(A Ballad.)

Punch, December 9, 1903


[A sensation has been caused in Portland, Oregon, by the arrest of two ladies and their husbands for highway robbery. Evidence was brought to show that the ladies used to stand beside their husbands while the robberies were being committed, and help to rifle the victims.]

When Emerson K. Washington met Sadie Q. Van Pott,
Her numerous attractions bowled him over on the spot:
At first distinctly timid, gaining courage by degrees,
He rushed into her presence, and addressed her, on his knees:—

“Oh, Sadie Q., I worship you, and not as other men;
My love had proved a worthy theme for Poet Shakspeare’s pen;
My groans and sighs excite surprise, whene’er I pace the street;
I really cannot sleep at all. And, worse, I cannot eat.

“For ham and eggs (Virginia style) I’ve ceased to care a jot;
No strawberry shortcake tempts me now, nor Boston beans, served hot.
The oyster-stew I wave aside: I cannot touch a clam:
From these remarks you’ll judge in what a wretched state I am.

“So do decide to be my bride; oh, heed a lover’s prayers;
Admit some sunshine to a lot, which now is dark with cares.
But lest without reflection you are tempted to decline,
I’ll picture what will happen should we form the said combine.

“Most husbands treat their wives as dolls, and, sorrowful to state,
Refuse to let them take a hand in things of any weight:
Myself I mean to act upon a widely different plan;
For Lovely Woman’s duty lies, I hold, in helping Man.

“If you elect to marry me, my angel-bird, you’ll be
As partner in my business quite invaluable to me.
And what that business is, without preamble I will tell:
You see in me a footpad. And I’m doing very well.

“Way out in pleasant Oregon my humble trade I ply;
Few highwaymen have got a larger clientèle than I;
Think not that these are idle words. With truth my claims agree;
You may have heard of ‘Sand-Bag Bill’? Exactly. I am he.

“So if my proffered heart and hand you’ll but consent to take,
You’ll come with me on every expedition that I make;
Together, hand in hand, my love, at night we’ll roam about,
Entrap the guileless traveller, and—briefly—clean him out.”

His speech was scarcely finished, when quoth Sadie, “Wal, I vum!
What, marry you, my Emerson? I calculate! Why, some!
Stray travellers in Oregon will soon be mighty sick;
Ring up the parson on the ’phone, and get it over slick.”

The parson put the service through without the least delay;
And Emerson and Sadie Q. were wed that very day;
Their happiness, I’m glad to say, is wholly free from cares;
I never knew so prosperous a married life as theirs.

For every night, when dinner’s o’er, and darkling shadows fall,
They take their knuckle-dusters from the hat-stand in the hall,
And Emerson says, “Sadie, have you cartridges, my pet?
Your iron, is it clean and bright?” And Sadie says, “You bet.”

And then through quiet streets they prowl, through dim-lit squares they roam,
They intercept the passer-by, as he is hurrying home;
And Emerson’s destructive club upsets him with a crash,
While Sadie’s nimble fingers gather in the needful cash.

So on they go from day to day, as happy as can be,
And in this simple tale, I think, a moral we may see:
The married state can never be completely free from strife,
Unless a man’s profession also interests his wife.




Unsigned verse as printed; credited to P. G. Wodehouse in the Index to Vol. 125 of Punch.