[Editor: This poem by Edmund Fisher was published in The Bulletin Reciter, 1901.]
The Billiard-Marker’s Yarn.
It was the billiard-marker of the Gin and Cloves Hotel —
A sandy man, with tender feet, no doubt you know him well —
Who told this simple story, in his plain, straightforward way,
Of the disappointed shepherds and the lamb who went astray.
“The meanest skunk,” said Thomas (that’s the worthy marker’s name),
“As ever came in here to play a dirty sneakin’ game,
Was a swell we called ‘the Kernel’ — a tollollish breed of bloke.
Who never said ’Good-day’ but what he’d offer one a smoke.
“You must know this ’ere Kernel used to lounge about the room,
A-talking of his ’orses, and his kerridges, an’ groom ;
He didn’t sport no joolrey except a slap-up ring,
And if we had a pool he’d drop his shillings like a king.
“Three months or so I’d know’d ’im, when I put it to the chaps,
As the Kernel might be good to work a swindle on, perhaps ;
For he give me the impression that he fancied he’d a show
To hold his own at billiards with old Chorley Clitheroe.
“Old Chor — there ain’t his equal for puttin’ through a toff —
Had been ’avin’ friendly games with Mr. Kernel on and off;
And when the Kernel beat him, then the old ’un used to kid
As he hadn’t got no nerve for playin’ billiards like he did.
“So the boys they sit and watch ’em, O ! so quiet and subdood,
And remark, in stagey whispers, as the Kernel was ‘too good,’
And how he seemed a gentleman wot was n’t up to snuff,
Or else he ’d land old Chorley for a tidy lump o’ stuff.
“But the Kernel did n’t seem to want to have no money down ;
At first the most he played for was a modest ’arf-a-crown ;
And when the game was over, let him win or let him lose.
He was sure to ask the company to order in their booze.
“Yer can’t make brass by drinking — we was almost in despair
Of gettin’ at our juggins with the ’igh and mighty air —
When at last he says to Chorley : ‘Will you play me for a stake ?’
And Chorley, after kiddin’, said he would — for ‘friendship’s sake.’
“A ‘level thousand up’ for fifty sovereigns was the game ;
Old Chor. put down his ‘pony’ and the Kernel did the same ;
A doctor held the money and was chose as referee,
And the boys rolled up next night the bloomin’ sacrifice to see.
“We brought up Ikey Gizzard (’im they call the Golden Dook)
And several other chaps as makes a ready-money book,
And if we loored the Kernel and his party on to bet
We was promised ’arf the sugar what the layers was to get.
“The Kernel had a crowd of toffs to come and see him play;
They backed him for their tenners, when they heard what we ’d to say
Before the game commenced ; and when he got in front of Chor.
By thirty points, or so — we made ’em back ’im for some more.
“O’ course we kept on kiddin’ that old Chorley was a muff,
And the toffs, quite fresh and innercent, kept pilin’ on the stuff;
But when I called ‘six hundred h’all,’ I sez to Chor., I says,
‘Don’t you notice some improvement in the way the Kernel plays ?’
“Well, when you come to mention it,’ says Chorley, ‘I believe
This covey has been keepin’ of a trifle hup his sleeve,
So I think it will be safer now to let him ’ave more show.
Just tip the wink to Ikey, and I’ll teach ’em all I know.’
“Then Chorley has a brandy, and he don’t put down his cue
Until he plays a purty little break of sixty-two !
‘A hundred pound to forty !’ shouts out Ikey, when he ’d done.
The Kernel took that wager, and the trouble then begun.
“For he catches up to Chorley and he works a bit ahead,
And he has a sudden genius for a-shovin’ down the red :
He never leaves Chor. nothing but a blessed ’double baulk’ —
To cut the story short, the Kernel did us in a walk.
“The bookies dropped ‘three-fifty,’ altogether, on the deal,
And of course they had to settle, howsoever they might feel ;
The Kernel shouted fizz, and said he ’d never played so well —
While all as Chorley uttered was the hexclamation ‘’ell !’
“They never come again, not after doin’ of the trick,
And to talk about the Kernel turns my stummick fairly sick ;
All faith in human nature and religion it destroys
When a masher has the meanness to come robbin’ of the boys.”
A.G. Stephens (editor). The Bulletin Reciter: A Collection of Verses for Recitation from “The Bulletin” [1880-1901], The Bulletin Newspaper Company, Sydney, 1902 [first published 1901], pages 1-4