Fo‘c’s’le Yarns – Tommy Big-Eyes
I NEVER knew a man in my life
That had such a darling little wife
As a chap they were callin Tommy Gellin;
So how he got her is worth the tellin.
Now, Tommy was as shy as a bird:
“Yes” or “No” was the only word
You’d get from Tommy. So every monkey
Thought poor Tommy was a donkey.
But — bless your sowl! — lave Tommy alone!
He’d got a stunnin head of his own;
And his copies just like copper-plate,
And he’d set to work and cover a slate
Before the rest had done a sum:
But you’d really have thought the fellow was dumb-
He was that silent and bashful, you know;
Not a fool — not him — but lookin so.
Ugly he was, most desperate,
For all the world like a suckin skate.
But the eyes! the eyes! Why — blow the fella!
He could spread them out like a rumberella —
You’d have wondered where on earth he got them
Deep dubs of blue light with the black at the bottom —
Basins of light. But it was very seldom
You could see them like that, for he always held them
Straight on his book or whatever he had,
As if he was ashamed, poor lad!
And really they were a most awful size;
And so we were callin him “Tommy Big-eyes.”
The way that chap was knocked about
Was just a scandal. You hit him a clout
Whenever you saw him — that was the style:
Hit him once, and you’d get him to smile:
Hit him twice, and he’d drop the head;
Hommer away till you’d think he was dead.
And he’d stand like a drum, as if his skin
Was a sheep’s, and made for hommerin.
Then, his hair was so thick it was nice to grab it,
And pull it back like skinnin a rabbit.
Till he’d have to look up, as you may suppose;
And then you could welt him under the nose.
I do believe the cruellest fien’s
In the world is a parcel of boys in their teens.
One of them stirrin up the other.
But still, for all,1 the divil’s mother
Should have looked a little more to the way
The chap was rigged; for it isn’t fair play
To dress a lad that’s goin to school
As if he was born to be a fool.
Fancy a frill around his neck!
What in the world could the woman expec?
And his trousers buttonin outside
Of his jacket, like these fellows that ride
At the races. Surely, it might occur —
Well, she’d a deal to answer for.
1 After all.
And that’s the for this Tommy had
Such girlish ways — oh, very bad!
Just give him a needle and a bit
Of calico, and there he’d sit
In a corner, as happy as a prince.
And the gels goin on with their imperince.
And — “Are you wantin a sweetheart, Tommy?”
Poor thing! as innocent as a lammie!
They said, if you’d give him a doll he’d frock it.
But he owned to a pincushion in his pocket.
“Where did he come from?” did ye say?
Somewhere over Lough Molla’ way;
And a road runnin in on the opposite side,
A long sort of road that went to Kirk Bride,
And joinin together, and leadin down.
And over the bridge, and into the town;
And about a mile, I think it will be,
On the Kirk Bride road there’s a path you’ll see
Betwix the brews1 that the sheep have wore,
And a cart-track leadin to the shore;
And a pleasant little place they’re callin —
What’s this it is now? — aye, “The Vollin” —
And a little house, and a garden to’t,
And a little croft, and a mackarel boat.
And some trees they’ve planted, but they haven’t thriven,
And that’s where Nelly Quine was livin.
So you see these two would be meetin there
Every mornin, rain or fair.
For, mind ye, if this Tommy was late —
And he tried to be — little Nelly would wait.
Wait she would, and pretend a nest,
In the briars, you know; or had to rest;
Or a pin or somethin she was losin;
Or sittin down to put her shoes on.
Then Tommy would come, and he’d give a peep
Round the corner, and then he’d creep
Close in to the hedge, and wouldn allow
He saw her a bit, and on like a plough.
And there they’d go — you’d have split to seen them —
One on each side, and the road between them —
And little Nelly lookin, lookin;
And this poor bashful divil hookin
The best he could. And every turn
In the road, no matter the bend, he’d burn
With the shame; and he’d crib himself into a O,
Like feelin her bearin on him, you know.
And sometimes Nelly ‘d give a race,
And get before him, and look in his face,
And he’d stop as dead — and she’d give a little snigger
Of a laugh in her nose, like the click of a trigger,
And lookin under to see could she prize
His big head up with a lift of her eyes —
Botherin this chap. But when they’d be near
The school, she wasn willin they’d see her
Comin with Tommy; and she’d tuck up her clothes,
And she’d shake her hair, and away she goes;
And the little feet twinkling — ha! ha! my men!
He’d look rather sharp, would Tommy, then.
And Dick, and Nick, and all the rest of them —
Miss Nelly could plague him with the best of them —
Indeed she could; and boo and hiss,
And put out her mouth like wantin a kiss,
And dance around him, and ask him to carry her —
“Do, Tommy!” and — when was he goin to marry her?
“When, Tommy! when la?”1 just bewild’rin —
That’s when she was with the other children.
”Fiends” I called them, did I? Well,
I shouldn then. It’s hard to tell;
And it’s likely God has got a plan
To put a spirit in a man
That’s more than you can stow away
In the heart of a child. But he’ll see the day
When he’ll not have a bit too much for the work
He’s got to do. And the little Turk
Is good for nothin but shoutin and fightin
And carryin on; and God delightin
To make him strong and bold and free,
And thinkin the man he’s goin to be —
More beef than butter, more lean than lard;
Hard, if you like; but the world is hard.
You’ll see a river how it dances
From rock to rock, wherever it chances —
In and out, and here and there:
A regular young divil-may-care!
But, caught in the sluice, it’s another case,
And it steadies down, and it flushes the race
Very deep and strong, but still
It’s not too much to work the mill.
The same with bosses — kick and bite
And winch2 away — all right, all right!
Wait a bit, and give him his ground.
And he’ll win his rider a thousand pound.
Aw dear! aw dear! I’ve had my day,
And it’s a merry month is the month of May —
Little Peggies, little Annies,
Little Nellies, little Fannies —
And you with Kitty, and me with Sal,
And coortin like the deuce and all;
And playin weddin’s, and pretendin to go
To the Vicar for a licence, you know —
And a book, and sayin the very words —
Bless ye! as innocent as the birds!
So what did a lot of us do but join
And persuade this Tommy that Nelly Quine
Was desperate in love with him there —
And, “Spake to her, Tommy! spake to her!
Spake to her, for all!”1 we said:
“Yes, dyin in love! ” And he hung the head
Like a clout, poor chap! But we stuck to him still —
And “If you’ll not spake, there’s others that will,”
Says one of the imps. And how she’d be blushin
When they’d tell her the bad that Tommy was wushin –
To be her sweetheart, but afraid to make free.
“And listen, Tommy! the plased she’ll be!”
Says the imp. Then Tommy looked up, but slow
And the big blue eyes began to blow
Like “Bladders” was it I was sayin?
“Rumberellas?” Try again.
“Bubbles,” was it? What d’ye call —
“Blow’n,” I said. Just aisy all!
“Blow’n,” of coorse; and the bigger the lies
The wider Tommy was spreadin the eyes.
“She said you were handsome; she said you were smart
She said she was almost breakin her heart;”
“She called you a duck;” “She called you a dove;”
“She called you her darlin darlin love;”
And the tasty dressed, she said she never;
And the splendid trousis he had however;
And the way they were stitched, and the beautiful gimp.
“She didn!” says I. “She did!” says the imp:
And “Buck up,”3 Tommy, and bring her a present.”
These imps is terrible onpleasant.
3 Take heart of grace!
So one day Tommy took the road
The very earliest he could;
And into the school as quite1 as a worm,
And claps his basket under the furm2 —
His dinner, you’d think — and waited there
Till school began; but just in the prayer
A fellow gave a shove — worse luck!
At Tommy’s basket; and “Tuck-tuck-tuck!”
And the master stopped, and we all of us stopped;
And “Tuck-tuck-tuck!” and out she popped —
A beautiful little hen — and she flew
This way and that way— and “Shish!” and “Shoo!”
And over the desks; and we all gave chase,
And she flapped her wings in the master’s face —
And the dignified he turned to look!
And “Shoo!” he says; and “Tuck-tuck-tuck” —
And away to the window, and scratched and tore;
And, the feathers flyin. “Open that door!”
Says the master then; and, glad to be shot of us.
So out goes the hen, and out goes the lot of us —
Helter-skelter, boys and gels —
Sticks and stones, or anything else:
“Catch her!” “Watch her!”
“Stop her!” “Drop her!”
“Here she is!” “There she is!”
“Tommy’s I’ll swear she is!”
“Tommy’s! Tommy’s! Hop-chu-naa!3
Three cheers for Tommy! — Hip-hip-hooraa!”
And a stone come flyin, and a flip and a flutter —
And down went the poor little hen in the gutter,
And her leg was broken; and “Take her up!”
And “The poor little thing!” and “Stop, then; stop!
Here’s Tommy himself!” And Tommy came,
And he stood like dumb. “It’s a dirty shame!”
Says one of the gels, and begun a-cryin.
Says an imp, “He brought her for Nelly Quine!”
And, “Nelly! for Nelly!” and took and caught her!
And, “Nelly’s his sweetheart! It’s for Nelly he brought her!”
So when Tommy heard that, he stooped down low,
Like to take the hen, and the tears to flow
Most pitiful, and shivered all over —
And, “Look at him, Nelly! look at your lover!”
But Nelly sprung like a flash of light.
And her eye was set, and her face was white;
And she put her hand upon his head.
And, “Was it for me then. Tommy?” she said —
“Was it for me?” And he snuffs and he snivels;
And, “Yes,” says Tommy. “Hooraa!” says the divils.
3 Burden of a Manx song.
Then Nelly faced round like a tiger-cat —
“You brutes!” she said, “gerr1 out of that!
Gerr out, you cowards!” and her face all burned
With the fury of her; and she turned,
And she took this hen that Tommy confessed,
And she coaxed it, and put it in her breast,
And kissed and kissed it over again.
“My own little hen! my own little hen!”
Says Nelly; and then she got Tommy to rise,
And took her brat2 to wipe his eyes.
But away goes Tommy over the street
Like the very wind, and Nelly gave sheet3
As far as the bridge; but it wasn no use,
For Tommy could run like the very deuce —
And the hen in her arms and all, you see —
So she stood and laughed; and didn’t we?
Laughed and laughed — the little midge! —
And leaned against the wall of the bridge,
And laughed again; but I’ll be sworn
There was many a day after that you darn
Say much before Nelly about Tommy — no!
She wouldn’t have it! Touch and go.
Was Nelly. Three words, and by jabers you’d gerrit!4
Aw the gel, ye see, had a splendid sperrit!
Just the least little chuck! was enough, and then
You couldn’t coax her back again.
“And why did she laugh herself” — did ye say?
“The time poor Tommy was runnin away?”
Well, everythin of coorse in raison!
And the fool he looked, you know, was amazin.
But, even then, when she heard us behind her,
Singin out “Tally-high-ho-the-grinder!”5
(The grinder if you know what that is!)
She turned and looked like thunder at us —
And, upon my word, there’s a lot of thunder
‘ll go in a little noddle like yonder.
So she rolled the little hen in her brat,
And its little heart all pit-a-pat —
And as dignified as dignified —
And starts, and away with her home to Kirk Bride.
And no school for her that day nor the next —
Oh, Miss Nelly was desperate vexed!
4 Get it.
5 Chorus of an old song.
But Tommy came the very next day —
And if he didn catch it — eh!
By gum! He’d make an impression,
The master said; and he gave him a threshin
In the good old style, with your thwickumy-thwackumy!
And, “Fowls!” he said. “What next?” he said —
“Ducks and geese!” — and, “Hould up your head!” —
Pigs and geese, as like as not!
Bulls of Bashan! You couldn tell what!
The whole of the farm! “But, look ye here!”
He said — and he caught him a clip on the ear —
“You insolent vagabone!” he says,
“Who’s goin to see the end of this?”
Was it fowls!! Well, well! had it really come
To fowls!! Why, it abslit1 struck him dumb,
He said. Of coorse, he said, marbles he knew,
And even, now and then, an apple or two:
And liked his scholars to be cheerful;
But — fowls!!! he said — he was simply fearful!
No, he couldn, he couldn pretend.
He really couldn, to say where would it end.
Abominable, he said, the habits
Of childher now-a-days! — the rabbits
And rubbish! he said; and “Fowls!” he said — “Fowls!!”
And he lifts his voice, and reglar howls.
And the lot of us poor little blokes
Takin care to laugh at all his jokes.
Oh! he said, it wasn no use!
And down came the cane like the very deuce.
By Jove! he laid into him like greens,
Till poor Tommy was all in smithereens —
Poor little chap! the way he was tanned!
But stood it grand! stood it grand!
So when Nelly come back, the whole of the row
Was over, you know; but, anyhow,
The master didn say a word
To her at all; but of coorse she heard —
“Took and pounded him into jammy!”
We said. And the way she looked at Tommy!
But Tommy didn look to her.
Tommy kept his eyes on the floor.
But I never saw anythin beautifuller
Than Nelly’s little face, and the colour
Comin and goin in her cheek;
And her eyes, that, if they didn’t speak —
Well that was all. And weren’t they pretty!
Yes; but now they were wells of pity —
Wells of pity, full to the brim;
And longin to coax and comfort him.
Aw, she couldn take them off him, I’ll swear!
But whether this Tommy was aware
I cannot tell; for he wouldn look.
But the head of him down on the slate or the book
Like nailed; but still a way with his back.
Or his body altogether lek,
And a sort of a snugglin with his head
That showed he was a little bit comforted.
