The First Quarrel
Wait a little, you say, you are sure it ll all come right,
But the boy was born i trouble, an looks so wan an so white:
Wait! an once I ha waitedI hadnt to wait for long.
Now I wait, wait, wait for Harry.No, no, you are doing me wrong!
Harry and I were married: the boy can hold up his head,
The boy was born in wedlock, but after my man was dead;
I ha workd for him fifteen years, an I work an I wait to the end.
I am all alone in the world, an you are my only friend.
Doctor, if you can wait, Ill tell you the tale o my life.
When Harry an I were children, he calld me his own little wife;
I was happy when I was with him, an sorry when he was away.
An when we playd together, I loved him better than play;
He workt me the daisy chainhe made me the cowslip ball,
He fought the boys that were rude, an I loved him better than all.
Passionate girl tho I was, an often at home in disgrace,
I never could quarrel with HarryI had but to look in his face.
There was a farmer in Dorset of Harrys kin, that had need
Of a good stout lad at his farm; he sent, an the father agreed;
So Harry was bound to the Dorsetshire farm for years an for years;
I walked with him down to the quay, poor lad, an we parted in tears.
The boat was beginning to move, we heard them a-ringing the bell,
Ill never love any but you, God bless you, my own little Nell.
I was a child, an he was a child, an he came to harm;
There was a girl, a hussy, that workt with him up at the farm,
One had deceived her an left her alone with her sin an her shame,
And so she was wicked with Harry; the girl was the most to blame.
And years went over till I that was little had grown so tall,
The men would say of the maids, Our Nellys the flower of em all.
I didnt take heed o them, but I taught myself all I could
To make a good wife for Harry, when Harry came home for good.
Often I seemd unhappy, and often as happy too,
For I heard it abroad in the fields Ill never love any but you;
Ill never love any but you the morning song of the lark,
I11 never love any but you the nightin gales hymn in the dark.
And Harry came home at last, but he lookd at me sidelong and shy,
Vext me a bit, till he told me that so many years had gone by,
I had grown so handsome and tallthat I might ha forgot him somehow
For he thoughtthere were other ladshe was feard to look at me now.
Hard was the frost in the field, we were married o Christmas day,
Married among the red berries, an all as merry as May
Those were the pleasant times, my house an my man were my pride,
We seemd like ships i the Channel a-sailing with wind an tide.
But work was scant in the Isle, tho he tried the villages round,
So Harry went over the Solent to see if work could be found;
An he wrote I ha six weeks work, little wife, so far as I know;
Ill come for an hour to-morrow, an kiss you before I go.
So I set to righting the house, for wasnt he coming that day?
An I hit on an old deal-box that was pasted in a corner away,
It was full of old odds an ends, an a letter along wi the rest,
I had better ha put my naked hand in a hornets nest.
Sweetheartthis was the letterthis was the letter I read
You promised to find me work near you, an I wish I was dead
Didnt you kiss me an promise? you havent done it, my lad,
An I almost died o your going away, an I wish that I had.
I too wish that I hadin the pleasant times that had past,
Before I quarrelld with Harrymy quarrelthe first an the last.
For Harry came in, an I flung him the letter that drove me wild,
An he told it me all at once, as simple as any child,
What can it matter, my lass, what I did wi my single life?
I ha been as true to you as ever a man to his wife;
An she wasnt one o the worst. Then, I said, Im none o the best.
An he smiled at me, Aint you, my love? Come, come, little wife, let it rest!
The man isnt like the woman, no need to make such a stir.
But he angerd me all the more, an I said You were keeping with her,
When I was a-loving you all along an the same as before.
An he didnt speak for a while, an he angerd me more and more.
Then he patted my hand in his gentle way, Let bygones be!
Bygones! you kept yours hushd, I said, when you married me!
By-gones ma be come-agains; an shein her shame an her sin
Youll have her to nurse my child, if I die o my lying in!
Youll make her its second mother! I hate heran I hate you!
Ah, Harry, my man, you had better ha beaten me black an blue
Than ha spoken as kind as you did, when I were so crazy wi spite,
Wait a little, my lass, I am sure it ill all come right.
An he took three turns in the rain, an I watchd him, an when he came in
I felt that my heart was hard, he was all wet thro to the skin,
An I never said off wi the wet, I never said on wi the dry,
So I knew my heart was hard, when he came to bid me goodbye.
You said that you hated me, Ellen, but that isnt true, you know;
I am going to leave you a bityoull kiss me before I go?
Going! youre going to herkiss herif you will, I said
I was near my time wi the boy, I must ha been light i my head
I had sooner be cursed than kissd!I didnt know well what I meant,
But I turnd my face from him, an he turnd his face an he went.
And then he sent me a letter, Ive gotten my work to do;
You wouldnt kiss me, my lass, an I never loved any but you;
I am sorry for all the quarrel an sorry for what she wrote,
I ha six weeks work in Jersey an go to-night by the boat.
An the wind began to rise, an I thought of him out at sea,
An I felt I had been to blame; he was always kind to me.
Wait a little, my lass, I am sure it ill all come right
An the boat went down that nightthe boat went down that night.
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