Fo‘c’s’le Yarns – Christmas Rose
The Pazon! the Pazon! just stop a bit!
Where to begin — Is that lamp lit?
I’ve got it, I’ve got it? It’s like you’ll mind
The big storm in hunder-thirty-nine —
You do? at least some does — then think of your sins!
For that’s the time my story begins.
It was Christmas time, if I remember.
Or at any rate well in the month of December —
They were up at the School that night practisin
(And even then the wind was risin),
Ould Hughie the clerk, and Jem—Jemmy—Jem;
Aw well there was a pair of them —
And Dicky-Dick-beg a-gate1 of the fiddle,
And the son and the daughter, and him in the middle-
Carvels2 — of coorse — again the Ail Varey3 —
You’ll mind it, Ned! you and me and Mary,
And all the gels and the lads from the shore,
Carryin on outside of the door.
It was blowin hard when they went to bed,
And “There’ll be jeel4 to-night!” the ould man said.
But childher sleep sound; and the first I knew
Was mawther shoutin for any two —
And I jumped, and I looked, and there was the wall,
But the divil a roof there was at us at all —
Divil a straw; but the bits of spars,
And the sand and the spray, and the scud and the stars:
And all the houses stript the same,
Hardly a rafter, hardly a beam —
And the tearin and callin one to another,
And “Jenny! where are ye?” and “Mawther! mawther!”
And all the lot of them comin flyin
Out on the street — and the shoutin and cryin,
And this way, that way, and the pullin and hawlin
And “Give us that rope!” “Make fast that tarpaulin!”
Bless my heart! the confusion though!
But the ould man took for the beach, you know —
Aw a right ould sea-dog! keen on the scent —
Sniffin and snuffin away he went.
And round the gable, and out on the strand.
And crouchin and slouchin a-back of his hand.
And a-layin his head to the wind like a bullet,
And a-edgin out to the side of the gullet —
Wasn’ I after him? knowin his ways.
And a hold of his arm, and we saw the blaze
Of a rocket go up, and ” Studdy!”5 he said
“There’s a ship ashore on Conisthar head.”
And a gun come boomin through the roar
Of the waves, and ‘”A ship! a ship ashore!”
The both of us shouted, and we ran like mad —
Aw it’s the wonderful wind the ould man had!
And “Here! all hands!” he says “just as ye are!
There’s a ship ashore on Conisthar!”
1 At work at.
3 Eve of Mary, Christmas Eve.
Ashore, but not where we might have got at her,
You’ll mind, but out in shoaly water —
The Scranes they calls it, and deep inside;
But the Scranes shoals bad, and a ten-knot tide
Rakes them, and at Spring ebbs you’ll get
About a fathom — eh Ned? that’s it?
Well that’s where she was; And could you see
The people aboard? aye, aye! let be!
My lads, let’s drop it! let’s drop it, however!
Could a boat have lived? tut! bless ye! never!
Never! no life-boats, nor apperaturs,
Nor nothin them times! Lord help the craythurs!
Well look here now! drop it, do I It was light.
Broad day, when she parted amidships — All right!
Was the word, and Steady! all hands look out!
Then never a word till one gave a shout
And another, and hands was gript in a minute,
And I looked at the trough, and what was there in it
But a nigger swimmin strong and hard
On his back? and a bundle — I didn regard1
What, but somethin white, and the lift
Of the sea curled round him, and swep’ it adrift;
And he turned on his face, and he made a bite
With his teeth, and he caught it, and held it as tight
As tight; and struck out, but rather slow,
Aw a pluckier nigger I never saw;
Nor nobody else — and pluck is pluck;
But whether it was his heart was bruck 2
With the strength of the sea, I cannot tell;
But when they got hould of him he fell
In their arms; and, sure enough, he was dead!
Poor fellow! But what d’ye think he had
Clenched in his teeth that they had to cut
The tapes with a knife, they were that tight shut —
What but a little child? a gel!
And livin too! aw well, well, well!
If you’d ha’ heard the cheer, and the women cryin,
And runnin, and takin their turn and tryin
To warm it at their breasts, and rockin.
And doublin themselves over it — well it was shockin!
And go and tell the Pazon! such squealin;
But the Pazon was there already kneelin
By the black man’s side: and he’d got a book.
And workin the rules; and he wouldn look
At the baby a bit, for he said, and he smiled,
“The women’ll be sure to look after the child.
But all the rules of the Royal Human1 —
Tryin and tryin — they wouldn do, man!
Aw he worked them well, and they all of them worked,
And lifted and shook him, and rolled him, and jerked.
And rubbed him and all; and a fine man, look’ee!
Of his limbs, though his legs was a little crooky —
As big as me, or maybe bigger —
And the Pazon manoeuvering over the nigger —
And some of the men fit enough to cry2
To think that a man like that should die,
And him in their hands! But they had to give in
At last, and the Pazon tied up his chin
With his own handkecher, and strooked
His arms by his side; and he looked and looked
And then he kissed him! aye, aye! he did!
He did though! and these is the words he said —
And all with the hats off, holdin their breath —
“Thou hast been faithful unto death —
I will give thee a crown of life” —
Them’s the words, and turns to the wife;
“And now let’s see the baby!” says he.
And took it and nussed it as nice as could be.
And of every sowl aboard that wreck
That’s all that had a chance, I expec’,
To reach the shore; for a ship that catches
On the Scranes is very soon turned into matches.
Some of the cargo was got to land —
Not much — no divers, you’ll understand,
Convanient to yandhar place; but her name
Was found on a bit of plankin that came
In the trawl one day: but no manifess3
Nor log, nor list of passengess,
Nor nothin — only the name, d’ye see?
The Hidalgar — so it’s a Spaniard she’d be.
1 Royal Humane Society.
2 Very nearly crying.
3 Ship’s manifest.
Well the little gel was took up to the church.
And next day the Pazon come down to search
For a nuss, and got an aunt of mine —
Just the woman! in the washin line —
And shuited capital — aw the best
Of characters — aye — and no sort of address,
No sign, nor marks, except on its shirt
An I, and a D, and a thing like a sort
Of a haythen God, or some of these charms —
I think they called it a coat-of-arms;
But, howsomedever, that’s the why
They thought the child was terrible high.
And the nigger was buried as grand as you plaze.
In the Pazon’s ground, just a bit of a raise
At the top of the churchyard; and a mortal sight
Of people, and sarvice, and everything right;
And dust to dust, and the clerk with the muck
On the point of the spade — and the nate he shuck1
And the sollum — a-makin believe that way
They were all agate of a Christian — eh?
And a stone! aye, a stone, and the very verse
The Pazon said over him at first —
I know the man that cut it, and he tould me
In the teens of pounds! in the teens, behould ye!
And a stunnin job at Jemmy Bluitt —
Aw the man could do it! the man could do it!
And the little gel did thrive for all —
Aw man-alive! and straight, and tall.
And strong on her feet; and every faythur1
Like a child twice her age — the little craythur!
Dark though, and keen, and soople2 still,
And the Pazon loved her terrible.
I’ve seen him with her beside him a sittin
On the darkie’s grave, and her a gettin
Daisies and that, and a pokin them straight
In his face, and him with the love and the light
And the strength and the strain of his soul’s desire
All round the child like a glory of fire.
Aw it’s truth I tell ye — but I’ve heard them say
The misthress wasn much that way.
She’d look middlin sharp now and then at the pair,
And bite her thread with a wrench, and stare;
But quite3 — aw quite! just hemmin and hummin
A bit — she was hard to make out — that woman;
At least I’m told so — I was middlin young
Them times, and the misthress was close o’ the tongue,
A dry sort of woman, and no-ways free,
But allis civil enough to me.
What did they call the child? eh, Dan?
Wasn I goin to tell you, man?
My patience! there’s chaps — but I knows what I knows-
Well — they called her the Christmas Rose.
And was the water hove4 in her face
On a name like that? Just so if you plaze —
Christmas Rose — d’ye hear? d’ye hear?
Christmas Rose. Now then what cheer?
Christmas Rose! you’ll ‘scuse me, mates.
But I like to chastise these runagates.
2 Supple, lithe.
4 Thrown in her face; was she baptized?
Now the Pazon had childher, George and James,
Sons the both, and that’s the names;
And that’s the lot that ever they had;
And such times as they come, I’ve heard it said,
The wife and himself was middlin ould.
And the woman was dry — that’s the way I’m tould —
I believe she was, and bony uncommon,
Aw it’s dry and bony was the woman.
I’ve raelly thought many a time she was jus’
Like yandhar Sarah in Genesus,
The time she took Hagar, that was imprint1 to her,
And jawed her, and put her to the door.
Only the misthress, whatever annoyed her.
Had a way to keep the divil inside her:
Like them burnin mountains seems done their burning.
But the fire is in them churnin and churnin
The brimstone — ah dart2 such women! I say —
They’d break the heart of Methusaleh,
Now the time I’m tellin the boys, you know,
Was little things just beginnin to go —
George was the ouldest, a tidy bit;
I don’t know was James in perricuts yet —
Just little things with the little bare pelt
Of their legs and their arms, and never a belt,
But a runnin string, and a blue check brat,
And big round eyes, and all to that3
I don’t believe that ever the mother
Herself was used to take much bother
About them — middlin fond of the bed
She was; and, as for the Pazon, he said
To my aunt when she spoke to him middlin free,
“Now ‘Tilder,” he says, “don’t worry me
About the lek;4 for, I tell ye, ‘Tilder —
I’ll have my childher Hke other childher.”
I don’t know was it because he got
No pride in him; or maybe he thought
It was good for childher to be together.
And out in the muck, and out in the weather;
And sweatin and tearin and fightin away;
And a gettin strong, as you may say :
And hard, and apt to take their part.
And hand with hand, and heart with heart;
And free and bould in the talk, and givin
And takin, and laughin and lovin and livin
With the rest: and rough, if you like, but ready,
With the stuff in them that when they’d get steady,
And ‘d know their place, them’s the boys, by jing,
That ‘d have go in them for anything.
Like trees, that grows in the open air,
Eh, lads? and chances it, rain or fair.
Blow high, blow low, they’ve got the grain
In their heart that’ll polish and polish again.
Now did he do right, or did he do wrong? —
Is it me? chut! capers! get along!
3 So forth.
4 That sort of thing.
Bless me! the imps they got, and the pluck!
But that was long after the Pazon took
The strange child home; for then, no doubt,
They were innocent baby things, runnin about,
And terrible fond it’s lek they’d be
Of the little sister that come from the sea.
But when they grew to be lumps1 the fond
They got of me, you’ll understand,
And me of them, and the heads like wool —
That curly, and all of them beautiful!
And when they got big and took sense they begun
To take a pride in theirselves, and done
Theirselves that nice, and their clothes that fine
And soft and differin lek from mine.
That I loved to touch them: and when they were rowin
In the boat with me all stripped and showin
Their arms that white and strong, for all,
And their neck like a tree and their back like a wall —
I’d miss my stroke for lookin — yes!
Aw, I couldn take no rest.
1 Good-sized urchins.
And mawther was allis scouldin of coorse,
She was the woman that could, and never got hoorse —
And who twas I, and what was the good?
And place was place, and blood was blood.
But let them grow a bit and I’d see
They wouldn take up with the leks of me.
But the Pazon was terrible wise, you know,
And he saw at once which way the wind blow.
Aw, I have him now with the ould blue eyes —
The tender, the lovin, and the wise.
So with her it was allis “babby!” and “fool!”
And when was I goin to begin to cool?
But there wasn a thing goin under the sun
But the Pazon knew the way it was done:
For his heart was just four pieces joined,
A man and a woman and a child, and a kind
Of a sort of Holy Ghost or another —
So he knew what was at me1 better than mawther;
Just a fit that was on me lek
That would have its time and then it ‘d break
Like a spell of weather, and I’d be wakin
Swivel2 enough, and no good to be shakin
A poor craythur that’s draemin, but all the same
If he’s draemin, his drame is a happy drame.
