The Long Road Home
When I go back from Billy’s place I always have to roam
The mazy road, the crazy road that leads the long way home.
Ma always says, “Why don’t you come through Mr. Donkin’s land?
The footbridge track will bring you back.” Ma doesn’t understand.
I cannot go that way, you know, because of Donkin’s dog;
So I set forth and travel north, and cross the fallen log.
Last week, when I was coming by, that log had lizards in it;
And you can’t say I stop to play if I just search a minute.
I look around upon the ground and, if there are no lizards,
I go right on and reach the turn in front of Mrs. Blizzard’s.
I do not seek to cross the creek, because it’s deep and floody,
And Ma would be annoyed with me if I came home all muddy.
Perhaps I throw a stone or so at Mrs. Blizzard’s tank,
Because it’s great when I aim straight to hear the stone go “Plank!”
Then west I wend from Blizzard’s Bend, and not a moment wait,
Except, perhaps, at Mr. Knapp’s, to swing upon his gate.
So up the hill I go, until I reach the little paddock
That Mr. Jones at present owns and rents to Mr. Craddock.
For boys my size the sudden rise is quite a heavy pull,
And yet I fear a short-cut here because of Craddock’s bull;
So I just tease the bull till he’s as mad as he can get,
And then I face the corner place that’s been so long to let.
It’s very well for Ma to tell about my dawdling habits.
What would you do, suppose you knew the place was thick with rabbits?
I do not stay for half a day, as Ma declares I do.
No, not for more than half-an-hour — perhaps an hour — or two.
Then down the drop I run, slip-slop, where all the road is slithy.
And have to go quite close, you know, to Mr. Horner’s smithy.
A moment I might tarry by the fence to watch them hammer,
And, I must say, learn more that way than doing sums and grammar.
And, if I do sometimes climb through, I do not mean to linger;
Though I did stay awhile the day Bill Horner burst his finger.
I just stand there to see the pair bang some hot iron thing
And watch Bill Horner swing the sledge and hit the anvil — Bing!
(For Mr. Horner and his son are great big brawny fellows:
Both splendid chaps!) And then, perhaps, they let me blow the bellows.
A while I stop beside the shop, and talk to Mr. Horner;
Then off I run, and race like fun around by Duggan’s Corner.
It’s getting late, and I don’t wait beside the creek a minute,
Except to stop, maybe, and drop a few old pebbles in it.
A few yards more, and here’s the store that’s kept by Mr. Whittle —
And you can’t say I waste the day if I just wait . . . a little.
One day, you know, a year ago, a man gave me a penny,
And Mr. Whittle sold me sweets (but not so very many).
You never know your luck, and so I look to see what’s new
In Mr. Whittle’s window. There’s a peppermint or two,
Some buttons and tobacco (Mr. Whittle calls it “baccy”),
And fish in tins, and tape, and pins . . . . And then a voice calls, “Jacky!”
“I’m coming, Ma. I’ve been so far — around by Duggan’s Corner.
I had to stay awhile to say ‘Good day’ to Mr. Horner.
I feel so fagged; I’ve tramped and dragged through mud and over logs, Ma —
I could not go short-cuts, you know, because of bulls and dogs, Ma.
The creek, Ma? Why, it’s very high! You don’t call that a gutter?
Bill Horner chews tobacco, Ma . . . I’d like some bread and butter.”
C. J. Dennis. A Book for Kids, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, , pages 86-89
slithy = a made-up word which combines “slimy” (covered with slime) and “lithe” (slim or flexible); it was used in Lewis Carroll’s nonsensical poem “Jabberwocky” (“’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves”) which was published in his novel Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871)