|Newspaper Title||The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946)|
|Trove Title||The Coffee Fairy|
THE COFFEE FAIRY.
By M. FORREST.
I am the coffee fairy. SkTy kindred hare a good innings in Holland, as far as raw material goe.«, but it isn't easy to put j electricity into a stolid burgher. France is
jtlie place we like-the eparkle in a French
woman responds to our bubbling and gur gling, for a man may drink much coffee nor yet encounter the coffee fairy. Germans Dutch-Boers among the kopjes and kloofs, where the kaflir kraal rises on the veldt edge, in the land of mvetery and diamonds, traders on the great rivers, where, black and oily, ripples the water over the snout j of the hidden crocodile, drink coffee-all of them-and the men who fight the ice and snow, and hit the frozen trail to the tune of the wolf-call, out by Yukon-but only here and there leaps into life the coffee fairy. The Sultan of Morocco has one to himself, a dark and eilent familiar, land it does not always inspire him with ipoetry; but one must be respectful about kings, I suppose, even when
i However, my particular quarters are Aus tralian-the rooms occupied by a poet. Of course, there are many poets in Australia, mostly lugubrious, from the top-flighters, who put on aire and new hats, down to those lesser lights, who "give" verses to
I the papcrs; and do 'em for friends, write "ia
memoriam ' notices, and go in patched boots. My poet ia mid-way oetween. He is also in love-that is recurrent in poets mine has it badly this time. He has ne glected to invoke me for three davs. U$h! the stuff he has been brewing on his spirit 6tove and calling it coffee. Tepid mud baths, or else, as he did yesterday, boiling* water and the coffee forgotten! Why in the world doesn't he marry the woman and get cured? Men don't lose their wits over wives as they do over sweethearts! Silly
Here am I-sitting out in the rain-on a
backyard fence, with a white cat and a I "drookit" hen, while he is in there with the window open, and the rain blowing in on hie -head, writing verses to her. The icat objects to my complexion-says in jsolently that I am tbo brown (he is a white
Australian)-the hen is worrying about an egg she's forgotten where she laid, and some I body's wash in the next yard, blown all bunchy by the wind, hangs from the line
like the heads of Blue Beard's wives.
For all I know, he's brewing tea in there -or drinking milk! Sickly stuff! And leering over nis "loving" and "doving." I really believe I shall go and live at the cor ner grocer's. Grocer's young men are often more poetical than they look. Behind the hooligan curl the young fellow who cuts the cheese wears over his forehead, and which he plasters down with brilliantine at night, lurks at times a brain which responds to
my rhythmic fingers. They grind^ coffee berries in a machine at the grocer's, and the boy whistles comic opera as he turns the handle. There's a nice atmosphere about the coffee mill, anyway, and I'm fed up with back fences, white cats, and drookit
hens. ' |
I hung about the grocer's for a day or two, but there wore too many potatoes I there for a self-respecting fairy-potatoes
are for folk without imagination-and I could not take up with any of the cus tomers. They were so practical-even the | coffee-drinkers. There was only one I felt
really akin to-a man with a grey cap, who bought a tiox of safety matches and a file. When I followed him home, I .found he was a burglar, and so far I have always been allied to respectable people, though I must say it's not amongst them that the witsare the brightest^ but a fellow must consider the right, awful bore though it is, and the poet is the most Bohemian thing 1 have yet attached myself to. So I peeped back in his window this morning, lie wa6 lying on his bed with his boots on. flaring at the ceiling. The coffee-pot had not been washed for t wo days; there was some sour uiilk in a tumbler on the table, and under the bed an empty
"Hum," thought I; "he must have taken to writing temperance odes if he's drinking
His eyes were very wide open, and out of the corner of one there trickled#a tear.
He is six feet high and forty-two inches round the chest-and this for a woman!
There was an open letter on the table. I took a liberty
"My dear Mr. G.;-1 am aTral.l I could not live upon lyrics; and, besides, I want clothes. I am going to marry Mr; Steer man, the owner of the meat works." It was signed with a girl's name; something fanciful sounding, which rhymed easily-the sort of name a poet's sweetheart would have. I mused, sitt lug 011 the rim of the unpleasant coffee pot.
In the corner of tlie room wns a coil of rope-the clothes line you buy for sixpence at the grocer's. I knew its quality. So when he arose slowly and hung it over the stout nail near the door I was not nervous. He stood on a cane-bottomed chair, and tied an end round his big throat, folded his hands tightly on his breast, and kicked away the chair. He fell with an awful thud, as I haw! expected. It wanted a good Rtout rope to hold his weight, not a clothes line. Being a poet, of course he had mis calculated. They always do. He was rather surprised to find himself sitting on the floor aiire. lie swore.
The sun came from behind a cloud and pierced the blindless window. I think he felt he was an ass. And when a man
I realises that, he is beginning to get the | off-side of his tragedy. He stared at his
feet-last night's mud on his boots, last
night's empty beer bottle' under the bed. | That was my chance. Delicately I concen trated upon his nose all the tfftst luring
odours of coffee land. In his dulled brain began to dance the dainty cinnamon coloured forms; to his despairing soul came echoes of gentle bubblings-fragrant aromas floated upon the misty fields of thought. He unknotted the cord from about bis neck, sprang to his feet, jumped on the broken chair, tossed it away, went to the corner wash-hand basin, dipped his head in the water, damned all women cheerfully, and made for the coffee tin!
I danced an anticipatory jig on the lid of the metal coffee pot. He was saved, and I was come to my own again.
And now I feel my duty lies with him.
Let the disagreeable cat on the back fenpe yowl as it will of the hue of people's -skins and make invidious oorpparisons.
Let the drookit hen dry her feathers and poke into the doctor's cnaff-box next door after the missing egg.
Snug and secure, I laugh at weather and individual opinion. My poet, with his feet1 on the mantelpiece and a pipe in bis mouth, is writing a sonnet to celibacy, and I, his inspiration, dangle my legs over the edge of a clean .coffee pot. warm to the soul with invigorating odours!,