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20th July; A Rousing Stave

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20th July; A Rousing Stave

Post  Jacob Chase on Wed Mar 05, 2014 12:40 pm

It had been a while since any real fun had been had aboard ship. That fact had occurred to him earlier in the day, while the mast crews were aloft for yet another reefing of sail. The wind was being fickle today, which meant spending an inordinate amount of time on the yards. Or deck bracing yards around to change tack for the thousandth time. Which meant the lads were in need of a positive diversion.

And Cob Chase knew just the thing.

He'd gone looking for Timlin and had arranged for the shantyman to be on the foc's'le at the start of the first dogwatch. The Shepherds were out of bounds for musical accompaniment, he knew. The pair of them had scarcely spoken to each other in a month and Chase was of no mind to spoil what should be a carefree evening with petty squabbling. But that had only opened the way to a more suitable alternative.

Once all was organised to his satisfaction, Chase took himself topside and settled comfortably onto the starboard bulwark, a fresh pinch of tobacco already folded into his cheek. Timlin was already there, tuning his fiddle. Lads were beginning to gather, aware that there was music shortly to be had. Where was the Master-at-Arms, though? It wouldn't be a complete success of planning if he didn't turn up.

"Play sommat, Timlin!" Chase called, deciding it was unwise to wait. With a grin, Timlin set his bow to the strings and launched straight into 'The Girl I Left Behind Me'.

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An' let ev'ry man drink off a full glass
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Singing, 'ere's a good health to each true-'earted lass

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Re: 20th July; A Rousing Stave

Post  Terry Button on Sun Mar 09, 2014 11:39 am

"Yeah... but izzit a proper skylarkin' or what?" Terry asked, skittering over the deck to where the seamen were gathering. "What kind of tune's that, any'ow?" he asked, looking at the fiddler and pulling his hat straight.

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Re: 20th July; A Rousing Stave

Post  Tide Evans on Tue Mar 11, 2014 12:35 am



"That," answered Tide from where he was perched atop the bowchaser. "is an Army tune more'n else, but it's not a bad one. If there was a lad here could sing it too..."

A few of the nearer sailors grinned but none of them offered themselves up to be the desired vocal accompaniment. Soon enough, however, a lanky seaman came rolling up, a tarred hat tipped well back on his head, his smooth tenor voice joining seamlessly with the fiddle music mid-verse.

Tide cut off a thumb's width of tobacco and shoved it carelessly into his cheek. It wasn't yet the Master-at-Arms - wherever the devil he was at - but Josiah Murray had a fair voice-box in him too.

"Ye gods above oh hear my prayer
to my beauteous fair to find me
And send me safely back again,
to the girl I left behind me."

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Re: 20th July; A Rousing Stave

Post  Terry Button on Tue Mar 11, 2014 7:22 am

An Army tune. Terry's face showed a look of scorn at that information, but he tucked himself out of the way next to Tides' bow-chaser to listen to the song anyway. It did have a nice tune to it, at least, he allowed, fiddling with his trouser-cuff.

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Re: 20th July; A Rousing Stave

Post  Tide Evans on Wed Mar 12, 2014 7:11 am



With a smirk, Tide reached down to muss the lad's wool cap.

"The bee shall honey taste no more,
the dove become a ranger
The falling waters cease to roar,
ere I shall seek to change her
The vows we made to heav'n above
shall ever cheer and bind me
In constancy to her I love,
the girl I left behind me."

Murray grinned and swept off his hat as he dipped low into a bow, the song being finished.

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Re: 20th July; A Rousing Stave

Post  Terry Button on Wed Mar 12, 2014 7:14 am

"Hey! Gerroff out of it!" Terry protested, grinning, ducking away and reaching to straighten his hat again.

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Re: 20th July; A Rousing Stave

Post  Tide Evans on Wed Mar 12, 2014 7:35 am

The Welshman was fairly beaming. "I knows a lad needs to grow himself a pigtail, I do," he teased.

