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Digger Smith   By: (1876-1938)

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C. J. Dennis

1918 (rev. 1919)



I. BEFORE THE WAR "Before the war," she sighs. "Before the war"...

II. DUMMY BRIDGE "If I'd 'a' played me Jack on that there Ten..."

III. DAD "I've knowed ole Flood this last five year or more ..."

IV. DIGGER SMITH "'E calls me Digger; that's 'ow 'e begins ..."

V. WEST "I've seen so much uv dirt an' grime ..."

VI. OVER THE FENCE "'Taint my idea uv argument to call a man a fool ..."

VII. A DIGGER'S TALE "My oath!" the Duchess sez. "You'd not ixpect ..."

VIII. JIM'S GIRL "'Oo is that girl," sez Digger Smith . . .

IX. THE BOYS OUT THERE "Why do they do it? I dunno..."

X. HALF A MAN "I wash me 'ands uv 'im," I tells 'em, straight ...

XI. SAWIN' WOOD I wondered wot was doin'. First I seen ...

XII. JIM "Now, be the Hokey Fly!" sez Peter Begg ...

XIII. A SQUARE DEAL "Dreamin'?" I sez to Digger Smith . . .



Before the War

"BEFORE the war," she sighs. "Before the war." Then blinks 'er eyes, an' tries to work a smile. "Ole scenes," she sez, "don't look the same no more. Ole ways," she sez, "seems to 'ave changed their style, The pleasures that we 'ad don't seem worth while Them simple joys that passed an hour away An' troubles, that we used to so revile, 'Ow small they look," she sez. "'Ow small to day.

"This war!" sighs ole Mar Flood. An' when I seen The ole girl sittin' in our parlour there, Tellin' 'er troubles to my wife, Doreen, As though the talkin' eased 'er load uv care, I thinks uv mothers, 'ere an' everywhere, Smilin' a bit while they are grievin' sore For grown up babies, fightin' Over There; An' then I 'ears 'em sigh, "Before the war."

My wife 'as took the social 'abit bad. I ain't averse one more new word I've learned Averse to tea, when tea is to be 'ad; An' when it comes I reckon that it's earned. It's jist a drink, as fur as I'm concerned, Good for a bloke that's toilin' on the land; But when a caller comes, 'ere I am turned Into a social butterfly, off 'and.

Then drinkin' tea becomes an 'oly rite. So's I won't bring the fam'ly to disgrace I gits a bit uv coachin' overnight On ridin' winners in this bun fed race. I 'ave to change me shirt, an' wash me face, An' look reel neat, from me waist up at least, An' sling remarks in at the proper place, An' not makes noises drinkin', like a beast.

"'Ave some more cake. Another slice, now do. An' won't yeh 'ave a second cup uv tea? 'Ow is the children?" Ar, it makes me blue! This boodoor 'abit ain't no good to me. I likes to take me tucker plain an' free: Tea an' a chunk out on the job for choice, So I can stoke with no one there to see. Besides, I 'aven't got no comp'ny voice.

Uv course, I've 'ad it all out with the wife. I argues that there's work that must be done, An' tells 'er that I 'ates this tony life. She sez there's jooties that we must not shun. You bet that ends it; so I joins the fun, An' puts 'em all at ease with silly grins Slings bits uv repartee like "'Ave a bun," An' passes bread an' butter, for me sins.

Since I've been marri'd, say, I've chucked some things, An' learned a whole lot more to fill the space. I've slung all slang; crook words 'ave taken wings, An' I 'ave learned to entertain with grace. But when ole Missus Flood comes round our place I don't object to 'er, for all 'er sighs; Becos I likes 'er ways, I likes 'er face, An', most uv all, she 'as them mother's eyes.

"Before the war," she sighs, the poor ole girl. 'Er talk it gets me thinkin' in between, While I'm assistin' at this social whirl. . . . She comes across for comfort to Doreen, To talk about the things that might 'ave been If Syd 'ad not been killed at Suvla Bay, Or Jim not done a bunk at seventeen, An' not been 'eard uv since 'e went away... Continue reading book >>

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