David Lewis Paget

(22.11.1944 / Nottingham, England/live in Australia)

The Press & Rickety Dan


The Press surrounded the boarding house
That was kept by Mary Toft,
Her sailor man was Rickety Dan
Who was hidden, up in the loft.
‘Come out, come out, wherever you are, ’
Cried the head of the Press Gang crew,
We’ve got you a berth on the frigate ‘Perth’,
‘Don’t make us come looking for you! ’

Mary stood by the door and blocked,
‘You’ll not be coming in here,
You can’t Impress in a private house,
The law of the land is clear.’
‘But this is a plain old Bawdy House
It’s the Navy’s right to come in,
You don’t say no to a guinea or so
From a sailor, looking for sin.’

‘I’ll have you know it’s a Boarding House
Not a Bawdy House, Oh dear!
You’d better go off for a pint of gin
And swill it around in your ear!
A Boarding House is a private house
And protected, under the law,
You’d better go looking somewhere else,
Like ‘The Angel’, down at the shore.’

‘We’re here to pick up Rickety Dan
We know that he’s here with you,
There’s no protection since Bony came
And the Navy’s short of a crew,
So stand aside, by the rising tide
He’ll be lost to you, Miss Toft,
For somewhere out by the channel ports
He’ll be clambering up, aloft.’

Dan had rickets when he was young
His legs were bowed like a bell,
He heard the door come clattering in
And he heard young Mary yell;
He seized his favourite capstan-bar
And he leapt right out of the loft,
Then laid about him from right to left
In defence of his Mary Toft.

The Press consisted of Isaac Raines
A farmer, plucked from the hay,
A weaver, minus the broken frames
The Luddites had taken away,
A shipwright, also a ropemaker
Who had joined to avoid the Press,
‘As long as you bring them in, my lads,
I’ll not let you go for less! ’

Dan lashed out with the capstan-bar
And he laid the weaver low,
Sent the farmer to tend his fields
With only a single blow,
Chased the shipwright out of the door
Where the ropemaker had fled,
Knocked the Lieutenant down to the floor,
Then saw that he lay, stone dead!

‘I’m gone, I’m gone, ’ said Rickety Dan,
‘I’d better head back to the sea,
It’s bad enough that I’ve killed the man
They’ll all be looking for me,
I’ll go and sign on an Indiaman
If I have to sign as a cook,
Once I’m safely away at sea
It’s the last place that they’ll look.’

She never saw Rickety Dan again
Though she’d wait at the turning tide,
Whenever an Indiaman came in
She would dress herself as a bride,
And even after they’d left this life
With Dan no longer aloft,
A bird perched up on the mizzen mast
Would look out for Mary Toft.

Submitted: Saturday, September 21, 2013
Edited: Saturday, September 21, 2013

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