And I believe there was more till3 that;
I believe the Pazon knew what he was at:
I believe he knew it was good for us,
For me and for them, for better for wuss,
That all we had in us should have fair play,
And all give account at the judgment day.
Aw the heat of young blood is a terrible thing,
And it swims in your head, and makes it sing
Queer songs enough — but doesn’t it loose
Your soul like a bud that’s sticky with juice,
Till it creaks, and it cracks, and it opens free
In the eye of the sun most gloriously?
Anyway — look at the other surt,
A steppin their tippytoes over the dirt!
Bless ye! keepin no company
But only with the top of the tree;
And no spunk in them, and no chance if they had it.
And — marry a fortin, and be a credit!
1 What ailed me.
Aw well but the Pazon was kind and he’d say —
“Come up man, Thomas!” or “Stay la,1 stay!”
Aw as free as free! and the servant tould
To give me my dinner, bless your soul —
In the kitchen of coorse; and them comin creepin
Across from the parlour, the divils! and peepin;
And her with a clout a hittin them sudden.
And me lookin foolish and workin the puddin.
And he’d play with us too, would the Pazon, yes!
Tops and marbles, and not amiss,
Not him — and laughin at all their jokes,
And knuckle down, and take his canokes2 —
Duckstone — no! nor Hommer-the-let —
“Well — no! I don’t think it would hardly be fit
For a Pazon to run with his shirt all a-muck
Of sweat, and singin out “Double the Duck!”
And eyein and creepin just the same ‘s
An ould black cat; besides them games —
They doesn’ do — of coorse they doesn’ —
Without a little bit of cussin.
But out with the ferrets agate of the warren.
Or in the haggard3 playin But-thorran,4
And them two boys with their imperince mockin.
And trippin the Pazon up most shockin;
And floorin him, and roUin him over.
And tryin to bury him in the clover.
Or straw, or the lek; and him a strugglin
Pretendin lek, and his ould throat gugglin
And splutterin out the stuff; and me
As shamed as ever I could be —
Aw the hat flyin here and the stick flyin there —
Well the shy and the shamed — aw never fear!
“A blessed ould fool!” you’ll be thinkin? not him!
But a sort of a blessed ould Cherubim,
If you like: and who can tell the sorrows
He was working out of him with them sparrows? —
Lyin and kickin — and if he had thought
The limb I was, and the way I taught
Them boys to cuss, it isn’t there
I’d have been, it’s lek; aw dear! aw dear!
Childher is strange; for nearly the fuss5
I knew them I axed them could they cuss.
And they said “No;” and I wouldn take rest6
But they must learn — and the words — “Say this! ”
I said, and “Say that!” and to it we went,
Bless my heart though the innocent!
And I don’t know — but Him that’s above.
Which they say His name is Love,
He’ll be knowin all the same
Was I as innocent as them.
Aw I taught them though; and the ouldest was clever;
Well he could work it, for sure,7 however;
But James was quiet over it still,
Noways hearty, though comfible.
2 In the game of marbles.
4 Hide-and-seek round the stacks.
6 Would not be satisfied.
But the gel — did you say? I know! I know!
The gel! the gel! just so! just so!
Gels! gels! gels! and sorrow and sin
They’re in everythin, in everythin.
And what was she lek? yes! yes! I hear—
What was she lek? aye — never fear!
The little gel that was took from the wreck?
What was she lek eh? what was she lek?
Is it what was she lek? stop! stop a bit! —
The way she’d stand, the way she’d sit!
And George and her, and takin an oar, —
And up in the church — and down on the shore —
And the turn, and the spring, and the lookin behind
And the eye all full like a cup with wine —
And — what was I sayin? let’s see! let’s see! —
I can’t! I can’t! the leks o’ me
Draw a picthur of her! come! that’s a rig!1
But was she little or was she big?
Little or big? What’s in my head?
Little or big I think you said?
And me that never looked at her
But almost trimblin, mind ye — there!
Lord bless your sowl! you ignorant noddy!2
Wasn there fire come out of her body —
Aye all over her a blaze
That beat you back, like the Bible says
The sword of fire afore now at the door
Of the garden of Eden though to be sure —
And burnin and burnin
And turnin and turnin
Every art,3 that no base4 of a divil
With his cuts and his capers, no matter how swivel,
And dirt in his heart, and mowin and mockin.
Could enter the place where God was walkin!
2 Ignorant blockhead.
Well they were wonderful them three —
To see them together was something to see.
Well they were scand’lous1 though for all!
And the whole of the three o’ them middlin tall;
And her in the middle, and them either side,
And the strength, and the step of them, and the pride!
George was the biggest a goodish lot.
And the curly yellow hair he got!
And the eyes as blue and as soft as a wenches.
But a splendid strappin lad of his inches.
And bould he looked, and keen, defyin
The world, like a lump of a bull2 or a lion.
He was middlin red in the face was George;
And so was James, but not that large
In the shouldhers and back like the ouldest, but rather
Stoopin lek, and favouring3 the father.
But pluck! aw bless ye! there wasn a patch4
Betwix them — I never saw their match —
Game to the heels — aw make your bet!
The true breed them! and never fret!
2 A big bull.
4 The slightest difference.
But if they were red then she was white —
The way I tould ye — with the sheets of light
Comin off her skin, like it’s sayin about Moses —
With the fire on his face and all his closes.
But what’s the use of me? I shouldn
Be tryin the lek, and I said I wouldn,
But just one thing, and that’s her hair —
Well it wasn right — no! no! I’ll swear
It wasn — some charm or the lek no doubt
Was put on it — aye! Says you “Get out!”
Aisy all! Some witch or another
Must have spun that stuff; neither father nor mother
Done that, my lads! It was black as nubs,1
But streaks of red, like you’ll see in the dubs
Where they’re cutting the turf; or down in the river,
Where it’s deeper and darker and redder than ever —
And all like a cloud around her scotched2 —
Aw she must have been wutched!3 she must have been wutched!
The three of them — the three of them!
I see them now, and it’s like a dream;
A dream it’s like — and it’s strange to a man,
But I’m allis seein things that’s gone.
She was proud, ‘deed1 she was uncommon proud —
Aw that’s what the Pazon himself allowed!
Aye many’s the time I’ve seen the ould man
At the door, and houldin the hat in his hand;
And her on the step, and him that narvous,
And backin and fillin, and at-your-sarvice!
And bowin and bowin; and her on the step
With the sit of her head and the curl of her lip —
Sweet, but proud; and her foot like a queen’s,
And her only just comin into her teens!
Aw I’ll never forget the time — no never!
One day she was coming across the river,
Not far from the shore, where the stones is high
And far betwix — and to see her fly
Like a bird all colours! bless your hearts!
The way they gets them in foreign parts —
And a jumpin delicate lek, and lettin
On a stone like a feather; and then she’d be gettin
Her perricuts round her, and balancing
Like a image set on a fine hair spring.
And I got aback of the bushes below,
The way she wouldn see me, you know;
And my heart in my mouth — when — what was the spree
But her hair got caught in the branch of a tree —
Nuts, or trammon,2 or — never mind!
But there she was, clane caught behind;
And whatever she’d do! and took that sudden —
It wudn let go! it wudn! it wudn!
So in I goes, nearly up to my waist —
No stones for me! it was just a race!
And a plunge and a kick and a scramblin through —
And up to her before she knew.
It’s lek with the noise of the water thund’rin
In her ears, and me with my hand a sund’rin
The hair — aw she turned! and, believe it or not!
She made a leap, and she cleared the lot,
And she stood all shiverin! and the flashes
Of her eyes was awful, reglar splashes
Of fire they was — and “It’s not afraid” —
Says she — “but how dare ye? how dare ye?” she said —
“How dare ye?” Lord bless me! I didn stand
To think, I can tell ye, but away I ran.
And never stopped for gate or stile,
Till I’d done the bettermost part of a mile.
But that same night I couldn sleep,
And back to the place, and I made a sweep
Overhead on the chance, and I caught the hair
That was hangin still on the trammon there —
Aw the tingly it felt in the dark, and the quick
It run up aroun’ my finger lek!
You’d ha’ thought it was steel — the coil it had,
And the spring — but am I goin mad?
Eh boys? aw laugh! laugh hearty! I say;
For that’s despard3 nonsense anyway!
But the very next mornin I’ll engage
Down come George in a terrible rage;
And him and James in their Sunday clothes.
And says they, “You’ve ‘suited Christmas Rose.”
“‘Suited her?” “Yes! ‘suited her! “they says;
“And it’s up to the church you must go and confess
On your bended knees this minute!” they said,
“And apologize!” that’s the word they had.
Aw they wouldn take rest but up I should;
So I claned myself the quickest I could.
And away with them; and as stiff as may be,
Talking together, but not to me.
I didn like it a bit, mind you!
And I didn hardly know what to do.
“But what must I say?” says I, “when I’m there;”
“Aw it’s all put down in the paper here,”
Says James, and whips it out of his pocket —
“Listen to this!” he says, “you blockit!”
And sure enough they had it as grand
As any lawyer in the land —
Aw the terrible big words that was in,
And the wicked and imprint I’d been;
And inasmuch, and seein how far,
And the court, and the prisoner at the bar —
Aye! and they stopped in the highroad twice
For to make me ply it to say it nice.
And wasn I ouldher? I don’t say nay;
But they come over me that way —
Ouldher of coorse; but it’s no use o’ talkin.
The art that was at them boys1 was shockin —
Aw they’d work it, bless ye! and, whether or no.
They said the word, and you had to go.
1 Those boys had.
Well behould ye! there she was
Out in the garden, and a chair on the grass,
The Pazon’s chair, with its arms like a gig.
Took out of the study o’ purpose, and big
Enough to hold half the parish with aise —
And — cock her up with a stool, if you plaze.
Under her feet! and if she hadn –
A scarf or the lek, with yallar and red in,
Twisted through her hair to give her
A look like a crown on her head, did you ever?
Aw a reglar queen; and behould ye! a fan
And tippin it this way and that in her hand;
And frownin and frownin — and “Let him draw near!”
Says she, and I tried, but it didn appear
I had it at all — but middlin handy
Down on my knees like a jack-o-dandy,
Or a play-actor, or the lek, and them
And me betwixt us, and — Miss and Mem!
Humblin — bumbling — and “no offence!” —
And up’s with her chin, and “Take him hence!”
She says, and she says — “I forgive his rudeness;”
And “He has his pardon” — his pardon! My goodness!
I’m laughin now, but I didn laugh then;
And the boys to lift me, and all hearty again,
And shakin hands, and “Never mind!”
But it was necessary, and terrible kind;
And — Just be careful lek! That was it!
And — the same friends as ever! and coaxin a bit.
1 She must needs have.
But she got up, and she took a sweep
Of the grass with her frock, and I felt like a creep —
And the swing of her waist, and the ribbons flyin —
Aw a creep! a creep! there’s no denyin —
And the pick and the peck, and the in1 with a taste —
And “‘Scuse me, marm!” and “I ast2 your grace!”
And the way and the look — “He have his pardon!”
If ever there was a fool in that garden,
It was me, aw it was — but, right or wrong.
She held me, she did though, uncommon strong —
Her vice of coorse — aye that’s the thing —
Sweet! aw the sweet! astonishin!
If she’d cussed ye, it ‘d ha’ been the same —
Aw hard as steel and soft as crame;
Something betwix a hawk and a linnet —
Aw the music of her soul was in it.
Music! soul! you’ve heard tramhurns,3
And clarnets, and their twisses and turns,
And curlin and purlin, and pippin and poppin,
And booin and cooin, and stippin and stoppin —
Well they were all just fools, d’ye hear?
