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A poem by A. A. Milne

The Ballad Of Private Chadd

Title:     The Ballad Of Private Chadd
Author: A. A. Milne [More Titles by Milne]

I sing of George Augustus Chadd,
Who'd always from a baby had
A deep affection for his Dad--
In other words, his Father;
Contrariwise, the father's one
And only treasure was his son,
Yes, even when he'd gone and done
Things which annoyed him rather.

For instance, if at Christmas (say)
Or on his parent's natal day
The thoughtless lad forgot to pay
The customary greeting,
His father's visage only took
That dignified reproachful look
Which dying beetles give the cook
Above the clouds of Keating.

As years went on such looks were rare;
The younger Chadd was always there
To greet his father and to share
His father's birthday party;
The pink "For auld acquaintance sake"
Engraved in sugar on the cake
Was his. The speech he used to make
Was reverent but hearty.

The younger Chadd was twentyish
When War broke out, but did not wish
To get an A.S.C. commish
Or be a rag-time sailor;
Just Private Chadd he was, and went
To join his Dad's old regiment,
While Dad (the dear old dug-out) sent
For red tabs from the tailor.

To those inured to war's alarms
I need not dwell upon the charms
Of raw recruits when sloping arms,
Nor tell why Chadd was hoping
That, if his sloping-powers increased,
They'd give him two days' leave at least
To join his Father's birthday feast ...
And so resumed his sloping.

One morning on the training ground,
When fixing bayonets, he found
The fatal day already round,
And, even as he fixed, he
Decided then and there to state
To Sergeant Brown (at any rate)
His longing to congratulate
His sire on being sixty.

"Sergeant," he said, "we're on the eve
Of Father's birthday; grant me leave"
(And here his bosom gave a heave)
"To offer him my blessing;
And, if a Private's tender thanks--
Nay, do not blank my blanky blanks!
I could not help but leave the ranks;
Birthdays are more than dressing."

The Sergeant was a kindly soul,
He loved his men upon the whole,
He'd also had a father's _role_
Pressed on him fairly lately.
"Brave Chadd," he said, "thou speakest sooth!
O happy day! O pious youth!
Great," he extemporized, "is Truth,
And it shall flourish greatly."

The Sergeant took him by the hand
And led him to the Captain, and
The Captain tried to understand,
And (more or less) succeeded;
"Correct me if you don't agree,
But one of you wants _what_?" said he,
And George Augustus Chadd said, "Me!"
Meaning of course that _he_ did.

The Captain took him by the ear
And gradually brought him near
The Colonel, who was far from clear,
But heard it all politely,
And asked him twice, "You want a _what_?"
The Captain said that _he_ did not,
And Chadd saluted quite a lot
And put the matter rightly.

The Colonel took him by the hair
And furtively conveyed him where
The General inhaled the air,
Immaculately booted;
Then said, "Unless I greatly err
This Private wishes to prefer
A small petition to you, Sir,"
And so again saluted.

The General inclined his head
Towards the two of them and said,
"Speak slowly, please, or shout instead;
I'm hard of hearing, rather."
So Chadd, that promising recruit,
Stood to attention, clicked his boot,
And bellowed, with his best salute,
"_A happy birthday, Father_!"

[The end]
A. A. Milne's Poem: The Ballad Of Private Chadd