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(March 1865 - 22 August 1931 / Ballarat / Victoria / Australia)

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Breaking It Gently

ALL WAS UP with Richard Tanner—
‘Wait-a-Bit’ we called him. Dead?
Yes. The braceman dropped a spanner,
Landed Richard on the head;
Cracked his skull, sir, like a teacup,
Down the pump-shaft in the well.
Braceman hadn’t time to speak up,
Tanner never knew what fell.

Tell the widow? Who’d go through it?
No one on the shift would stir;
But Pat Ryan said he’d do it—
‘Nately break the news to her.’
Pat’s a splitter, and a kinder
Heart I never wish to know.
Stephens told him where to find her,
Begged him gently deal the blow.

In a very solemn manner
Ryan met the dead man’s wife—
‘Mornin’ to yez, Widdy Tanner!’
Says he gravely, ‘Such is life!’
‘I’m no widow!’ says she, prying
For the joke in Ryan’s eye.
‘’Scuse me, mum,’ says Paddy, sighing,
‘’Scuse me, mum, but that’s a lie.’

‘That remark would be repented
If Dick Tanner heard,’ says she.
‘Meanin’, mum, the late lamented
Party av that name?’ says he.
Still the widow missed the notion,
Wonder only filled her eye;
So Pat smothered his emotion,
Gulped, and had another try.

‘’Tis like this, ye see, me honey,
I’ve been sint t’ let ye know
Ye’ve inherited some money—
Twilve ’r fifteen pounds ’r so.
Through a schame av Providence’s,
Which no mortal man could dodge;
Poor Dick’s funeral expenses
Have fell due, mum, at the lodge!’

Submitted: Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Edited: Wednesday, July 18, 2012


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