Robert William Service

(16 January 1874 - 11 September 1958 / Preston)

The Key Of The Street


"Miss Rosemary," I dourly said,
"Our balance verges on the red,
We must cut down our overhead.
One of the staff will have to go.
There's Mister Jones, he's mighty slow,
Although he does his best, I know.

"A deer old man; I like him well,
But age, alas! will always tell.
Miss Rosemary, please ring the bell
And tell old Jones to step this way . . .
Oh dear, oh dear, it isn't gay
To say the things I have to say.

"Come in and sit down, Mister Jones."
He thanks me in sepulchral tones.
Poor chap! I hear his creaking bones.
"Have a cigar? And how's your wife?
What's that! You're fearing for her life -
A cancer and the surgeon's knife. . . .

"Yes, operations are so dear,
But it's your comfort and your cheer
To know your job's so steady here."
These are his words; so meek and mild,
He looks just like a simple child . . .
Go! darn it! Suddenly I'm riled.

And so I say: "That's just too bad.
But Mister Jones. it's very sad,
You know what losses we have had.
We must cut down in times like these,
So here's a cheque, Oh take it please -
'Twill help to pay your doctor's fees.

"And just to show how I appraise
Your work - despite these doleful days
I'm giving you . . . a little raise."

Said Rosemary: "Old Jones is crying."
Thought I: "Yes, each week I'll be sighing,
When from my pocket I am prying
Ten bucks to keep his wife from dying."

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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