To that darlin voice — Ah Betsy, dear!
Yes, yes, yes, yes! the difference!
I know, I know 1 and taken hence —
That’s it — we must — and — Come, come, come!
Shouldher arms and march to the drum!
Life is life, and the best foot fust!
‘Scuse me, lads! I was thinkin just —
Thinkin — thinkin — Aw certainly.
Clear as a bell; but it’s sharp it could be,
Sharp as a knife, and stingin, stingin —
But bless ye! the angels isn allis singin,
But a hailin the divils; and “Enter not!”
They’re shoutin, and givin as good as they got,
Lookin over the wall; for they leaves their hymns,
And fights like Turks — them cherubims —
I’ve read in a book — but aisy! I say!
She was the one could hould me anyway —
And shake me too — could Christmas Rose —
And bless me the way she had with her clothes!
The slackin and tautin, and liffin4 and dippin,
And nippety-nappety trappin and trippin,
And a hitch to starboard and a hitch to port,
And a driggledy-draggledy all through the dirt;
How are they doin it, Billy — eh?
I don’t know but they manage that way
That three or four foot of nothing — bless ye!
Is more to you till Europe or Asia.
1 Into the house she goes.
But avast then! anyway in she goes —
And me all right, and — clothes! is it clothes?
Aw blow the lot! Aw I did it grand!
Aw I gave it them nice, you’ll understand —
And away, and shook them off, and tearin
Blue murder and all, and cussin and swearin
The skin off your face, and makin tracks
And down the road — but then I slacks,
And into the hedge and cries like blazes —
And up come people, and I knew their faces —
And souljerin1 on — as proud as you please,
And pretendin to look for blackberries —
And down to the shore, and up’s with a creel
And into the boat with a kick of my heel
And off, and before you could preach or pray
I was crossin the tide and out to Mahay,2
And agate o’ the lobsters, and haulin in.
And destroyin them congers like anythin- —
Aye! aye! I could do that — chit nish!3
There’s no mistake but I knew how to fish —
And up with the grapplin, and home, and the tide
Dead again me, and springs beside,
And the back at me mostly broke out of the hinges,
And pullin — aw pullin — pullin tremenjous!
And landed and moored, and a skip and a hop
And a into bed, and a slep like a top.
1 Soldiering, sauntering.
2 A famous fishing-ground.
3 Come now!
Well there’s an end of everything under the sun,
And I must tell ye the way it was done —
And was it my fault it’s not for me —
Maybe it wasn nobody —
And if it wasn for what the Bible is sayin
About Him that hears us when we’re prayin,
And never a sparrow drops, for all,1
But He’s handy close to see it fall,
I’d think some black ould witch was stuck
At the wheel of the world, and spinnin our luck.
And runnin the threads through her skinny fingers
Till our time was up, and then, by jingers.
It’s whinkum-whankum, thrummity-thrum.
And she cuts you short with a snick o’ her thumb.
But of coorse it isn, all the same,
It’s Him — and blessed be His name!
They were tervil fond them three of the boat,
And they’d ha had her whenever she could float;
But the Pazon was doin their schoolin at home
Hisself, you see, so they couldn come
Just as they pleased, but they had their taskses —
And grammar, and ciph’rin, and questions they askses —
Wonderful! aw I could tell ye a dale
About yandhar2 — but mind ye! when Pazon Gale
Was about in the parish, or when they were done
With the taskses — aw it’s away they’d run
Like hounds for the shore; and her — yes her —
The first of the three, and in, and a spur3
Rigged like a shot, and an oar I kept
O’ purpose for her, and off we swept.
Her with the rullock — aw bless your souls!
As proud — but ours was square in the thowls,4
And pins,5 you know — and she’d pull, she’d pull!
Aw man-alive! it was beautiful!
2 Yonder, that.
4 Part of the oar which rests upon the gunwhale.
5 Pegs to keep the oar in its place.
One everin they come, and it’s off to the Calf
Behould ye! and long-lines stowed there aft
Ready baited, and her that had never been there.
And — carry on! and never care!
And a mist comin creepin up the Sound,
And wind to follow, you’ll be bound —
But — stuff-and-nonsense! and a whiskin her hat
At the breeze, and “We’ll do this and that!”
And George with the gun lookin out for a rabbit
On the cliffs above; but James rather crabbit
On the middle thwart, and houldin the sheet
In his hand, and just a turn on the cleat;
And eyein the offin — aw, sink or swim!
A sailor every inch of him.
And “Is it back?” I says; “No! no!” says she,
“The sea! the sea! the open sea!”
And a lot of rhymes; and George says “Blow it!
Give her it, Tom! put her gun whale to it!”
Her gunwhale to it! aye! aye! my heartie!
Her gunwhale to it, says Buonaparte —
But it was gunwhale-to-it, and no mistake;
For the wind come stronger, and I didn spake,
And I knew well enough what ought we to do —
But — give in before her! not me! Would you?
No! no! and her that keen to be sure —
Aw she’d have danced if she’d had the floor —
But she danced with her eyes — dear heart! the light
That come into them! and the stretched and the tight —
Till they looked to be snappin fire in your face;
For the storm was in her — aw that’s the place
That was the storm! aye, aye man! aye!
All out o’ the sea, and out o’ the sky.
Catching it with her mouth like suck.
Drawing the strength of its heart till she shuck1
And shivered again — and when the big cloud
Come up with the lightnin, she gripped a shroud,
And she sprang to meet it like a bird to its nest,
Or a child to hang on its mammy’s breast —
Or was it her sweetheart the cloud was lek,
And her a-leapin on to his neck.
And sighin and sobbin and slakin her drouth
With the thunder-poison from his mouth?
Sobbin — aye! but not with fear!
Aw bless my heart! I cannot bear
Them women aboard in a storm — can you?
Instead of the divil’s own hollabaloo
And faintin, for them to go and rejice —
It isn nice! it isn nice!
For right nor raison nor nothing — eh?
For them to be carryin on that way.
Women is women, and it’s in the blood.
And they should be freckened2 a bit, they should.
Well the dark it got, and the lightnin strong,
Like it would slick up the sea with its red-hot tongue,
And a little dead dirt of daylight left
In the west, and we began to drift
On the rocks, for the boat couldn look at her course;
So it’s down with the lug, and out with the oars —
Me with the one again them two,
And her in the stern with nothin to do
But enjoyin herself; and the head at her- bare
And the lightnin lookin all mixed with her hair,
Like flowers of fire! yes, yes! and a child!
But the wild she looked! the wild! the wild!
And the glad and the mad — was her father and mother
Out in the clouds? chut!2 bother! bother!
There’s strange things happens in storms though yet —
Well it makes me funny to think of it!
1 Her head.
So we pulled uncommon hard till we got
To the Thushla — bless me! that’s the spot —
That’s where ye gets the strenth of the tide —
Aw despard though! but slack inside,
And shelter from the sea that’s more;
So that’s what we were making for.
“Three strokes! my hearts! three strokes!” I said,
“Three strokes, and we’ll be round the head.”
Three strokes was given — aw the pluck of the lot!
Three strokes with a will — and in we shot —
Smooth water enough — but James had fell
Right aback from his taff,1 with his head in the well —
“Dead as a herrin, for sure!” thinks I,
And has him up immediately —
And feels the heart, and goin still —
But as slow as slow — aw terrible!
So I took him aft, and I put him restin
With his head on her lap, and it was just distressin
The way she sat, and not a notion
To hould him, or nuss him, nor never a motion
To breathe on his cheek, or hould his hand.
The way with women, you’ll understand —
But her knees that sharp all drew to a pint
Most comfortless! and every jint
That stiff! aw as sure as I’m a sinner
It was the divil of the storm that was in her!
Aye aye! and mind my words, d’ye hear?
I don’t believe it was her that was there —
Or if it was, I’ll tell ye it,
Her soul was gone out of her for a bit —
Out and off! and up in the air.
With the clouds and the thunder — Lord knows where!
“Get along!” says you, and “Stuff!” what stuff!
Aw it might happen, mind ye! easy enough —
Well — lave it alone! but I saw — I saw —
And I gave a cuss, but middlin low
That she wouldn hear; and I says, “Miss Rose!”
I says, says I, “Lord only knows
If there’s life in Masther James, and maybe
You’ll nuss him a bit,” I says, “like a baby.
He haven’t got no sense,” says I,
“To know what are you doin — aw try now I try!”
I spoke middlin free; “and heise2 him,” I says,
“Heise him. Miss Rose, agin your bress!
And warm him, and sing some ould tune to his ear!
Aw do. Miss Rose! aw do! that’s a dear!”
I was trimblin when I said that word;
And afore it was out of my mouth — good Lord!
There come a flash that all the bay
And the boat and us was just like day —
Clap! — but betwix the darks behould yer!
George’s face lookin over my shouldher
White as the dead! and eyein them two —
White as the dead! hurroo! hurroo!
And I turned like a shot, and I saw her all
Like a tree when it doesn’t know which way to fall,
And up with the arms and down again
All of a heap, and the boy gathered in,
With his head in her lap — I couldn tell how —
Aw the freckened I was that time! and now
When I remember — but it’s likely not —
But still now? was it the sperrit — what?
Come back to her like a bird off the wing.
Or did she see George — eh? that’s the thing!
Well we had a good two mile or more
To row agin1 we got to the shore —
And not a word from the one of us
Till the boat was up to her moorins just —
But then? — how was he? I axed, and his head?
Was it comin to? “Aw he’s better,” she said;
“He knows where he is.” “Thank God!” says I,
And gets him ashore, and middlin dry.
On a bit of the floorins; and me agate of him
And George, the two didn feel the weight of him —
And up to the house, and in with us straight
And mawther there, and gettin a light,
And grumbhn (I heard her; but lettin on2 not)
And fixin her hair, and strooghin her brat.
And whippin a chair amazin swivel,3
And very nate and very civil —
Aw she could be that — and “Mother!” I said,
Masther James must be put to bed
‘Torectly,4 I says; “And get a sup
Of something hot, and I’ll sit up” —
And this and that, and where and when;
For I was afraid there’d be a fight even then.
But there wasn though — no! I declare —
But “Aw the poor thing!” and “Dearee dear!”
And pityin, and lookin at Christmas Rose —
And — bless me! the way them women knows
What’s up, in a general way — when you’re sick —
And also about young gels and the lek —
It’s terrible in the world5 it is;
For if two craythurs hev took a kiss
Anywhere by day or night,
Every ould woman ‘ll know it straight.6
1 Against, before.
5 Intensive phrase.
So we got him to bed, and George run home
For to tell the Pazon, and down he come,
And pale enough; and nothing to me1
But “I see!” he says “I see — I see!”
And down to the parlour — and lost no time,
You may aisy suppose; but turned like lime,
He did though, when he saw the lad,
For the faver was on him, and talkin like mad.
And never knowin the father a mossel2 —
And down on his knees like the ould Apostle
With the chap in the Bible that nothin could hinder
But he must needs go and fall right out at the winder.
But the sollum — aw the beautiful hearin!
Prayin a little — but none of your tearin
And shoutin up to the rafters, like yandhar
Premmitives,3 that calls like a gandhar
Before his gesslins4 — and what d’ye think
The Rose went and did? aw the bonny blink
Of her eye that time — they’re terrible though —
Them women — whether you like it or no —
She come behind, and she put her hand
On the ould man’s head — Aw dear! the grand
It was to see her, and how he turned
And looked in her face! aw it’s me that yearned
In my very heart — and “Papa!” says she,
“Papa!” aye just like that it would be;
But sweeter, bless ye! and like to cryin —
Aw she was a darlin — there’s no denyin.
1 He said nothing to me.
2 Morsel, bit.
3 Primitive Methodists.
And didn the mother come? yes! she come —
And middhn snappish, and middlin glum
She looked; and her bonnet off, aw it was!
