Cicely Fox Smith
Told At - Poem by Cicely Fox Smith
Tom Pascoe was a fisherman belonging to Portloe,
And when I can't just tell you, but 'tis middlin' long ago;
And overright the Manacles, a-hauling of his seine,
Tom Pascoe catched a merrymaid and let her go again.
Oh, I tell you, she was pretty, I tell you she was neat,
From her head down to the little tail she'd got instead o' feet;
She was pink and pearl and silver, like the sea at break o' day,
And the shiny, greeny eyes of her they stole Tom's heart away.
Now Tom he was a lazy chap and fonder of his beer
Than he was of mending up his nets and tending to his gear,
And that was how it came about the seine bust clean in two,
And Tom he stood there gaping while the merrymaid slipped through.
She popped between the meshes and she flipped her dainty tail,
And there wasn't so much left of her as just one shiny scale,
And Tom he hove a thumping sigh and nothing did he say
But hauled his gear in sorrowful and fished no more that day.
His girl run down to meet him when she saw his boat come in,
But he passed her like a stranger with a kind o' foolish grin,
And he sits down on the sea-wall and starts to mend his gear,
And, says he, 'You don't give me the slip next time, my pretty dear!'
And any day and every day as boats could go to sea,
Why, there you'd see Tom Pascoe just as plain as plain could be,
Looking for his merrymaid, and peering overside
And calling to her tender-like to come and be his bride.
His mates they'd shake their heads sometimes and say, 'Poor chap, he's queer!'
Then tap their foreheads meaning-like and finish up their beer,
And his girl she cried her eyes up till you'd think she'd never stop -
And then she married Mister Budd as kep'
The general shop.
And his boat got old and leaky and his beard got long and white,
And folks got kind of used to him and said he wasn't right;
And all the little boys and girls 'ud point at him and say,
'Good morning, Mister Pascoe; any merrymaids to-day?'
And the years come and the years went, till one day a feller found
A boat with no one in her, on her lonesome drifting round;
And seeing she was Pascoe's it was plain enough to see
He'd gone to find his merrymaid as wouldn't come to he.
So all you likely fisher chaps as listens to my lay,
Don't have no truck wi' merrymaids - you'll find it doesn't pay;
And don't go yarning with your pals and sitting at your beer
Instead o' mending up your nets and tending to your gear
But remember poor Tom Pascoe and the end what he come to . . .
a thirsty job; I don't mind if I do.
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