Cicely Fox Smith
A Yarn Of Dan's - Poem by Cicely Fox Smith
'Now 'ere's a yarn as is true,' said Dan, 'An' you can't say that o' most:
I was in the packet
an' bound to the Chile coast,
An' there was a chap in the watch wi' me - a greaser from Brazil -
An' 'is name it was Pedro (or Josey, maybe), but we mostly called 'im Bill.
An' 'e was the rottenest sort of a bloke in the sailorizin' line
As ever you see in your life - leastways, as ever I see in mine:
'E couldn't pull 'is weight on a rope, 'e could neither reef nor furl,
I give you my word in a gale o' wind 'e was worse nor a seasick girl.
The mate we 'ad was a down-east Yank, an' 'e was sure a terror,
'E fairly wallered in paint an' pitch, an' that's no fatal error.
It was 'olystonin' an' scourin' paint an' keepin' brasswork bright,
An' chippin' anchors an' scrapin' seams, from mornin' until night.
Well, me an' Bill we was tarrin' down on the crojick yard one day,
The packet snorin' along like fun an' shippin' dollops o' spray,
An' Bill 'e slumped 'is bucket o' tar, which was just what you might expeck,
'Arf of it over a brand-new course an' the rest on the fresh-scoured deck.
The mate 'e let a roar like a bull when 'e seen what Bill 'ad done
As fetched the 'ole o' the watch below on deck to see the fun,
An' 'e jumped for the shrouds an' started aloft with a face that was fit to kill,
An' into the drink with a flop an' a splash an' a Dago yell went Bill.
The mate 'e squinted over the rail an' saw Bill swimmin' strong,
An' 'e started kickin' 'is seaboots off, an' that didn't take him long,
An' over the rail in a brace o' shakes in all the rest of 'is gear
'E follered Bill like a streak o' light - an' you should 'ave 'eard us cheer!
The Old Man passed the word along to 'eave the packet to,
'I can't afford for to lose my mate, an' a thunderin' good mate too,
So lower away the quarter boat, an' pull, my lads, with a will,
But I'm darned if I'd lower a boat,' says he, 'for a lump o' stuff like Bill.'
Well we lowered the boat, an' we pulled away, but that ain't part o' the yarn,
An' we picked 'em off o' the buoy we'd throwed, best part of a mile astern:
The mate 'e'd got Bill's 'ead in 'is arm in a kind of a strangle 'old,
With 'is fingers twisted into 'is wool as if 'e'd been stuffed with gold.
We hauled 'em in by the slack o' their pants, an' as soon's we'd got 'em aboard
The mate 'e blew a bubble or two an' 'e got 'is breath an' roared:
'I'll larn ye spilin' my deck, ye swab, - by thunder so I will!'…
An' they give 'im a pair o' binoculars along o' savin' Bill!'
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