― 13 ―

Duck An' Fowl

1. Duck An' Fowl

NOW, when a bloke 'e cracks a bloke fer insults to a skirt,
An' wrecks a joint to square a lady's name,
They used to call it chivalry, but now they calls it dirt,
An' the end of it is cops an' quod an' shame.
Fer insults to fair Gwendoline they 'ad to be wiped out;
But Rosie's sort is jist fair game—when Ginger ain't about.

It wus Jimmie Ah Foo's cook-shop, which is close be Spadger's Lane,
Where a vari'gated comp'ny tears the scran,
An' there's some is “tup'ny coloured,” an' some is “penny plain,”
Frum a lawyer to a common lumper-man.
Or a writer fer the papers, or a slaver on the prowl,
An' noiseless Chows a-glidin' 'round wiv plates uv duck an' fowl.

But if yeh wanted juicy bits that 'ung around Foo's perch
Yeh fetched 'em down an' wolfed 'em in yer place.
An' Foo sat sad an' solim, like an 'oly man in church,
Wiv an early-martyr look upon 'is face;
Wot never changed, not even when a toff upon a jag
Tried to pick up Ginger's Rosie, an' collided wiv a snag.

  ― 16 ―
Ginger Mick's bin at the races, an' 'e'd made a little rise,
'Avin' knowed a bloke wot knowed the trainer's cook.
An' easy money's very sweet, as punters reckernise,
An' sweetest when yeh've prized it orf a “book.”
So Ginger calls fer Rosie, an' to celerbrate 'is win
'E trots 'er down to Ah Foo's joint to splash a bit uv tin.

There wus lights, an' smells of Asia, an' a strange, Chow-'aunted scene;
Floatin' scraps of forrin lingo 'it the ear;
But Rose sails in an' takes 'er seat like any soshul queen
Sich as stokes 'erself wiv foy grass orl the year.
“Duck an' Fowl” 's 'er nomination; so ole Ginger jerks 'is frame
'Cross to git some fancy pickin's, an' to give 'is choice a name.

While Ginger paws the tucker, an' 'as words about the price,
There's a shickered toff slings Rosie goo-goo eyes.
'E's a mug 'oo thinks 'e's 'it a flamin' 'all uv scarlet vice
An' 'e picks on gentle Rosie fer a prize.
Then 'e tries to play at 'andies, an' arrange about a meet;
But Rosie fetches 'im a welt that shifts 'im in 'is seat.

Ginger's busy makin' bargins, an' 'e never seen the clout;
'E is 'agglin' wiv Ah Foo fer 'arf a duck;
But the toff's too shick or silly fer to 'eave 'is carkis out,
An' to fade while goin's good an' 'e's in luck.

  ― 17 ―
Then Ginger clinched 'is bargin, an', as down the room 'e came.
'E seen the toff jump frum 'is seat, an' call the girl a name.

That done it. Less than 'arf a mo, an' 'ell got orf the chain;
An' the swell stopped 'arf a ducklin' wiv 'is neck,
As Ginger guv the war-cry that is dreaded in the Lane.
An' the rest wus whirlin' toff an' sudden wreck.
Mick never reely stoushed 'im, but 'e used 'im fer a mop.
Then someone doused the bloomin' glim, an' Foo run fer a cop.

Down the stairs an' in the passidge come the shufflin' feet uv Chows,
An' a crash, as Ah Foo's chiner found it's mark.
Fer more than Mick 'ad ancient scores left over frum ole rows,
An' more than one stopped somethin' in the dark.
Then the tabbies took to screamin', an' a Chow remarked “Wha' for?”
While the live ducks quacked blue murder frum their corner uv the floor.

Fer full ten minutes it wus joy, reel willin' an' to spare,
Wiv noise uv tarts, an' Chows, an' ducks, an' lash;
An' plates uv fowl an' bird's-nest soup went whizzin' thro' the air,
While 'arf-a-dozen fought to reach Foo's cash.
Then, thro' an open doorway, three Chows' 'eads is framed in light,
An' sudden in Mick's corner orl is gentle peace an' quite.

  ― 18 ―
Up goes the lights; in comes the cops; an' there's a sudden rush;
But the Johns 'as got 'em safe an' 'emmed 'em in;
An' ev'ryone looks innercent. Then thro' the anxious 'ush
The toff's voice frum the floor calls fer a gin …
But Mick an' Rose, O where are they? Arst uv the silent night!
They 'ad a date about a dawg, an' vanished out o' sight.

Then Foo an' orl 'is cousins an' the ducks torks orl at once,
An' the tabbies pitch the weary Johns a tale,
'Ow they orl is puffick ladies 'oo 'ave not bin pinched fer munce;
An' the crooks does mental sums concernin' bail.
The cops they takes a name er two, then gathers in the toff,
An' lobs 'im in a cold, 'ard cell to sleep 'is love-quest off.

But down in Rosie's kipsie, at the end uv Spadger's Lane,
'Er an' Mick is layin' supper out fer two.
“Now, I 'ate the game,” sez Ginger, “an' it goes agin the grain;
But wot's a 'elpless, 'ungry bloke to do?”
An' 'e yanks a cold roast chicken frum the bosom uv 'is shirt,
An' Rosie finds a ducklin' underneath 'er Sund'y skirt.

So, when a bloke fergits 'imself, an' soils a lady's name,
Altho' Romance is dead an' in the dirt,
In ole Madrid or Little Bourke they treats 'im much the same,
An' 'e collects wot's comin' fer a cert.
But, spite uv 'igh-falutin' tork, the fact is jist the same:
Ole Ginger Mick wus out fer loot, an' played a risky game.

  ― 19 ―
To fight an' forage … Spare me days! It's been man's leadin' soot
Since 'e learned to word a tart an' make a date.
'E's been at it, good an' solid, since ole Adam bit the froot:
To fight an' forage, an' pertect 'is mate.
But this story 'as no moral, an' it 'as a vulgar plot;
It is jist a small igzample uv a way ole Ginger's got.

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