Rose of Spadgers

The Knight’s Return

C.J. Dennis

THE conq’rin’ ’ero! Me? Yes, I don’t think.
      This mornin’ when I catch the train fer ’ome,
It’s far more like a walloped pup I slink
      To kennel, with resolves no more to roam.
Crusades is orf. I’m fer the simple life,
      ’Ome with me trustin’ wife
          All safe frum strife.

I’ve read uv knights returnin’ full uv gyp,
      Back to the bewchus lady in the tower.
They never seemed to git dumestic pip
      In them brave days when knighthood was in flower.
But times is changed; an’ ’usbands ’as to leed;
      Fer knight’ood’s run to seed;
          It ’as indeed.

Snowy, the parson, came to say farewell
      “Young friend,” ’e sez, “You’ve did a Christian ack—
“A noble deed that you’ll be glad to tell
      “An’ boast uv to yer wife when you git back.”
“Too true,” I sez, reel chirpy. “She’ll be proud,
      “I’ll blab it to the crowd—
          “If I’m allowed.”

“Good-bye! Good Luck!” ’e sez. “I’ll see to Rose,
      “Make yer mind easy. Ierdine yer face.
“Bless yeh! Good luck, young friend!” An’ orf we goes—
      Me an’ me conscience arguin’ the case.
An’, as we pick up speed an’ race along,
      The rails make up a song:
          “Yer in all wrong!”

“Yer in all wrong! Yer in all wrong! Yeh blob!
      “Why did yeh want to go an’ ’unt fer Spike?
“Yer in all wrong! Becoz yeh liked the job.
      “That’s wot. An’ don’t pretend yeh didn’t like.
“Yer in all wrong! Wot will yeh tell Doreen?
      “Yeh’ll ’ate to ’ave a scene.
          “Don’t yeh feel mean?”

Two stations on, a w’iskered coot gits in
      I seem to sort uv rekernise, some’ow.
But all at once I place ’im, an’ I grin.
      But ’e don’t jerry; ’e’s stone sober now.
It’s ’im I scragged in Spadgers—number one—
      The late suspected gun.
          It’s Danny Dunn.

“Sold that watch yet, ole cobber?” I remarks.
      ’E grabs ’is bag, an’ views me battered dile,
With sudden fears uv spielers an’ their larks.
      But I ixplain,’an’ ’e digs up a smile.
“Ah, yes,” ’e drawls. “We met two nights ago
      But I was—well, you know—
          Well—jist so-so.”

’E pipes me dile again, then stammers out,
      “I’m sorry, sonny. Stone the crows! It’s sad
“To see yer face so orful cut about.
      “I never thort I walloped you so bad.
“I’m sorry, lad, that we should come to blows.
      “Black eye? An’ wot a nose!
          “Oh, stone the crows!”

I ease ’is guilty mind about me phiz,
      An’ we’re good cobbers in a ’arf a tick.
Then ’e wades in an’ tells me ’oo ’e is—
      (’E ain’t a bad ole coot when ’e ain’t shick)—
“I ain’t dead broke,” ’e sez. “That night, yeh know,
      “I was cleaned out uv dough,

Lookin’ fer land ’e is; an’ ’as ’is eye
      Upon a little farm jist close to me.
If ’e decides to take it by-an’-by,
      “Why, stone the crows! I’ll look yous up,” sez ’e.
“I need some friends: I ain’t got wife nor chick;
      An’ yous will like me quick —
          When I ain’t shick.”

I leaves ’im tork. Me own affairs won’t let
      Me pay much ’eed to all ’e ’as to say.
But, while ’e’s spoutin’, sudden like I get
      A bright idear that brings one ’opeful ray.
One thing I ’eard pertickler while ’e spoke;
      ’E is a single bloke.
          I lets that soak.

But later on I wished ’e’d sling ’is mag.
      The nearer ’ome I get the worse I feel;
The worse I feel, the more I chew the rag;
      The more I chew the rag, this crooked deal
I’ve served Doreen looks black an’ blacker yet.
      I worry till I get
          All one cold sweat.

I walk ’ome frum the station, thinkin’ ’ard.
      Wot can I tell me wife? Gawstruth! I been
Eight long years wed, an’ never ’ad to guard
      Me tongue before. Wot can I tell Doreen?
An’ there she’s waitin’ ’arf ways down our hill . . . 
      She takes one look . . . “Why! Bill!”
          I stands stock still.

“Oh, yes, me face,” I larfs. “O’ course. Me face.
      “I clean fergot. I—well—to tell the truth,
“I—Don’t look scared—I—Oh, it’s no disgrace.
      “That dentist. Yes, yes! Pullin’ out me tooth.
“Reel butcher. Nearly frachered both me jors.
      “Yes, dear, let’s go indoors.”
          (Wow! ’Oly wars!)

“Poor Bill! Poor Dear! ’E must ’ave been a brute.”
      She kisses me fair on me busted lip;
An’ all me fears is stilled be that serloot.
      Ar, wot a fool I was to ’ave the pip.
The game is mine before I ’ardly tried.
      Dead easy, ’ow I lied!
          I’m ’ome an’ dried.

Yet . . . I dunno. Me triump’ don’t last long.
      ’Twuz low down, some way, ’ow I took ’er in—
Like pinchin’ frum a kid. I feel dead wrong.
      The parson calls it “conshusniss uv sin.”
I might be; but it’s got me worried now:
      An’ conshuns is a cow,
          That I’ll allow.

Take it frum me. To ’ave a lovin’ wife
      Fussin’ an’ pettin’ you, jist through a lie—
Like ’er this ev’nin’—crools all married life.
      If you can’t look ’er fair bang in the eye
An’ feel you’ve earned that trust frum first to last.
      You’re ’eadin’ downward fast . . . 
          But Rose—Oh, blast!

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