A whistling cheer went up from the other seamen then, as Timlin set his bow back to the strings for another tune. This one, according to Murray, was The Bay Of Biscay-O.

"Ye gentlemen of England who live home at your ease,
It's little do you think of the dangers of the seas;
When we receive our orders we are obliged to go
On the main to proud Spain where
the stormy winds do blow.

Was on the fourth of August from Spithead we set sail
With Ramely and Company blest with a pleasant gale;
We sailed along together in the Bay of Biscay, Oh,
Where a dreadful storm it did arise and
the stormy wind did blow."

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Re: 20th July; A Rousing Stave

Post  Terry Button on Wed Mar 12, 2014 7:49 am

"I's tryin' to," Terry, said and shrugged, leaning forward to listen to this one; it wasn't one he knew very well.

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Re: 20th July; A Rousing Stave

Post  Tide Evans on Wed Mar 12, 2014 9:07 am



"Might try harder!" Tide said in an undertone, before being hushed by a man on his opposite side.

Murray was carrying on, his hat once again tipped back at a rakish angle on his head. He stood off to the side, allowing any men who wished to have room to dance. None had come forward yet to do that but thus far there hadn't been a suitable tune for it.

"The Ramely she left us, she could no longer stay
And by distress of weather from us she bore away;
When she arrived at Gibraltar they told the people so
How they thought we were all lost at the Bay of Biscay, Oh.

Kind heaven did protect her, it was not quite so bad,
First we lost our foremast, and then we lost our flag.
And then we lost our mainmast, one of our guns also
And the men, we lost ten on the Bay of Biscay, Oh."

A deeper voice joined in midway through the second verse, belonging to the burly Master-at-Arms.

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Re: 20th July; A Rousing Stave

Post  Terry Button on Wed Mar 12, 2014 9:15 am

Terry put up a hand to his hair. It was sort of growing, wasn't it? It was longer than Tom Oxley's, anyway, he was pretty sure of that. He looked up shyly as the Master-at-Arms came towards them and joined in with Murray's singing.

He hadn't known Mister Small could - or would! - join in with something like this. But then, he'd always been a bit wary around most of the petty officers.

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Re: 20th July; A Rousing Stave

Post  Tide Evans on Wed Mar 12, 2014 9:30 am



It'd take a while but the lad would get a tail worth showing off. Till then, Tide supposed having a hat would have to suit.

The song came to an end, followed by a pause during which the three performers consulted. Then, Timlin's fiddle came to life again and was met with a cheer. It was High Barbary. Murray and Mister Small fell at once into what must be pre-arranged roles, with one singing the main part of the lyrics with the other joining only for the refrains. It worked, oddly enough.

"Look ahead, look a stern,
Look the weather in the lee,
Blow high! Blow low! And so sailed we.
I see a wreck to the windward
And a lofty ship to lee,
A sailing down all on
The coasts of High Barbary

O are you a pirate
Or a man-o-war? cried we.
Blow high! Blow low! And so sailed we.
O no! I'm not a pirate
But a man-o-war, cried he.
A sailing down all on
The coasts of High Barbary."

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Re: 20th July; A Rousing Stave

Post  Terry Button on Wed Mar 12, 2014 9:46 am

He knew that one all right! Though he wasn't going to join in with the verses, just the chorus, but he joined in with that with a will. Despite singing a lot higher than even Murray's tenor, he didn't think he sang too badly.

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Re: 20th July; A Rousing Stave

Post  Tide Evans on Wed Mar 12, 2014 10:20 am



"We'll back up our topsails
And heave our vessel to;
Blow high! Blow low! And so sailed we.
For we have got some letters
To be carried home by you.
A sailing down all on
The coasts of High Barbary

For broadside, for broadside
They fought all on the main;
Blow high! Blow low! And so sailed we."

The man next to Tide nudged him with an elbow, though the quartermaster hardly needed prompting. It was fortunate that he was sitting above Button's line of sight, for it allowed him to wave at Murray and Small, and thus with a gesture or two signal them to cease mid-verse.

