T. Cressey (The Forge Poet) The village of Kirkstall is very well known, On account of an Abbey it calls all its own; And under the roadway where now stretch the wires, They used to inter the old monks and the friars. But now in affright, A most awful sight May be seen a grim spectre on any dark night. Strongmen, after sunset, in great mortal fear, Cannot be persuaded to venture too near; Be the ghost who he may, whether friar or monk, 'Tis clear that he's put all the folk in a funk. As a chap gravely said, With a nod of the head, 'Fancy prowling around, tho' some centuries dead.' In a tavern close by, 'The Vesper' to wit, So cosy that Forge men foregather in it, A great son of Anak, a smith they called Nat, Quoth, 'Ghosts! Who believes in such piffle as that? It's all tommyrot, And I'll just tell you what, I'm prepared to go lay this old ghost on the spot.' 'No monk dead or living will ever scare me,' The landlord, he nodded, and Nat nodded he; An' the reason for that, at least, so I think, Was because Nat had had rather too much to drink. Yet the words were so bold And the night dark and cold, And to make matters worse, the beer was all sold. The landlord, of course, knew what he was about, And as he'd no beer to sell, turned them all out; Some staggered off left, and some to the right, Bold Nat and his mates disappeared in the night. Then all stood aghast As they found out at last, They'd reached the old ruins, but hadn't got past. In uncanny silence a moment they stood, Then Nat said, Buzz off lads, I'll make my word good.' For tho' quite a tippler, he'd scorn to act shabby, And thereupon hiccoughed his way to the Abbey. If I must state the case, With fear stricken pace, His mates hurried off from the dread, awful place. They called on his wife and explained about Nat, 'What! stalking a ghost,' she said, 'I'll see to that;' She bade them goodnight, then she said, 'It's quite plain, That husband of mine has been drinking again.' So she got to her feet, And grabbed a white sheet, And then to her task hurried off down the street. Mrs. Nat, understand, was a real Yorkshire Lass, 'I'll larn him,' she said, 'to go wasting his brass;' But, as she drew near to the Abbey precincts, Her courage was waning a trifle methinks. Yet onward she steers, And stifles her fears, But hark! What's that sound that breaks harsh on her ears. The sound she knew well, she had heard it before, To cut matters short, it was simply Nat's snore; He lay on the greensward just over the wall, And no apparition disturbed him at all. As she stood there alone, In a sepulchral tone, She emitted a dismal, lugubrious groan. But Nat just snored on, as he lay on the ground, Utterly oblivious to every sound; No matter how strong was the dread sense of fear, What acted much Stronger on Nat was the beer. Seeing groans were no good, She picked up some mud, And dropped it on Nat's upturned face with a thud. Then she hurriedly wrapped herself up in the sheet And leaned o'er the wall as Nat sprang to his feet, One look he took round, and then with a bound, On seeing the spook, he sped like a hound. She laughed till she cried, And then home she hied, But leaving discreetly the sheet just outside. Poor Nat he sat there, with a. woe-begone stare, A smut on his face as he sat in his chair; And the blood-curdling story he told to his wife, She pretended he'd frightened her out of her life. And to this day he'll boast How he laid the old ghost, But at one pint he stops, or at two at the most.
The end