So that evening she wouldn let Tommy go home
By himself at all; but collared to ‘m,
And wouldn leave him; but, step for step,
The quick or the slow, till they came to the Clip,
Where the roads divide. Then Nelly spoke —
And Tommy fit enough to choke —
And, “I’ll give you a kiss,” she says, “Tommy, for that” —
And she wiped her little mouth with her brat.
“Here now, Tommy!” and made a lip to ‘m;
But Tommy ran; but Nelly gript him;
And Tommy turned this way, and Tommy turned that way; —
And poor little Nelly couldn tell what way —
And first cockin one ear, and then the other,
Till at last says Nelly, ” Dear heart! the bother
There’s with you, too! ” And, ” Turn, for all!
Turn, ye donkey! ” But he stood like a wall;
And whatever she did, and whatever she said,
She was forced to kiss him on the back of his head.
And then if Tommy didn cut!
But Nelly stamped the little foot —
And, “Well, I never!”— and, “Fiddlededee!”—
And, “After all, he’s a fool!” says she.
“She was right,” you’re sayin? Poor Tommy though!
“Right enough?” Well, I don’t know —
If a chap won’t take a kiss when ifs gave him,
You suppose the only way is to lave him?
Yes, I suppose so. Aw, Nelly was furious!
But still, for all, it’s very curious.
The little foot was slack enough
Before she got home, and all the huff
Washed away in bitter tears —
And as white as a sheet: and so it appears
The mother noticed. And, What was the matter?
And, “Dear me!” and clitter-clatter.
But if Nelly was sorrowful, then trust me
It was Tommy that was happy. “She kissed me!
She did! she did! she did!” And over
The hedge, and into a field of clover.
That was very fine; and he threw himself down
In the thick of it; and never a soun
But the corn-crakes crowin very clear —
You know they’re about that time of the year —
Just to be happy, you know, and think —
The little chap! And the last sweet blink
Of the day, and the big cloud sailin across —
And oh! he thought, the happy he was!
Bless ye! he’s tould me many a time.
Why, this Tommy could put it in rhyme!
He was a bit of a poet, was Tommy — aye!
Aw, never say die! never say die!
A poet, I tell ye, reggilar!
And — The Star! that was splendid about the star!
Of coorse, he didn make it then:
It’d ha’1 puzzled him to do that, my men!
No, the long years after this
(But even at school he wasn amiss
With his little songs). I wouldn trust
But I’ve got it here — I think I must —
Wrote at Tommy. Aisy all!
That’s not it. Rather small
Is Tommy’s writin. Wait a bit!
“Star of Hope” — that’s it! that’s it!
Will you read it, Jemmy? Give him a light?
Jemmy’s a scholar. All right! all right!
Jemmy reads: —
Star of hope, star of love,
Did you see it from heaven above?
Love was sleeping, hope was fled —
Did you see what Nelly did?
I know it was only the back of my head —
But did you, did you, did you, did you,
Did you see what Nelly did?
You’re my witness, star of joy!
Was it a girl that kissed a boy?
Was it a boy that kissed a girl?
Oh, happy worl’!
I don’t know!
Let it go!
I thought I’d have died, and nobody missed me,
But Nelly has kissed me! Nelly has kissed me!
Come down! come down!
Put on your brightest crown!
Slip in with me among the clover.
Now tell me all about it — I’m her lover!
Did you see it? Are you sure?
Is she lovely? Is she pure?
Smell these buds! Is that her breath?
Will I love her unto death?
Ah, little star! I see you smiling there
Upon heaven’s lowest stair!
I know, I know
It’s time to go:
But I’m only waitin till you have blessed me.
For Nelly has kissed me! Nelly has kissed me.
First-rate, Jemmy! that’ll do!
Capital readin! Aw, it’s aisy for you.
1 It would have.
Well, however, this Tommy fell asleep,
With the light of the stars on his face, poor sweep,
And when he awoke the night was half over,
And the star was really down in the clover.
So Tommy felt rather shiverin,
And home like the mischief, and creepin in —
Poor craythur! and never a bite or a sup for him.
But only the father sittin up for him —
And took a stick, and gave it him hot;
And for-shamed him, and sent him to bed like a shot.
But, of coorse, this was rather too much for the lad;
So Tommy was taken very bad.
It was weeks, I believe, afore he was out.
And even then only creepin about —
And, I really can’t azackly1 explain.
But he never come to school again —
At least to ours — I don’t know did they get
To hear the way the lad was beat.
But, however, he was sent to another school —
Somewhere down by the Ballagoole;
And that would be close to his father’s house.
That owned a croft and a couple of cows.
And a pig or two — aw, a dacent ould blade.
The man was a blacksmith to his trade.
And worked at it, too: at least, if he didn.
There was the smithy aback of his midden.
He was a hard man, though — very hard —
And a man that didn much regard
For the people that was over him:
Pazons, churchwardens, sumners,2 and them.
There’s no doubt he was rather fond of a fight;
But any way he’d have his right —
The commons, the quarterlands, the cess,
Intacks, easements, and all the rest.
That’s the man that could rattle them off —
And only ownin this bit of a crof.
I believe the joy of his life was to go
To a vestry meetin, and have a jaw
With the Archdeacon, that was capital
For keepin the temper; and the louder he’d bawl,
“The bark,” he’d say, “is worse than the bite of him;”
And bore with the chap, but hated the sight of him.
That was Gellin — quarrelsome rather;
And, anyway, he was Tommy’s father.
2 Officers of the Ecclesiastical Court.
But “Nelly! Nelly!” — certainly!
Always after the gels, I see!
Well, I really don’t think she cared a toss
About poor Tommy, how he was.
I can’t say, of coorse — they’re very queer —
But still for all it didn appear
She took up with any of these other chaps —
So that’s the way, you know — so p’rhaps —
But dear me! a fellow that couldn take a kiss
Just in a way of friendliness —
Well, of coorse, a chap that ‘d act that funky —
She must have thought him rather a donkey —
Must, you know — a soft sort of craythur —
Aw, there’s no mistake — it’s only nathur —
And none of us didn say nothin to her,
And she didn stay over a quarter more,
Bein wanted at home for a baby they had,
And fish was scarce, and times was bad.
Well, after a while this Tommy was sent
To work on a farm that was called Renshent —
Jurby way, runnin out on the shore.
Somewhere aback of the Ballamoore;
And a sandy sort of a place; but still
The farm was runnin up to a hill
Slopin south: and, just when you come
On the top, the brews went down like a plumb
To the shilley1 behind; no rocks at all.
Just clayey stuff, but as steep as a wall,
And the jackdaws workin their holes in it clever,
The divils, bein soft, you’ll observe: but, however.
You know the sort of place I mean —
Snug, I can tell ye — Archie Cain
They were callin the farmer — but come with the wife;
But what’s the odds! dear bless my life!
Fairish plough-land — couldn be beat,
I’ve heard for turmits — a little wet
In the bottom, no doubt, a sort of a gaery,2
But splendid for geese; not much of a dairy —
Well, you wouldn expeck — just enough that would do
For themselves — a nice little meadow or two —
But it paid them well — that gaery piece —
As round as bollans!3 tremenjis geese!
3 A round-shaped sea-fish.
Oh, I knew Renshent — and a beautiful garden —
Bless me! wasn Cain a warden?
And a round of trees, if it’s trees you’d call them,
For, the way the salt of the wind ‘ll scald them
Over there, they’re rather like bushes —
But still, for all, these lumps of1 thrushes
Of a summer’s everin, and the way they’d be shoutin
After the sun, as if they were doubtin
Would he ever come back to them again —
And, “Be sure! be sure!” you’d think they were sayin —
Rum things is birds though — yes, indeed —
Astonishin the places they’ll breed —
Very curious that way —
Fanciful I call them — eh?
Fanciful — Dear me! the dub
That was there for the ducks, and a sort of scrub
Of jenny-nettles2 and that, where the hens
Was layin on the sly, in the lee of the fence
That ran by the gable; and a splendid old trammon
For the fairies.3 But, bless my soul! what gammon!
As if it was any odds to you —
But, ye see, I like them places, I do.
However, this Cain had a very nice spot of it —
About a hundred acres ‘d be the lot of it.
1 pine big.
3 Elder tree, planted at the gable of a Manx house as a protection against fairies.
So Tommy was put to Renshent all right,
And ould Gellin had a desp’rate fight
About the wages, and all the rest of it;
And I don’t know which of the two had the best of it-
But of coorse he’d have a understandin,
And a row, if it was only to keep his hand in.
But Cain was his match; so, with a deal of bother,
They settled it betwix them some way or another.
And Tommy made a fuss-rate servant —
“Diligent in business, fervent
In spirit” — it’s sayin in the Bible — eh?
There’s no doubt that Tommy earned his pay
Aye did he — earned it to the full:
For, ye see, the chap was as strong as a bull,
And handier till men that was twice his size.
And uncommon watchful, and willin, and wise.
Well, now, this Tommy, after a bit.
Got to be a terr’ble favourite
With the misthress there, that was one of the sweetest
Women you ever, about the completest
Every way a woman should be —
I don’t think a better woman could be —
For patience, for gentleness, and that —
She was one of the Shimmins of Ballarat —
They were all of them nice — aw a capital strain!
But the nicest of all was Missis Cain.
And she took to Tommy very much,
For, you know, there wasn the smallest touch
Of divilment in Tommy — no!
But all the other road, and so
The woman was feelin quite at her aise with him.
She said he had such studdy ways with him.
For there’s some of these country lads is rough,
And cheeky, and impudent enough;
And carryin on with the gels, and slinkin
Off to the public-house, and drinkin.
And stayin out without any leave,
And not the smallest notion how to behave.
But Missis Cain was a woman that ‘d be
Always for order and decency.
She wasn strict, so much to speak.
But pitiful, and lovin, and meek:
And when that woman was in a place
You’d think there couldn be nothin but peace —
It seemed to breathe from her very skin —
The pure and white astonishin!
She wasn a stirrin woman at all.
Nor given to scouldin, and hadn no call;
For the woman had only just to sit
In any room, and you’d see it lit
With a soft sweet light, that was just the holy
She looked, and the pure; and all sin and folly
And dirt, and evil talk, was driven
From her; and her smile was like an angel in heaven.
Do you believe, if a picture of Christ was hung
Somewhere, that a fellow could do what was wrong
Before it at all? I don’t think he would.
But we’re tould these Romans but what’s the good?
God knows the heart; and I don’t like to be sayin
Too much, you know; but Missis Cain —
Dear me! it’s no use! wasn she a Shimmin
Of Ballarat? — most splendid women!
And Tommy had nice ways with him, too;
Indeed, for his station, there ‘d be very few
That would have such sense and manners, both;
The very way he was suppin his broth,
Missis Cain remarked (and she was right, bedad!)
Was showin the proper fcclins he had.
No puffin and blowin, no stuffin and chewin,
And scroogin and nudgin, and the elbers goin
Like a shoemaker; but Tommy would dip
His spoon very delicate-like, and the lip
As tight as a puss; and no slushin and sloppin —
And, besides, the fellow knew when to be stoppin.
So that’ll do — all right! all right!
Now, Missis Cain she took a delight
In Tommy — reg’lar delight it was.
The decent woman! ye see, because
She was thinkin the nice example he’d be
To all the rest of the family.
And it wasn only eating either.
But just his conduct altogether —
Modest — and when the work was done
Of an everin, and every one
Was gettin sleepy, Tommy would take
His book, and keep them all awake —
Beautiful readin — and a lovely voice.
And the gels would say it was very nice,
And listen, grand; but the boys would be laughin,
And tryin to carry on with their chaffin:
But the gels would shame them, and then they’d be quiet;
And then some of them would take and try it;
And then the gels would laugh till they were shakin —
The idikkilis1 mistakes they were makin —
And then they’d give in; and all the while
The Misthress ‘d be havin a little smile —
And Tommy as happy, and explainin there —
A good-natured craythur, never fear!
And simple; and then he’d take the book.
And a gel would look, and a boy would look,
And back into a corner, and start
A little bit of courtin — dear heart!
What harm? — And you’d hear a kiss go pop!
And the Misthress would be lookin up,
But no-ways cross, just a sort of surprise;
But Tommy ‘d never lift his eyes.
What was he readin? All sorts of things —
Lives of pessons — Queens and Kings —
Travels — history, you know —
Pilgrim’s Progress — Robin Crusoe.
And Tommy had a fiddle too,
And I don’t know what was there he couldn do
With yandhar1 fiddle, the way it ‘d2 mock
Everything — it ‘d crow like a cock,
It ‘d hoot like a donkey, it ‘d moo like a cow;
It ‘d cry like a baby, it ‘d grunt like a sow,
Or a thrush, or a pigeon, or a lark, or a linnet —
You’d really thought they were livin in it.
But the tunes he was playin — that was the thing
Like squeezin honey from the string;
Like milkin a fiddle — no jerks, no squeaks —
And the tears upon the Misthress’ cheeks.
And sometimes he’d play a dance — and what harm!
But she wouldn have it upon the farm,
The Misthress wouldn — dancin, I mean —
It didn matter so much for the play’n:
But she’d often stop him, and ask would he change
To a nice slow tune, and Tommy would range
Up and down the strings, and sliddher3
Into the key; and then he’d feather
The bow very fine, and a sort of a hum.
Like a bee round a flower, and out it’d come —
“Ould Robin Gray,” or the “Lover’s Ghost”—
That’s the two she liked the most:
And the gels, that only a minute afore
Were ready to jump and clear the floor,
Sat still on the form, but onaisy though,
And terr’ble disappointed, you know.
And sometimes they’d be coaxin Tommy to take
The fiddle out in the orchard, and shake
His funny-bone over a jig or a reel —
Something to tickle a body’s heel.
