Second Harry: ‘Oh, Lord bless yer, yes! It comes quite easy, you know’ (or ’yer know’). ‘A little trouble at first; but, Lord bless yer’ (this benediction was imparted many times during the conversation), ‘it ain’t such a difficult thing at all.’
I now found they were speaking of acquiring the French language—a matter the difficulty of which they thought had been absurdly overrated. Then the second Harry: ’Of course it is! Suppose you’re in a Caffy, and want some wine; you just call to the waiter, and you say—’
First Harry (who seems to think that the secret has already been communicated): ’Dear me; yes, to be sure—to be sure! I never thought of that. A Caffy?’
Second Harry: ‘Oh, Lor’ bless yer, it comes as easy as—that! Well, you go say to the fellow—just as you would say to an English waiter—“Don-ny maw”—(pause)—“dee Vinne."’
First Harry (amazed): ‘So that’s the way! Dear, dear me! Vinne!’
Second Harry: ‘O’ course it is the way! Suppose you want yer way to the railway, you just go ask for the “Sheemin—dee—Fur.” Fur, you know, means “rail” in French—Sheemin is “the road,” you know.’
Again lost in wonder at the simplicity of what is popularly supposed to be so thorny, the other Harry could only repeat:
‘So that’s it! What is it, again? Sheemin—’
’Sheemin dee Fur.’
Later, in the fuss and bustle of the ‘eating hall,’ this ‘Harry,’ more obstreperous than ever by contact with the foreigners, again attracted my attention. Everywhere I heard his voice; he was rampant.
’When the chap laid hold of my bag, “Halloo,” says I; “hands off, old boy,” says I.
“’Eel Fo!” says he.
’"Eel-pie!” says I. “Blow your Fo,” says I, and didn’t he grin like an ape? I declare I thought I’d have split when he came again with his “Eel Fo!"’
He was then in his element. Everything new to him was ‘a guy,’ or ’so rum,’ or ‘the queerest go you ever.’ One of the two declared that, ’in all his experience and in all his life he had never heard sich a lingo as French;’ and further, that ’one of their light porters at Bucklersbury would eat half a dozen of them Frenchmen for a bender.’
This strange, grotesque dialogue I repeat textually almost; and, it may be conceived, it was entertaining in a high degree. ’Sheemin dee Fur’ was the exact phonetic pronunciation, and the whole scene lingers pleasantly in the memory.