I saw a certain sailorman who sat beside the sea,
And in the manner of his tribe he yawned this yarn to me:
"'Twere back in eighteen-fifty-three, or mebbe fifty-four,
I skipped the farm, no, 't were the shop, an' went to Baltimore.
I shipped aboard the Lizzie or she might ha' bin the Jane;
Them wimmin names are mixey, so I don't remember plain;
But anyhow, she were a craft that carried schooner rig,
(Although Sam Swab, the bo'sun, allus swore she were a brig);
We sailed away from Salem Town, no, lemme think; 't were Lynn,
An' steered a course for Africa (or Greece, it might ha' bin);
But anyway, we tacked an' backed an' weathered many a storm
Oh, no, as I recall it now, that week was fine an' warm!
Who did I say the cap'n was? I didn't say at all?
Wa-a-ll now, his name were 'Lijah Bell or was it Eli Ball?
I kinder guess 't were Eli. He'd a big, red, bushy beard
No-o-o, come to think, he allus kept his whiskers nicely sheared.
But anyhow, that voyage was the first I'd ever took,
An' all I had to do was cut up cabbage for the cook;
But come to talk o' cabbage just reminds me, that there trip
Would prob'ly be my third one, on a Hong Kong clipper-ship.
The crew they were a jolly lot, an' used to sing 'Avast,'
I think it were, or else 'Ahoy,' while bailing out the mast.
And as I recollect it now, "
But here I cut him short,
And said: "It's time to tack again, and bring your wits to port;
I came to get a story both adventurous and true,
And here is how I started out to write the interview:
'I saw a certain sailorman,' but you turn out to be
The most un-certain sailorman that ever sailed the sea!"
He puffed his pipe, and answered, "Wa-a-ll, I thought 'twere mine, but
I must ha' told the one belongs to my twin brother Bill!"