Says one of the gels — and “I’ll give you a kiss!
Faith, I will then, Tommy!” she says:
And Tommy that blushed to the roots of his hair;
But still, he said, no matter where,
If the Misthress wasn willing,
He wouldn — and, “Tommy, we’ll give you a shillin!”
And coaxin away: but he didn regard them.
And anyway, you know, she’d have heard them.
1 Yonder, that.
2 it would.
But Cain himself? the master, you mean —
Oh, a very nice man was Cain,
Very, very — couldn be beat.
But you’ll hear something more about him yet.
Cain was a “Local,” you’ll understand —
Yes! aw, the very head of the plan.
They said to preach he was only fair.
But you couldn touch him for a prayer —
Soundin out like a trumpet-blast;
And shockin powerful with a class.
I don’t know much about their rigs,
These Methodists that has their gigs.
And travels about; but Cain preferred
To stay at home, and preach the Word
To his neighbours there. So he got to be
A sort of Apostle among them, you see,
A prince and a ruler among his people,
A tower of the truth, a reg’lar steeple
Was Cain; and had his mortgages.
And money out at interest.
With all the members — isn that the name? —
And even the chapel itself the same,
I’ve heard him there — a tremenjis voice —
“Rejoice!” he’d say, “my friends, rejoice!”
And up the high you couldn think,
And up, and up — but afore you could wink,
Down like a gannet, like he wanted to pin
The divil in soundin’s!1 and then he’d begin,
And he’d wrestle and groan, and he’d thump and he’d thwack —
A black-haired man, and his eyes was black.
1 Shallow water.
So he says one day to Tommy at last —
“You seem to have gifts with that fiddle,” he says.
And he flattens his hand like a dab of mortar
On the little chap’s shoulder, and a kind of a sorter1
Lookin far off — “Now, gifts, my friend,
Is from the Lord, that knows where to send
His gifts,” he says; “and so you see,
They must be used accordantly,”
And a little pat, and the lift of the eye,
Like talkin to somebody twelve foot high.
I was there myself, and listenin to’m;
For almost every time I come home
I’d be out, bein allis in a friendly way with them,
And takin joy,2 and havin my tay with them —
Well, of course, there was gels there too —
But look here! confound it! what’s that to you?
“Now,” he says, “this fiddle here
Is very pleasant to the carnal ear,
To the ear of sense, that’s aisy plaised.
But them that’s got their affections raised.
How is it with them?” and his voice quite holler,
And took a hitch in Tommy’s collar.
That was restless rather, and studdied him
Like a little sack — “How is it with them?”
And a twist with his knuckle, and ” the aisy yoke,”
He says, and Tommy fit to choke,
Till at last the Misthress said, rather fearful.
She thought the fiddle was very cheerful
And nice, and makin people happy.
Oh, he turned upon her as snappy as snappy —
“Who asked your opinion? It’s unbecomin,”
He says, “It’s clane again – Paul for a woman
To talk in the Church.” “But at home,” she said,
“In the house, I don’t see,” aw, his face got as red
As the fire, aw, you never seen the complexion.
“Silence!” he said, “Subjection! subjection!”
And then he got as peaceful lek,
“And,” he says, “I’ve a propogicion to make,”
And Tommy stoops and Tommy shifts,
“Thomas Gelling,” he says, “your gifts
Is only a snare to you, after all,
A snare,” he says; “but hear the call —
Take,” he says, “and dedicate
These gifts to His service; there’s a handy seat
Under the pulpit,” he says, “in the middle
Of the aisle,” he says. ” What! play the fiddle
In the Chapel!” says Missis Cain; but he gave
A sweep with the hand, and “By your lave,”
He says, very dignified, “I was comin
To that,” he said, “but, of course, a woman!
But never mind (a tongue on a wire!)
This fiddle may go on the back of the fire.
Or the midden, or any other place;
You’ll be cultivatin the viol bass,
Of course, the proper instrument,”
He says, “and begin immadient.
We’ll get it from Ramsey,” he says, “you’ll see;
And it’ll be the chapel’s property,
And paid in instalments out of the fund —
It isn very expensive they run,
These viol basses; and you’ll have permission
To use it, but only on condition
You’ll lead the singing. So there you have it:
And now your talent ‘ll be His who gave it,
And you’ll be sitting in the front pew,
And God ‘ll be glorified in you.”
And he sniffed, and Tommy said nothin whatever.
“I’ve no doubt,” says Cain, “you’ll do your endeavour;
But we’re all of us wake,” he says, “and you know
Where we’re privileged to go,
Thomas,” he says, and on and on.
Till I thought he never would be done.
So at last I left him there in the thick of it.
For, I tell ye what, I was fairly sick of it —
A thun’drin rascal, anyhow;
But, however, you’ll hear, you’ll hear just now.
1 Sort of.
2 To take joy, said of persons meeting after a long separation, or unexpectedly.
So, you see, this bass viol
Was sent for from Ramsey at first on trial,
Apprerbation, or whatever they call it,
And Tommy there to overhaul it.
And see was it right, and couldn take to it
At first at all, not able to spake to it,
He said, like the fiddle; aw, longin shockin
For the fiddle, for all,1 that was used to go cockin
On his shouldher so handy, you know, or sittin
Upon his breast like a little kitten,
Nustlin2 there agen3 his cheek,
And coaxin the lovely little squeak
Out of its innards, somewhere or another.
Just like a baby with the mother —
And the misthress loved to hear him like that.
It went to her soul, she couldn tell what
She was feelin, no, she couldn, she said,
But, comforted, aye, comforted —
And she had her troubles with yandhar man,
Poor thing! and it wasn with him they began —
No — and this Tommy delighted to plaze her.
But when he got this roarin. baser,
He was put out most pitiful;
For, however he’d screw, and however he’d pull,
He’d get nothin, with all his scrapes and his scrowls,
But a sort of booin you’ll hear at these owls.
So Tommy was bothered, and you see the raison,
For he thought it couldn do nothin but bas’in.
And hadn no notion the awkard brute
Could play as soft as any flute.
And deeper and deeper still he was goin,
And sawin the bass to the very bone,
And no music at all; till at last the fact is
The misthress axed him to have his practice
Somewhere else. So away to the barn
Goes Tommy with this big consarn,
Determined, I tell ye, to have it out with it;
For he hadn the smallest bit of a doubt with it
But the tune was in it somewhere, you know.
So there he was; and he tried the slow,
And he tried the quick; till at last, by jing!
He come upon the tannor1 string,
That he’d come upon many a time afore:
And ript and rapt, and tagged and tore,
And nothin — but now it was different,
Astonishin the way it went,
Whatever the touch, or whatever the turn,
Like butter comin on the churn.
When you’re nearly beat — like butter he was sayin.
Like butter, the soft, you’ll obsarve, he was playin —
Like butter — Aw he worked it grand!
Like a livin thing, he said, under his hand;
Like rivers of water in a thirsty land.
So Tommy ran up the string like a paper
Will run up to a kite; aw he made her caper,
Rejisin, you know, the high he got
After yandhar basser’s, aw workin it hot.
And rispin and raspin, and thrimmin and thrummin
Till the very thrashin boord was hummin.
So all the people was wondherin
Outside; for Tommy had locked himself in.
And the boys to the door, and begun to push.
And shout, and kick: but the gels said — hush!
Hush! they said, and stood like cravin,
For the sweet it was — they said it was heaven!
Heaven! they said; and to hould their noise:
Gels is musicaller till boys —
Just so — takin a interest —
Much more easier empressed.
So the next night Tommy began in the kitchen,
And the Misthress couldn help droppin her stitchin,
And starin at Tommy, the look he had,
Just like a body goin mad —
With his head thrown back, and his eyes like moons,
And his hair all ruxed1 and tunes and tunes.
And the lads very quiet, sittin back-o’-behind.
And the women that ‘cited they couldn mind
Their wheels, lek afraid if a sound ‘d be missin.
And smoothin the brat2 a purpose to listen;
And the tannor string as clear as a bell.
And Cain from home, and just as well.
Then Tommy was at the Misthress to get her
To think that the viol-bass was better
Till the fiddle itself, being full of power,
Says Tommy, and the fiddle apt to be sour,
And thin in the top; but the viol, he said,
Was studdy, and sure, and keepin its head
On the small edge of nothing; no baby, not him!
“But a fine big lusty cherubim.
That takes the half of Jacob’s ladder
At a leap,” he says, or — “may be, rather,
Like a beautiful man, that loves you,” he says,
“And turns your sorrows to happiness.”
‘Deed the Misthress looked to see what he meant;
But — innocent, bless ye! innocent —
Hadn a notion, not him, the sowl!
Aw, as innocent as a biddhag1 bowl!
1 Cream ready for churning.
But, after that, the life they led with him
I’m tould was shockin — must have it in bed with him,
This viol, and reachin to his nose,
And the stick of it tanglin in the clothes,
And strugglin, and gettin out on the floor.
And at it still — aw, well to be sure!
At it, I tell ye, from night to mornin;
And the chaps that was sleepin with him gave them warnin;
And Tommy had to go over the stable;
But, if he’d been put on the top of the tower of Babel,
Tommy wouldn have been offended,
Just the thing for him, got on most splendid —
But terrible partikkilar;
No! he said, he wouldn dar,
He couldn; they really must excuse him;
No! nothin in the world ‘d induce him,
He said, to go in the chapel yet:
And Cain couldn understand him a bit;
And very impatient; and no wonder either —
They were runnin away with him altogether,
Them gifts, and remindin him of Paul,
That didn think much of them at all.
But rather bothered him, yes indeed!
Aw, there’s no mistake, a troublesome breed;
“And, for all the carryin on1 there’s about them,
The Church could do very well without them.”
But Tommy was firm: he said he was wantin
To see the Vicar — “what gallivantin!”
Says Cain—”The Vicar! the Vicar! eh?”
“Yes,” says Tommy, “he asked me to play
A piece with him, just for a trial
How the piano would work with the viol.”
“It’s — a very unsatisfactory sperrit;”
Says Cain, ” but, however, lerrit!1 lerrit!
Lerrit! ” he said. So Tommy went
To see the Vicar, that was well acquent
With Tommy, a wonderful aisy man
Was Pazon Croft — he was an Englishman,
But despard2 shy, for wherever he came,
He was just like walkin in a drame —
Very white in the face. I’ve heard it stated
That Pazon Croft was eddikated
In one of them big Churches they’ve got
Over in England — Cathedrals — what?
Cathedrals — aye: and, the lovely he sung.
He was put to the urgans3 very young —
Not much like this music that’s driven in
Hapes of people, but what he was livin in.
For, the finest music that ever was done
He’d hardly be knowin when it begun,
Or when it left off — just so, just so —
Havin it all inside him, you know.
And if the trees, or the stacks in the yard,
Had struck up, he’d been perfectly prepared.
Bless me! if yandhar men had met
A quire of angels that was just let
On Snaefell4 to practise their hosanners,
He’d ha’ axed to look over a book with the tannors —
That’s all. So, the first he heard
This Tommy and the fiddle, never a word,
Never a wink, as a body might say;
But, still for all, the next day
There he was, and the next, and the next.
Till Cain was gettin rather vexed —
And, Couldn they bake on their own griddles?5
And, Well to be lookin higher than fiddles.
So this was the Vicar. So Tommy come;
And, If he wouldn be throublesome —
And this and that; and, “Come in! come in!”
And down to the piano, and at it like sin;
And jingin and jangin, and bahin and bowin,
Till at last they heard the bellows blowin,
For breakfast, you know. So then they left off —
He was a single man was Pazon Croft.
1 Let it (be).
4 Highest mountain in the island.
5 Griddle, or girdle, for baking.
So Tommy come home, and a book at him there
As big as the parish register —
Somewhere about the weight of a sack
Of potatoes, and every bit of it Back1 —
Back! yes. Back — you don’t know what I mean?
Of coorse, of coorse! Well, you see, I’ll explain —
Tommy that was tellin me,
And showin the way, and how would it be.
Well, it’s a difficult sort of music, look’ee!
Slantindicular, that is, crooky,
Up and down, in and out —
Bless me! what am I talkin about!
Complercated — heads and tails —
Scientific, that is, scales —
I don’t know whether you’ve ever heard —
Fidgets, fuges! that’s the word —
Fuges, fuges, that’s what I meant —
Excellent, though, excellent!
Fidgets — good! but avast them nudges!
I’m goin to tell you what a fudge is —
Fuge — dear heart!
What a start!
Well, obsarve! away goes a scrap,
Just a piece of a tune, like a little chap
That runs from his mammy; but mind the row
There’ll be about that chap just now!
Off he goes! but whether or not,
The mother is after him like a shot —
Run, you rascal, the fast you’re able!
But she nearly nabs him at the gable;
But missin him after all: and then
He’ll give her the imperince of sin:
And he’ll duck and he’ll dive, and he’ll dodge and he’ll dip.
And he’ll make a run, and he’ll give her the slip,
And back again, and turnin and mockin,
And imitatin her most shockin,
Every way she’s movin, you know:
That’s just the way this tune ‘ll go;
Imitatin, changin, hidin,
Doublin upon itself, dividin:
And other tunes comin wantin to dance with it,
But haven’t the very smallest chance with it —
It’s that sloppy and swivel — up, up, up!
Down, down, down! the little pup —
Friskin, whiskin; and then as solemn,
Like marchin in a double column.
Like a funeral: or, rather.
If you’ll think of this imp, it’s like the father
Comin out to give it him, and his heavy feet
Soundin like thunder on the street.
And he’s caught at last, and they all sing out
Like the very mischief, and dance and shout.
And caper away there most surprisin.
And ends in a terrible rejisin.
