LibriVox volunteers bring you 13 recordings of How Betsey and I Made Up by Will Carleton (1845-1912). This was the fortnightly poetry project for May 3rd, 2009.
http://www.archive.org/download/how_betsey_and_i_0905_librivox/howbetseyandimadeup_carleton_rn_64kb.mp3″Running time=6m 17s (mp3@64kb)
Give us your hand, Mr. Lawyer: how do you do to-day?
You drew up that paper—I s’pose you want your pay.
Don’t cut down your figures; make it an X or a V;
For that ‘ere written agreement was just the makin’ of me.
Goin’ home that evenin’ I tell you I was blue,
Thinkin’ of all my troubles, and what I was goin’ to do;
And if my hosses hadn’t been the steadiest team alive,
They’d ‘ve tipped me over, certain, for I couldn’t see where to drive.
No—for I was laborin’ under a heavy load;
No—for I was travelin’ an entirely different road;
For I was a-tracin’ over the path of our lives ag’in,
And seein’ where we missed the way, and where we might have been.
And many a corner we’d turned that just to a quarrel led,
When I ought to ‘ve held my temper, and driven straight ahead;
And the more I thought it over the more these memories came,
And the more I struck the opinion that I was the most to blame.
And things I had long forgotten kept risin’ in my mind,
Of little matters betwixt us, where Betsey was good and kind;
And these things flashed all through me, as you know things
When a feller’s alone in the darkness, and every thing is still.
“But,” says I, “we’re too far along to take another track,
And when I put my hand to the plow I do not oft turn back;
And ’tain’t an uncommon thing now for couples to smash in two;”
And so I set my teeth together, and vowed I’d see it through.
When I come in sight o’ the house ’twas some’at in the night,
And just as I turned a hill-top I see the kitchen light;
Which often a han’some pictur’ to a hungry person makes,
But it don’t interest a feller much that’s goin’ to pull up stakes.
And when I went in the house the table was set for me—
As good a supper’s I ever saw, or ever want to see;
And I crammed the agreement down my pocket as well as I could,
And fell to eatin’ my victuals, which somehow didn’t taste good.
And Betsey, she pretended to look about the house,
But she watched my side coat pocket like a cat would watch a mouse:
And then she went to foolin’ a little with her cup,
And intently readin’ a newspaper, a-holdin’ it wrong side up.
And when I’d done my supper I drawed the agreement out,
And give it to her without a word, for she knowed what ’twas about;
And then I hummed a little tune, but now and then a note
Was bu’sted by some animal that hopped up in my throat.
Then Betsey she got her specs from off the mantel-shelf,
And read the article over quite softly to herself;
Read it by little and little, for her eyes is gettin’ old,
And lawyers’ writin’ ain’t no print, especially when it’s cold.
And after she’d read a little she give my arm a touch,
And kindly said she was afraid I was ‘lowin’ her too much;
But when she was through she went for me, her face a-streamin’ with tears,
And kissed me for the first time in over twenty years!
I don’t know what you’ll think, Sir—I didn’t come to inquire—
But I picked up that agreement and stuffed it in the fire;
And I told her we’d bury the hatchet alongside of the cow;
And we struck an agreement never to have another row.
And I told her in the future I wouldn’t speak cross or rash
If half the crockery in the house was broken all to smash;
And she said, in regards to heaven, we’d try and learn its worth
By startin’ a branch establishment and runnin’ it here on earth.
And so we sat a-talkin’ three-quarters of the night,
And opened our hearts to each other until they both grew light;
And the days when I was winnin’ her away from so many men
Was nothin’ to that evenin’ I courted her over again.
Next mornin’ an ancient virgin took pains to call on us,
Her lamp all trimmed and a-burnin’ to kindle another fuss;
But when she went to pryin’ and openin’ of old sores,
My Betsey rose politely, and showed her out-of-doors.
Since then I don’t deny but there’s been a word or two;
But we’ve got our eyes wide open, and know just what to do:
When one speaks cross the other just meets it with a laugh,
And the first one’s ready to give up considerable more than half.
Maybe you’ll think me soft, Sir, a-talkin’ in this style,
But somehow it does me lots of good to tell it once in a while;
And I do it for a compliment—’tis so that you can see
That that there written agreement of yours was just the makin’ of me.
So make out your bill, Mr. Lawyer: don’t stop short of an X;
Make it more if you want to, for I have got the checks.
I’m richer than a National Bank, with all its treasures told,
For I’ve got a wife at home now that’s worth her weight in gold.
This poem can also be found here.