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 me.
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 we knew,
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 'rore'
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 lamp,
And 'eld 'em afore the reflector,
till my arm fairly ached with the cramp.
They didn't make much of a flare, sir,
well, I 'ardly expected they would,
But I had this 'ere great consolation
as I'd done all as anv man could.
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 or two.
Soon I dreamt that I sat at a banquet
with some nobs in a West End hotel,
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 bump!
I knew what it was in a moment,
I could tell pretty well by the force,
It was one o' them big ocean liners
wot 'ad got a bit out of 'er course.
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 light.
I thought p'r'aps as some very likely
might keep up the game all the day,
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 mad,
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 be got,
'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 can.
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 oil,
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 I'll admit,
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 is!
My mate 'e 'ad once been a gunner,
and 'is aim was surprisingly true,
I missed the shop-door I'll admit sir,
but bang thro' the window I flew.
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 paraffin.
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 things.
To bring a long tale to a h'end sir,
I returned the same way as I came,
'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 'is net,
I'd 'ave missed by a yard if 'e 'adn't
and might a got orribly wet.
And talking o' wet, sir, reminds me
as I'm dry enough now thro' and 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 lies.