David Lewis Paget
Cursed Voyage - Poem by David Lewis Paget
We'd been at sea for a month or more
And the nights were getting cold,
We were down to a diet of hard tack
Full of weevils, green with mould,
The pork in brine in the barrels
Had made everybody sick,
So we needed to find an island soon,
We needed to find one, quick.
We'd laid out sheets to catch the rain
Our water was getting scarce,
A few were drinking seawater
Running amok to rant and curse,
We'd thrown the Bosun over the side
When he took to men with a knife,
I'd known him back in earlier times
And pitied his beautiful wife.
The Captain stayed in his cabin, drunk
On a daily quart of rum,
We were close to staging a mutiny,
Held back by the views of some:
‘If you would swing at the yard arm, mates,
You can do it on your own,
We'd rather get rid of his Doxie,
She's the problem, bad to the bone! '
The Doxie mentioned was Annabel
A tramp from the old East Side,
The Captain brought her aboard the night
Before we caught the tide,
There wasn't the time to ship her off
To shore before we went,
With the gallants full of a southern breeze
And the backs of the sailors bent.
We didn't know for a day or two
There was bad luck on the bridge,
‘Til she sauntered out in her petticoats
And winked at Lieutenant Ridge,
We could see the trouble she'd cause us then
With every man agape,
A crew, with only one woman there
And their thoughts will turn to rape.
We sent a crew to the Captain's lair
To prise him away from the drink,
We wanted to get him sobered up
So he could take charge, and think,
But Annabel blocked the cabin door
With a pair of pistols, primed,
All they could hear was the Captain's snore
As they came back down, resigned.
A gale blew up and it filled the sails
And carried us further south,
There wasn't a sign of land out there
And the men were down in the mouth,
We called the lad in the Crow's nest, ‘look
For the slightest sign of land, '
But all he saw was the heaving swell
As he turned, and peered and scanned.
Two sailors fell from the rigging, and
Were lost in the heaving sea,
The bowsprit kept going under
Washing the decks, continually,
We'd set our course by the Pole Star but
The compass was going mad,
Swinging around from North to West
‘Til we lost the course we'd had.
Lieutenant Ridge and the Doxie, they
Would disappear and meet,
Whenever the Captain seemed to be
Unconscious, or asleep,
The men were getting so desperate
That they overcame their fears,
‘We have to be clear, it's them or us,
Or this voyage will end in tears! '
We ambushed Ridge on the after deck
Just after the seventh bell,
Heaved him over the quarter deck
And into a rising swell,
Then lay in wait for the Doxie, and
We seized her just at dawn,
Lashed her fast to the cold mainmast
In the centre of the storm.
They went to the Captain's cabin,
Forced the door and they found him dead,
There was blood all over the pillow,
He'd been beaten over the head,
We held a funeral service and
Then buried him at sea,
And turned to deal with the Doxie who
Was struggling to be free.
‘We know that the Captain was murdered,
Which of you hit the fatal blow?
It's down to you or Lieutenant Ridge,
And Lieutenant Ridge, we know.
We know he fell for your fatal charms
And he jeopardised the crew,
But he wasn't mean, or a murderer,
And so, that just leaves you! '
‘I admit, I hit him in self-defence,
He raped me every day,
The man was a drunken scoundrel,
He deserved it, come what may.'
‘You can't fall back on your honour now
When you had none to begin,
You came on board as his Doxie,
Now as a Doxie, you will swing! '
We hauled her up to the yard arm
Fixed a rope around her neck,
Stood her up on a barrel, gave her
A moment to reflect.
I kicked the barrel from under her
And she swung for her evil deeds,
While the storm began to abate just then
As her dying calmed the seas.
We've been becalmed for a week or so
There's not the slightest breeze,
And never a sight of land out there
Just a world of open seas,
Most of the crew went raving mad
And died, there's only us three,
The first mate and the anchorman,
Myself… and she swings free!
21 January 2013
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