Music Of The Waters - online book

Sailors' Chanties, Songs Of The Sea, Boatmen's, Fishermen's,
Rowing Songs, & Water Legends with lyrics & sheet music

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184'             Music of the Watees.
Perhaps the most extraordinary men that my work of collecting the sailors' songs has led me amongst are some specimens of Italian seamen who visited me at home. I had often found it a difficult matter, and always one requiring some little tact, to induce the sailors to accept any gratuity for their trouble in singing. Sometimes, in the case of their coming to me, all they would deign to accept was their railway-fare from the neighbouring port where they happened to be staying ; but on the occasion of the visit of the before-mentioned Italians the case was quite different. One of them, a ferocious, black-browed, olive-skinned individual, I had made acquaintance with in the Infirmary, where he had been for some weeks owing to an accident to his leg. He could speak a little English, and after a few inquiries as to his accident, &c, I asked him if he could sing ? The answer being satisfactory, I then proceeded to question him as to the sailors' songs. He appeared to understand me perfectly, and it was arranged that he should come and see me and sing some of his chanties, as soon as he was able to leave the Infirmary; the chaplain, with his usual kindness, volunteered to direct him. Weeks passed, and I had almost forgotten him, when one afternoon, sitting writing at the open window, I was startled by hearing what appeared to be a very violent altercation at the front door. Very foreign-sounding tongues seemed taking part in the disturbance, and three very foreign-looking faces greeted me as I went forward, to find the maid vainly endeavouring to understand the reason of this strange invasion. I must add that she was a stranger, and therefore not accustomed, as she very soon became, to the heterogeneous style of visitors who, in the persons of the various nationalities of sailors, found their way to me. One of the three, my infirmary acquaintance,

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