IN DAYS before the trouble Jo was rated as a slob.
He chose to sit in hourly expectation of a job.
He’d loop hisself upon a post, for seldom friends had he,
A gift of patient waitin’ his distinctif quality.
He’d linger in a doorway, or he’d loiter on the grass,
Edgin’ modestly aside to let the fleetin’ moments pass.
Jo’ begged a bob from mother, but more often got a clout,
And settled down with cigarettes to smoke the devil out.
The one consistent member of the Never Trouble Club,
He put a satin finish on the frontage of the pub.
His shoulder-blades were pokin’ out from polishin’ the pine;
But if a job ran at him Joey’s footwork was divine.
Jo strayed in at the cobbler’s door, but, scoffed at as a fool,
He found the conversation too exhaustin’ as a rule;
Or, canted on the smithy coke, he’d hoist his feet and yawn,
His boots slid up his shinbones, and his pants displayin’ brawn:
And if the copper chanced along ’twas beautyful to see
Joe wear away and made hisself a fadest memory.
Then came the universal nark. The Kaiser let her rip.
They cleared the ring. The scrap was for the whole world’s championship.
Jo Brown was takin’ notice, lurkin’ shy beneath his hat,
And every day he crept to see the drillin’ on the flat.
He waited, watchin’ from the furze the blokes in butcher’s blue,
For the burst of inspiration that would tell him what to do.
He couldn’t lean, he couldn’t lie. He yelled out in the night.
Jo understood—he’d all these years been spoilin’ for a fight!
Right into things he flung himself. He took his kit and gun,
Mooched gladly in the dust, or roasted gaily in the sun.
“Gorstruth,” he said, with shining eyes, “it means a frightful war,
’N’ now I know this is the thing that Heaven meant me for.”
Jo went away a corporal and fought again the Turk,
And like a duck to water Joey cottoned to the work.
If anythin’ was doin’ it would presently come out
That Joseph Brown from Booragool was there or thereabout.
He got a batch of medals, and a glorious renown
Attached all of a sudden to the name of Sergeant Brown.
Then people talked of Joey as the dearest friend they had;
They were chummy with his uncles, or acquainted with his dad.
Joe goes to France, and presently he figures as the best
Two-handed all-in fighter in the armies of the West,
And men of every age at home and high and low degree,
We gather now, once went to school with Sergeant Brown, V.C.
Then Hayes and Jo, in Flanders met, and very proud was Hayes
To shake a townsman by the hand, and sing the hero’s praise,
“Oh, yes,” says Jo, “I’m doin’ well, ’n’ yet I might do more.
If I was in a hurry, mate, to finish up this war
I’d lay out every Fritz on earth, but, strike me, what a yob
A man would be to work himself out of a flamnin’ job!”
Now Jo’s a swell lieutenant, and he’s keepin’ up the pace.
The “Record” says Lieutenant Brown’s an honor to the place.
The town gets special mention every time he scores. We bet
If peace don’t mess his chances up, he’ll be Field-Marshal yet.
Dad, mother and the uncles Brown and all our people know
That Providence began this war to find a grip for Jo!