Robert William Service (16 January 1874 - 11 September 1958 / Preston)
Two men I saw reel from a bar
And stumble down the street;
Coarse and uncouth as workmen are,
They walked with wobbly feet.
I watched them, thinking sadly as
I heard their hobnails clink,
The only joy a toiler has
Is to get drowned in drink.
A kitten on a wall,
A skinny, starving stray;
It looked so pitifully small,
A fluff of silver grey.
One of the men came to a stand,
A kindly chap was he,
For with a huge and horny hand
He stroked it tenderly.
With wistful hope it gazed at him
And arched a spine of fur;
It licked his hand so grimy grim
And feebly tried to purr.
And then it climbed upon his chest,
And to his drunken glee,
Upon his shoulder came to rest,
Contented as could be.
The other fellow with a jeer
Made feint to dash it down,
but as it shrank with sudden fear
I saw the first one frown;
And then I heard him coarsely cry:
"Have care for what you do;
Just harm a hair of it and I
Will twist my knife in you."
So there they stood like brutes at bay,
Their blood at fighting heat;
And snarling at each other they
Went weaving down the street,
Leaving the kitten all alone
Upon its stony shelf . . .
And as I haven't heart of stone
I took it home myself.
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