The Curate's Kindness

A Workhouse Irony

I

I thought they'd be strangers aroun' me,
But she's to be there!
Let me jump out o' waggon and go back and drown me
At Pummery or Ten-Hatches Weir.


II

I thought: " Well, I've come to the Union —
The workhouse at last —
After honest hard work all the week, and Communion
O' Zundays, these fifty years past.

III

" 'Tis hard; but," I thought, " never mind it:
There's gain in the end:
And when I get used to the place I shall find it
A home, and may find there a friend.

IV

" Life there will be better than t'other,
For peace is assured.
The men in one wing and their wives in another
Is strictly the rule of the Board."

V

Just then one young Pa'son arriving
Steps up out of breath
To the side o' the waggon wherein we were driving
To Union; and calls out and saith:

VI

" Old folks, that harsh order is altered,
Be not sick of heart!
The Guardians they poohed and they pished and they paltered
When urged not to keep you apart.

VII

" " It is wrong, " I maintained, " to divide them,
Near forty years wed. "
" Very well, sir. We promise, then, they shall abide them
In one wing together, " they said."

VIII

Then I sank — knew 'twas quite a foredone thing
That misery should be
To the end! . . . To get freed of her there was the one thing
Had made the change welcome to me.

IX

To go there was ending but badly;
'Twas shame and 'twas pain;
" But anyhow," thought I, " thereby I shall gladly
Get free of this forty years' chain."

X

I thought they'd be strangers aroun' me,
But she's to be there!
Let me jump out o' waggon and go back and drown me
At Pummery or Ten-Hatches Weir.
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