That’s Backs, that’s fuges — aw that’s fine —
But never mind! never mind!
Of coorse! of coorse! But, however, the day
Come at last for Tommy to play
In the chapel: and they said it was raelly splendid,
But, as soon as the second hymn was ended.
Tommy went on, and it wasn no use.
On he went like the very deuce.
Fuges! aye! just so — for a part
Of the tune they’d been singin was just like a start
For one of these fudgets. So it got in his head.
And he couldn stop — and his face as red,
And his eyes like tar-barrels — only blue,
And — tuttee, tuttee, tuttee, tooh!
I lave it to your imagernation
The feelins of that congregation —
Feelins, is it? Well, I’m blest!
Tremenjers! couldn be expressed!
And first a look at one another.
And then, you know, a kind of a smother
Of a groan; and then — hush! hush! hush! hush!
And then a roar, and then a rush;
And Cain on his feet, and — “Hould him! I say;
Hould him! hould him! anyway;
Take the viol from him! fall him!
Lick him! kick him! smash him! maul him!”
Poor Tommy! poor Tommy! aw, Tommy was ragged,
And Tommy was shook, and Tommy was dragged,
And cast into outer darkness; there
Shall be weepin and gnashin of teeth; and I’ll swear
If the preacher didn get up, and thumbed
The Bible there; and hemmed and hummed.
And them very words, or very lek them —
And — this is the way the Lord ‘d correck them,
He said — this unfortnit young pessin,
No doubt, he said, it was very disthressin;
But here he was I a figger-head —
Figger, I mean — what’s this he said?
A lively jigger, he said, of them
That’s called — but — chosen? No! He came,
Like many others, bid to the weddin;
But hed he the garment? No, he hadn?
And put to the door, and black in the face,
And very nearly losin his place.
But Cain thought better of it, for all he grumbled;
And he said he thought the lad was humbled —
And that would do. But, whether or not,
A servant like Tommy couldn be got
Every day, so he stayed; but he wasn
Suffered to rub a bit of rosin
On that viol again. And indeed it was bruk1
That night in the row, and had to be tuk2
Down to Ramsey for repairs,
And if it ever came back who knows and who cares?
Anyway Tommy got over it clever.
And worked the fiddle the same as ever.
But he’d never go to chapel again,
No, not even for Missis Cain.
Sunday morning, the very first thing.
When his porridge was supped, he’d be off on the wing
For the Curraghs1 down — and away for hours —
Butterflies, insecks, beetles, flowers —
G’ology, botany, and such,
And a book to tell him which was which;
And a bit of a glass that wasn as long
As your thumb. But, goodness me! the strong!
Microscope. Hulloah! look out!
Aye, man! aye! and what do you know about
Microscopes? You’re took on the sudden.
Well, you know, I wish you wouldn.
But — however. So he liked the Curraghs well,
Did Tommy; and they’ve got a beautiful smell.
Upon my word, them Curraghs; yes!
Even in the spring they’re not amiss.
When the soft little sally2 buds is busted.
And all the sthrames about is dusted
With the yellow meal: but — in summer! I’m bio wed!
Just before the grass is mowed —
Kirk Andreas way, St. Jude’s, Lezayre —
Just lie down, no matter where.
And you’ll think you’re in heaven: and the steam and the heat
Fit to smother you, the sweet —
Splendid too, when a chap is home
From a voyage; very wholesome to’m,
Clearin the blood — astonishin
The way it exthracks the salt from the skin.
1 Marshy meadows.
So this is where Tommy allis was hauntin —
Every mortal thing he was wantin
He could find in them meadows — wonderful land
For harbs! and him that could understand
The sorts, you know, and the virtue they had,
And were they good, or were they bad —
And them that was p’ison — aw, first rate;
Bless ye! the p’isons was just like mate
To Tommy, that liked to feel the strong
They were, and rowlin them on his tongue.
Well, he was curious, I tell ye —
“Look here!” he’d say, “I could take and kill ye
With a drop of this stuff!” For he’d boil it, and strain it,
And still1 it and steam it, and draw it and drain it.
Till he’d nothin left but the very last squeeze
Of the Divil’s own clout — aw, as nice as you please —
What’s this he called it — “concockit?” “decockit,”
Aye, stowed away in his waistcoot pocket.
Many a time I’ve tould the chap
To take care for fear he’d get into a scrape
With this dirt, that nobody never can trust —
So, flowers springin,
Church bells ding-a-ling-a-lingin —
There was Tommy in his glory.
So, one day, I tell ye, afore he
Knew where he was. Now, what d’ye think?
Nelly! Nelly! And the start and the blink
Of her bonny blue eye — like some haythen goddess,
Tommy was tellin; and curtseys as modest:
But dear me! the mischief and the sauce
There’ll be under all that! and the quick little toss
Of the head; and then — “I suppose,” says she,
“You don’t know me, Tommy?” “Know you!” says he,
And his face all bumin like the very fire —
“Know you!” and daren’t look any higher
Than her knees. “It’s lek I’ve grew,” she said —
“Grew?” says Tommy, and as red as red —
“Grew?” “Would ye think,” she said, “I’m the same
Little gel that used to answer her name
At Greer’s — the same you were such a friend to —
The little gel you brought the hen to?”
“Think?” says Tommy, “think!” and it all
Come over him like the burst of a squall
When the mornin lifts — “Dear me!” she says,
“Look up!” and he did, and he saw the dressed,
And the grew and all, and he looked around.
And — who was he? and he made a bound,
And cleared the hedge, and away like a deer —
Did Nelly laugh? Well, I didn see her —
But — I rather think not, but — take the hint!
She was goin to church, so of coorse she went.
But mind ye! that was the road the gel
Had to go. So, very well!
Where was Tommy now would ye be thinkin
The very next Sunday? and sneakin arid slinkin
Behind the very same hedge? Dear me!
What else? and hid that a crow couldn see
Where he was hidin; and as still as a block,
Still, — but felt the whiff of her frock,
And shivered, and waited till she’d pass,
And kissed the print of her foot in the grass,
And kissed, and kissed: so, of coorse, you know,
He loved her again — poor Tommy though!
Again he loved her! it hadn died
In his heart — this love; just stupified
Like a fire that’s slacked, like a spark in the tinder;
Like you’ll wake with the light, and jump to the winder —
Jump to the winder — she’s comin! she’s comin!
I’ll tell ye what! this love is a rum ‘un!
But at last poor Tommy, with all his blushes,
Got pluck, and ‘d twiss1 hisself out o’ the bushes
Like a little hedgehog before her there —
A hedgehog makin up to a hare,
Rowlin — his legs were rather crookit —
And maybe flowers for her to look at.
Or tarroodeals,2 or ladybirds —
That’s coleopthars — terrible words!
Aye, but Tommy took heart of grace;
And, the second Sunday, he looked in her face;
And the third, she didn come alone.
And Tommy gave a sort of a groan,
And cut; and the fourth, they had a talk;
And the fifth, I believe they had a walk —
Two fields or so — and left in the lurch with her
At3 those other gels, but wouldn go to church with her-
Catch him! so she tould him how it was,
And she was come for a sarvint to the Ballaglass,
The principal house in the parish — aye —
Captain Moore — aw, terrible high —
Splendid family them Moores —
Deemsthars,4 Clerk-of-the-RouIses,5 brewers —
All sorts of swells, you know, that’s goin,
Was belongin to the Moores — no knowin
The ould, that family; blood, man, blood!
Aw, the rael thing — from the time of the flood-
And all to that. So this here gent
Was countin among the first of the land.
Not rich, exactly, you’ll understand:
But breedin, bless ye! There’s plenty ‘ll cock
Their chin, but still you know the stock.
1 Would twist.
2 Devil’s bulls (a kind of beetle).
5 Clerk of the Rolls, a Manx official.
So this is where Nelly Quine was livin
For a housemaid with them. I don’t know were they givin
High wages or not; but it was a sort of a place
That was very grand, for Manx at laste —
The people was lookin up to it uncommon —
And the misthress, you know, an Englishwoman —
And a hape of sarvints, and a sort of a style
With them altogether: and the best part of a mile
Of plantin and that; and a gardener (Scotch)
And a butler with a gool watch —
And bulls, and hosses, and a little laddy
With buttons runnin all over his body —
Style, you know — his name was Kelly.
So all that summer Tommy and Nelly
Was meetin in the meadows there;
But still, for all, he didn dare
To ax her would she love him a bit,
Only they’d linger a little, and sit
Till the bell ‘d be out. And once she stayed
So long, you know, that she felt afraid
To go in at all; and cried and cried;
Aye, and wouldn be pacified,
And wouldn spake to him. And Tommy said
He was very sorry — but she turned and fled
Like a pigeon (you know she could run rather fast).
And away with her to the Ballaglass.
But when the winter weather come,
Mrs. Moore was keepin the sarvints at home,
And a surt of a praychin, just to shuit
Their hours, and I’m tould it’s well she could do’t —
For the Captain and the son, ye see,
Were at church as strick1 as the pazon would be.
So what was Tommy to do? Every man of ye?
What would you have done? Now, one of ye!
Spake now! — Billy! — all right! You’d ha’ gone
After dark, and had some fun
At the Ballaglass? Well, there’s a quid
For your guess! That’s just what Tommy did.
But the fun? is it fun? aw no, no, no!
Poor Tommy! Bless ye! if he could only go
To the house at all, it was just as much
As ever he could — aw bless ye! to touch
A thing she’d touched, a can, a besom —
It was wonderful the trifle ‘d please him —
Pleasin isn the word! He’d get it
Away with him somewhere, and coax it, and pet it.
And listen (he tould me, and I wouldn doubt it)
If there was any sound of her about it,
And put it back. Did he ever see her?
Never to spake to her — aw dear! Says you — why, bless ye! you don’t know the fellow –
He’d ha’ been turnin blue and green and yellow,
And red, and primin, and black and white,
If anybody ‘d seen him and brought a light!
Fancy Tommy in the sarvints’ hall
At the Ballaglass, and ould Missis Ball
That was housekeeper, and all the rest —
And Tommy lookin east by west!
1 Strictly, regularly.
No, no! but still there’d be gels about,
Bless ye! often slippin out
On the sly, and there they’d wait and they’d watch
For the signs of the boys, and lift the latch
The way no finger on earth will guide it
But a gel’s, when her lad is waiting outside it.
So that was Tommy’s trouble, the sowl!
The poor little mortal! out in the cowld,
And no gel in his arms, nor him in hers,
That’s better than mittens and comforters,
Out in the cowld — and cowld is bad,
But what was driving this Tommy mad
Was thinkin if Nelly was one of the crew.
And, if she was, then who, then? who?
Who was the chap? And he’d be creepin and creepin
All around, and peepin and peepin,
And seein her shaddher on the blind.
And very nearly out of his mind;
And hearin a click, and ‘d have to jump.
And hidin himself behind the pump;
And gettin in the way of others that was lookin
After their own sweethearts, and hookin
Over into the garden, and stumblin
Against some others, and all of them grumblin —
And often chased, but never caught;
Till at last they got freckened, for of course they thought
It was ghosts; and — the night was very injurious,
Mrs, Ball was sayin: but the boys was furious,
And had a reg’lar hunt, but no use,
For Tommy would dodge them, and off with his shoes,
And away like the wind. So the chaps was fo’ced
As you might say, to give up the ghost.
But a terrible disappointment, it’s lek,
For the Captain’s gels was the very pick
Of the sarvints about — aw, splendid lasses —
Shuperior, you know, was the Ballaglasses.
So the chaps was comin from far and wide,
Sulby way, Ballaugh, Kirk Bride —
Chaps, you know, that had any consate
Of themselves, and likin to be nate
And dacent — dacent — none of your scum —
Why, light-keepers was used to come —
Light-Keepers! yes, and eireys1 too —
Eireys — ‘deed I could tell ye the who —
But still, for all, it’s hardly worth —
Just the tip-top coortin on the North.2
1 Heirs to farms.
2 Northern division of the Island.
And was Nelly one of them? No; and why?
Well, I’ll tell ye the raison by and by.
But, of course, you can fancy the disthress
Of this poor little Tommy. I remember a vess1
Of a little song he made — let’s see —
How’s this it is? — “I think of thee?”
No, that’s not it — “So it’s home ” — just so —
I’ve got it now — when he was leaving, you know —
“So it’s home to Renshent
My weary way I wind;
For I must be content
With her shadow on the blind.”
On the blind, ye see. Renshent, that’s Cain’s —
All right! all right! I know what you manes,
Yes, yes! of course, that’s the tune your hummin to —
The misthress and Tommy — that’s just what I’m comin to.
Well, I tould ye the way he was punishin
These beetles and things — it was raelly astonishin —
And stores and stores; and so, if ye plaze,
He took and made a sort of a case —
And every inseck with a little hook through
And a pane in the lid for a body to look through —
For you mustn open — all hatches battened
On Tommy’s decks; and the flowers he flattened
(And still there wasn room for half)
In a big ould Bible he found on the laft.1
And often of an everin
The misthress would ax him to bring them in.
And Tommy would sit, and Tommy would ‘splain —
And who so happy as Missis Cain?
Aw, ‘deed she was happy though, for all —
“Yes,” the misthress would say, “he’s small
Is Tommy,” she says, “but his heart — his heart
Is big enough.” And he gave her a start
Many a time, she said, to see
The perfect happy he could be
With not h in, and the full of it too —
Yes — and she liked his eyes to be blue,
She said, it was snaking them so clear —
Such room, she said, he had in them there —
Such an arch, such a spread, like the round of the sky —
No cloud, no shadow of a lie.
