David Lewis Paget
The Trove At Bioda Mor - Poem by David Lewis Paget
The last I saw of Sebastian Fudge
He was dancing the hempen jig,
To pay for the years of pirating
At the side of Captain Kidd.
While Kidd was swung at Tilbury,
Was dipped in a coat of tar,
Then hung in chains by the River Thames
As a sign to the faint of heart!
I'd sailed with Fudge on the Emerald,
In the days when men were bold,
And there wasn't a Frenchman privateer
That we couldn't divest of gold,
I thought of the Spanish throats we'd cut
And the nights of rum and hock,
As Fudge went tripping his final jig
At Execution Dock.
That left just me and Jackie Straw,
Midshipman Bowes, and Penn,
The last of the Jolly Roger crew
Of the ships we'd sailed back then,
So we met at the back of Polly's place,
The One-Eyed Tar that night,
And drank to the soul of Fudge, and drank!
We drank to the broad daylight!
And Polly had joined us there at dawn
The tears still on her face,
She'd been with Fudge, his faithful Moll,
As he swung with little grace:
'He scribbled a map for me, ' she said,
'I've kept it safely hid,
We could have collected the treasure trove
If he hadn't sailed with Kidd! '
'Belay that, let us see the map! '
Said Straw, his eyes ablaze,
And I caught a glimpse of his cutlass raised
In the raiding party days,
But 'Aye', said Penn, 'there's gold enough
And a chest of jewels each,
If we follow the trail of the castaways,
And the gold of Captain Teach! '
'You and your Caribbean gold,
I have no mind for that,
Rather a treasure close at hand,
It's marked on Fudge's map! '
Polly drew out a parchment then
A map of Scotland's shore,
The wreck of the Magdalena marked
By the cliffs at Bioda Mor.
'It's there, in the Outer Hebrides,
An Island known as Dun,
The Galleon sailed beneath an arch,
An arch of solid stone!
The masts then brought it crashing down
It crippled the Magdalena,
They drifted on to Bioda Mor
With no-one there to save her! '
We set our sails for the Hebrides
In a sloop, Jack Straw and Bowes,
And Polly, lodged in the cabin below
With a pile of women's clothes,
While Penn was up in the Crows Nest,
Skin tight with a quart of rum,
To keep the cold from his aging bones
On watch for the Isle of Dun.
The morning saw the cliffs rear up
And scrape the greying sky,
I'd never seen cliffs as high as this,
'And nor, ' said Straw, 'have I! '
The waves swept in to a pebbled beach
From a swell of twenty feet,
'We'll never land in a longboat there,
That landing's out of reach! '
Polly attached herself to Bowes
While Straw looked on in hate,
He's fancied his chance with Fudge's Moll
But she'd gone with Fudge's mate,
She told me once in a whisper there
That she didn't trust Jack Straw,
And Penn was a little too close to him,
She kept a gun in her drawer.
I watched them all, I knew too well
What greed could do to a crew,
I'd seen with the best of shipboard mates
What a handful of gold could do,
So I kept myself to myself as we
Sailed round to the other shore,
And landed there on the leeward side,
Across from Bioda Mor.
We trudged around by the coast, the cliffs
Were far too high to scale,
It took us the rest of the day, I saw
That Polly was looking pale,
She wanted to quit, and rest awhile,
But Straw kept pushing along,
And Bowes brought up in the rear, I knew
He was carrying Polly's gun!
The wind came up, the breakers crashed,
We kept close by the cliff,
The beach was a solid shingle there
With piles of kelp, and drift,
We came to the mouth of a hidden cave
And sought the quiet depths,
The sea swept in as the tide had turned
And it made us catch our breath.
Inside the cave was a pile of gold
That covered the rocky floor,
And everywhere was the glint of gems,
Of diamonds, rubies, more...
I saw the glittering eyes of Straw
As he scooped the gold moidores,
'There's gold enough for everyone! '
'Not so! ' said Mr. Bowes.
He'd pulled the gun, and covered us
As I knew he would, I guess,
And Polly stooped as she gathered up
The coins in her flowing dress,
'There's only two will be leaving here
Alive, ' she said, 'and free! '
'Who'll be the first to die, ' she said,
And Bowes had looked at me!
I took the cup and I threw the dice,
They fell to a handy deuce,
'That puts me behind a rock, and safe, '
I laughed: 'I've cooked your goose! '
Then Sandra's Mum marched in and said:
'Okay, you lot, it's time...'
For she was only eleven then,
And the rest of us were nine!
We groaned, but packed the counters up,
Took one last look at the board,
'I would have snatched the gun, I think, '
Said Bill, who'd played Jack Straw.
'I would have shot you first, ' said Joe,
We shivered there in the cold,
And folded the board, regretfully,
Of the game called 'Spanish Gold! '
6 August 2010
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