Dutchman's CallA Poem by David Lewis Paget
A fictional might-have-been.
They had seized the only longboat
When the 'Gelderland' veered round,
As the flames leapt the topgallant,
And then brought the rigging down,
There was panic on the foredeck,
There was panic at the bridge,
When the Royal Charles raked salvoes
She began to roll and pitch.
While the shrapnel from the cannons
Shrieked and tore good men apart,
There were those not so heroic
Who were thinking to desert,
They were Dutch from West Terschelling
Who had never learnt to shoot,
Until the English came to call
On Hans, and Jan de Groot.
They'd left not empty-handed for
The cook, Hans Vandeveer
Had already made provision
For them sailing, free and clear,
With a gallon cask of Advocaat,
Another one of rum,
He called the gunner, Jan de Groot
And said - 'Ve vill be gone!'
They launched the heavy longboat
In the mighty, storm-tossed bay
While the 'Gelderland' went down
With every hand aboard that day,
And they set the only sail to take
Them home to Terschelling,
But Robert Holmes had got there as
The storm was lessening.
The fire ships were many, and
They spread their flames about,
One hundred thirty merchantmen
Went down, without a shout,
The English sacked the little town
The island they called home,
While fleeing, they rowed out to sea
With nowhere left to roam.
The town they'd always called naar huis
Was burning to the ground,
They watched the hated Engelsman
And said: "Ve'll do zem down!'
They watched their houses burning
As they drifted from the shore,
And pledged "Ve'll haf our Dutch ravanche
If nuzzing else, I swore!'
For days they drifted aimlessly
Just praying for respite,
When on the second evening
They saw a warning light.
They thought it might be France ahead,
The coast, it could be Spain's,
The morning saw them rowing up
The sluggish River Thames.
The mighty docks and warehouses
Were all deserted then,
The plague had taken everyone,
Or laid them in the ground,
'Vair is ze people?' said de Groot,
'Zis silence iss bizar....'
Hans Vandeveer just shook his head,
And swigged the Advocaat.
They tied the boat up to a wharf
And then set out on foot,
They roamed the empty, dirty streets,
'Iz not Spain!' said de Groot;
'Iz not Spain - it iz London!' said
Hans Vandeveer, 'Look zat!'
For there was stately London bridge,
He hid beneath his hat.
'Zo! London... of ze Engelsman,'
He took a swig of rum,
They both began to chuckle then,
Well zen, let uss haf fun!
They came upon a house that bore
A huge red painted cross,
With 'Please have Mercy on us Lord'
'Vot sez zat?' Jan looked lost.
They neither of them read a word
Of English or of Dutch,
They'd gone to sea as children, so
Their learning wasn't much,
They beat upon the wooden door,
And heard some cries within,
So thinking there was murder there,
They kicked the old door in.
Two women and a man were there,
A pretty sorry sight,
Dead drunk, dishevelled, tangled hair,
They looked at them in fright,
'Ve come to mak you be all right,'
Said Hans, confused and red,
He offered them the Advocaat,
They gave him gin instead.
'I'm Lady Bubo,' said the one,
With bright red flaming hair,
And I am Mrs. Onic,' laughed
The other, who was fair,
The man, who lay flat on his back,
Then raised his head, and swore,
'I'm known as Jack the Rat, my friends,
Bubonic is my w***e!'
They laughed and fell about the room
Embracing Jan de Groot,
Who swigged his rum, Hans Vandeveer
Just shrugged, and followed suit,
They hadn't had a woman then
Since back in Terschelling,
But: 'Be my guest,' said Jack the Rat,
There was no second telling.
The revelry went on all night,
They drank and fell about,
'We want some food,' said Onic then,
The larder's all cleaned out,
They finally, by making signs
Got Jan to understand,
'Ve go and find zum vittals, zen
Ve come back ven ve can!'
They headed up to Pudding Lane,
A baker's light shone bright,
The smell of new baked bread hung there
So tempting in the night,
They beat and beat upon the door
But no one answered then,
So Hans, he clambered up a pipe
To find the baker's oven.
The coals spilled out, he seized four loaves,
Then turned and ran downstairs,
He jumped out through a window,
Said: 'Ve'd better mak uz scarce!'
They ran the length of Pudding lane
Before they turned about,
To see the smoke, the roaring flames
Burst out the Baker's house.
The rest is history, my friends,
The fire spread more and more,
And London burned to ashes like
Terschelling had before,
The Dutchmen found their friends were dead,
And they would not get home,
For soon they found that tell-tale sign,
The swelling in the groin.
2 September, 2008
(The 342nd Anniversary of the
Great Fire of London, on 2 September 1666).
David Lewis Paget
© 2012 David Lewis Paget
Shelved in 1 LibraryAdded on September 2, 2008
Last Updated on June 27, 2012
David Lewis Paget
Moonta, South Australia, Australia
AboutAll my books are now available, as ebooks or paperbacks from Lulu.com - address below. more..
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