Some eyes, ye see, is nothin but fog,
And some is just like weak grog;
And some is like leeches, and some is like slugs,
And some is like bullets, and some is like bugs —
Muddy, some is, and some is sharp,
And some like a cod, and some like a carp —
Differin sorts. But Tommy’s was loops
Of light in light, just hoops in hoops
Of soft blue fire, and feathered about
With a kind of grey fluff, and openin out,
And out, and out — the eye of this chap —
Hoops, you know — like ye’ll see a map
That’s showin all the planets and things.
And the sun in the middle, and rings and rings —
No doubt you’ve seen the lek in a book.
So the misthress would sit, and look and look.
And give a little nod, I’m tould.
And bless this Tommy in her sowl.
Well, troubles came upon him for all —
Troubles! troubles! where’s the wall
That’ll keep them out? As the Scripture saith —
Dig the foundation as deep as death:
Plumb it, and plaster it, every chop of it ‘,
Build it to heaven and put glass on the top of it —
No go, my lads! you’ll pay your fine —
And a chap that’s in love should spake his mind: —
That’s the thing. But this Tommy? What?
Shy? dear bless ye! But, whether or not,
He was over one night at Captain Moore’s,
And watchin the windows, and watchin the doors,
And as silent as a little trout,
And a dale o’ coortin all about,
And chased at1 these divils, and couldn see her,
And into the garden, and hid himself there,
Behind the summer-house — Holy Moses!
The smotherin it was with roses,
Yandhar place; but only Spring
The time I’m tellin: but thatched with ling.
So there was Tommy aback of a bush,
When — aisy! aisy! hush, hush, hush!
Two people comin on the walk,
And the nearer they come he could hear them talk—
Aw — Tommy, Tommy, Tommy mine!
The young Captain, and Nelly Quine!
Aw ‘deed it was! aw ‘deed for sure!2
Nelly, and young Captain Moore —
The son — and into this arbour place,
And sat, and his arm around her waist,
And — the ould ould music, sweet and low —
Music! music! aye just so —
Whoever was the first to set it —
Music, music, wherever you’ll get it.
2 Yes indeed.
And Nelly’s tears was just like rain;
And Tommy could hear what the Captain was sayin-
“Do love me, Nelly! do then! do!
Aw Nelly, the same as I love you!
Nelly! Nelly! I am in earnest — ”
If that wasn a burnin fiery furnace
For Tommy — my gracious! he said the bite
He took of his tongue to try and keep quite,1
And his head goin round and round and round,
Till he thought he’d fall; but he held his ground
And they looked so lovely! he said — good Lord!
That’s where, he said, it come very hard
On the leks of him — and he didn know
Whether to stay, or whether to go,
Or what to do — but, rain or fair,
Of coorse he wasn wanted there —
But — Nelly cryin — and — Would he take her part?
But how? and the cables of his heart
Goin crackin. And then he thought, was it right
For him to be sneakin there in the night
Like a spy upon her? for he wasn apt
To be thinkin evil, wasn this chap —
No, he wasn, and he didn now;
But he waited till, he couldn tell how,
Nelly’s head gave two little slips.
And — aw, poor Tommy! lips to lips,
Yes, yes! aw Tommy, my son,
You’re beat! you’re beat! the game is won!
Was and wasn — and meant is meant —
But he picked up the bits of his heart, and went —
Bits! aye, bits! and a swish and a swirl
Of all his life, like the wheel of the world
Had gone over him with its lumbering load,
And left him dyin on the road —
Tommy! Tommy! But, afore he got home,
He begun to think what good could come
Of work like that — and — “She’s lost! she’s lost!”
And he staggered, and his head was frost
And fire in a minute, and he turned to go back,
And — “I’ll save her! I’ll save her!” and he looked to the black
Black sky, and he shouted — “Nelly!” he said,
“Nelly! Nelly!” and fell Uke dead.
Aw dear! the little sowl!
And some chaps that was knockin about on the sthrowl1
Found him there, and picked him up.
And of coorse they thought he’d had a sup.
And home with him, and laughin and jeerin,
And up to the door, and Cain appearin
With a light, and terrible aggravated,
And — “Here’s your Tommy, tossicated!”2
And cuts. “Indeed!” says Cain, “indeed!
The pump, I suppose,” and wouldn heed
For Tommy, whatever he could say —
“Drunk,” says Cain, and drags him away —
“Drunk,” says Cain, “indeed!” he says,
And Tommy that wake he couldn resist —
And under the very pump; but then
The Misthress came, and — “Cain! aw Cain!
Cain!” she said, “aw listen, listen!
He isn drunk, he isn, he isn!
It’s trouble,” she says; and — “Lave him to me!”
So Cain dropped him, and — “Come,” says she,
“Come in now, Tommy!” Then Tommy to ax
Could he spake to her alone? “The fac’s
Is dead agen3 ye,” says Cain; “but still —
Trouble — eh? well — pozzible —
Pozzible” — and shakin the head.
And takes the candle, and off to bed.
1 Strolling, loafing.
So then it was that Tommy tould
All the secrets of his soul —
And Nelly — and how it began at Creer’s,
When they were little things, and all the years
He’d loved her since; so she gave a smile,
Did the Misthress, you know, and — “Dear me! child,”
She says — “that’s not such a terrible case;”
And she took his hand, and she looked in his face.
“But now,” says Tommy, and where he had been
That very night! and what he had seen!
And the way the Captain was spakin to her, —
“Captain! what Captain?” “Young Captain Moore.”
“Captain! Captain!” Aw, she dropped his hand,
And the two of her own was clasped in the one,
And pressed to her heart, like a man when he’s shot,
And her face like paper, and just a blot
Of blood on her cheek, and dravvin her breath
All tight and shivery through her teeth,
Tommy said — like shot, he said —
And, if it hadn been for Cain that was overhead.
There’s no doubt, he said, she’d have sent a cry
Right up through the roof, right up through the sky —
Poor thing! to God Himself in Heaven,
But Cain was betwixt — and past eleven.
Now, what had Tommy done? You’ll get lave!1
He’d stumbled into an old grave —
Had Tommy, sent his foot through the lid
Of a coffin — that’s what Tommy did —
Of a coffin, where her heart’s true core
Was nailed down, stamped down for evermore.
That’s what the Misthress thought, it’s lekly,
But I’ll tell you all about it direckly.
1 All right!
Well, whatever it was, it was see-saw,
For a while at1 the Misthress would she hould her jaw
Altogether, or just to spake out
To Tommy at once, like a doubt in a doubt —
For to spake at all wasn aisy to her —
And to spake to Tommy — that was more.
For ould sorrows comes over you sometimes
Like ould tunes, like ould rimes,
That’s runnin in your head, and makin ye
A sort of happy, and sometimes they’re takin ye
Like the frost takes the whalers in the fall of the year,
And gunpowder cannot blast you clear.
And still, for all, she had to say something,
For of course this Tommy would think it a rum thing
For her to be carryin on like yandhar:
And besides — she loved him Alexandher!
I’ll throuble you to look sirrious!
Loved him — that’s the way it was —
Bless ye! and isn it Natur tells us
To pour our souls into somebody else’s?
And that’s what she’d longed for, but hard to find;
So never couldn make up her mind,
Part wondherin if Tommy would shuit.
But stopped at the pint, and didn do ‘t.
But now — what was it she wouldn dar?2
So she tould her saycret, so there you are!
Only just think now! Pazons and preachers.
Pastors and masters, class-leaders and teachers,
Shuperintendans and conferences.
Archdeacons and bishops, and all their expenses
Paid. Think of that! the whole machine
That was workin around her, or else should have been-
Priests and Levites, that was used to go
Every day to Jericho,
And back very likely — and never eyein
The craythur that lay by the roadside dyin —
And this little chap, that just kep in his place,
Like a dog might keep, and look up in her face,
But looks like axin her to tell —
Aye, that’s it! aw well, well, well!
1 In her mind.
Now, listen! this is the way it was —
This Captain Moore, of Ballaglass,
The father, you know, when Misthress Cain
And him was young, lek the people is sayin
Young and foolish — eh? but still —
Fell in love with her terrible.
And her with him. All right! all right!
True and honest as the light
Was Captain Moore. But what was the good?
Think of the fam’ly! think of the blood!
First-class — you know! the very first
In the Island — the very! and that’s the worst —
What for won’t people be content
With their equals? And — The heiress of Renshent?
I know she was, and a Ballarat —
But, bless my soul and body! what’s that.
When you’re spakin of Moores? It couldn be,
Moores! it couldn! don’t ye see?
And they might ha’ knowed it. And of coorse the fuss
His people was makin was scandalous!
Dreadful! And its only raison too
His love wouldn be that through-and-through
And deep and strong like the misthresses,
So that’s, you see, the way it is.
And they had him away to England there —
(He’d ha’ married her like a shot, never fear!
And half the parish at the weddin),
But he wasn allowed, and so he didn.
And years afore he was back — behould he!
He married the English lady I tould ye.
So that’s, you see, the way it was done,
And settled down, and had this son.
Their only child, and spoilt him rather,
And went for a Captain like his father.
So Misthress Cain — that’s Shimmin, you know,
That was then — was taken uncommon low.
And wouldn ate and wouldn spake,
And gettin very thin and wake.
And it wasn no matter what they were tryin —
Aw ‘deed I believe she was out of her mind,
For a while, at least. And Parson Craine,
A rum ould chap that was vicar then.
Was axed would he come and pay her a visit.
So they tould him the way. “A dumb divil, is it,
She’s got?” and they looked! “Aw, well, I guess
You’d better lave her alone!” he says —
Like maenin, It’s well to be rid of their talk,
The women, you know. Aw, a hearty old cock
Was Craine, I’ve heard, a rael ould Turk.
So then the Methodists went to work,
And the lot of them hummin about her like midges;
And got her to be a sort of religious;
Lek stupid lek, and very meek,
And had her converted in a week —
In a week she got pace;1 and rather blamin her
The slow she was, like a sort of shamin her,
Pace! Aw, ‘deed, I’d aisy belave
She had pace; but was it the pace of the grave?
Well, well, there’s many worse places.
Pace! it’s a word I’m fond of, pace is.
Pace, pace from all her woes!
Pace, pace! God only knows —
Perfect pace — the people was say’n;
Perfect pace and then — comes Cain!
Yes, he come — he come from the South,1
And butter wouldn melt in his mouth —
Yandhar man! And the holy, you never!
And gettin the name, you know, of the clever!
At2 the Methodists — bless ye! brought him over
A’ purpose to see would he do for a lover —
Renshent’s heiress! aw dear! they knew
Which side their bread was butterin too.
So nither way no love was meant;
She got religion (!), and he got Renshent.
She hadn a notion, I expeck.
To have him for a husband lek
Lek husbands is, you know, but just
A guardian lek, that was put in trust
With her sowl, like a guide the Lord had given
To lead her studdy on to Heaven —
A Christian brother and a Christian sisther,
And if this Cain had ha’ took and kissed her,
He’d ha’ spoilt it all. But — cautious! cautious!
Bless ye! that’s the stuff that washes!
And her to tell him the whole of her story,
And hand-in-hand with him on to glory —
That’s what she thought — her foot couldn slip
In such holy communion and fellowship.
The big Tom-cat! the smooth and the sleek
And the soft, and the whisker on his cheek
Just like blackin on a boot,
And his nice white hands, and ough! the brute!
And — “Oh,” he says, “the unselfish love!”
Renshent, you know, he was thinkin of!
1 Southern division of the Island.
Aye, Cain — so the uncle come to die —
Him she was gettin the proppity by —
And rather an awkward way he was givin it —
And so they got married, and come to live in it.
And so you’d think they’d be goin jog-jog —
Aw, bless ye! they turned a new leaf in the log
That day, they did; a leaf that was scored
With blood and misery, every word —
Death sealed it up at last, and tuk1 it
To owners, that has never bruk2 it.
And never will till God will sit
Upon his judgment throne — that’s it.
Well, this Cain was not content —
He’d got the woman, he’d got Renshent;
But there was one thing he hadn got,
The woman’s love — he hadn got that —
The bargain! the bargain! she didn pretend —
A pious friend! a pious friend
Here below, and Heaven above —
And she shivered at the name of love.
Obey him? serve him? so she was doin;
But — love him? That’s another tune.
She couldn, it wasn in her power:
Her love was as dead as a dead flower —
Stick it in the ground! will it grow?
Mould it! water it! just so —
Will it blossom like the rod for Aaron?
Will it bloom and blow like a rose of Sharon?
It’s stalk is bruk, it’s leaves is shed —
Dead! she tould him it was dead.
But the pride of the man! the pride of the man!
To think he couldn get her love like land —
Rent it, or buy it, so much an acre —
That, if she wouldn love him, he couldn make her.
Make? make? make! No, you won’t, my boy!
Let’s have that joy! for it is a joy!
You can’t! you can’t! Oh isn it glorious?
Love victorious! love victorious!
Victorious — eh! ah dear! the strength of it!
And the height and the depth and the breadth and the length of it
Make it — will ye? Make a woman’s heart!
Scoop it, and scrape it in every part!
Send blood through its chinks, let it beat, let it burn,
Make what you like! make a tub, make a churn!
He was welcome to love her. But was it fair.
That’s it! that’s it! I have you there —
When she couldn love him, and when he knew,
Was it fair for him — I’ll lave it to you —
First to sulk, and then to complain.
Then ragin fury, then sulks again.
Till he settled down in the dead sea
Of bitter hatred and cruelty.
