THE LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER'S STORY
Arthur Helliar & Cuthbert Clarke (1909)
You want to hear of the bravest deed ever done on the land or sea?
I rather think I can tell you that for it appears 'twas done by
It was when I was lighthouse keeper, a year or two back, not more.
The lighthouse was built on a rock, sir, 'arf a mile pretty near
from the shore.
A storm for a month had been raging, no boat could approach as
And the steamer wot should 'ave brought vittles was more than
nine weeks overdue.
For days we'd been living on biscuits - they was all as there
was left to eat.
On Sundays we fried 'em in lampoil, we did it by way of a treat.
But that give out arter a bit, sir, so we 'as to partake of 'em
Still the lamp was the wust of the bisness, we couldn't light
up anv more.
We'd only one small box o' matches and I took 'em above in the
And 'eld 'em afore the reflector, till my arm fairly ached with
They didn't make much of a flare, sir, well, I 'ardly expected
But I had this 'ere great consolation as I'd done all as anv man
I soon finished up all the matches - there was nuffing more left
I could do,
So I turns in my 'ammick being sleepy and was off in a minute
Soon I dreamt that I sat at a banquet with some nobs in a West
Thev was 'anding round liver and bacon, fried fish, tripe and
onions as well.
A waiter asked me if I'd 'ave some, and I'd just stuck my fork
in a lump,
When I almost fell out of my 'ammick for there come a most 'orrible
I knew what it was in a moment, I could tell pretty well by the
It was one o' them big ocean liners wot 'ad got a bit out of 'er
There was dozens more come after that, sir, they cannoned us all
thro' the night,
I tell yer I wasn't 'arf glad, sir, when I see it begin to get
I thought p'r'aps as some very likely might keep up the game all
So I 'ung out a board with 'Wet paint' on, which I fancied might
keep 'em away
Being woke up all night by them vessels was enough to make anyone
And the langwidge the crews used was 'orrid, and the skipper's
was ten times as bad.
So I calls to my mate what was dozing and tells 'im some oil must
'There's a shop arf a mile off,' 'e answers, 'shall yer swim there
or fly there or what?'
'I shall fly there!' I says, 'or I'll try to, just 'ark while
I tell you my plan,
You must fasten me on to a rocket and aim it as straight as you
I must take one as well to come back with, for they mightn't p'r'aps
'ave one on land,
But them ships knockin' bits off our lighthouse is a thing as
I'm hanged if I'll stand.'
So he fastens me on very careful, I'd a can in my 'and for the
And the wind was a 'owlin' and screamin' and the water was all
of a boil.
'Now remember,' l says afore startin', 'I'm a-risking my life
But a Briton ne'er shrinks from his duty and that lamp there tonight
must be lit!'
Them words was scarce out of my mouth, sir, when I 'ears a loud
kind of whizz,
And away thro' the air I was soarin', and a rummy sensation it
My mate 'e 'ad once been a gunner, and 'is aim was surprisingly
I missed the shop-door I'll admit sir, but bang thro' the window
But the face of the man wot was serving was the thing as you ought
to have seen,
When I landed full length on the counter and arskes for some best
He took me at first for a h'angel till 'e saw as I 'adn't no wings,
And noticed a 'am disappearing with a loaf and some pickles and
To bring a long tale to a h'end sir, I returned the same way as
'Twas a coastguard as touched off the rocket and I can't say a
lot for 'is aim.
But my mate who was up in the tower sees me coming and 'eld out
I'd 'ave missed by a yard if 'e 'adn't and might a got orribly
And talking o' wet, sir, reminds me as I'm dry enough now thro'
Wot's that you says, 'Will I join yer.' Well, thankee, don't mind
if I do.
Good 'ealth sir, it's lucky I met you for there's men 'ere by
dozens as tries
To get gents to stand 'em a drink, sir, by tellin' 'em 'orrible