Backblock Ballads and Later Verses

The Joy Ride

C.J. Dennis

AH Gawd! It makes me sick to think
    Of what I ’eard an’ seen;
Poor ’Arry like a wet rag flung
    Across the wrecked machine;
An’ Rose, ’er face all chiner-white
    Against the gory green.

Now ’Arry Cox ’e drives a car
    For Doctor Percy Gray.
Ses ’e to me: “On Sund’y nex’
    The Doc will be away.
’Ow is it for a little trip
    To Fernville for the day?

“I know two bonzer girls,” ’e ses;
    “Fair ’otties, both, they are.
There’s Rose who serves behind the joint
    In Mudge’s privit bar,
An’ Lena Crump who jerks the pump
    Down at the Southern Star.”

Now, who’d refuse a Sund’y trip
    With girls an’ all give in?
The car was there an’ oil to spare.
    To rat would be a sin!
An’ who’d refuse a drop o’ booze
    When pals is flush o’ tin?

Wot all the courts an’ papers say
    Can’t add to my distress. . . . 
Rose, with the blood upon ’er face
    An’ on ’er crumpled dress!
An’ that poor champ who got the bump—
    Ah, Gawd! ’E was a mess!

The girls ’ad stout at ten mile out,
    An’ we was drinkin’ beer.
I swear they lies like ’ell who ses
    That we was on our ear!
For, or we was both, I take me oath,
    As sober as me here.

Now, Lena was a dashin’ piece,
    ’Igh-spirited an’ flash.
’Twas plain enough to me that day
    That ’Arry’d done ’is dash.
An’ Rose—(Ah! how ’er eyes did stare)
    Rose was my speshul mash.

It’s easy now fer folks to talk
    Who might have done the same.
We meant no ’arm to anyone,
    An’ ’Arry knew ’is game.
’Twas like a flash, the skid—the crash.
    An’ we was not to blame.

I wisht I could shut out that sight;
    Fergit that awful row!
Poor Rose!    ’Er face all chiner-white,
    Like I can see it now;
An’ ’Arry like a heap o’ clothes
    Jist chucked there any’ow

They ses we painted Fernville red;
    They ses that we was gay;
But wot come after dull’s me mind
    To wot them liars say.
We never dreamed of death an’ ’ell
    When we set out that day.

’Twas ev’nin’ when we turned for ’ome:
    The moon shone full that night:
An’ for a mile or more ahead
    The road lay gleamin’ white:
An’ Rose sat close aside o’ me.
    ’Er face turned to the light.

Wot if we sung a song or two?
    Wot if they ’eard us shout?
Is song an’ laughter things to curse
    An’ make a fuss about?
“Go faster! faster!” Lena screams.
    An’ ’Arry let ’er out.

I’d give me soul jist to ferget.
    Lord!    how ’er eyes did stare!
’Er kisses warm upon me lips,
    I seen ’er lyin’ there.
Blood on ’er face, all chiner-white,
    An’ on ’er yeller ’air.

I never took no ’eed o’ pace
    (I’ve been on twenty trips).
An’ Rose was restin’ in me arms,
    ’Er cheek against my lips.
A precious lot I dream of skids,
    A lot I thought of slips.

I only know we never thinks—
    I know we never dreams
Of folk walkin’ on that road;
    Till, sudden, Lena screams. . . . 
An’, after that, the sights I saw
    I’ve seen again in dreams.

We never seen the bloke ahead!
    ’Ow can they call us rash?
I jist seen ’Arry move to shove
    ’Is arm around ’is mash;
I seen ’er jump to grab the wheel,
    Then, Lord! . . . there came the smash!

Aw, they can blame an’ cry their shame!
    It ain’t for that I care.
I held ’er in my arms an’ laughed. . . . 
    Then seen ’er lying’ there,
The moonlight streamin’ on ’er face,
    An’ on ’er yeller ’air.

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