Railway Tales
( A Tale of the S. E. Railway )
No doubt you've 'eard the tale, sir. Thanks, 'arf o' stout and mild.
Of the man who did his dooty, though it might have killed his child.
He was only a railway porter, yet he earned undy'n' fame.
Well!... Mine's a similar story, though the end ain't quite the same.

I were pointsman on the South Eastern, with an only child, a girl
As got switched to a houtside porter, though fit to 'ave married a pearl.
With a back as straight as a tunnel, and lovely carrotty 'air,
She used to bring me my dinner, sir, and couldn't she take her share!

One day she strayed on the metals, and fell asleep on the track;
I didn't 'appen to miss her, sir, or I should ha' called her back.
She'd gone quite out of earshot, and I daresn't leave my post,
For the lightnin' express was comin', but four hours late at the most!

'Ave you ever seen the "lightnin'" thunder through New Cross?
Fourteen miles an hour, sir, with stoppages, of course.
And just in the track of the monster was where my darling slept.
I could hear the rattle already, as nearer the monster crept!

I might turn the train on the sidin', but I glanced at the loop line and saw
That right on the outer metals was lyin' a bundle of straw;
And right in the track of the "lightnin'" was where my darlin' laid,
But the loop line 'ud smash up the engine, and there'd be no dividend paid

I thought of the awful disaster, of the blood and the coroner's 'quest;
Of the verdict, "No blame to the pointsman, he did it all for the best!"
And I thought of the compensation the Co. would 'ave to pay
If I turned the train on the sidin' where the 'eap of stubble lay.

So I switched her off on the main, sir, and she thundered by like a snail,
And I didn't recover my senses till I'd drunk 'arf a gallon o' ale.
For though only a common pointsman, I've a father's feelings, too,
So I sank down in a faint, sir, as my Polly was 'id from view.

And now comes the strangest part, sir, my Polly was roused by the sound.
You think she escaped the engine by lyin' flat on the ground?
No! always a good 'un to run, sir, by jove she must 'ave flown,
For she raced the "lightnin' express," sir, till the engine was puffed and blown!!!

When next you see the boss, sir, tell him o' what I did,
How I nobly done my dooty, though it might a killed my kid;
And you may, if you like, spare a trifle for the agony I endured,
When I thought that my Polly was killed, sir, and I 'adn't got her insured!
The end