And titivated in our lookin-glass —
Well now! I was freckened, I don’t know what at —
But our little parlour, and a lady like that!
And, it’s no use o’ talkin, she made me jump
With her hair like the handle of a pump
Stickin out, and no cap nor nothin, and as gray
As the divil — a sort of a wisp of hay —
And her never knowin I saw her there
Combin away in the big arm-chair.
But not till the mornin — not her, if you plaze!
What’s your hurry? no lovin ways
With her — not a bit! and sittin as stiff
And rubbin her nose with her handkerchief;
And as grim; but mind ye! if you’d eyed her.
You’d seen that woman had something inside her —
Aye! but never mind! you’ll hear!
“One at a time!” says Tommy Tear.
Well the days went on though, and James could sit
In the bed, but — a cripple! aw never fit
To earn his livin, nor nothin, but bent
All crooky — and crutches, and be content,
And hobble about! Aw dear I grutched1
A lad like him to look like wutched.
Or took at2 the fairies or that, and him
A picthar to look at, every limb.
If he wasn that strong and that big like the brother,
I don’t know where you’d ha’ seen such another.
Aw, I tell you what! I loved the lad —
And to think of it now — it drives me mad.
2 Stricken by.
Well just before he left our place,
And the doctors had settled about the case,
And cut, you know, I was sittin beside
The bed, us alone, and I cried and I cried;
And I said — “It was me! it was me! it was me!
Masther James!” I says; “of all the three
(Miss Rose don’t count) it was me that done it —
It was me — yes it was — whosomever begun it —
I wish I was dead,” I said, “I do!
Dead and in the grave with you —
Or dead by myself, no matter what!”
“Now Tom,” says he, “what stuff have you got?
The three of us done it,” he said, “I’ll swear!
And he out with a cuss — “what a fool you are!”
Aw the joy of my life! aw as free as free!
Just a little cuss, you see.
To keep me in heart! aw I thought I’d buss1 —
“Thank God!” says I; “he can cuss! he can cuss!”
And then he swore me that I wouldn tell
What had he got2 — but I knew as well —
I can’t say how — but chut! I knew it,
I did, afore ever he put the words to it.
That night aboard the boat when he woked
From the fit, and felt the way he was yoked
In Christmas’ arms, and her breath on his face —
He didn know the time nor the place,
But only a sort of a dream I expec’;
And he kissed her knees, and he kissed her neck;
And all the words the poor fellow hed
Was — “Christmas! I love you — I love you!” he said.
Aw the poor lad! I loved him too —
Very good and gennal3 and true.
He said that — he did — and “Oh” he said,
“She lifted my head! she lifted my head!
And whispered something in my ear;
But I was that weak I couldn hear,
Nor spake again; but her breath was warm
And sweet on my face; and the strain of her arm,
And all — and she loves me! she does!” says he —
“And look at me! and look at me!”
He says — and he looks at himself like this —
“And will she ever —?” “Yes! yes! yes!”
I says: “Aw Masther James, you knows
It’s the rael thing is Christmas Rose:
And she’ll be a good sisther to you no doubt:
And fixin ye nice, and help ye about.
She’s handy enough is Miss Rose, and she’ll try — “
Aw then the red come into his eye,
And he swore the big oath — “Aw,” I says, “Masther James,
Cussin is cussin, and names is names —
If it’s doin you good — aw go ahead!
But about Miss Christmas Rose,” I said,
Aw Masther James! be careful though!
Be careful for all! for how do you know
She loves ye?” I said: “Because you lay
In her arms, and she nursed ye into the bay?
Wouldn any gel have done the lek?
And you that was dyin! for goodness’ sake,”
Says I, “be quiet, and let me wash ye!
The poor gel only didn want to cross ye.
And besides I know —” but I jammed my helm
Hard a lee there; for I was goin to tell him
About George and the look in the boat — so he says
(And all the blood come into his face — )
“What do you know?” and he swore the big oath,
Uncommon big that I’d be loath
To say it again — aw ‘deed I would —
But the boy was mad, and I done what I could —
And it wasn nothin! and bless me! the names!
And “Aw Masther James! Masther James! Masther James!”
And “You’ll be kilt altogether,” I said “you will;
You’ll be kilt now, James, if you don’t lie still.”
Aw a hard fight for it betwixt us — hard!
And I was everything; but I didn regard:
For the worse of it was the waker he got
The angrier he was, and the cross and the hot;
And the flesh was wake, but the sperrit was strong.
And allis thinkin you were doing wrong
And fits, aye fits! and him I’d known
Such a hearty lad, and the strong and the grown!
Was it me? was it me? well the Lord he gave it,
And the Lord took away — so there let’s lave it!
2 On his mind.
But he’d be havin me with him whenever he could —
Not long at a time; for every flood
I was out at the lines: but the very fust
I was up to see him, it’s go we must
The two of us alone to the Church,
And sittin there inside of the porch,
And the one thing, as you may suppose,
Nothing but Rose! and Rose! and Rose!
And the very first time they were alone together.
He tould me, he looked and looked to see whether
Or not — “and nothing,” he said, “in her face
But pity just, and gentleness.”
And “What’ll I do?” he says; aw dear!
What would he do? and his eye that clear
And strong! and all that proud and keen,
And full of the life that should have been.
“Aw! drop it!” I says; “aw Masther James,
Drop it! drop it! it’s only drames.
Isn she your sister?” I said, “since the day
God gave her to you from the sea?
Keep her what she is!” says I;
“And she’ll be a blessin to you by-and-by.”
“A blessin!” says he, “a blessin! a blessin!
Tom Baynes,” he says, “you’re a foolish pessin.
I’ll spake,” he says, “I will — and I’ll know ”
Aisy, Billy! — you’d let them grow
A bit first, Billy? Strange! eh what?
Young craythurs carryin on like that —
Let them ate a bit more porridge fust,
Says you: aw Billy! that’s the wust
Of you, and it allis was, I’ll swear —
You’re coorse, man, coorse! aw yes ye are!
Aw it’s coorse it is. And Childher, says you?
Young fools, you says; go on now do!
Fools, you said; and they should he stript,
I think you said, at1 their mammies, and whipt —
And you’d warm them — would ye? well listen to me!
I’m not a young fool, nor meanin to be;
And I say them young fools — wasn them your words?
Well — wait a minute, and I’ll give you the Lord’s —
Lovin much is much forgiven;
And — of such fools is the kingdom of heaven.
Well he had it out the very next night,
Just at the dark, but fire light.
For the Pazon and the wife was away
At another Pazon’s, and George in the bay
Agate of the lines — and rainin, for all,1
And blowin hard, but we were bound to haul —
And him on the sofa, and her a clattrin
With the cups and saucers, and chittrin — chattrin —
Aw he tould me all! and bless me! he had it
Just like a picthur — you’d hardly credit.
Now would ye? and him that mad, you know,
And distracted lek — aw he had it though,
He had it — and this and that and how
And where and when, and all the row,
And the backard and forrard and here and there,
And the light on the wall and the light on the chair,
And the light on her all dancin lek.
And the tippin her head and the tippin her neck,
And the tippin behind and the tippin before :
And Sarpints, he said, wasn nothin to her,
Nor Royal Bengal Tigers — the way
She turned, a shakin the fire like spray
Out of all her clothes, he beat me clane,
I didn know half of it what did he mane.
The quality, ye see, is reared to that —
Noticin lek, and which and what
Like some of them painter chaps that’s mixin
A colour for everything, and fixin
The way it is; and him and her,
And the very place, and the near and the far —
Bless ye! the like of us wouldn be mindin
Was there light at all — let alone was it shinin
On her hips or her hocks, and shaddhers fleein —
Lord bless my soul! what things to be seein
When your life is on the cast! ho! ho!
The quality’s very curious though.
Well he was intarmint1 for to spake,
And out with it all, to mar or to make.
So he just said her name — as low as low —
But the way he said it! the way, you know!
Aw she come to her feet, and she looked at him straight —
The hard! he said, the hard and the white,
And the keen, took sudden, ye see, that way,
And watchin what was he goin to say.
And houldin herself like a hound on the spring,
And a tight’nin her heart for anything.
And proud, he said, she looked, and despisin
The leks of him — now isn it supprisin?
To think of that now! proud — let it go!
But despisin! her! no! no! no! no!
And she looked, and he looked, and then it came
Out of his soul like the livin flame —
Love and hate and joy and sadness
All mixed together in a muck of madness.
And angels and divils, he said was scourin
The soul of him, and the cusses come pourin
Out of him; and talkin love
All the time, and “dear!” and “dove!”
And cusses again — “till at last,” says he
“I said — never mind! she listened to me
Till then,” he says, “and never a breath
But the studdy look and the sthrong as death —
But then she shivered all over, and then
“James!” she said, and she said it again —
Three times she said it — “and the eyes lookin down,
And the voice — it might have been a sound
From Heaven,” he said, “far off,” he said,
“Like one that ‘d be speakin from the dead,”
He said — “far off” — and “James!” says she,
“I am your sister,” she says; “there’s three,”
She says, ” of us, and we love one another;”
She says, “O brother! brother! brother!”
She says, and — “yes! I will! oh yes!”
And she come, for he made his mouth for a kiss,
Beggin lek, and she gave him one.
And he fell as dead as any stone.
That’s all he remembered — but the sarvint was tellin
How she came to her, and her eyes all swellin
With the big of tears, and “quick! quick! quick!”
She says “Masther James is very sick,”
She says to the sarvint — that’s all she said,
And never a bonnet upon her head
Nor nothing — and “Take good care of him, Jane!”
And out in the rain — aye out in the rain.
And “It’s over,” he said; “I know! I know!
It’s time to go! it’s time to go!”
“But,” I said, “Masther James, she didn say
But what might be, for all — ” “a year and a day”!
Says he, “Oh yes! and she’ll think of it yet!
Tom Baynes,” he says, “you’re a idiit!”
Well! George and me was comin in
That night, and a terrible time we’d bin.
With the wind off-shore, and blowin strong.
But him the hearty it didn seem long:
And shovin her nigh to the rocks, to cheat
The squalls; and says he all at once — “Did you see’t?”
He says; “See what?” says I, “A ghost?”
“Look out!” says he, “and let’s come close!”
So it’s close we pulled — and behould her lyin
On the breast of the rock — aw we thought she was dyin —
And her hands all clenched in the tangles1 there,
And the water sip-soppin up to her hair —
And What had happened? and Bless my heart!
And wondherin; and “Come! let’s start!”
Says he; and in with her into the boat,
And covered her up with an oilskin coat
That was at us there. But mind ye! before
I could get him to steady down to his oar,
He stooped, and he kissed her; “She’s spakin!” he said;
And list’nin, and houldin down his head
To hear — and sure enough she was —
“Take me home!” she said — aw an albathross.
Or a gannet wasn nothing to him then.
The way he pulled, like twenty men —
One, two, three, with a sweep and a swing!
And a four for the queen and a five for the king!
And into a gully that was lyin back
Under the church itself; and a track
Windin up through the goss;2 for I knew.
If we went to the shore, what a hullabaloo
There’d be, and the talk — aw dear! if they’d seen us
So up — and her goin a carryin between us;
Very weak and slack; but I saw
Masther George had to stow the jaw,
Let alone the kissin! aye!
He had though, I tell ye! “It’s you bein by,”
He whispers to me: but she straightened her head
That stiff on my shouldher — “Look out!” I said:
And “Look out!” it was; for, right or wrong,
He had to look out, he had, before long.
