Robert William Service

(16 January 1874 - 11 September 1958 / Preston)

The Gramaphone At Fond-Du-Lac


Now Eddie Malone got a swell grammyfone to draw all the trade to his store;
An' sez he: "Come along for a season of song, which the like ye had niver before."
Then Dogrib, an' Slave, an' Yellow-knife brave, an' Cree in his dinky canoe,
Confluated near, to see an' to hear Ed's grammyfone make its dayboo.

Then Ed turned the crank, an' there on the bank they squatted like bumps on a log.
For acres around there wasn't a sound, not even the howl of a dog.
When out of the horn there sudden was born such a marvellous elegant tone;
An' then like a spell on that auddyence fell the voice of its first grammyfone.

"Bad medicine!" cried Old Tom, the One-eyed, an' made for to jump in the lake;
But no one gave heed to his little stampede, so he guessed he had made a mistake.
Then Roll-in-the-Mud, a chief of the blood, observed in choice Chippewayan:
"You've brought us canned beef, an' it's now my belief that this here's a case of canned man."

Well, though I'm not strong on the Dago in song, that sure got me goin' for fair.
There was Crusoe an' Scotty, an' Ma'am Shoeman Hank, an' Melber an' Bonchy was there.
'Twas silver an' gold, an' sweetness untold to hear all them big guinneys sing;
An' thick all around an' inhalin' the sound, them Indians formed in a ring.

So solemn they sat, an' they smoked an' they spat, but their eyes sort o' glistened an' shone;
Yet niver a word of approvin' occurred till that guy Harry Lauder came on.
Then hunter of moose, an' squaw an' papoose jest laughed till their stummicks was sore;
Six times Eddie set back that record an' yet they hollered an' hollered for more.

I'll never forget that frame-up, you bet; them caverns of sunset agleam;
Them still peaks aglow, them shadders below, an' the lake like a petrified dream;
The teepees that stood by the edge of the wood; the evenin' star blinkin' alone;
The peace an' the rest, an' final an' best, the music of Ed's grammyfone.

Then sudden an' clear there rang on my ear a song mighty simple an' old;
Heart-hungry an' high it thrilled to the sky, all about "silver threads in the gold".
'Twas tender to tears, an' it brung back the years, the mem'ries that hallow an' yearn;
'Twas home-love an' joy, 'twas the thought of my boy . . . an' right there I vowed I'd return.

Big Four-finger Jack was right at my back, an' I saw with a kind o' surprise,
He gazed at the lake with a heartful of ache, an' the tears irrigated his eyes.
An' sez he: "Cuss me, pard! but that there hits me hard; I've a mother does nuthin' but wait.
She's turned eighty-three, an' she's only got me, an' I'm scared it'll soon be too late."

* * * * *

On Fond-du-lac's shore I'm hearin' once more that blessed old grammyfone play.
The summer's all gone, an' I'm still livin' on in the same old haphazardous way.
Oh, I cut out the booze, an' with muscles an' thews I corralled all the coin to go back;
But it wasn't to be: he'd a mother, you see, so I -- sliped it to Four-finger Jack.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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