Rhymes from the Mines

The Tale of Steven

Edward Dyson

’TIS the tale of Simon Steven, braceman at the Odd-and-Even,
At The Nations, in the gully. They were sinking in the rock.
Sim was small and wiry rather, and a husband and a father,
But he’s gone and left his family as a consequence of shock.

Shock was Sim’s disease, we reckoned, for it took him in a second,
And no doctor born could dognose what the symptoms were, I think,
But we’re missin’ Sim completely—he could play the whistle sweetly,
And was always very sociable and brotherly in drink.

That was how poor Steven drifted into trouble—being gifted,
He was hungry for an audience, and it led him up to Coy’s;
But his wife made no deductions for the artist, and the ructions
What she raised around that public were just fireworks for the boys.

When she caught him on the liquor, being stronger like and quicker,
She would hammer him in company, which, I take it, wasn’t right;
Yet he bore it like a martyr while his wife played up the tartar,
And she gave her straight opinion of each mother’s son in sight.

Sim had marks of her corrections scattered round in all directions
On his features and his figure, but he didn’t seem to care—
For he thought his missus clearly did her duty by him merely
When she pommelled him for boosing with a poker or a chair.

’Twas a Wednesday, boss, I’m thinking. There’d been much promiscuous drinking
Up the gully, where some city chaps were christening Spooner’s mill;
Sim was dayshift at The Nations, and he missed the grand orations,
But, with help from men and brothers, he contrived to get his fill.

They’d been shooting holes, an’ Steven, when he left the Odd-and-Even,
Carried with him in his pocket here a plug of dynamite.
Sim had put it there to soften—which is done by miners often,
But it’s not the sort of practice that I’d recommend as right.

Well, the braceman didn’t worry after tea that day, nor hurry
To the bosom of his family, but took drink for drink with Mack;
When they aimed him homewards kindly, Steven went the distance blindly,
And his feet performed the lockstitch all the way along the track.

Mrs. Sim was primed and ready, and she met him with a neddy,
And she passed no vain remarks, but aimed an awful blow at him;
Came a sound of roaring thunder—Mrs. Sim was blown from under,
And the universe was ruined, and the sun went out for Sim.

After search in all directions, we found very few selections
Of the widow’s dear departed, but we did the best we could.
For, you see, by passion goaded, and not knowing Sim was loaded,
She’d concussed that plug of dynamite, and blown him up for good.

There was room for no reproaches ’bout the hearse and mourning coaches;
Though we only buried samples, yet we ’lowed for style and tone—
Man’s-size coffin, grave, and preacher for a broken fellow creature,
And we wrote ‘In Death Divided’ at the bottom of the stone.

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