1 Long seaweeds.
The Pazon wasn at home when we got
To the house; so I stood out on the plat;
And George took her in — aw the gel could walk,
That time and then he come out for a talk
And a smook sittin under the sycamore
That stretched from the garden to the door;
A fine tree too, for the country, and tall;
For they’re runnin rather stunty and small
Over there is trees — and the wind would come
And shiver it all, and make it hum
Like a brave big top, and tappin the pane
Of the Pazon’s study till he’d laugh again —
Aw he liked it well! but — I don’t know,
Trees is very curious though!
If there’s ghoses1 takin2 anywhere
It’s in trees it is! Aw they’ve got their share
Has churchyards and that — but mind you me!
I’ve seen funny things in a sycamore tree!
Aye aye! my lads! Aw lower down —
All right of coorse! all right, I’ll be bound —
You can grip them there, and feel the stuff
That’s in them — aw all right enough!
But — up in the branches! I say! — they’re about;
But never mind! look out! look out!
Well we talked and talked, and it was him begun;
And he gave a big sigh, and he says “It’s done!”
He says “it’s done!” and he hung his head;
And “I couldn help it, Tom Baynes!” he said.
And then he tould me the hard to bear
It was, and the trouble, and the care,
And tryin and tryin to do his part,
And stampin the heavy upon his heart,
Puttin out the fire that kep burnin still —
Aw, he said, it was terrible.
Where does it come from? where? where? where?
Is it in the ground? is it in the air?
Is it sucked with your milk? is it mixed with your flesh?
Does it float about everywhere like a mesh
So fine you can’t see’t? is it blast? is it blight?
Is it fire? is it fever? is it wrong? is it right?
Where is it? what is it? The Lord above —
He only knows the strenth of love:
He only knows, and He only can
The root of love that’s in a man.
Aw isn it true? and Him as quite,1
Seein all in the clear sweet light
That’s runnin through Him all day long,
And all the night — and the angels’ song —
“Holy! holy! holy!” they’re sayin —
And us poor craythurs prayin! prayin!
And Him so quite1 — and “Gentle Jesus!” —
And waitin — waitin — but ah! He sees us!
What was I sayin? aw yes! the fire;
And what could he do? and he wasn wire,
Nor nails, he said : and how he’d kep’
Out of her road; and the hold and the grip
There was at him reglar:1 and allis out
After the lines, and knockin about
With the gun, and tryin to clear his head
And studdy hisself. “And James!” he said,
“James!” he said — “God help us then!
Poor James!” he said — (Amen! Amen!)
“I thought,” he said, “I thought I was stronger —
But O, Tom Baynes! I can’t stand it no longer!
Yes! Yes!” he says, “he loves her true;
And what am I to do? what am I to do?
And I’ve tried and tried to give him fair-play —
Haven’t I, Tom? now haven’t I — eh?”
“You have” I says; “but listen! listen!
Masther George!” I says: ” Now it is or it isn;
But tell me for all what makes you suppose
That either o’ ye is for the Christmas Rose?”
“What makes me?” he says, and gives a cuss;
“And who is for her, if it isn us?
James or me?” he says. “Hullo!
I see!” he says, “I see! ho! ho!”
He says, and he jams his face chock up
Again mine, and he says — “Have you got a sup?
By Jove!” he says; “it’s you ye manes!
You’re for the Christmas Rose, Tom Baynes!
You then, you!” and he turned and he laughed —
Aw the bitter! and fore and aft —
At least up and down — and about with a wheel,
And churnin the gravel under his heel.
“You!” he said — “Well!” he said, “the cheek
Of some people! and what for don’t ye speak?”
He says, quite quick, and stands as straight
As a boult before me: and “Will ye fight?”
He says, “or what will ye do? come! out!
Out with it! will ye? you’re freckened, I doubt.”
“Masther George!” I said — quite studdy, you know —
“Masther George! it isn a minute ago
You were all in the dumps; and now it’s fightin
You’re after; and maybe you might or you mightn;
Have the best of it: but there’s one thing I thought
You couldn mistake, let alone the ought.
One thing, Masther George, and knowin what you knows-
Me! me, did ye say? for the Christmas Rose!
Is there a thought? — You’ll strike me, will ye?
(He was goin), or a wish I wouldn tell ye?
Haven I tould you every word,
To the very keel of my heart — good Lord!
What can I do more? that’s it! that’s it!
Pitch into me! I don’t care a spit!
Knock my head off! but never a blow
From me to you! aw no! no! no!
Not this time, Masther George, if you plaze!
Not exactly! George!” I says.
And I laughed — and be hanged! the two of us laughed —
Aw people in love is ticklesome craft:
For it’s laughin and cryin and foolin and fightin,
And cussin and kissin and lovin and bitin
All in the one — crabs and crame!2
And the very birds is just the same —
Let alone monkeys and dirts like that —
Aw they’ve got their troubles, I’ll tell ye what!
1 He always maintained.
Well the laugh cleared the fog away nicely though
That was hidin us from one another, you know —
You know what I mean — all hot and huffed —
And we talked chance talk, and puffed and puffed
At the pipe. And I remember the jump
He gave when he heard the jerk of the pump,
Thinkin the Pazon had come in
Unknownst at the back! And bless me! the din
There was at1 that pump; and apt to run dry.
And bad for the soak,2 and never say die!
But work away! — aw a reglar brute!
And a rusty boult that roored3 like the hoot
Of a owl or a dunkey; and suckin and sobbin.
And retchin and cretchin, and slibbin and slobbin —
It’s lek you know how a boss is goin
When his wind is broke, and ah-in and oh-in
That bad — they’re ugly to hear in the night
Is them pumps, like a thing lek that wouldn be right
Someway! And the ould people used to be sayin —
But bless my heart! it was only Jane
The sarvint, gettin water of coorse,
But mind ye! she done it with a foorce!4
The arm she had — But it’s idikkilis!5
I’ll never come to an end like this —
Pumps! my goodness! Well we laughed, and a bat
Come wheelin about, and he gave me a pat
In the face with his nasty ould webby wings —
Aw the terrible I hate them things —
Away went the pipe, broke out o’ my cheek —
The strenth of the divil! and the boostly6 squeak!
Aw dart7 the father of him! I say —
I never liked them critters anyway.
2 Water poured into the pump when the sucker is dry.
Aw then the laugh! But he come at me again,
And “Tom,” he says, “I want you to ‘splain.
You’re in some sort of love with her, that’s clear.”
“Now I’ll tell ye what!” says I, “look here!”
Aw I got hot — “I’m not goin to stand
This talk,” I says, “from the lord of the land.
I’ve tould ye and tould ye, and what’s the good?
The more the tellin the less understood.
But mind my words, Masther George!” I says, “anyway
The Christmas Rose isn for the one o’ ye!
No she isn — not a bit,” I said :
She’s far far far above your head.
“Poor James!” I says; “poor James!” well! well!
Of coorse — but you to come over the gel
With your dainty curls, and your bit of a stachya,1
And the strong and the handsome; and ”Have me! Bless ye!”
Thinks you; “most sartin, and only too glad!”
And whistle and I’ll come to ye, my lad!
Them’s your thoughts; but where’s your fax?
Where? aye where indeed! I may ax
The where, bedad, and the when and the why.”
Aw it’s then he made a leap and a cry
Like a tiger, and at me; but I gave a duck,
And the fist went over my shouldher, and struck
The tree like a hatchet — aw dear! the smash!
And his knuckles all jammy, and the blood splish-splash!
“You’re not the man for me to be ‘fraid of:
You’re not made of the stuff that Christmas is made of!
No, George Gale,” I said, “you’re not.”
Aw the leap again, and flew at my throat.
But then I gripped him, and — yeo! heave ho!
And a lift and a twist — and over you go;
And let him down the softest I could.
And it’s only raison you allis should;
And give a man a chance — yes! yes!
And pick him up agin isn amis.
Well he was middlin giddy, ye see;
So I studdied him against the tree —
And he says — “What’s this for?” “For!” I said —
“For! ye come at me that vicious, ye did!”
And he hung the head middlin sulky though.
“Come, Masther George!” I said; take a blow,
Of the pipe, and I took and charged it for him,
And got it to draw; and — jann myghin orrym!2
If he didn smoke it sweet enough!
Hard to light though — ye know the stuff.
2 Mercy on us!
Well then I talked very sirrious,1
Uncommon though; and I gave a cuss
And I said — “It’s hard for the leks o’ me
To tell you how I love Betsey Lee,
And how I love the Christmas Rose:
But I love the two of them, God knows!
The two of them — but the why and the whether —
“How happy could I be with ether!”2
Says he, half laughin — some dirty ould song
He had, you know — “Now get along!
Masther George!” I says; “and listen, man!
I’ve got it now — the very plan!
Look here! you’re lovin a nice young gel,
And she’s lovin you — very well! very well!
That’s right! that’s good! that’s — aw that’s sweet!
And to meet and to part, and to part and to meet
Is all your thoughts — and when will it be?
Aw when? aw when? says you, says she.
And it comes at last, and the bells is ringin,
And the Pazon waiting, and the ould shoes a flingin —
And home in the ev’rin, and settlin down —
And as happy as happy, I’ll be bound.
That’s love; and thank my God it’s in!3
For without it we wouldn be worth a pin.
But, George,” I said, “isn there no love
That’s greater than that, that’s risin above
The lek o’ that — why can’t there be
No love without wivin and all that spree?
Couldn ye love, and never make to her
No love nor nothing, nor never spake to her?
Couldn ye look to her like a star
Up in the heavens quite reggilar,
Shinin down on all the same.
And maybe not even knowin your name?
Couldn ye love her up that high?
And kiss her with your soul through all the sky?
A sweetheart! aw Betsey ma veg!4 ma veen!”5
Aye aye! but a queen! a queen! a queen!
That’s another thing, and I don’t care who knows.
My queen, my queen is the Christmas Rose!”
“Your Queen indeed!” he says; “hear! hear!
Your queen! aw dear! aw dear! aw dear!
You’re gettin quite rermantick,” he said;
“Who put that nonsense into your head?
Why raelly,” he says, “you’re almost poetical!”
“Avast!” says I; “I’ll have no reddikil.6
She’s my queen, I beg to state!”
My queen! now wasn that first-rate?
Queen — d’ye see? aw the fancies come quick
In my head them times, aye as thick — as thick
As the hairs outside; but now hurroo!
The hairs is gone and the fancies too.
3 It exists.
4 My little (one).
5 My darling.
Aw he laughed and he chaffed and he carried on,
But wasn I right? eh Billy? eh John?
It’s like lovin God: for it’s seemin to me,
When you’re lovin the loveliest things you see,
It’s lovin God that made the things —
That made them — eh? and the birds they sings,
They does, and its God that gives the notes,
Stretchin the bags of their little throats :
And the sun is bright, and the sky is blue;
And a man is strong, and a horse is too,
And God’s in all — But I’ll tell ye the when
You can see His face, if you ever can —
It’s when He lights sweet holy fire
In the eye of a woman; and lifts her higher
Than all your thoughts, a woman true
But not for you man, not for you
Who for? No matter! if you’ve got any sense,
Of coorse you’ll know the difference:
You’ll know when you’re wanted and when you aint.
And never make no sort of complaint,
But touch your hat — “My sarvice, Madam!”
And her not knowin you from Adam.
Bless me! d’ye think she’s nothing to me
Because mayhap she doesn know me?
Har! har! I picks her out, and says I,
“You’re my queen! keep up in the sky!”
I says; “keep up! shine on, my queen!
Who the divil am I? it’s all serene!
It’s all serene!” says I, with a bow —
Where’s your huggin and ruxin now?
You’ve seen them picthers the Romans has got —
Merdonners they calls them — women, what?
Women, aye! with the blood in their veins,
And life and love, and the way they strains
Their eyes to a height that’s far above them?
Who can look on them, and not love them?
Avast all Popery, says I,
And idols and every sort of guy!
And Irish divils anyway —
Protestant boys ‘ll carry the day!
