Stainer and Winter

Have I been a fisherman long, Sir?
Aye for sixty-three Summers or more
Why I fished with a bent pin and cotton,
In a slop-pail before I was four
I’ve caught plaice and skate from the sea-shore
From Piers I’ve caught congers and dabs
And even when I went out boating,
I was always catching of crabs.

In the wet I’ve got many a hake sir
When the rain has been pouring full pelt
And even if I fished in the sewers
I’ll bet I’d catch fishes that smelt
I’ve sat and gazed over the boat-side,
Right down to the sea’s rocky bed
Where lobsters crawled by in their thousands
That the water was tinged a bright red.

You want my most thrilling adventure?
Well it happened in nineteen fifteen
I was after a mighty great trout sir
Which at times by my pals had been seen
It kept to one pool in the river
By all fishermen round it was feared
For they noted whenever ‘twas spotted
Some poor angling chap disappeared.

Now I’d long been determined to land him
I’d made my arrangements for years
So I dashed off by train for the spot sir
When the news of his coming I hears
I’d long kept a special great lob-worm
Which for thickness would take quite a cake
I’d fed it on port-wine and Bovril
Till it grew quite as big as a snake.

I arrived at the place in the evening
And resolved that next day I’d begin
So I looked up my pals and we drifted
To drink my success at the Inn
As we drank I fetched down on the table
A stuffed salmon trout from the wall.
And for two hours I studied each detail
To help me in making my haul.

Well I started next day for the river
Where I soon had a sight of my mark
But I’m bound to admit I was scared sir
For it’s size was as big as a shark
It suddenly leapt from the water
And barked with a ‘orrible din
Then flopped back again with a wallop
Which wet me right through to the skin.

If a Billingsgate porter had seen it
‘Twould have coloured his language a bit
‘Twould have frightened the life out of Jonah
Or giv’n Isaac Walton a fit
I went straight for my worm in a jiffy
But he didn’t quite like my fierce look
He bit me and fought like a viper
Till I had him at last on the hook.

Then I heaved him right into the river
At the moment the trout rose again
He gobbled it down in a moment
And I pulled it with might and with main
But Lor sir my strength was as nothing
Beside this phenomenal fish
In a flash I was jerked off my feet sir
And pulled through the waves with a swish.

Then he stopped and he turned in his tracks sir
His evil eyes gleamed in his head
And his horrid great mouth was wide open
And his teeth were all dripping red
Then I knew what had happened to others
And I said, “Here’s the last of Bill Jones”
For as I looked into his gullet
I could see human skulls and great bones.

He paused for a moment then darted
Towards me with lightning pace
So I prayed to St George and Sam Isaacs
And closed in a deadly embrace
Down, down through the water we battled
I could feel I’d got many a wound
Till at last I was fairly exhausted
My breath was all gone and I swooned.

I was found late at night at the Inn sir
With my arms round the stuffed salmon trout
But how I had managed to get there
Is a puzzle I’d like to find out.
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