Where was the saint that she thought would direct her
On the road to Heaven, that she thought would protect her
Against herself, against the love
That was still in the deep of her heart, and strove
With the love of God? Where was he to lift her
Above everything on earth that could drift her
From the anchor of her sowl
Sure and steadfast, like we’re tould
In Hebrews — do ye remember the hymn —
Jesus lover — Say’t for them, Sim!
Can he? you’re foolish! is it can he, ye said?
Now, then, Simon, go ahead!
Simmy repeats: —
Jesus, lover of my soul,
Let me to thy bosom fly,
While the threatening billows roll,
While the tempest still is nigh.
One verse, that’s enough, that’s all we’re wantin,
Just to show the way it’s slantin.1
He could say every word. Well, you’ll easy see,
He wasn the man he was seemin to be
When the misthress married him: — it was just like wakin
Out of a dream; like a cloud ‘d be breakin,
Like scales goin peelin off her eyes.
When she saw what he was. There’s some of them dies
Directly almost, and some drags on —
But she knew the man! she knew the man!
So that’s the story she had to tell
To Tommy there — aw well, well, well!
Yes, she tould him — he didn try to stop her —
But very nice, you know, and proper —
Like shuitable for him to hear —
Aw, that was the woman! never fear!
And — “Tommy, Tommy,” says Missis Cain,
“The curse is come upon them again —
The curse! the curse!” And — she’d send a letter
The very next day to Nelly, to get her
To come — and most particular.
And Tommy of course, you know, not to be there.
1 It goes.
And so she did: so Nelly come,
And this Cain, for all, was away from home.
So ups with Nelly, and took and tould her
All about it. She didn scould her —
No, no! not her — but just the way
It was; and the people had got it to say —
“What people?” says Nelly, and the stiff she stood!
“What people? if you’ll be so good?”
“A friend of yours,” says Mrs. Cain,
“A lovin friend” — “That’s the people you mean,”
Says Nelly, as sharp! So she didn deny,
Didn the misthress, but fit to cry;
For she thought this Nelly was rather hard.
For a young thing like that, and wasn prepared.
And bless ye! maybe a bit of a brazen,
Thinks the misthress: but everything in its saison —
I never wasn for imprince — no!
I don’t like it. But, even so —
Dear me! there’s things — why, bless your noddy!
Musn a body stand up to a body,
When there’s one body botherin at him.
And another body at the bottom —
And you don’t know, but still you’ve a guess?
Ah! I’ll tell ye what it is —
That’s hard, if you like! your life, your love.
Your heart of hearts — and they’ll take and shove
Their fist in there! aw I know it well!
And no mistake about this gel.
No mistake! and the pride and the pluck,
And the touch-me-not! look out, my buck!
Will she? won’t she? what’s the use?
Aye, and see ye at the deuce!
As quite as a lamb, and as bould as a ferret —
Some women’s got a terr’ble sperrit.
“He loves you dearly.” “Who loves me?” says Nelly,
“Who loves me?” and up with the head like a filly,
Like sniffin the wind — they’re splendid craythurs
Is them, lek accordin to their nathurs.
Splendid — like sniffin — “Who loves me? who?”
So the misthress tould her. “Aw, that’ll do!”
Says Nelly — and a little laugh — and she says,
“I think I’ll go now, ma’am, if you plase;
If you plase, ma’am, I’ll be goin, I think” —
And the misthress felt her heart go sink —
But held on, for her sowl was cravin to her,
This Nelly, the very first minute she saw her,
For she saw that she was the rael stuff.
That’s it! and no matter for the huff —
Huffed! but wasn it like prent,1
The beautiful and the innocent?
The sweet and the true? But — whether or not —
Chut! the misthress loved her like a shot —
And how to save her? She seen the sowl
Was trimblin all over, for she couldn hould,
No matter the huffed — aw hard to hide 1
Love is a stronger thing than pride.
So the misthress tould her all the same
She done to Tommy, only the name
She didn tell — but a gentleman
That was far above her, and how it began,
And how it ended — no doubt, for the best —
No doubt — but oh! the bitterness!
And ” Nelly, I wouldn be tellin you this,
If I didn love you — give me a kiss! ”
And Nelly darlin! and — Nelly sweet!?
Then Nelly ran to the misthress’ feet.
And laid her head in her lap, and flung
Her arms around her, and clung, and clung.
And sobbed and sobbed a good while —
Aw, bless ye! what was she but a child?
Then the misthress caught her round the neck,
And spread herself upon her lek —
Aw, Nelly herself has towld me — and she lay,
And the gathered, and sheltered, and hid away,
And nussed, and coaxed, and folded in.
She said it was just astonishin;
The complete the world seemed all to go
From her lek — that she didn know
Nothin at all, but just the door
Was shut on all sorrows for evermore.
But when Nelly got a bit peacefuller,
Then the misthress sthrooghed her hair.
And reddied1 it, and made it nice —
Dear me! the tender and the wise —
Eh? just so! till she brought it round
To spake about Tommy, and the way he was down
Altogether, lek low in his mind —
And the good, and the faithful, and the kind —
And — any woman, no matter who,
Might be proud to marry him; — and “it’s you!
It’s you he’s lovin more than his life!
Oh Nelly, couldn ye be his wife?
Aw, try, Nelly! aw, I think ye could —
Aw, Nelly! there’s no mistake he’s good,”
But Nelly shivered in every limb —
And — “Oh! don’t talk to me about him!”
She says, “for if he’s as good as gool,
He’s a fool,” she says, “and a stupid fool.”
My word! she was up again like fire.
But the misthress thought she wouldn try her
That way any more, but just
To pet her, and coax her, the way you must
With the lek, you know, if it’s peace you’re for —
Or else, you know, look out for war!
Aye — but she got her as quite1 as quite
And then she went. But that very night
The misthress made up her mind to spake
To Captain Moore himself, to take
Some order someway with the son —
Hard it was, but it had to be done.
And she saw the captain; but what occurred,
To tell ye the truth, I never heard —
Only the misthress came home very weakly,
And off with her to bed directly;
And whiter till white; and it was raelly too much —
Ould love is a dangerous thing to touch.
But listen to me! Just a week after that
I was down at Renshent; and the whole of the lot
Sittin up all night there in the kitchen,
Afraid of the storm, that was nearly hitchin
The roof off the house — Nor-West by Nor —
Dead in, you know, upon the shore —
Great guns — and impossible for me
To get home, so stayed for company.
And Cain was there, with his face in a frown
Like thunder; but the misthress was lyin down,
They said, in the parlour; very sick —
So these boys was up to every trick,
Pretendin they had to hould the gels
For the freckened they were1 — dear me! what else!
And snugglin up, and whisperin —
And very lovin and comfortin —
And Cain someway didn seem to be heedin,
And he had a book, but he wasn readin —
He seen them well enough, I’ll be bail —
But he looked to be thinkin there a dale.
But Tommy wasn with them at all;
And so I says to Harry Phaul2 —
One of these chaps — “Where’s Tommy to-night?”
And the wink went round upon me straight,3
And nudgin and lookin, till one of them said —
“Haven ye heard?” “Silence! ye jade!”
Says Cain, and looks at the gel like murder —
“This talk,” he says, “must go no furder —
It isn accordin to your station,
And it isn to the use of edification.”
So the gel gave a frump, like dear me?
“Look here!” he says, “you’re talkin too free —
Yes — and very undesi’ble —
And I’ll read you four chapters in the Bible
In a minute,” he says, “like a shot,” he says —
“Four chapters, every vess —”
Four chapters, if a finger stirred o’ them!
Four chapters every word o’ them!
“Silence! I say.” And he stamps the foot —
“A chatt’rin, aggravatin slut!
But this young Baynes,” he says, “may ax
What has happened — I’ll state the fax!
I’ll state them,” he says, “ye jackdaw!
And every one of ye hould your jaw!”
1 On account of their being so frightened.
2 Son of Paul.
This is the fax. Our Thomas Gellin,
For raisons best known to himself, has fell in
Love with a person they’re callin Quine —
Ellen; if I rightly mind.
Now, this gel was a sarvant in Captain Moore’s,
That should have turned her out of doors
Long ago — but, however, this Nancy —
Nelly, I mean, takes the captain’s fancy —
The young captain’s. They’d words — all right —
Him and the father — that’s Wednesday night.
Thursday — that’s yesterday — Nicky Freel
Brings the captain’s yacht from Peel,
And anchors her inside the bay;
And there she was lyin the whole of the day.
At six o’clock this everin
This young pesson isn in —
Nither’s the captain — can’t be found —
And then, wherever she was bound.
This yacht they’re callin the Waterwitch
Is off to sea with every stitch —
And a woman aboord. — Well, it’s nathral rather,
And, puttin two and two together.
It isn cuttin it very fine
To think this woman is Ellen Quine —
No — so the people have got it they’re off
To Scotland of course, and I’m tould their craft
Is small, and very bad prepar’d —
And certainly it’s blowing hard —
And Gelling — that was allis short —
Don’t take his affliction the way that he ought;
But’s gone clane mad, and out on the shore.
And says he’ll never come back no more —
See the carnal mind, see!
“Where’s his faith? perplexin to me!”
And when he was speakin there come a strain
That rocked the house — “It’s blowin,” says Cain:
“Blowin!” says I; “she’ll never live!
That thing ‘ll go down like an ould sieve,
If she tries her course — I know the boat;
But she’ll never show the canvass to ‘t;
Her only chance is to run — d’ye hear!”
I was gettin rather ‘cited theer —
“And where’ll she run to? I give you warnin
That vessel ‘ll be ashore afore mornin.”
I tell ye the words were hardly gone from me
When the door burst open, and in comes Tommy —
And wet to the skin, and white as a ghost,
And his eyes all ablaze, and his voice all hoast1 —
And — “Run!” he says, “the lot of ye, run!
She’s on the Rue! she’s done! she’s done!”
“The Rue!” I say’s, “just so! that’s it!”
(The Rue is a point to the westward a bit) —
The Rue — “Come along!” says I, “let’s slope!”
“Get a ladder!” I says, “and plenty of rope!
Light the lanthom! bear a hand!”
Says Cain, — “You’re quite a perfessional man!”
I raelly thought he was going to bother
About some humbuggin thing or another
Even then — but he wasn so bad as that —
‘Deed he was as active as a cat,
Was Cain — and skilful, and houldin out2<.sup> —
Under orders? no doubt! no doubt!
Of course! guy heng! ^ and who was he,
To work a wreck, compared with me?
Well, I should think so! only raison!
And everybody in his saison.
3 Bless me!
The day was broke when we got to the Rue,
And there was the Waterwitch full in view.
She wasn on, but very near it.
Just makin her last tack to clear it:
They’d tried to anchor, but the cable went snap;
They’d tried her with the jib and a scrap
Of a mizzen, but it wouldn do —
Closer, closer to the Rue!
And, when we came upon the beach.
They were settin the mainsail reefed to the leech —
And the only chance there was for the ship —
When there came a squall, and the mast gave a rip.
And out of her, and there she was!
Roullin on like a dead hoss1 —
Helpless, you know, “Stand by now, men!
She’ll strike, and strike, and strike again,
Afore she’ll settle” — I says; and she gave
A heel to starboard; and then a wave,
Like an elephant, took her on his back.
And in with a run, and crack — crack — crack!
And then a scrunch, the way I said,
And the Waterwitch had made her bed —
Fast — stuck fast in a sort of a jint
Betwix two rocks, that lay off the pint
About a thirty fathom or so,
And covered them; and the tide would flow
Maybe an hour after that —
Bless ye! like a mouse with a cat!
And the short seas herryin2 her,
And the long seas buryin her.
And the tearin and sawin on the rocks —
You could see she was breakin up like a box.
So says I — “The work has got to be done!”
And sthrips — says Cain, “Go on, my son!”
“No!” says Tommy, “I’ll go!” says he;
“I’ll go!” he says, “it’s me! it’s me!”
“Look here!” says I, “just wait a second!
Look here now, Tommy! how long do ye reckon
You’ll live in that sea? The very first flop
Will rowl ye over like a top.
Are you wantin to get drowned?” says I.
“If I die,” he says, “I’d like to die!”
“Indeed!” I says, “aw dear! aw dear!
Whisper, Tommy! ” and I stooped to his ear —
“Whisper — patience just a bit!
Maybe you’re goin to have her yet!”
Aw! I tell ye, he was just like a lamb —
Coaxin! that’s the way I am!
2 Harrowing, tearing.
So I says to the chaps — “Is any one wantin
This job?” I says, “for it’s time to be slantin.”1
Not a word — “Are ye sure now? — Right as a riddle!”
And I ties the rope around my middle,
And ready coiled, and how — God knows!
But I shut my eyes, and in I goes!
And wasn I divin under the says?
Divin! divin, if ye plase?
Teach your granny to suck eggs!
But it’s terrible nasty about your legs
A rope like that — and payin it out
Far too free — bein willin, no doubt,
But no ‘sperience, you know — hard work!
And no mistake! There was a regular turk
Caught me half-way — my eye! what a brute!
I raelly thought I’d never get through’t.
And these chaps ashore — it’s worse they got —
I’d a mind to go back, and kick the lot —
But — however — what with tuggin and luggin,
And givin and takin, for all their humbuggin.
Just when I thought I had enough.
Somebody gript me by the scruff,
And afore a man could turn on his heel
I had my arms round Nicky Freel.
No time for talk! — “The stump o’ the mast!
Bear a hand, Nick! make fast! make fast!”
And gives him the rope — when there come a rowl,
And a bump! and I don’t know in my sowl —
But he dropt it — Nicky? Out of his hand!
Dropt it! and these chaps on the land
Haulin, for all2 they felt the loose3 —
Haulin away like the very deuce —
Like they’d got a whale — he dropt the rope —
Nicky Freel! like soap! like soap!