But whoever made the likes o’ them —
Their feet was in Jerusalem;
Whoever thought that a woman could look
Like that — he knew the Holy Book;
He knew the mind of God; he knew
What a woman could be, and he drew and he drew
Till he got the touch: and I’m a fool
That was almost walloped out o’ the school,
I was that stupid, but I’ll tell ye! I’ve got
A soul in my inside, whether or not,
And I know the way the chap was feelin
When he made them picthers — he must ha’ been kneelin
All the time, I think, and prayin
To God for to help him; and it’s likely sayin
He was paintin the Queen — they calls her the Queen
Of Heaven, but of coorse she couldn ha’ been —
But that’s the sort — a woman lifted
To heaven, with a breast like snow that’s sifted,
And a eye that’s fixed on God hisself —
Now where’s your wivin and thrivin and pelf?
And sweethearts, and widdies well stocked with the rhino?
Ah! that’s the thing likest God that I know.
Well up come the Pazon at last — no doubt
This time, and helpin the Misthress out,
Very lovin; and a givin a scrape
Of her skinny ould leg agin the step —
And “Oh Misther Gale!” and “How awkard ye are!”
And him a fussin and — “Well I declare!”
And “I beg your pardin! “Bless me! the perlite!
And Jinny dodgin about with a light;
And me with ould Smiler’s nose in my hand,
The horse that was at them,1 you’ll understand.
And laughin like fun; and George goin nudgin
With his elber the way it was time to be trudgin —
So I takes the hint, and away like a shot,
And down the gully and into the boat,
And pullin her round to the moorins all right,
And home, and mother sittin up straight
In her chair, and a sulkin, and suckin hard
At her ould black pipe, and never a word
But — “Here ye are! ye Lhiggey-my-traiee!2
Go off to bed!” “I’m goin,” says I.
1 They had.
Well poor James died — he did though — yes
That was the first and the last kiss —
He’d never see her again — no! no!
Till the day he died — “Let me go! let me go!”
He’d say. It’d be some time about harvest —
I was shearin that year for ould Juan Jarvis —
But I was up at the buryin; and, what’s more,
That’s the first white shirt that ever I wore.
Save us! the row the ould mawther made
About yandhar shirt, and the terr’ble ‘fraid
It wouldn be ready — aw quite delighted!
And me invited! me invited!
She wouldn hd’ cared if it wasn for that —
And a black clout pinnin round my hat —
And the ould man’s Sunday clothes took out
Of the chiss — and mind what was I about!
And none of my cryin and booin! she said;
I had other things to think of, I had —
“Buck up,” says she, “and look like a man!”
And how to walk and how to stand —
Aw dear! I was tired — “And don’t let me see
A speck on that coat, ye fenodyree!1
When ye come back” — she says; “but in case
You must cry, hold the handkecher to your face!
That’s dacent enough — but drabbin still
On your clothes — it isn respectable” —
She said — “let alone the cloth goin a spilin.”2
God bless my soul! the woman was rilin.
1 Properly the “lubber fiend” of Milton; here awkward fellow.
2 Getting spoiled.
So I felt like a fool at the buryin,
For I couldn be sorry nor anythin
In them boostly1 clothes, but takin care
And mindin my eye like a prig2 at a fair.
She’d got a thing warped around my neck
Would ha’ choked ould Harry himself I expec.
Well well! they’re terr’ble — But even them clothes
Couldn hinder me lookin for the Christmas Rose.
And I saw her, I saw her sittin all alone
In a window — just like a block of stone —
Sittin, and lookin straight at the moul’3
That was heaped round the grave — upon my soul!
The way she sat — aw a queen on her throne!
But a block of stone — a block of stone!
“Her heart was stone,” says you — Well! well!
I suppose then, Billy, you knew the gel?
You didn! no! I knew you didn!
Well then ould gandhar! stick to your midden!
Stick to what you’re used of, Billy!
Christmas Rose, or Christmas Lily —
They’re not much in your line, Illiam,4 eh?
Hard-hearted — well now I’ve heard them say
She was hard-hearted: but if they’d said
Strong-hearted not hard, why then they’d had
Some raison — Look here now! is it the same —
Hard and strong? and a craythur that came
Like foam from the sea — But it isn strong
Nor it isn hard: you’re wrong! you’re wrong!
It’s far off it is, and different,
A kind of a surt of a splenthar5 sent
From another world — like moonstones just —
They haven’t got the same subjecs6 as us.
There’s ones comes into the world like that,
Even among their own people — what?
Haven’t ye seen them? lonely things —
They haven’t got crowns and they haven’t got wings —
They’re not angels azackly7 nor divils ether,8
And us and them wall grow up together :
But their roots isn twisted someway with ours;
And the flowers that’s at them9 is other flowers;
And they’re waitin, I’m thinkin, to be transplanted
To the place where the lek o’ them is wanted :
And our love isn their love, and they cannot take it;
Nor our thirst their thirst, so we cannot slake it :
There’s no food in us for them to feed on,
There’s nothing in us that they got need on,10 —
So there they are, with kith and kin,
Sittin in the middle, and wondherin.
And love and heart — why how should it be?
There’s no heart made in them yet, d’ye see?
Just wild-fire flashin here and there,
Or if it’s at them anywhere,
It’s like a bud that sucks the air
Through its baby lips, but open? no!
Till the westlin winds begin to blow,
And drew at11 the sun with a strong sweet strain
It opens and never shuts again.
9 Which they have.
10 Have need of.
11 Drawn by.
But, say what you like, and say what you will,
The Christmas Rose was a puzzle still.
It wasn no baby buds in her,
But a big woman’s heart, that wouldn stir
To other hearts, but took its motion
From the winds and the clouds and the waves of the ocean.
It was bred in the storm;
It was fed in the storm —
She’d run to meet it, she’d see it comin,
She’d smell it, I believe; she’d hear it thrummin
A hunderd miles off — out she’d be!
But secretly! aw secretly!
Crouchin and crouchin behind a wall —
I’ve seen her, but she didn know at all —
And lookin behind — Ah hah! my Queen!
Was she seen? she was thinkin, was she seen? was she seen?
And flittin like a bird, or a gel
That’s stealin away to the lad she loves well —
Ould eyes, she thinks, aren’t allis dim —
“Hush! hush! that’s him! that’s him! that’s him!”
And then to the rocks, and a loosin her hair
To the wind, aye, aye, and her neck all bare;
And her mouth all open, and a gaspin to’t,
And the shivers of joy running down her throat —
What had she? what was at her1 my men?
Was it her heart that was makin then?
But think of her father! think of her mother!
That’s it! so one thing with another,
And love for love, and tit for tat,
What would ye do with a gel like that?
1 The matter with her.
There was another thing I seen that day —
A Pazon come from over the bay
For our Pazon lek, to do the duty —
That’s their talk — well he was a beauty!
Well the purtiest little bit of a man
That ever I saw — and the little hand
And the little foot, and the little squeak
Of his little vice; and the little cheek
So rosy and round; and the legs — my gough!
And the little hem! and the little cough!
Well he was a nice little divil though.
He was now; and his mouth like a little red O —
My senses! that little chap beat all —
A pippity-poppity — talk of a doll!
Why I’d just have liked to took and stowed him
In my trousis pocket, and had him and showed him
To the childher — only a penny a peep —
Well he was the natest little sweep!
You might have put the little dandy
In your mouth, and sucked him for sugar-candy.
And he up’s to the Pazon, and bless us! the sollum!
And the head goin like what-d’ye-call-em!
And “A great affliction” — and — tiggle — taggle —
And the Lord was great — and — wiggle — waggle;
And the Pazon never lookin at him,
But out to the round of the blue sea-rim
(It was clear that day); but what he saw —
Never mind! the little chap had the jaw.
Well, you see, I couldn cry, triced1 up
In the ould woman’s rig, so I didn stop.
But out on the gaery2 — and what did I do
But off with the coat and the waistcoat too —
Aw laugh! I did; and I hung the pair
On a lump of3 a thorn that was growin there;
And then I set to for a hearty bout,
And I had it out — I had it out.
But I was that disthressed and done, I tell ye,
That harvest, I couldn go to the mheillea4 —
Aw it’s a fac! and Betsey there!
Aw poor James! aw Betsey dear!
2 piece of waste land.
Now, you see, after the buryin
George couldn help it but he must begin
To talk very comfortin lek and nice
To Christmas Rose, and once or twice
He put his arm round her, and called her name.
Just comfortin lek, and wantin the same —
Aw wantin it bad, for he loved his brother —
And there they’d be, and the father and mother,
Terrible quiet, just sighin and lookin —
The Pazon, I mane, and sometimes he’d be smookin,
But the pipe ‘d allis be goin out,
And him never knowin, and used to be stout,
And gettin thin, they were tellin me;
And the wife with the Bible on her knee,
Reading away, but very quick
And sharp with the temper, and givin a click
With her needles, and lookin up though still —
George tould me it was dreadful uncomfible —
Terrible quiet — and the everins1 long.
And — what to do? and, right or wrong.
He couldn help it, but layin his head.
On Christmas’ shoudher, and “dodgin,” he said,
Aye! “dodgin,” he said, poor fellow! for fear
The ould people would see; and dear! aw dear!
The way the Christmas ‘d shake, and the shiftin
Onaisy2 lek, and the “Don’t!” and liftin
The big black eyes, and axin lek
He wouldn do that; and curling the neck —
And dhrivin him mad; and why? and how?
And “Mightn she now? aw mightn she now?”
And everything that miser’ble —
And all the house like a broken mill —
And wasn it her duty? — aye!
Her duty, he said, at least to try
Could she love him, and not be that contrary?
Aw a fine brave lad, but simple very!
“And have ye spoke plain to her?” I said;
“Yes! aw yes!” and ‘deed he hed —
Plain enough — for the day before
He met her walkin upon the shore,
And he axed her what was it, and what did she mane?
That was middlin plain eh? middlin plain!
Well she was a darlin, for when them two
Was alone together — aw it’s true! it’s true! —
She met him as lovin, and she spoke
The way she ought — aw it’s fit to choke
I am3 when I’m tellin ye — yes — straight
And plain to me as the gospel light —
To me — God knows how is it to me,
For George couldn twig it — ma chree4 — ma chree!
The strange — and him that eddicated!
Aw a power of schoolin! And he should ha’ waited —
But still — what good! aw the true and the keen!
My Queen! my queen! my queen! my queen!
I know it! I know it! but him — well! well! —
She said — “My darlin (didn he tell
Every word to me?) — my darlin,” she said, —
“My darlin brother!” (aw the white and the red —
He was tellin me!) — ” my darlin brother!”
(Aw he clasped her then!) “no other! no other,”
She said, “can ever be to me
What you are,” she said (d’ye see? d’ye see?
Brother — eh?) “But oh!” she said,
And she cried very bad, and she stooped her head
Agin5 his breast, and he kissed her and kissed her —
(Aye aye! I know!) and “Darlin sister!”
And that— but then — “George! George!” she says;
And the tears! the tears! and she lifts her face;
“George! George! no more! no more than this” —
And she gives him a long long lovin kiss;
And with that kiss — “George! George! here! here!
I give you all — oh dearest dear!
Oh brother mine — oh look and see!
It cannot be! it cannot be!
This — this! Forgive me, George, forgive!
I don’t know how I come to live —
I should have died that time!” Ah Rose!
And the strange! the strange! and the green grass grows —
“I’m so different — (she said it! she said it!)
And so unhappy — (aw let it! let it!)
Would God that I had never been!”
She said — My Queen! my queen! my queen!
“It’s strange,” says George; “Well yes!” says I,
“Uncommon strange!” but I tould a lie;
For it wasn strange — the gel was right;
But a blind man never will see the light.
3 I’m nearly choking.
4 My heart!
And George, ye see, got desperate.
