THE BODY-DRAGGER'S STORY
“So you’d like me to tell you a story, sir, while you kindly quench
Well, you’d better sit down on that chair, sir, I should brush them
crumbs off first.
It ain’t a yarn of the sea, sir, or a fireman’s ‘do and dare’
But the tale of an old bath-chairman, for I once drew an old bath-chair
Then It can’t be exciting, you think, sir? yes, that’s what most
Yet ‘twas dragging an old bath-chair, sir, turned my black hair
white in a day.
In a distant London suburb I was pulling an invalid
An old gent that was so short-sighted, sir, even Bovril signs he
He said, “Take me out of the town, John, down the country lanes,
For one gets much better air there - and I want you to take me slow.”
Well, I did just what he asked me, sir, then over my shoulder to
When I saw the dear old gentleman had fallen fast asleep.
Well, I took him as slow as I could, sir, and had trundled him down
When we come to a level-crossing with a notice “Beware of the Trains”
So I opened the gate very careful, and pulled my old chair through
And just as I’d started to cross the lines, that bloomin’ gate swings
Well, not seeing the sign of a train, sir, I’d pulled him across
When I heard the scream of an engine, and I tell you it turned me
So I draws the chair back ‘gainst the gate, sir, as a down train
And I held that chair back all I could, sir, and believe me, I thought
I should die.
But the handle of my bath-chair swings out, just as the end of the
Was passing, and somehow or other got caught in the hanging coupling
And the chair shot out of my hands, sir, and I stood there all forlorn
For, the down express, and my old bath-chair, and the invalid had
That’s when my hair turned white, sir, how I felt, well, you can
When I thought of my patient rushing along in my chair behind that
Then I raced down the line to a station - ‘twas the only thing I
And I yells to a porter, “Say, tell me, what was that last train
that went through?”
“Why, the non-stop express to Plymouth - Western Scorcher,” he says,
And when I heard what he said, sir, I ne’er dropped in a fit at
“Is there any train gets there before that,” I cried, “Gets to Plymouth,
“Yes, special pullman from Paddington - but you’ll have to look
sharp if you’d go!
As you’ve but thirty minutes to catch it,” he said, so I bolts in
And runs to my Penny Bank, sir, which I think was most discreet.
And I draws out all my savings, ‘twas about nine pounds, I had
Then I jumped in a passing taxi, shouting, “Paddington, drive like
And when we reached Paddington station, my train was just moving
But I raced for an open door, sir, how them porters did swear and
Anyway, I caught the train, sir, and I paid the collector the fare.
They charge a good bit for a pullman; but lor, I didn’t care.
For I was bound for Plymouth and would get there before that train
What was tearing along with my poor old gent in the chair on its
But how to pass them hours away, well, there I thought I would drop.
And I walked up and down that pullman, till the others implored
me to stop.
It was night when we got into Plymouth, and I thought that my heart
As I sprang out on to the platform and wondered if I’d got there
“Has the non-stop London express come in?” I asked a man standing
“Yes, that’s her,” he says, “A-comin’ in now, at the platform over
So I runs to the train he points out, sir, when it draws up, I walks
to the end.
And while the folks were all busy a-bustling out, over the buffers
Then climbs down in the dark to the lines, sir, and I tells yer
I feels all a-creep.
Then I sees the bath-chair, sir, all smothered in dust and the invalid
So I undoes the chain round the handle, sir, pulls the chair to
the station yard.
Then shook the poor gent, just to wake him - then I shook him again
Still he sat in the chair quite motionless, and I thinks ‘Lor is
When he opened his eyes and smiled at me, and said, as he shakes
“You mustn’t go so fast, John, it really is too bad,
Why, you’re the fastest chairman I think I’ve ever had.”