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'Twas on the shores that round our coast
From Deal to Ramsgate span, That I found alone, on a piece of stone,
An elderly naval man.
His hair was weedy, his beard was long,
And weedy and long was he; And I heard this wight on the shore recite,
In a singular minor key:
" Oh, I am a cook, and a captain bold,
And the mate of the Nancy brig, And a boson tight, and a midshipmite,
And the crew of the captain's gig."
And he shook his fists, and he tore his hair,
Till I really felt afraid ; For I couldn't help thinking the man had been drinking,
And so I simply said:
" O elderly man, it's little I know
Of the duties of men of the sea, And I'll eat my hand if I understand
How you can possibly be
"At once a cook and a captain bold,
And the mate of the Nancy brig, And a boson tight, and a midshipmite,
And the crew of the captain's gig!"
Then he gave a hitch to his trousers, which
Is a trick all seamen larn, And having got rid of a thumping quid,
He spun his painful yarn :
" 'Twas in the good ship Nancy Bell
That we sailed to the Indian Sea, And there on a reef we came to grief,
Which has often occurred to me.
"And pretty nigh all o' the crew was drownded (There were seventy-seven o' soul);
And only ten of the Nancy's men Said 'Here' to the muster-roll.
" There was me, and the cook, and the captain bold, And the mate o' the Nancy brig,
And the boson tight, and the midshipmite, And the crew of the captain's gig.
" For a month we'd neither wittles nor drink,
Till a-hungry we did feel; So we drawed a lot, and accordin' shot
The captain for our meal.
" The next lot fell to the Nancy's mate,
And a delicate dish he made; Then our appetite with the midshipmite
We seven survivors stayed.
"And then we murdered the boson tight,
And he much resembled pig; Then we whittled free, did the cook and mo,
On the crew of the captain's gig.
" Then only the cook and me was left;
And the delicate question, ' Which Of us two goes to the kettle ?' arose,
And we argued it out as sich.
" For I loved that cook as a brother, I did;
And the cook he worshiped me : But we'd both be blowed if we'd either be stowed
In the other chap's hold, you see.
" ' I'll be eat if you dines off me,' said Tom.
' Yes, that,' said I, ' you'll be ; I'm boiled if I die, my friend,' quoth I.
And ' Exactly so,' quoth he.
"Says he, 'Dear James, to murder me
Were a foolish thing to do : For don't you see that you can't cook me,
While I can, and will, cook you!'
" So he boils the water, and takes the salt
And the pepper in portions true (Which he never forgot), and some chopped shalot.
And some sage and parsley, too.
"' Come here,' said he, with a proper pride,
Which his smiling features tell; ' 'Twill soothing be if I let you see
How extremely nice you'll smell.'
"And he stirred it round, and round, and round, And he sniffed at the foaming froth ;
When I ups with his heels, and smothers his squeals In the scum of the boiling broth.

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III