I heard the news today, oh boy! When I learned that Peyton Manning will be released by the Indianapolis Colts, an old poem that my parents used to read to me came to mind. It’s not an especially heartwarming tale, but it fits the bill, and the mood around Indy tonight. After the jump, and in honor of the Manning-Colts marriage, you can read through Will Carleton’s “Betsy and I Are Out.”
Draw up the papers, lawyer, and make ‘em good and stout ;
For things at home are crossways, and Betsy and I are out.
We, who have worked together so long as man and wife,
Must pull in single harness for the rest of nat’ral life.
“What is the matter?” say you. I swan it’s hard to tell!
Most of the years behind us we’ve passed by very well;
I have no other woman, she has no other man -
Only we’ve lived together as long as we ever can.
So I have talked with Betsy, and Betsy has talked with me,
And we’ve agreed together that we can’t ever agree;
Not that we’ve catched each other in any terrible crime;
We’ ve been a-gethering this for years, a little at a time.
There was a stock of temper that we both had for a start,
Altho we never suspected, ‘twould take us two apart;
I had my various failings, bred in the flesh and bones;
And Betsy, like all good women, had a temper of her own.
The first thing I remembered whereon we disagreed
Was something concerning heaven – a difference in our creed;
We arg’ed the thing at breakfast- we arg’ed the thing at tea
And the more we arg’ed the question the more we didn’t agree.
And the next thing that I remember was when we lost a cow;
She had kicked the bucket for certain, the question was only – How?
I held my own opinion, and Betsy another had;
And when we were done a-talkin’ we both of us were mad.
And the next thing that I remember, it started in a joke;
But full for a week it lasted, and neither of us spoke.
And the next was when I scolded because she broke a bowl,
And she said I was mean and stingy, and hadn’t any soul.
And so that bowl kept pourin’ dissensions in our cup;
And so that blamed cow – critter was always a-comin’ up;
And so that heaven we arg’ed no nearer to us got,
But it gave us a taste of somethin’ a thousand times as hot.
And so the think kept workin’, and all the self-safe way;
Always somethin’ to arg’e and somethin’ sharp to say;
And down on us came the neighbors, a couple dozen strong,
And lent their kindest service for to help the thing along.
And there has been days together – and many a weary week -
We was both of us cross and spunky, and both too proud to speak;
And I have been thinkin’ and thinkin’, the whole of the winter and fall,
If I can’t live kind with a woman, why, then, I won’t at all.
And so I have talked with Betsy, and Betsy has talked with me,
And we have agreed together that we can’t never agree;
And what is hers shall be hers, and what is mine shall be mine;
And I’ll put it in the agreement, and take it to her to sign.
Write it on the paper, lawyer – the very first paragraph -
Of all the farm and livestock that she shall have her half;
For she has helped to earn it, through many a weary day,
And it’s nothing more then justice that Betsy has her pay.
Give her the house and homestead – a man can thrive and roam;
But woman are skeery critters, unless they have a home;
And Ihave always determined, and never failed to say,
That Betsy should never want a home if I was taken away.
There is a little hard money that’s drawin’ tol’rable pay;
A couple of hundred dollars laid by for a rainy day;
Safe in the hands of good men, and easy to get at;
Put in another clause there, and give her half of that.
Yes, I see you smile, Sir, at my given’ her so much;
Yes, divorce is cheap, Sir, but I take no stock in such!
True and fair I married her, when she was blithe and young;
And Betsy was always good to me, exceptin’ with her toung.
Once, when I was young as you, and not so smart, perhaps,
For me she smittened a lawyer, and several other chaps;
And all of them were flustered, and fairly taken down,
And I for a time was counted the luckiest man in town.
Once when I had a fever – I won’t forget it soon -
I was hot as a basted turkey and crazy as a loon;
Never an hour went by me when she was out of sight -
She nursed me true and tender, and stuck to me day and night.
And if ever a house was tidy, and ever a kithchen clean,
Her house and kitchen was tidy, as any I ever seen;
And I don’t complain of Betsy, or any of her acts,
Exceptin’ when we’ve quarreled, and told each other facts.
And so draw up the papers, lawyer, and I’ll go home tonight,
And read the agreement to her, and see if it’s alright;
And then, in the mornin’, I’ll send you to a tradin’ man I know,
And kiss the child that was left to us, and out in the world I’ll go.
And one thing put in the paper, that first to me didn’t occur;
That when I’m dead at last she’ll bring me back to her;
And lay me under the maples I planted years ago,
When she and I were happy before we quarreled so.
And when she dies I wish that she would be laid by me,
And lyin’ together in silence, perhaps we will agree;
And if ever we meet in heaven, I wouldn’t think it queer
If we loved each other better because we quarreled here.