And him a sailor! — all very fine!
“Nicky!” I says, “where’s Nelly Quine?”
And I looked, and there they had her lashed
To the cabin companion — aw dear! the washed
The craythur looked, the washed and the wore —
Half drowned, you know — “I’ll take ye ashore,”
I says, and the Captain standin by —
“I’ll take the young woman ashore,” says I.
He looked at me very hard, and then
He loosed the lanyarn, and — “Listen, friend!”
Says the Captain, “Suppose I don’t live,” he says,
To reach that shore, remember this!
Whatever happens, dyin or livin,
Nelly’s as pure as an angel in Heaven.”
3 How loose it was.
And so he gave her to me, and so
I says — “It’s time for us to go;”
And made her fast across my hips —
“Now, then!” I says, and in I slips —
Easy, you know, very easy, and humours
All I could, and makes these boomers
Ride me as nice as possible,
And treadin the trough, you know; but still
She hung upon my back like death —
Not a word! no, no! not a sound! not a breath!
I thought she was dead — not the smallest tick
In all her body — so I struck out quick
And hard; but a sea come tearin along,
And caught me up, and wrenched me that strong.
And bothered me, that the next that came
Knocked me over like a bame —
Senseless — like a log of timber —
And so, of course, that’s all I remember
Till I felt the smell of a body smookin,
And a lot of people round me lookin,
And three of us side by side there lyin —
The Captain, and me, and Nelly Quine —
Her in the middle — but they’d turned her head
Away from the Captain, because he was dead —
Dead, poor chap! But Nelly, the sowl!
Was sleepin just like a two-year-old.
“Hullo!” says I; “hullo!” says Nickey —
Him that was smookin, and likewise Mickey —
Clague, I mean. So then they stated
How the young Captain waited and waited
Till he seen the lot of them landed there.
And then he jumped, and swam very fair,
Strong, they said, but cautiously —
When, all of a sudden! the boom, d’ye see!
That was soulgerin1 about in the trough,
Gave a heave, and a drop! and hit him, my gough!
Hit him just aback of the skull,
And knocked him over like a bull —
Killed him, it’s lek, upon the spot:
For when the body come in, they got
No signs of life, nor nothin in it —
Killed him, I expec, that minute.
1 Soldiering, knocking about.
Aw very bad! very bad!
And then we took and sent a lad
For a cart for Nelly, and another to go
So quick as he could, and let them know
At the Ballaglass. So we got the cart.
And Nelly a heisin1 and made a start.
But the Captain’s body was left in a cove,
And chaps to watch it. So on we drove,
And the poor gel there hangin all of a dangle,
Sthrooghin2 just the same as a tangle —
The limp, you know; and her clothes all twisted
And ruxed about her; and the way she listed3
This way, that way — so we done our endeavour.
And up to the house with her howsomedever —
And where to put her? and — bear a hand there!
And — “The hayloft ‘ll do for the lek o’ yandhar — ”
Says Cain — “The hayloft!” and I gave a star4 —
“Is it wantin to feed the rots5 ye are?
Haylofts!” I says. So he grunted though;
But what was he goin to say I don’t know;
For the Misthress come, so soft and swift,
Like ghoses6 comes, ye know — just a whiff
Of somethin white — like an owl’s wing —
And she ran at Nelly like a greedy thing;
And Nelly lifted up her head,
And fell in the Misthress’ arms like dead.
1 Being raised.
So Cain was lookin rather foolish then,
And of course, you know, no use of men —
So we stood to one side; and, I’ll tell ye what!
Every one of us off with his hat,
Lek round a coffin: and the gels there cryin.
And huddlin and cuddlin, and Nelly lyin
On the whole of their laps, and goin a carryin
In on the parlour, exac like a buryin —
And — to keep away! and the door shut;
So Cain stood glasses, and so I cut.
But Tommy? Tommy, did ye say?
Aw, he was over the hills and far away
Long afore that. And, dear me now!
You’d ha’ thought ould Cain had ha’ kicked up a row
About Tommy breakin articles
Like yandhar — Noticin, is it? Bills
Of ladin, contracks, charter-parties,
And all the rest of it — go it, my hearties!
Breach of promise? Breach of something —
And ould Gelling, too! But that’s a rum thing —
Just when you’d ha thought the man ‘d1 been furious,
To take it that aisy — wasn it curious?
Not a bit of it! bless your soul!
But you’ll be tould! you’ll be tould!
1 Would have.
So Tommy was gone; but Nelly got better,
And then the lot of them was at her
To stay for a servant with them there,
And so she did: and the best of a year
No news of Tommy; but the people was sayin
They were hearin a sort of music playin
In the air sometimes — like a sort of disthress —
Like a fiddle cryin about the place —
Like a cry, they said, and a surt of a moan to it —
(I’ve axed Tommy himself, but he wouldn own to it).
So the people said it wasn right
At all: but Cain took a gun one night,
And fired it out at the front door.
And then they never heard it no more.
Aye, aye! but afore the next Mheillea1
There was wonderful news of Tommy, I tell ye —
Just so! just so! aw, hould your luff!
Wonderful, wonderful, sure enough!
Well now, this is the way it was —
Nelly’s father, ye see, was lost
Off the Shellags one night, with Illiam2 Crowe,
One-eyed Illiam? exactly so.
And the widda come down most terrible,
And all the mouths she had to fill —
I don’t know the number — and it’s hard for such,
And Nelly helpin, but it wasn much —
What could she do? aw a reglar battle,
And executions, and I don’t know what all,
And the bed goin sellin from under them.
And all to that,3 till at last it came
She had to give in. And Nelly took heart
To ax this Cain to take their part,
Just, you know, to spake to the Coroner
For the mother, poor soul! that he wouldn be purrin4 her
To the road altogether, and no expense.
And did. But Tommy’s tould me since
That Nelly was sayin she’ll never forget
The way he looked when she axed him that —
Poor thing! poor thing! but I’ll be bail —
Bless ye! looks ‘ll mean a dale,
A dale will looks: but helped them though;
And then the widda thought she’d go
To Douglas, to live with a sisther theer;
And so the Coroner got them clear.
Or clear of them. And so Mrs. Quine
Off to the sisther but — very fine!
Sisthers! will they? Not a bit o’ them!
Showed her the door, and all the kit o’ them!
And too proud to go back — you know, the disgrace —
And Douglas is hardly a Christian place:
Bless ye! Douglas, of a rule,
Is just as bad as Liverpool.
3 So forth.
So she wandered about on the bare street,
And not a stockin to her feet;
And worer and ragg’der, and thinner and starveder,
Till one of these bobbies took and obsarved her —
That’s their word — and brought her up
Afore the High-Bailiff — not a bite or a sup
At the woman for days — and the childher all round her
Cryin; and that’s where Tommy found her —
In the Coort? In the Coort. “Is there one of ye knows her?”
Says the High-Bailiff: “I was used to, sir,”
Says a little chap in the crowd; and, blow me!
If the little chap they had wasn Tommy —
Tommy, for sure! And — “I’ll take care o’ them,”
Says Tommy there — “I think there’s a pair o’ them,”
Says the High-Bailiff, and he laughed, and he turned
The leaf of his book, and the bobbies girned1 —
Of coorse! of coorse! But still they were plazed,
Aw yes, they were, and the woman amazed;
But stuck to Tommy, and out on the door —
And — “Mind you’ll not come here no more!”
Says the High-Bailiff But when she got out,
And took a look at the chap, no doubt,
And seen the surt,2 she lost all heart —
Poor soul! and actual made a start
To cut and lave him. But Tommy caught her,
And Tommy entreated and Tommy besought her.
And these little midges set up a boo!
And the woman didn know what to do —
“Tommy, ye dunkey! it isn no gud!3
Ye cudn!” she says; “I cud! I cud!”4
Says Tommy: “try me! try me!” he says;
“I’ve got a terr’ble shuitable place,”
Says Tommy — “Come, Mrs. Quine, aw come!”
And so she went, but very glum —
Lek shamed, you know, at the undersize
And that, lek thinkin he wasn wise.
2 What sort he was.
So Tommy done the best he was able,
And took a lodgin in Guttery Gable,
Or somewhere — just one room they had;
But he worked like a haythen naygur, he did.
And the woman wasn a bad soul ether,1
Only a little cretchy2 rather —
Cretchy, or somethin of the kind.
And uphouldin3 the days she lived with Quine.
She shudn! No, of coorse she shudn;
But — that’s the times she got the puddin,
Heavin it down the sink, she said —
Plenty of butter to her bread
Them times, she said: you know their way!
Women muss have somethin to say —
Muss — and yes, it was rather hard
On Tommy. But, bless ye! he didn regard.
Tommy had a hope in his bussum.
Had Tommy — and ‘d take the childher, and nuss ’em,
Or wash them, or anything at all:
Till at last the sisther gave a call
One everin: and she saw the nate
And comfible, and — gettin late,
And — could she sit till mornin there?
And cuddled her up in a arm-chair,
And had her breakfast, and liked the tay,
And never left them anyway —
Pride, eh? Turn your back, and Pride
‘ll ate all you’ll give him, and more beside.
3 Boasting of.
So that’s the news that come to Renshent,
And Nelly had ha’ took1 and went
Over the mountains like a shot
That very minute, but the Misthress said not,
And coaxed and coaxed, and — “Nelly! Nelly!
You relly2 are too hard now, relly!
Isn it all for you he’s doin it?
And it’ll be your fault if he’s ever ruin it —”
And — to do unto others — “arn we bidden?”
And — “Don’t, Nelly, don’t!” So Nelly didn.
1 Would have taken.
But still there was other things both’rin the gel —
Cain? Aye, Cain — most terrible!
Aw there’s no mistake the man was bad,
At laste, ye know, if he wasn mad —
A touch of both — I wouldn thruss1 —
But Nelly didn see it at fuss —
No she didn — if you’d only ha’ ast2 her,
She’d ha’ said he was such a nice master —
Nice she’d ha’ said, nice, d’ye mind!
Pious very, but terrible kind —
Kind she’d ha’ said — such gentleness —
Such that’s the way the women is —
It’s no use o’ talkin! they will! they will!
That’s the way with the women still —
Kind and pious! folly and blindness!
That’s the piety and the kindness!
Vanity and consate — that’s it:
Well — howsomdever — just wait a bit!
1 Trust (I rather think).
But the misthress saw it — like a weather-glass
Is these wakely women; not a speck ‘ll pass
But they’ll have it there — aw, I don’t know the wake
Or the what — it’s lek the delicake,1
And the hung that fine — but let that be —
They’ll see what nobody else will see.
Aye, but there’s more — there’s more though still,
And so I’ll confess it, aw, deed I will.
Do you know — ah dear! it’s an ould song —
What it is to be right, and yet to be wrong?
Not her fault — no, no! — but look!
Swore upon the Holy Book —
Swore — d’ye see? Aw, it’s no use denyin —
Swore — and still, if the woman was dyin,
What could she do? She hadn gorr2 it —
Love! what love? the only thing for it
Was death, not love: death, death’s the cry!
Sell love? sham love? no, die, die, die!
But more than swore, more than swore —
Ten thousand times more! ten thousand times more!
Here was a man that was goin to ruin
Most terrible — and whose doin?
Whose? Aw, don’t be hard! aw, don’t!
Yes — she thought so, but me! I won’t!
She thought so — yes, just what you’d expeck —
But, oh! be pitiful to the leek!
That’s the thought that done the jeel1
Goin like a threddle2 to a wheel,
Thrib-throbbin night and day.
The wheel that spun her life away.
And a thing like that, you know, couldn be hidden;
And others saw it, but Nelly didn —
The scroundhrel-villyan! and allis tuk3 her
To chapel himself, and up and stuck her
In the front pew — and high and low
Could see, but Nelly didn, no!
Such a fatherly man, she thought, so good,
And holy you know; and there she stood
In the chapel, like a primrose in the spring,
And as sweet and as foolish as anything —
1 Did the damage.
So one Sunday though ould Cain was as clever,
Fiddlin there with Nelly as ever,
And wrappin the shawl — and it wasn rainy —
But just lek the gel was made of chayney.
And Nelly as rosy as an apple,
With the blushes, and linkin down the chapel,
As happy, bless ye! and content —
Innocent! just innocent!
For the capers this Cain was carryin on
She didn hardly understan’;
Only she thought it was maybe a way
With pious pessins — but as good as a play;
And the praecher lookin rather glum —
But the hour had come, the hour had come!
Come, I tell ye! make or break —
For on the road he begun to spake
About the young captain, and worked it round,
Till she must understand; and she gave a bound.
And off like a deer, and the night was black,
And this rascal couldn follow the track,
And lost her there; but Nelly went
Across everythin, everythin, straight for Renshent.
Ah, think! what would the poor craythur be?
Just mad with fear and misery!
The Misthress! the Misthress! That was her thought
She wasn freckened to be caught —
Poor thing! not that — but there! oh there!
To be with her! to be with her!
Safe, safe with her! And just the strength,
And in on the parlour, and fell full length
At the Misthress’ feet. And — what was there at her?
And — “Nelly, Nelly! what’s the matter?”
And never a word, and never a moan —
Poor Nelly lay as dead as a stone.
But coaxed her, and petted her, and raised her —
And — “Nelly, Nelly!” and ‘mazeder and ‘mazeder.
“What is it, Nelly?” (you understan’ —
A pious man! a holy man!
Where was he? Ah dear! What odds?
The heart of an innocent gel is God’s —
Let scoundrels skulk, let divils chafe!
Nelly was safe! Nelly was safe!
Safe with the Misthress). But when she woke,
And when she looked, and when she spoke,
And when she tould — the Misthress heard,
But she didn say a single word.
