Rose of Spadgers

A Woman’s Way

C.J. Dennis

WOMEN is strange. You take my tip; I’m wise.
      I know enough to know I’ll never know
The ’uman female mind, or wot su’prise
      They ’as in store to bring yer boastin’ low.
They keep yeh guessin’ wot they’re up to nex’,
An’ then, odds on, it’s wot yeh least expecks.

Take me. I know me wife can twist me round
      ’Er little finger. I don’t mind that none.
Wot worries me is that I’ve never found
      Which way I’m gittin’ twisted, till it’s done.
Women is strange. An’ yet, I’ve got to own
I’d make a orful ’ash uv it, alone.

There’s this affair uv Rose. I tells yeh straight,
      Suspicious don’t describe me state uv mind.
The calm way that Doreen ’as fixed the date
      An’ all, looks like there’s somethin’ else be’ind.
Somethin’—not spite or meanness; don’t think that.
Me wife purrs sometimes, but she ain’t a cat.

But somethin’. I’ve got far too wise a nob
      To be took in by ’er airs uv repose.
I know I said I’d chuck the ’ole darn job
      An’ leave ’er an’ the parson deal with Rose.
But now me mind’s uneasy, that’s a fack.
I’ve got to manage things with speshul tack.

That’s ’ow I feel—uneasy—when I drive
      Down to the train. I’m thinkin’ as I goes,
There ain’t two women, that I know, alive
      More difrint than them two—Doreen an’ Rose.
’Ow they will mix together I dunno.
It all depends on ’ow I run the show.

Rose looks dead pale. She ain’t got much to say
      (’Er few poor bits uv luggage make no load)
She smiles when we shake ’ands, an’ sez Goodday
      Shy like an’ strange; an’ as we take the road
Back to the farm, I see ’er look around
Big-eyed, like it’s some queer new land she’s found.

I springs a joke or two. I’m none too bright
      Meself; but it’s a slap-up sort uv day.
Spring’s workin’ overtime; to left an’ right
      Blackwood an’ wattle trees is bloomin’ gay,
Botchin’ the bonzer green with golden dust;
An’ magpies in ’em singin’ fit to bust.

I sneak a glance at Rose. I can’t look long.
      ’Er lips is trem’lin’; tears is in ’er eye.
Then, glad with life, a thrush beefs out a song
      ’Longside the road as we go drivin’ by.
“Oh, Gawd A’mighty! ’Ark!” I ’ear ’er say,
“An’ Spadgers Lane not fifty mile away!”

Not fifty mile away: the frowsy Lane,
      Where only dirt an’ dreariness ’as sway,
Where every second tale’s a tale uv pain,
      An’ devil’s doin’s blots the night an’ day.
But ’ere is thrushes tootin’ songs uv praise.
An’ golden blossoms lightin’ up our ways.

I speaks a piece to boost this bonzer spot;
      Tellin’ ’er ’ow the neighbourhood ’as grown,
An’ ’ow Dave Brown, jist up the road, ’as got
      Ten ton uv spuds per acre, usin’ bone.
She don’t seem to be list’nin’. She jist stares,
Like someone dreamin’ dreams, or thinkin’ pray’rs.

Me yap’s a dud. No matter ’ow I try,
      Me conversation ain’t the dinkum brand.
I’m ’opin’ that she don’t bust out an’ cry:
      It makes me nervis. But I understand.
Over an’ over I can ’ear ’er say,
“An’ Spadgers less than fifty mile away!”

We’re ’ome at last. Doreen is at the gate.
      I hitch the reins, an’ quite the eager pup;
Then ’elp Rose down, an’ stand aside an’ wait
      To see ’ow them two size each other up.
But quick—like that—two arms ’as greeted warm
The sobbin’ girl . . . Doreen’s run true to form.

“’Ome on the bit!” I thinks. But as I turn,
      ’Ere’s Wally Free ’as got to poke ’is dile
Above the fence, where ’e’s been cuttin’ fern.
      The missus spots ’im, an’ I seen ’er smile.
An’ then she calls to ’im: “Oh, Mister Free,
Come in,” she sez, “an’ ’ave a cup uv tea.”

There’s tack! A woman dunno wot it means.
      What does that blighter want with cups uv tea?
A privit, fambly meet—an’ ’ere Doreen’s
      Muckin’ it all by draggin’ in this Free.
She might ’ave knowed that Rose ain’t feelin’ prime,
An’ don’t want no strange comp’ny at the time.

Free an’ ’is thievin’ cow! But, all the same,
      ’Is yap did seem to cheer Rose up a lot.
An’ after, when ’e’d bunged ’is lanky frame
      Back to ’is job, Doreen sez, “Ain’t you got
“No work at all to do outside to-day?
“Us two must ’ave a tork; so run away.”

I went . . . I went becoz, if I ’ad stayed,
      Me few remarks might ’ave been pretty ’or.
Gawbli’me! ’Oo is ’ead uv this parade?
      Did I plan out the scheme, or did I not?
I’ve worked fer this, I’ve worried night an’ day;
An’ now it’s fixed, I’m tole to “run away.”

Women is strange. I s’pose I oughter be
      Contented; though I never understands.
But when I score, it ’urts me dignerty
      To ’ave the credit grabbed out uv me ’ands.
I shouldn’t look fer credit, p’raps; an’ then,
Women is strange. But bli’me! So is men!

Rose of Spadgers - Contents    |     “Stone the Crows”

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