The Low-Down White

Melody -

Robert W. Service, 1874-1958

This is the pay-day up at the mines,
When the bearded brutes come down;
There's money to burn in the streets to-night,
So I've sent my klooch to town,
With a haggard face and a riband of red
Entwined in her hair of brown.

And I know at the dawn she'll come reeling home
With the bottles, one, two, three —
One for herself, to drown her shame,
And two big bottles for me.
To make me forget the thing I am
And the man I used to be.

To make me forget the brand of the dog,
As I crouch in this hideous place;
To make me forget once I kindled
The light of love in a lady's face,
Where even the squalid Siwash
Now holds me a black disgrace.
  Oh, I have guarded my secret well!
And who would dream as I speak
In a tribal tongue like a rogue unhung,
'Mid the ranch-house filth and reek,
I could roll to bed with a Latin phrase
And rise with a verse of Greek?

Yet I was a senior prizeman once,
And the pride of a college eight;
Called to the bar — my friends were true!
But they could not keep me straight;
Then came the divorce, and I went abroad
And "died" on the River Plate.

But I'm not dead yet; though with half a lung
There isn't time to spare,
And I hope that the year will see me out,
And, thank God, no one will care —
Save maybe the little slim Siwash girl
With the rose of shame in her hair.

She will come with the dawn, and the dawn is near;
I can see its evil glow,
Like a corpse-light seen through a frosty pane
In a night of want and woe;
And yonder she comes by the bleak bull-pines,
Swift staggering through the snow.

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