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The Groom's Story


From Songs of Action (1898).



Ten mile in twenty minutes! 'E done it, sir. That's true.
The big bay 'orse in the further stall--the one wot's next to you.
I've seen some better 'orses; I've seldom seen a wuss,
But 'e 'olds the bloomin' record, an' that's good enough for us.

We knew as it wa's in 'im. 'E's thoroughbred, three part,
We bought 'im for to race 'im, but we found 'e 'ad no 'eart;
For 'e was sad and thoughtful, and amazin' dignified,
It seemed a kind o' liberty to drive 'im or to ride;

For 'e never seemed a-thinkin' of what 'e 'ad to do,
But 'is thoughts was set on 'igher things, admirin' of the view.
'E looked a puffeck pictur, and a pictur 'e would stay,
'E wouldn't even switch 'is tail to drive the flies away.

And yet we knew 'twas in 'im, we knew as 'e could fly;
But what we couldn't git at was 'ow to make 'im try.
We'd almost turned the job up, until at last one day
We got the last yard out of 'im in a most amazin' way.

It was all along o' master; which master 'as the name
Of a reg'lar true blue sportman, an' always acts the same;
But we all 'as weaker moments, which master 'e 'ad one,
An' 'e went and bought a motor-car when motor-cars begun.

I seed it in the stable yard--it fairly turned me sick -
A greasy, wheezy engine as can neither buck nor kick.
You've a screw to drive it forrard, and a screw to make it stop,
For it was foaled in a smithy stove an' bred in a blacksmith shop.

It didn't want no stable, it didn't ask no groom,
It didn't need no nothin' but a bit o' standin' room.
Just fill it up with paraffin an' it would go all day,
Which the same should be agin the law if I could 'ave my way.

Well, master took 'is motor-car, an' moted 'ere an' there,
A frightenin' the 'orses an' a poisonin' the air.
'E wore a bloomin' yachtin' cap, but Lor'! wot DID 'e know,
Excep' that if you turn a screw the thing would stop or go?

An' then one day it wouldn't go. 'E screwed and screwed again,
But somethin' jammed, an' there 'e stuck in the mud of a country
lane.
It 'urt 'is pride most cruel, but what was 'e to do?
So at last 'e bade me fetch a 'orse to pull the motor through.

This was the 'orse we fetched 'im; an' when we reached the car,
We braced 'im tight and proper to the middle of the bar,
And buckled up 'is traces and lashed them to each side,
While 'e 'eld 'is 'ead so 'aughtily, an' looked most dignified.

Not bad tempered, mind you, but kind of pained and vexed,
And 'e seemed to say, 'Well, bli' me! wot WILL they ask me next?
I've put up with some liberties, but this caps all by far,
To be assistant engine to a crocky motor-car!'

Well, master 'e was in the car, a-fiddlin' with the gear,
And the 'orse was meditatin', an' I was standin' near,
When master 'e touched somethin'--what it was we'll never know -
But it sort o' spurred the boiler up and made the engine go.

''Old 'ard, old gal!' says master, and 'Gently then!' says I,
But an engine won't 'eed coaxin' an' it ain't no use to try;
So first 'e pulled a lever, an' then 'e turned a screw,
But the thing kept crawlin' forrard spite of all that 'e could do.

And first it went quite slowly and the 'orse went also slow,
But 'e 'ad to buck up faster when the wheels began to go;
For the car kept crowdin' on 'im and buttin' 'im along,
And in less than 'alf a minute, sir, that 'orse was goin' strong.

At first 'e walked quite dignified, an' then 'e 'ad to trot,
And then 'e tried a canter when the pace became too 'ot.
'E looked 'is very 'aughtiest, as if 'e didn't 'e mind,
And all the time the motor-car was pushin' 'im be'ind.

Now, master lost 'is 'ead when 'e found 'e couldn't stop,
And 'e pulled a valve or somethin' an' somethin' else went pop,
An' somethin' else went fizzywiz, and in a flash, or less,
That blessed car was goin' like a limited express.

Master 'eld the steerin' gear, an' kept the road all right,
And away they whizzed and clattered--my aunt! it was a sight.
'E seemed the finest draught 'orse as ever lived by far,
For all the country Juggins thought 'twas 'im wot pulled the car.

'E was stretchin' like a grey'ound, 'e was goin' all 'e knew;
But it bumped an' shoved be'ind 'im, for all that 'e could do;
It butted 'im an' boosted 'im an' spanked 'im on a'ead,
Till 'e broke the ten-mile record, same as I already said.

Ten mile in twenty minutes! 'E done it, sir. That's true.
The only time we ever found what that 'ere 'orse could do.
Some say it wasn't 'ardly fair, and the papers made a fuss,
But 'e broke the ten-mile record, and that's good enough for us.

You see that 'orse's tail, sir? You don't! No more do we,
Which really ain't surprisin', for 'e 'as no tail to see;
That engine wore it off 'im before master made it stop,
And all the road was littered like a bloomin' barber's shop.

And master? Well, it cured 'im. 'E altered from that day,
And come back to 'is 'orses in the good old-fashioned way.
And if you wants to git the sack, the quickest way by far
Is to 'int as 'ow you think 'e ought to keep a motor-car.


Arthur Conan Doyle