On the Shore

On the Shore

Come an’ sit yerselves down, all you childher
While I throw some more bons on the fire –
An’ I’ll tell yer a tale o’ me chil’hood,
While the win’ theer gits higher an’ higher.
Pull the shutters across them big winders,
An’ we’ll shut out the couth an’ the sleet –
Here’s a “piece” for yer all – an’ some toffee –
Are yer right sittin’ theer at me feet?

 

It was down on the shore we were livin’,
Jus’ theer wheer the stream meets the say,
Four boys – an’ me father and mother –
(I was th’ only li’l gel, by the way).
Well, me father went out to the fishin’
An’ me mother took washin’ an’ that –
Ay! five lumpers took clothin’ an’ feedin’,
‘Twas hard work – ‘pon me word! – it was that!

 

For yer see they had nothin’ behin’ them,
For me gran’father died mighty sudden.
Sailin’ foreign he was all his lifetime –
Settle down on the lan’? – no he couldn’!
Well, his ship foundered out in the Indies
Ay! went down with all han’s in a storm,
So his papers and things was all missin’
An’ me father foun’ nothing at home.

 

Though he searched avery corner an’ cranny,
For he knew me gran’father had gol’
Hid away in a ches’ somewhere secret –
He was friken o’ gerrin it stole
By them strange wans goin’ round about sellin’ –
Ay! spyin’ out the lan’ yer might say! –
But the gol’ had just went – ‘twas a myst’ry
Which wasn’t solved – not for many a day.

 

Well we fell on hard times at the cottage
For me father was laid-up in bed
With his leg broke – an’ double pnumonie
An’ me mother near arruv her head.
‘Twas only priddhas an’ herrin’ for us childher,
An’ not very much goin’ o’ that –
With me mother too proud to go beggin’
No wan knew warra state things were at.

 

An’ wan night I was lyin’ theer hungry,
In me own tiny room out the back
When I heard a “tap-tap” on me winder –
Then a gentle “click-clickitty-clack” –
An’ a li’l man stood theer in the moonlight
Dhressed in green, with a red pointed cap,
An’ the smile that he give was that lovely
I couldn’ feel friken wan scrap!

 

“Come with me, me li’l maid,” he said gently,
“For we’re needin’ yer help on the shore” –
An’ he threw me owl coat roun’ me shoulders,
An’ he took me han’ as we went through the dhure.
We tiptoed barefut on the cobbles,
Pas’ the conger eel hung on the wall –
Through the gate openin’ on to the shingle,
Pas’ the hollyhocks stan’in so tall.

 

Then we took the path roun’ to the headlan’,
Over gorse bush an’ heather an’ ling –
An’ I’ll swear me feet navar touched nothin’ –
‘Twas like goin’ through the air on a swing!
Well, we came to some rocks in a circle,
All filled with li’l men dhressed in green,
Keepin’ guard over somethin’ that lay theer –
Talkin low – so no words could I glean.

 

Then the li’l man with me said, “Come closer,
An’ see what we foun’ here this night” –
So I looked – an’ me heart seemed to tighten
At the li’l crushed-up, pitifful sight.
‘Twas a pup – a li’l black and white puppy,
Who’d been happy as like, all that day,
Chasin’ rabbits an’ that in the fiel’s up,
An’ he’d fell down the cliffs in his play.

 

“Take him home,” said the li’l man, “An’ love him,
An’ ten’ to his hurts with great care –
An’ the li’l folk will watch yer an’ bless yer,
Rememberin’ this night with a prayer.”
So I picked up the li’l sowl from the rocks theer,
An’ his li’l head fell slack on me breas’
An’ I wep’ as I folded him to me
In me coat – like a bird in a nes’.

 

Then the lil’l green man smiled – spakin’ softly –
“Look! the dawn comes, an’ we may not bide
Out boats lie jus’ roun’ in the bay theer
We mus’ go on the mornin’ tide.
So go home me li’l maid – all is right now –
In your care the li’l pup will get well;
An’ yer family’s bad times is all over”
Then they all waved a smilin’ farewell.

 

The nex’ thing I knew was the cottage,
With me mother fair gripped to the flure,
At the sight of the kitchen that mornin’
Stacked with food from the stove to the dhure!
Theer was cow’s milk an’ eggs an’ good butther,
An’ bonnag an’ slim cake an’ all –
An’ a bed for the pup in the corner
With his li’l red cushion an’ shawl!

 

Well, me father got batther in no time
An’ us childher got good food an’ clo’es,
An’ the li’l pup was as tough as an earwig,
An’ throve like a blossomin’ rose!
He went rootin’ wan day in the garden,
Scrapin’ soil to the eas’ an’ the wes’ –
An’ he wouldn’ take “no” when we shouted!
An’ for why? he’d foun’ gran’father’s ches’!!!

 

An’ it full to the top with gol’ sov’rins!
So we naver looked back from that day!
But me an’ the pup before dawnin’
Went over the rocks roun’ the bay.
I saw nothin’ but the pup’s tail was waggin’
Ay! He saw the lil’ folk by me side
An’ I felt their light kiss on me forr’head
‘Fore they sailed on the mornin’ tide.


bons = gorse sticks
couth = cold
priddhas = potatoes

(source: from Green Hills by the Sea by Kathleen Faragher (1954), http://bit.ly/1SFs4D6 thanks to James Franklin; photo)

Bernadette Weyde

Bernadette Weyde

I'm a web designer, amateur historian and keen gardener and I enjoy bringing Manx history, folklore and poetry to a modern audience.


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