Only the fiddle carried on, with Timlin's face alight with a grin.

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Re: 20th July; A Rousing Stave

Post  Terry Button on Wed Mar 12, 2014 10:45 am

"Until at last the frigate
Shot the pirate's mast away.
A sailing down all on
The coasts of High Barbary
..."

Terry went red as he realised the other singers had stopped. He hadn't meant to push in and take over, and couldn't work out why they'd let him carry on on his own.

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Re: 20th July; A Rousing Stave

Post  Tide Evans on Wed Mar 12, 2014 11:25 am



"A cheer, fellows, c'mon!" Murray called, and the assembled seamen let out a lusty roar.

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Re: 20th July; A Rousing Stave

Post  Terry Button on Wed Mar 12, 2014 11:27 am

"Wha-?" Terry's face felt as though it was on fire. "What'd I do?"

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Re: 20th July; A Rousing Stave

Post  Tide Evans on Thu Mar 13, 2014 1:48 am

"You got a fair voice-box in you, lad," said Tide cheerfully.

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Re: 20th July; A Rousing Stave

Post  Terry Button on Thu Mar 13, 2014 3:16 am

"Um..." There didn't seem to be a lot Terry could say in response to that, and he mumbled something that could, possibly, be understood to mean, "Thanks."

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Re: 20th July; A Rousing Stave

Post  Tide Evans on Thu Mar 13, 2014 7:07 am



"Get up here, fellow, there's a lad!" Murray called, taking advantage of Timlin having ceased playing.

Tide leaned back and nudged Button firmly in the back with a leathery foot. "G'arn, they's wantin' you."

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Re: 20th July; A Rousing Stave

Post  Terry Button on Thu Mar 13, 2014 9:12 am

"But I..." Terry began, before being nudged firmly forward by the application of Tide's foot between his shoulder-blades.

"I ain't..." he muttered, scrambling up, with his face scarlet to the roots of his hair at the attention.

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Re: 20th July; A Rousing Stave

Post  Tide Evans on Thu Mar 13, 2014 10:35 am



The lad's protests were roundly ignored. "What songs d'ye know, lad?" Murray enquired.

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Re: 20th July; A Rousing Stave

Post  Terry Button on Thu Mar 13, 2014 10:50 am

He could plump for Spanish Ladies - it was well-enough known, of course, as was Hearts of Oak. Something where he wouldn't forget the words with everyone staring at him - it was obvious even to Terry that they were going to get him to sing something for them.

He was too conscious of everyone looking at him and his mind went blank. He was about to suggest Spanish Ladies when something else occurred to him. "I c'n do the Sailor's Alphabet," he said nervously, poking at a deck seam with one bare toe.

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Re: 20th July; A Rousing Stave

Post  Tide Evans on Thu Mar 13, 2014 10:55 am



"Sailor's Alphabet it is. C'mon then, lad. We'll ye'n'me do it," said Murray with a grin.

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Re: 20th July; A Rousing Stave

Post  Terry Button on Thu Mar 13, 2014 11:06 am

"Arigh' then," he said, taking a breath and wiping damp palms on his grubby trousers.

He glanced at Timlin, who grinned back, fiddle poised.

"A is for the Anchor that lies at our bow,
B is for the Bowsprit an' the jibs all lie low,
Oh! C is for the Caps'n we all turn around,
An' D's for the Davits to low'r the boat down."

His voice cracked a little in the first line from nervousness at the attention everyone was paying him - he wasn't used to that, after all! - but he kept his eyes on Murray in an attempt to distract himself from the other men listening in.

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Re: 20th July; A Rousing Stave

Post  Tide Evans on Thu Mar 13, 2014 12:31 pm



"Merrily, cheerily
So merry sail we, no mortal on earth like a sailor at sea
and it’s
Heave away, haul away, the ship rolls along
Give a sailor his grog and there’s nothing goes wrong." Murray took up the chorus without missing a beat.

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