The Shopfront Fire

The fire began in the cobbler’s shop
In a terrace of shops that day,
And spread right through to the milliners
That was owned by Mrs. Gray,
It leapt up into the rooftop beams
And galloped along the street,
Burning a swathe through the fodder stores
And the blacksmith, Simon Fleet.

The smoke rose into an Autumn sky
And blackened the old clock tower,
It didn’t pause, it was far too dry
For even an Autumn shower,
And Simon said, as the embers fell
To the household servant, Gert,
‘The courtyard’s starting to look like hell,
Get out of that silken skirt.’

He hadn’t looked twice at Gert before
And she was so awful shy,
While he was never the greatest catch
With his horseshoe-looking eye,
But once he saw that the embers fell
He was more than kept alert,
He knew the fabric would burn like hell,
The silk in the servant’s skirt.

She’d bought the skirt, it was second-hand
From a Drapers along the street,
It felt so silky and smooth, she’d said
From her waist down to her feet,
She liked the line of the skirt, the lads
Would see her pass, and stare,
So like the ladies she aped, she swore
To wear no underwear.

So Gert had blushed as she heard the words
Of the Blacksmith, Simon Fleet,
She wasn’t going to show her legs
To Simon, out in the street,
The skirt went up with a sudden roar
And he heard her pitiful cries,
So trying his best to douse the flames
He wrapped canvas round her thighs.

The blaze was stopped by the corner shop
Where the fire engine stayed,
And kept from running its rampant course
Along the Grand Parade,
But Simon said it was Gertie’s legs
That had failed her, in her pride,
But caught his eye with a tender sigh
As they fed the fire inside.

Whenever they speak of the shopfront fire
It’s as if it paved the way,
The two have said, to the day they wed
And their happiness today,
For Gertie doesn’t have charming looks
And he’s ugly too, says Gert,
But Simon says it’s a treat, that heat,
Under a silken skirt.

6 June 2015

by David Lewis Paget

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