And carin for nothin, and stayin out late;
And down at the public-house that was there,
In the village, and heavy upon the beer.
Aw drinkin hard, I tell ye, hard!
For a lad like him, and didn regard
For nobody — but “Come! let’s go
And have a pint!” and whether or no,
And in on the door — and the dirty ould trouss,1
One Callow’s wife, that was keepin the house,
Smilin and winkin, and plenty to say,
And drawin and drawin, and scorin away —
Bad work! bad work! And cards, and tossin,
And glasses round, and winnin and lossin —
And me that was ouldher backin the lad,
And very bad! aw very bad!
But what could I do? what could you expec’?
You see I was shockin fond of him lek —
And proud uncommon — aye that was it —
Proud — bless ye! proud! for there we’d sit,
Him, d’ye see? in the elber chair.
Hardly noticin was I there;
And me on the settle; and him in his glory,
Singin a song, or tellin a story:
And all the chaps delighted, you know;
And “Isn he good?” and “I tould ye so!”
And — “Listen! listen!” — and me nearly cryin
A thinkin of all; and tryin and tryin
Not to let on;2 and proud though still —
And as much as to say — “Very well! very well!”
But lookin the way I’d say to the others —
“Him and me is just like brothers I”
And “Capital!” and “Go it! go it!”
Aw I shouldn ha’ done it, and I know it.
2 Betray what I thought.
What did ye say? — if a chap’s in the trim
To have a spree, that’s a matter for him!
And why not have a spree when you can?
No! you shouldn with a gentleman —
No! no! my lads! it’s a different case —
Honour bright! I know my place.
But still the proud! and blow the fellows!
Who were they? and middlin jealous.
For some o’ them chaps would make too free,
And then I’d be hintin if it wasn for me
He’d see the lot at Jerusalem
Afore he’d make sport for the likes o’ them.
And “Isn he first-rate, Tom?” and “Hip!
Hip! hooraa!” and me bitin the lip
As contimptible as contimptible,
And lookin to say “Of coorse! but still
What’s that, bless ye! to the fun
When him and me is together alone?”
Well drink is drink, and funny is funny,
And jink is jink, and money is money —
And a long score owin — that’s the raison
He went partners with me for the mackarel saison.
Aw he was a partner — for I’ll be dished
If a better fisherman ever fished —
Crafty uncommon, and never contented
With our ould dodges; but took and invented
New streamers, new poundrhels,1 new guts, new plyin,
New everything, and tryin and tryin,
And changin often and calkerlatin,
And terrible tasty about the baitin.
Aw if there was a fish in the sea
He’d have it out though anyway —
Studyin lek. And that time o’ the year
The nights is short, so we didn care,
And maybe not in bed for a week,
But sittin in Callow’s till the day would keek,2
And out the very first skute3 of light,
For that’s the time the divils ‘ll bite —
Sittin — and maybe three or four
Of the other chaps upon the floor;
And all the fun and all the spree
Peaceful enough, and leavin to me
Mostly to watch — aw they knew who they had —
Very wakeful and clear, they said!
And the clock goin tickin, and ould mawther Callow
A snartin and snortin in the parlour —
Disthressin bad — ‘deed many a night
I’ve gone and pinched her to be quite.4
And George ‘d mostly be down with the head
On the table, and his arms outspread
For a pillar lek; and the curly hair
Sthrooghin5 among the rings of beer
And tobacco-dust and the lek; and I’d take
And rise it up, and give it a shake,
And feel it a bit, for I loved him though,
And reddyin6 it, just with my fingers, you know;
And tuck it nice, and give it a ply
Aback of his ears, and so — Oie Vie!7
But the first sign of day, we’d be down to the boat.
And him rather heavy and stupid to ‘t.
And blundherin lek, and stumblin about;
But as soon as ever we’d get out
A mile or that, he’d say — “Here goes!”
And half-a-minute, and off with the clothes,
And over the side, and in like a shot,
And me lookin sharp, and markin the spot,
And measurin lek — and, I’ll be swore.
Maybe a cable’s length or more —
And up with a jerk, and shakin the water
Out of his hair, and callin me ater1 —
And “Come in! Tom Baynes! come in! come in!”
And the teeth that white, and the round o’ the chin,
And his cheeks all red with the risin day,
Like another sun comin out o’ the sea —
And the green water swirlin around the ring
Of his shouldhers, and fit for anything.
And — “Try it Tom! come! try, man, try!”
“Go ahead! go ahead! go ahead!” says I;
I’m busy!” But, bless ye! heel or toe —
I never cared much for the water — no!
In the heat of the day it might do, ye see;
But they’re very strange is the quality.
Well that’s the style, and goin and goin —
And it’s lek you’ll ax was the Pazon knowin?
About Callow’s? — well — I cannot say —
Lek enough — but he had a way
Houldin on, you know, and hopin still,
And patient, patient terrible —
And livin in a sort of drame, I suppose,
And happy enough in the Christmas Rose —
And thinkin no evil, and trustin a dale —
Aw the best of fathers was Pazon Gale.
But he got to know it at last for all;
For who should go and give him a call
But ould mawther herself — and was he aware?
And this and that, and the cards and the beer!
And well enough for him to spree
That could easy afford it, but how about me!
And she’d better be takin a bag at once,
And about the country, and them that had sons
Should look after their hours — and no disrespect!
And curtseyin and curtseyin, and trimblin lek.
And the Pazon, I’m tould, got terrible red.
And “I’ll spake to him, Mrs. Baynes!” he said
But he didn say much — aw the man was aisy!
Lazy though, mawther said, or crazy!
Aw she wouldn spare! but bless her chatter’n!
Good people isn all the ‘zac
For some is very strong and bould,
And some very tender, not willin to scould.
But whatever he said, poor George! he felt it,
Aw aisy froze and aisy meltit!
And I’ll be bound to say he didn come
To the Bull for a week, and very glum
And silent lek; and the fellows lookin,
And never a word, and smookin, smookin.
But soon as bad as ever though,
And gettin in at the window, you know —
Aw I see the spot, and the very ould trammon1 —
Faith! I’m not goin to deny it, I amn
Heisin3 him up there in the tree —
I couldn help but back him, don’t ye see?
And The Rose? The Rose? ifs lek she knew?
Well — I think she did; but what could she do?
Was she to go and take him straight4
Because he was gettin drunk every night?
And I’m not goin to say one thing or another;
I know she loved him like a brother:
And there’s many a sister that’s got to let be,
And wait and see — and wait and see!
But that wasn the way of coorse to come at her.
Though maybe it wasn so very much matter;
For the gel was moulded, ye see, and sent
Into the world to be different.
But still for all, if you want to catch
Young love asleep, you must lift the latch
Middlin aisy, I tell ye, for sure,5
And not go kickin at the door :
And if you want to take a bird, my son,
Alive for it’s beauty, no call for a gun;
And snowdrops isn op’nin with puttin
A candle to them, nor neither shuttin;
And the brightest brass is the better for ilin,
And never no egg wasn hatched with bilin.
Different — yes different!
And never meant! no, never meant!
1 Elder tree.
2 Am not.
But she couldn help noticin, whether or not,
It’s dififerenter the two of them got;
And furder1 and furder, and sick and sore.
And lovin the Pazon more and more,
Aw a bird of the storm, if you like, but glad
Of a bit of rest, and all that she had
He done it, for, if the storm was in her,
The calm was in him — so there they were.
And she’d sit at his feet with her arms on his knees,
And look up like a thing that was lookin for peace.
And axin lek — and all the big troubles
A strainin in her eyes like bubbles
Of fire and wonder; and who was she?
And when and why? and the kind he’d be.
With his blessed ould face all full of love
And comfort for her to be drinkin of
And she did drink too; and off she’d go
To sleep the way with the babbies, you know.
Aw he was a reglar ould nussin mother
Was the Pazon, and ‘deed she hadn no other.
For the Misthress wasn no use, but hard
And dry uncommon, and didn regard
For young craythurs, nor couldn fit
Her soul to theirs, aw not a bit!
And the two of them allis together though,
And larnin Spanish; and George stuck to,
And larnin with them, and larnin grand;
Aw quick at the schoolin, you’ll understand.
I’ve got the book he was larnin from yet
In the chiss at me1 here — I’ll show ye it
Some night — of course it’s lingo to me,
But George ‘d be puttin it out quite free
In the English talk; and of all the stuff!
Aw terrible nonsense, sure enough!
Fightin and women, and I don’t know what —
And the name they had to it was Don Quixotte —
A sort of a Punch-and-judy, or the way
The Whiteboys2 is actin a3 Christmas day —
Imprint craythurs! and Rosinante,
A skinny ould hoss that he had; and a banty
Fat little beggar called Sancho that got
For a governor — aye! Don Quixotte!
And his shield and all the ould iron he wore —
Well the quality’s — but I said that afore.
And the picthers raely is funny amazin —
Bless me! the barber and the bason!
And him agate o’ the windmills — aye!
But I’ll be showin ye bye and bye.
1 My chest.
Well the time went on, and George had to go
To Oxford College, the way you know,
He’d lam for a Pazon — the for1 they’re sent —
And the spree the night before he went —
At the Bull! and all the fellows there —
And him with a speech and “Hear! hear! hear!”
And shoutin and tearin; and kissin ould Berry:2
But in the mornin thoughtful very
At the Coach: and “Tom! do you know where I’m goin?”
He says — and old Cannel waein and woin —
“I’m goin to the divil!” and he turned his head;
Aw that’s the very words he said!
And to the divil it was, for sure —
And spreein, and bills, and the Pazon poor —
Not rich at any rate, no, no! not he!
Just a little bit of proppity
On the Northside, a place they called the Height,
And mortgaged heavy to Tommy Tite.
The Misthress, it’s true, was gettin the name
Of a fortin somewhere; but how it came.
Or where it was I cannot say;
But the women is allis big that way.
And when he was home again — aw the work I
And what would become? and that ould Turk
Of a Pazon’s wife began to smell
A rat, and at him, and made him tell
About Christmas — and he’d tried and tried,
And he couldn help it, if he died:
And heaven help him! and what was the use?
And hid either get her or he’d go to the deuce!
And at first she called him a fool; and she said
She raelly believed he was wrong in the head.
1 Reason why.
But she soon found that would never do;
And then she came over to the Brew
To see ould Anthony’s wife; and says she —
“Oh Missis Lee! oh Missis Lee!”
And would she advise her? and — “Oh Missis Gale!
Sit down!” and — “You’re lookin very pale!”
And whatever? And at it the two of them went.
And a little sup of peppermint —
“It’s good for the narves” — and “Lawk-a-day!”
And “you gave me a start”! And “you don’t mean to say!
Miss Christmas! mum — aw dear! aw dear!”
And out with it all — and “Did you ever hear!”
And A terrible secret f and not to be tould
On no account to a livin soul.
D’ye see how foolish the woman was?
And it’s often the way with people that’s close
And keepin back, and showin nothin —
They’ll go to the very pesson they oughtn,
And demane theirselves to some ould churl
That’s bound to blab it to all the world.
Aw dear! aw dear! they take a delight —
She tould it to Betsey that very night.
And what d’ye think the Pazon’s wife
Had got to tell? God bless my life!
It wasn only George and Rose,
But the Pazon! Well you’ll hardly suppose —
But the Pazon, I tell ye! gettin too fond
Of Christmas! and the carryin on —
And — never sundered1 — aw as jealous
As the divil himself — and who blew the bellows
But Anthony’s wife? And “O Missis Gale!”
And “Yes! Missis Gale!” and “No! Missis Gale!”
And ‘deed and ‘deed!2 – and scoffers would mock;
And what a example to the flock!
“And the family! the family
You come of! Missis Gale,” says she —
“Some of the very first that’s goin!
