally Free. The ’ole world’s makin’ love, ixceptin’ me.
Huh! Women! . . . Yes; a man’s a mug, all right . . . I sees the sof’ clouds sailin’ in the sky, An’ bits uv thistledown go driftin’ by. “Jist like men’s lives,” I think. An’ then I sight, Fair in me cabbages, ole Wally’s cow. That fence—But them plants ain’t worth savin’, now.
Women . . . I wonder ’oo Narcissy was . . . Green trees agin blue ’ills don’t look ’arf bad . . . I s’pose ’e got the cissy part becoz ’Is ways was womanish. Well, serve ’im glad That cow uv Wally’s ort to milk a treat With plenty good young cabbage plants to eat.
Women is often ’elpful—in a sense . . . Lord, it’s a lazy day! Before it fails, I better git a ’ammer an’ some nails An’ dodge acrost an’ mend that bit uv fence. It’s up to me to try an’ put things right, An’—well, I’ll ’elp Doreen wash up tonight.