Robert William Service

(16 January 1874 - 11 September 1958 / Preston)

My Rival


If she met him or he met her,
I knew that something must occur;
For they were just like flint and steel
To strike the spark of woe and weal;
Or like two splinters broken fine,
In perfect fitness to combine;
And so I ept them well apart,
For she was precious to my heart.
One time we all three met at church
I tried to give the lad the lurch,
But heard him say: "How like a rose!
is it your daughter , I suppose?"
"Why no," said I; "My wife to be,
And sic months gone wi' child is she."
He looked astonished and distraught:
My boy, that's one for you I thought.

The wife asked: "What a handsome lad!
A sailor . . ." Somehow she looked sad;
And then his memory grew dim,
For nevermore she mentioned him.
And as I be nigh twice her age
I've always thought it mighty sage,
Lest she might one day go astray,
To keep her in the breeding way.

Oh did she ever dream of Jack?
The boy who nevermore came back,
And never will, I heard that he
Was drowned in the China Sea.

I told her not, lest she be sad,
And me? It's mean, but I was glad;
For if he's come into my life
He would have robbed me of my wife.

But when at night by her I lie,
And in her sleep I hear her sigh,
I have a doubt if I did well
In separating Jack and Nell.
And though we have a brood of seven,
Yet marriage may be made in Heaven:
For Nell has cancer, Doctors state,
So maybe 'tis the way of fate
That in the end them two may mate.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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