And to think! and to think! but there’s never knowin!”
That was a nice sort of talk, I’ll swear.
For a wife and, a Pazon’s wife to hear —
Aw takin it in as sweet as puddin —
And “Yes! my lady;” and No! she wouldn!
And the fortin she’d brought him, and her a match
For the best in the country, and glad of the catch!
“Aye indeed! You’ll ‘scuse me, mam!
But it’s only spakin the truth I am!” —
And to think a woman that locked away
Her soul in a safe, and hid the key
Would give an ould craythur like Misthress Lee
The chance to take such a liberty?
But jealous! jealous! or mad? which is it?
Aw it’s the divil’s own claw in any one’s gizzit!3
And pride and dacency will go
When that ould cock begins to crow.
And Misthress Lee — dy’e think for a minute
The ould humbug believed there was anythin in it?
Not her! that’s just the talk I heard
From ould Peggy long after — aw every word.
Of coorse! of coorse! But the very next day —
To Betsy — it was another say —
Poor Missis Gale now! dear! aw dear!
What was at her!4 and — terrible queer!
And — the notions and the stuff she’d got!
And she ought to be ashamed, she ought!
Dy’e hear? of coorse! But true it ess5 —
Rael good women is very skess!6
2 Indeed and indeed.
4 The matter with her.
And the two of them made it up, I suppose,
To have it out with the Christmas Rose.
And old Anthony’s wife was tellin how,
And what she said, and all the row.
And they got her in the parlour together.
And George not at home, nor the Pazon either :
And then she turned up the whole o’ the midden,
And Lee’s wife backed her, but she said she didn,
But I know she did, but never mind!
And first about George — the good and the kind
And the studdy he was used to be —
“Now wasn he? wasn he? Missis Lee!”
And “Yes;” and What had come over him then!
And allis down at that wretched den.
Meanin the Bull — and what was he doin
At Oxford College? nothin but ruin!
And “Christmas!” she says, “what are we to do?
And — it’s all — it’s all — on account of you!”
And Christmas looked — but she sat quite still —
And looked; and her look was terrible —
Misthress Lee was sayin — and with that look
The Misthress got quite ‘cited and shook
And trembled all over, and went on quicker.
All flurried lek, like a woman in liquor —
And cryin and cryin! and what had she done?
And — Oh my son! my son! my son!”
But when she cried in that distress,
The Christmas flew like a bird to her breast,
And clung and clung; and “Mother dear!
Oh let me! let me! let me be here!
Mother! mother! oh be my mother!”
And Missis Gale gave a kind of a shuddher —
“Oh I long for your love! oh if — oh if — ”
But Missis Gale got very stiff” —
“If I could always be like this!
Your child! your own! oh one, one kiss! —”
And the mawther gave her a little pat,
Betwix the shoulders, just like that! —
Coaxin though — “O mother! mother!”
Says Christmas, “George is a darling brother —
But more than that —” and she kind o’ moan’t1 —
“O mother! mother! oh don’t! oh don’t!”
And — “Some other time,” she says, “I’ll try,”
Says the Christmas Rose, “to tell you why.
But now!” she says, and she cuddled to her —
“I never was like this before!
Love me, mother!” — Aw the Misthress’s face
Was a thing to see — and “Listen!” she says —
“Will you have George? oh I’m goin mad!
O Christmas! have him! for the love of God!”
Then Christmas lifted her face, and sent
All the love and the wonderment
And the pain and the longin and the sighs
Straight into that ould woman’s eyes.
And — “Be merciful!” she said, and bent
Her head again; but the woman meant
No mercy — no! “Stand off!” she cried.
And all the rage and all the pride
And all the jealousy come tearin
In one blast through her soul, like the way you’re hearin
A storm in the woods on a winter’s day,
When the trees has no sap, and cranches away.
“Stand off! you viper!” she said; and oh
If she’d only known this long ago,
“I’d have smothered her, I’d have smothered her
In her cradle!” she said — Missis Lee didn stir,
But snivelin lek — “I would!” she said :
“Mother! and Mercy!” and she spread
Her arms all wild — “Oh I know your art;
And you’ve robbed me of my husband’s heart!”
And then she went on, and ravin and ravin,
That Misthress Lee thought it was time to be lavin.
But — “No! Missis Lee!” and “The wretch! and the schamer!”1
And — “Look on her. Missis Lee! and shame her!”
And what of Rose? aye! what of Rose?
All the blood that was in her froze.
And she stood like an image made of stone,
A dreadful thing to look upon,
Ould Lee’s wife said; and neither fear,
Nor anger, nor anything was there;
But just the beautiful and the strong —
And she cowed that ould woman with the bitter tongue
Till she hadn another word to say,
But down in a chair and snivelled away.
And the two of them lek houldin in.
And sniffin and snuffin and slobberin —
And never a word all the time from Rose,
But keepin her eye on them; and she goes.
And out on the door, and — “The fiend! the fiend!”
Says the Misthress then — my Queen — my Queen!
And was the Pazon’s wife raelly jealous!
Yes! and a woman should allis tell us
If so be we’re not lovin enough —
In our ways, I mean; for we’re apt to be rough,
Bein men, you know, and not thinkin about it —
But the women, you see, can’t do without it.
They like to be loved, and the love to be showed
Middlin plain — aye that’s the road!
And there’s odds1 of women and odds of men;
And this Misthress Gale she wouldn pretend
She cared, and dying all her life
Because she wasn a happy wife —
And the Pazon not knowin, the aisy he was,
The fire that was undher all that frost.
For she never made no sort of complaint,
And goin,2 and seemin well content :
So that’s the way she got mad, ye see;
At least — well a sort of mad it ‘d be —
And plenty of love to have for the asin3 —
Aw the poor Pazon! aw the poor Pazon!
I never knew was he tould or what,
But it’s lek she’d be at him after that —
I don’t know, and I don’t want to know —
Poor ould man! But, whether or no.
He’d enough to put up with, I’ll be bail,
Aw plenty! plenty! had Pazon Gale.
1 Different kinds.
2 Going about her ordinary pursuits.
And George to Oxford again, and wuss
Than ever, and kickin a terrible dust,
And makin the money fly like blazes,
As if the chap was as rich as Crayzus.
But not for long — for one fine mornin,
Without ever the smallest taste of warnin.
What did he do but ax a lot
Of chaps to his breakfast (a way they’ve got —
The quality — chut!1 what a fool I am!);
And there was the eggs, and there was the ham
Aw a terrible spread — but George, behould yer!
Was off long ago, with a gun on his shouldher
And a dog in a chain. The chap that was tellin
Was at College with George; and his eyes was swellin
With tears when he tould — and a nice sort of lad.
And tould the Pazon all he had,
Bein come a-purpose, you know, and tryin
To tell it the best he could, and eyein
The Rose — yes! yes! for George had tould
The sore he was, and the sick in his sowl
About her; and her eye met yandhar young man’s,
And then she hid her face in her hands:
And then the ould woman began with her talk.
And the Pazon gets up to go out for a walk;
And says he to the lad — “Will you come with me?”
And over the fields and out to the sea,
The young man said: but he didn tell
Much about that, and maybe as well.
But they walked till it was gettin night,
And the Pazon, he said, was very quite;
And at last he sat down, like for him to be goin,
And he says — “I’d wish to be alone!”
But kind — and the young man bowed and went —
Aw a very civil surt of a gent —
Not so free; but stayin at the Bull,
And sittin there, and the kitchen full.
And lookin — you know the way they’ll stare,
And no pipe at him, but just a cigar —
And all of them knowin of coorse what for he
Was come, and very silent and sorry.
Aw the quality doesn think, d’ye see.
Such fellows has feelins — but let that be!
Well the next we heard of this poor chap —
He was seen somewhere a drivin a trap
To a station, and never a dog or a gun.
And carryin on though with jokes and fun;
And then a spreein away at a fair
Somewhere about in Lancasheer —
And took up with a hurdy-gurdy gel —
And trampin the country — aw well well well!
And grindin the urgan;1 and her on the green
A poundin away with the tambourine —
Aw mad though, and goin ahead like a fool;
And down at last to Liverpool;
And aboard a brig that was just a startin
For Austrilia — the Orpheus, Captain Martin —
I knew the man — and up to the diggins,
And married there to a gel called Higgins,
I’m tould a dacent woman enough;
And him stickin to her, but fond of the stuff—
And all to that;2 and twins, bedad!
The very first year! aw bless the lad!
And losin the wife, and losin heart,
And losin all; and makin a start,
And beggin about among the farms,
With them two childher in his arms.
That’s the last I heard — aw every bit!
And I’m sore whenever I think of it.
2 So forth.
Wait then! wait! and I’ll try to tell
About the gel — about the gel —
About her — yes! yes! I know! I know —
You’ll not take rest’1 — just so! just so!
Still — half-a-minute — and then — and then
(I’m feelin very strange, my men!) —
Half-a-minute (very queer) —
Half-a-minute — (aw dear! aw dear!)
Half-a — half-a — Well, here goes!
This is what happened to the Christmas Rose,
It was harvest-time, and terrible warm,
And me a shearin on the Lheargy farm;
And rather late givin over though.
And home, and a good piece of road to go,
And takin the shortest cut I could,
And crossin a stream and a bit of a wood,
And out on the headlands over the bay,
And I saw a cloud very far away,
But comin, comin, bound to come.
And the deep low growl of the thunder-drum;
And steady, steady, sollum, slow.
As if it knew where it had to go;
Comin, comin, like it would be
Comin a purpose for somebody —
(Was it them that had the power
Gave to them in that dreadful hour?)
And low, rather low; then higher, higher,
Till it kissed the cairn with a kiss of fire —
Once — like the twinklin of an eye —
Once — and the long back-suck and the sigh
Of the silence — and terrible far away
Flash flashed to flash behind the sea;
And back and back till you couldn see fuddher,2
Like passin something to one another.
And — was it a sheep, or was it a flag
That white spot on the Belfry crag
I couldn tell, and wondhering,
And up through the goss, and up through the ling
As quick — it was her! it was her! Yes! yes!
Dead though, dead, and gript in her fist
A bunch of blue bells that was growin there.
And sea-pinks twisted through her hair:
And never a spot and never a speck
But just a black mark under the neck;
And her breast all open — my God! that breast!
The beautifullest and the loveliest!
But I covered it up — aw I did, and I ran
Down to the Pazon’s like a crazy man,
And I shouted. . . well! well! that’ll do! that’ll do!
They took her — aye them two! them two!
They took her, it’s lek to be with them
In the Heavenly Jerusalem,
Or wherever it is. And you’ll aisy belave
Her grave is next to the darkey’s grave —
And the Pazon is often sittin theer,
Partikler in the Spring of the year —
And to this day there’s no man knows
Who or what was the Christmas Rose.
1 Be satisfied.
“To sing a song shall please my countrymen; To unlock the treasures of the Island heart”
Published in 1881, T. E. Brown’s Fo’c’s’le Yarns is undoubtedly the single most important work in all of Manx literature. If Brown had written no more than the four poems in this collection, they alone would have earned him the title of The Manx National Poet.
Brown’s narrator for all four of these poems is Tom Baynes, a Manx fisherman who tells these ‘yarns’ to entertain his shipmates in Manx dialect with stories that touch the full range of human emotion, from light comedy through to heart-rending tragedy.
As is correct for the yarns of an old Manx fisherman at the end of the 19th Century, the poems are told in Manx dialect. Although intimidating for some to begin with, the language serves to deepen the reader’s involvement in the story and to increase their power over us. Through this we come to not only better understand the Manx National Poet, but also ourselves and our place in this world – such is the depth of Fo’c’s’le Yarns.
T. E. Brown is the Manx National Poet; a brilliant writer, a wonderful person, and someone with the Isle of Man and Manx identity at the centre of their life and work.