Robert William Service

(16 January 1874 - 11 September 1958 / Preston)

Montreal Maree Poem by Robert William Service

You've heard of Belching Billy, likewise known as Windy Bill,
As punk a chunk of Yukon scum as ever robbed a sluice;
A satellite of Soapy Smith, a capper and a shill,
A slimy tribute-taker from the Ladies on the Loose.
But say, you never heard of how he aimed my gore to spill
(That big gorilla gunnin' for a little guy like me,)
A-howlin' like a malamute an' ravin' he would drill
Me full of holes and all because of Montreal Maree.

Now Spike Mahoney's Bar was stiff with roarin' drunks,
And I was driftin' lonesome-like, scarce knowin' what to do,
So come I joined a poker game and dropped a hundred plunks,
And bein' broke I begged of Spike to take my I.O.U.
Says he: "Me lad, I'll help ye out, but let me make this clear:
If you you don't pay by New year's day your wage I'll garnishee."
So I was broodin' when I heard a whisper in my ear:
"What ees zee trouble, leetle boy?" said Montreal Maree.

Now dance-hall gels is good and bad, but most is in between;
Yeh, some is scum and some is dumb, and some is just plumb cold;
But of straight-shootin' Dawson dames Maree was rated queen,
As pretty as a pansy, wi' a heart o' Hunker gold.
And so although I didn't know her more that passin' by,
I told how Spike would seek my Boss, and jobless I would be;
She listened sympathetic like: "Zut! Baby, don't you cry;
I lend to you zee hundred bucks," said Montreal Maree.

Now though I zippered up my mug somehow the story spread
That I was playin' poker and my banker was Maree;
And when it got to Windy Bill, by Golly, he saw red,
And reachin' for his shootin' iron he started after me.
For he was batty for that babe and tried to fence her in.
And if a guy got in his way, say, he was set to kill;
So fortified with barbwire hooch and wickeder than sin;
"I'll plug that piker full of lead," exploded Windy Bill.

That night, a hundred smackers saved, with joy I started out
To seek my scented saviour in her cabin on the hill;
But barely had I paid my debt, when suddenly a shout . . .
I peered from out the window, and behold! 'twas Windy Bill.
He whooped and swooped and raved and waved his gun as he drew near.
Now he was kickin' in the door, no time was there to flee;
No place to hide: my doom was sealed . . . then sotly in my ear:
"Quick! creep beneez my petticoat," said Montreal Maree.

So pale as death I held my breath below that billowed skirt,
And a she sat I wondered at her voice so calm and clear;
Serene and still she spoke to Bill like he was so much dirt:
"Espèce de skunk! You jus' beeeg drunk. You see no man in here."
Then Bill began to cuss and ran wild shootin' down the hiss,
And all was hushed, and how I wished that bliss could ever be,
When up she rose in dainty pose beside the window sill:
"He spill hees gun, run Baby, run," cried Montreal Maree.

I've heard it said that she got wed and made a wonder wife.
I guess she did; that careless kid had mother in her heart.
But anyway I'll always say she saved my blasted life,
For other girls may come and go, and each may play their part:
But if I live a hundred years I'll not forget the thrill,
The rapture of that moment when I kissed a dimpled knee,
And safely mocked the murderous menace of Windy Bill,
Snug hid beneath the petticoat of Montreal Maree.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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