But turned like a sheet. It had come at last,
And the bitterness of death was passed.
“Misthress!” says Nelly, “Misthress! mother
My own! my own! for I haven no other,
Or if I have — O kindest friend!
O sweet! O good! O . . mother then!
Mother, my heart is like to break!”
But the Misthress, you know, she couldn spake —
“O Misthress, is your heart turned hard to me?
O Misthress, won’t you spake a word to me?
Just a word! a word! Oh spake
Any word — for Jesus’ sake!
Am I a naughty gel, Mrs. Cain?
Am I? am I? I didn mane —
Misthress! Misthress! I didn know —
Am I! am I! Must I go?”
But the Misthress sat in her chair quite stiff —
So Nelly got in a sort of a tiff,
Lek, you know, the way with such,
Half-cock, hair-trigger, and off with a touch —
That was the wuss o’ Nelly, aw yes!
‘Deed it was, and ‘deed it is.
But — dear me! clean your own winder —
Flint is flint, and tinder is tinder —
And knew no more till the man-in-the-moon
All the mischief she was doin —
Nelly! Nelly! And “Misthress,” she said.
And she stood on her feet, and she back with the head.
And her bonnet fell off and draggled there —
“You won’t hear, you won’t hear!
I’m not worth, I suppose; I see’t! I see’t!
I’m only the dirt beneath his feet!
I’m no matter. I haven a friend.
And you think I’m a liar, and there’s an end!
I believe ye knew! I believe ye knew!
Yes, I do! yes, I do!
I believe ye made it up between ye.
And I’m sorry the day that ever I seen ye.”
Quick work — you’ll say; aw, quick is the road;1
But oh, if Nelly had only knowed
What the Misthress was feelin then!
But — however — what’s the use, my men?
So Nelly gave an awful cry,
Like the yowl of a dog, but no reply
From the Misthress, no reply at all.
So she took her bonnet and her shawl,
And away, and locked herself in her room,
And left the Misthress to her doom.
And the sarvints was freckened, and didn go near,
But they heard the Misthress on the stair
Lek staggerin lek — and then — no more,
Not even a foot upon the floor —
And sat up for Cain: but he didn come in
Till daylight, and blew about with the wind.
They were sayin, rather, and up to bed —
And there was the Misthress lyin dead!
She was lyin dead. Pison? yes!
A mug of it upon the chiss1 —
Pison, though — poor thing! she was gone
To the happy place, where it’s all one —
Prepared? aw dear! what is prepared?
And the ould murderer stood and stared!
And he shouted? Yes, enough for three!
Shouted — but not immadiently.
No, no; but aisy! wait, then, wait!
Don’t get ‘cited, at any rate!
Well, now, you may think the work
There was in that house; and Christy Quirk,
The Coroner, comin and the inquest arrim,1
And everybody on the farrim2
Callin3 there: and couldn agree
For temporal insanity;
But just it was pison, pison — what’s
The name of that pison they’re given to rots?
But by whose hand administered —
Minis, minis — that’s the word —
I think so. Well, they couldn say;
So to bury the body anyway,
And service over it all right —
And so they did, but late at night.
1 At him, held by him.
3 Being called.
And poor Nelly, they said, was just like a ghose,
Creepin about, and packed her clothes
To be off; but the women coaxed her for all
To stay with them over the funeral.
But Cain knew well that she’d settled to lave
When the Misthress went out: so before the grave
Was filled — aw bless ye! hardly a spatter
On the coffin-lid, he was home and at her —
Aye he was, and had some tay
In the kitchen, and tould the rest to stay
Outside till he’d want them in to prayer;
But he’d something very particular
To say to Ellen Quine, he said —
Yes, indeed! and so he had.
And — would she forgive him? That was the game,
Would she forgive him? He felt the shame
Of his conduck the other night — aw dear!
The shame, he said, but still it was clear
He was left to himself, he said, that time —
And would she forgive him? and would she try him?
What was man? he said — the best,
He said, the very holiest?
No doubt, no doubt, he said, it was sudden:
But what was he to do? He couldn
Allow her to go, and his heart to break;
And if he didn spake now, when was he to spake?
It was his one chance, he said, and he took it;
And the dear departed would overlook it.
And Nelly tried to stop the man —
But, bless me! she said, the tongue of him ran
Like a wheel, she said. And would she be this?
And would she be that? and all the list
Of the things he’d do, and the things he’d give her —
And — “I will! I will!” and on like a river —
And promisin the kind (!) he’d be —
And — “Oh, I’ll make you happy!” says he.
And — “Will ye, will ye be my wife?”
And he stopped to get wind. “I’ll send this knife,”
Says Nelly, “through your black heart.
If you’ll spake another word.” The start
He gave! and the cup fallin out of his hand!
“Through your black heart, you bad man!”
Says Nelly, and she took a step
Towards him, and the fella kep
His eye on her still; but he backed and backed,
And out on the door; and — aw it’s a fact.
Nobody said another word
About prayers that night that ever I heard —
No: and next mornin the gel was sayin
Good-bye to them there, when in comes Cain.
“Clear out of this!” says Cain to the gels:
“I must spake to this pessin, and nobody else
Is wanted here.” So of course they went.
“Now, Nelly,” he says, “you’re leavin Renshent;
And you’ll return,” he says, “for Lammas,
And marry me. Promise now! promise! promise!”
But Nelly made a dart at the dresser,
And had a knife in a minute, bless her! —
The gel was quick. But Cain gave a sign.
And two policemen, that was eyein
The whole, unknownced, gript Nelly, by George,
Like a shot, — and “I give this pessin in charge
For the murder of Mrs. Cain,” he says;
And he stands like a rock, and his hand in his breast.
Poor Nelly! poor Nelly! and haulin and pushin,
And a car there to take her to Castle Rushen.1
But just when they started he tried once more.
And stooped, and whispered somethin to her.
But the people didn hear what he said,
And Nelly only shook her head —
And, “All right!” and nothin more to say with them,
And up goes the driver, and off and away with them.
The divil! I think I see his hoofs!
But he’d got his proofs, he’d got his proofs.
His proofs — aw yes: for who was it bought
This pison but Nelly, that little thought
What was goin to happen: and then the fight
She had with the Misthress that very night —
The servants would swear to as soon as wink.
And lookin middlin ugly, I think.
1 The jail of the Island.
Now, when Tommy heard this news.
He was clane crazy. “Don’t be a goose!
Don’t be a goose!” says Mrs. Quine;
“Of course the case will be goin a try’n;1
And Nelly was allis a bit of a fury,
Aw, ‘deed she was: but no doubt the jury
Will consider the young the craythur’s yet —
And it’s only transportation she’ll get.”
“Transportation!” I says Tommy, “and me!”
“Well, well,” says Mrs. Quine, “we’ll see.”
“See!” says Tommy, ” I’ll go to Duddon
This very minute.” “Well, I wouldn,”
Says the mother, “I wouldn be so selly.2
She was allis very short-tempered, was Nelly.
And Duddon the very first lawyer goin.
Duddon! Bless ye! it’s only throwin
Your money away — it is, indeed!
And, goodness knows, there’s not much need.
Look at the childher!” and so she went on.
And, “Stop now. Tommy!” but Tommy was gone.
Ye see the chap was doin fair:
He’d got in with some masons and builders there —
And contraks and that, and good at the measurin,
And plannin, and cipherin, and takin a pleasure in
All sorts of inventions, and layin the gas —
Aw, bless ye! makin money fast.
1 Will be tried.
But Duddon that was the chap for the law —
Terr’ble, but terr’bler for the jaw —
Aw, a mortal hand! He’s laid on the shelf
Since then. But he’d bully ould Harry himself
Them times. Aw bless ye! — fire and slaughter!
Put Duddon on them, and they’d cry for quarter.
So it’s Duddon Tommy wanted to see,
And tould him all; and, “Lave it to me!”
Says Duddon, and bitin his pen, and lookin
As deep as deep: so Tommy was hookin.
Poor Tommy, though — the shaky and shivery
He was. And “The General Jail Delivery” —
That was the time. And them words seemed cut
In every stone the craythur put
In a wall. They seemed to be wrote in the air.
On the sands, in the harbour — everywhere.
And Tommy got lave for the mother and aunt
To see this Nelly. And so they went,
And Tommy with them, in a car,
And into the Castle; but didn dar’
To go in the place where Nelly was,
But pretended to be lookin after the hoss.
And Mrs. Quine was weepin a dale.
And the sisther, of course she wouldn fail —
Aw, dacent women! But when they were done.
And just sittin together, the mother begun
To ask a hape of questions, you know;
And this and that, and terrible though —
Till at last she said, “And, Nelly, then,
What did ye give herthe pison in?”
Aw, Nelly jumped to her feet, and she turned
Away from them, and the cheeks of her burned
With fire and shame; and she wouldn spake.
And didn — and so they had to make
Tracks of coorse; and — “She’s very queer!”
Says the mother to the jailer theer.
But just it was goin about a week
To the trial, Duddon sent to speak
With Tommy. And — everythin was in train;
But he’d like to have a talk with this Cain.
And would Tommy go with him at once? and statin
The for.1 And the two of them off in the phaeton.
So when they got there, it was — “How do ye do, sir?”
“You know me,” says Duddon. “Who wouldn know you, sir?”
Says Cain, very smilin. But when he seen
Tommy there, his face got as keen
As keen; and — “Thomas Gelling, is it?”
He says, and “What’s the cause of this visit,
May I ax?” — quite stiff, ye know. But Duddon
Wasn the chap to wait for the puddin,
But in it at once: and — “A pessin is lyin
In the Castle, by the name of Quine —
A servant of yours — in custody.
Upon your information, it seems to be,
For murderin your wife by pison.
Now, Mr. Cain, it’s very surprisin
You don’t perceive how much better
It would have been for ye all to have dropped this matter.
If your respected pardner had died
By her own hand, by suicide,”
There you were: but there was people enough
That didn know then they were well off.
And the jury hadn seen their way
To “temporal sanity,” and he dare say
He could guess the raison. “But I don’t care a toss.
It was suicide, and you know it was!
That’s my conviction, and you can’t remove it;
You know it, my friend, and you can prove it —
Yes, you can. And look here, Mr. Cain —”
And he eyed him sharp — “Look here, I’ll be plain.
There’s no doubt at all the law will considher
The two of you to be in it together,
Her the insthrument, and you —
Well, Mr. Cain! But here’s my view —
Mr. Cain, Mr. Cain, the law ‘ll go furdher,
And bring you in yourself for the murdher —
Yourself alone!” (Ould Cain gave a jerk) —
“So just you set your wits to work.
And give me that proof — you know what I mane —
Or I’ll have you arrested, Mr. Cain.
By this time to-morrow — the proof! d’ye hear?
So now you know the way to steer.
Good day, Mr. Cain —” and turns on his heel.
That everin Cain was off to Peel,
And a Tommy Artlar1 in the bay,
And her anchor tripped, and goin to sea
Directly. And Cain just settled his passage,
And sent a passil2 and a message
By a chap on the pier — aye! it’s a fac’!
And away to Ireland aboord of this smack,
And got the steamer at Queen stown, bedad!
And off to America — Catch my lad!
Apt to come back? Indeed he isn —
If he’d show his nose, he’d be clapt in prison
Like a shot — not him! else what did he run for.
Eh? and so that villyan is done for!
1 An Arklow fishing-boat.
But what was this paper? The paper! wup!1
This was the paper. When Cain went up
And found the Misthress lyin dead,
He found this paper on the bed,
And took it, and read it, and kep it by ‘m —
The dirty rascal! all the time.
This paper was written by his wife,
And statin the tired she was of her life —
And the wishful to die — that’s the way it was tould —
And the Lord to have mercy upon her sowl!
And somethin about her weddin-ring —
Disthracted lek; poor thing! poor thing!
So the trial was held, and the jury sat,
And — “Appear to coort!” and all to that —
And Duddon got up, and the speech he made
Was grand — aw bless ye! he knew his trade —
And the foreman at them was Corlett the Draper —
And Duddon handed up the paper.
And the Deemster read it, and “Do ye agree?”
And “Not guilty! not guilty!” what else could it be?
“Three cheers! three cheers!” aw I’ll engage —
And the Deemster black in the face with rage!
And Tommy outside of the Castle wall
With a car; but he hadn the mother at all
That time: and Nelly, and the people expectin
Lek she’d go to Tommy, lek a sort o’ directin,
And in with her straight, and stooped the head,
And — “You’ve beat me, Tommy! you’ve beat me!” she said.
But, half-way to Douglas, this Nelly got bouldher,
And the head was slipt on Tommy’s shouldher,
And the whisperin in Tommy’s ears,
And his arm round her waist, and tears — tears —
Tears — I’ll lave it to any man livin,
Sweeter to Tommy than the rain from heaven.
And so of coorse they got married at once?
Bless ye! where would be the sense?
But it’s married they got; and this little wutch
Worked with Tommy, and Tommy got ruch.
And the farm on the North — Renshent, ye know,
Was comin to the heir-at-law.
That lived in England, and willin to let it,
And Tommy terrible wantin to get it.
And got it — the very primmisis,1
And there he is now — aw ‘deed he is!
It was only last year I had a spell there,
And Tommy and Nelly and me and the childher
Went out for a walk on the Mooragh1 there,
Just to enjoy the lovely air:
And we took for the beach, and we come to the Rue.
And Tommy looked, and I looked too —
And we thought, you know; but it wasn grief —
And the water floppin upon the reef —
And the little things busy with their play —
And Nelly as happy as the day.
1 Waste land on the shore.
“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.