The meal was o'er, the lamp was lit,
The family sat in its glow;
The Mother never ceased to knit,
The Daughter never slacked to sew;
The Father read his evening news,
The Son was playing solitaire:
If peace a happy home could choose
I'm sure you'd swear that it was there.
"Ah me! this hard lump in my breast . . .
Old Doctor Brown I went to see;
Because it don't give me no rest,
He fears it may malignant be.
To operate it might be well,
And keep the evil of awhile;
But oh the folks I dare not tell,
And so I sit and knit and smile."
"The mortgage on the house is due,
My bank account is overdrawn;
I'm at my wits end what to do -
I've plunged, but now my hope is gone.
For coverage my brokers call,
But I'm so deeply in the red . . .
If ever I should lose my all,
I'll put a bullet in my head."
"To smile I do the best I can,
But it's so hard to act up gay.
My lover is a married man,
And now his child is on the way.
My plight I cannot long conceal,
And though I bear their bitter blame,
Unto my dears I must reveal
My sin, my sorrow and my shame."
"Being a teller in a Bank
I'd no right in a blackjack game.
But for my ruin I must thank
My folly for a floozie dame.
To face the Manager I quail;
If he should check my cash I'm sunk . . .
Before they throw me into gaol
I guess I'd better do a bunk."
So sat they in the Winter eve
In sweet serenity becalmed,
So peaceful you could scarce believe
They shared the torments of the damned . . .
Yet there the Mother smiles and knits;
The Daughter sews white underwear;
The Father reads and smokes and spits,
While Sonny Boy plays solitaire.
Robert William Service