White winged ships sail the soft southern sea
Bound for Hispanola or Dead Man’s key
Range on Mount Mona three points abaft
Cleft the slow waves each lovely craft
Will turn abeam the following breeze
And fetch a mooring as neat as you please.
Where native girls wearing strings of pearls
Outward paddle, their strokes leaving whirls
Confused in the calm sheltered bay
That has not seen a ship for many a day.
But soon the meaning of the visit is revealed
An exchange of food and fruit is easily dealed
Mangos and golden citrus are transferred
While payment in kind is not deferred.
Bronzed beauties mount the lowered ladders
Their garments consisting of merely tatters
Of cloth that could barely hide a gnat
Slim girls; trim girls, none of them fat.
The sailors crowd with a poke and a pinch
Taking a foot where is offered only an inch
But the dusky girls return kind for kind
Driving the sailors out of their mind
One girl stands out far above the rest.
Clear of eye and firm of breast
In bearing straight with easy grace
A hint of smile upon her face
She gazes all the sailors round
Until one to her liking she has found
A fair faced lad with a braided pigtail
Leaning languidly against the starboard rail
With down cast eyes she offers him fruit
He accepts her gift with a smiling salute
And is rewarded by the beauty’s steady gaze
That promises perhaps better coming days.
Taking her hand, they stroll the starboard side
She willing to let him be her guide.
They communicate though not saying a word.
Thoughts can be given though sounds unheard.
In the lea of the long boat they sit and smile
Holding hands for the longest while
The boats from the shore come and go
Bringing water and all kinds of cargo
Up from the hold came Captain Blank
His gap-toothed breath of whiskey stank
He spotted the maid by the long boats lea
He said, “Aye, wench, you be the wench for me”
Pigtail Jack rose; the Captain’s choice to deny
When the lookout from the masthead gave a cry
“Sail ho!”The crew stopped what they were doing
To see what the lookout said could be ensuing
There standing out between headland and reef
Charged a British man o war with a bone in her teeth
Sail hung from the topgallant to the mizzen
Made the pirates begin contemplating prison.
“Aloft now, you bunch of scurvy dastards
I’ll not be taken by those British bastards!
Throw those smutty dark sluts overboard!”
With that said Blank dragged the girl forward.
Pigtail Jack quickly debated his choice
His mind made up, he raised his voice
“Avast there, Captain, drop her hand
She’ll not be yours if I be a man.”
The smarmy Captain was quite taken aback
By this outburst from young Pigtail Jack.
He said, “You’ll be a dead man, that I vow”
Just then the British put a shot across the bow.
The waters cascaded from the cannonball’s splash
And the young sailor made a determined dash
From the starboard rail he grabbed a belaying pin
And walloped the Captain under the chin.
Jack looked at the girl; she looked at him.
He smiled and said, “Can you swim?”
They ran to the port side and dove away
Angling over the troubled waters of the bay.
In no time at all, they were in a small bark
Being rowed to the shore before it got dark
Meanwhile the British made good their position
By advantage of their superior ammunition.
Boarded the ships, claimed them for the King
Didn’t give a damn for one sailor missing.
In a day or two they stood out to sea
Leaving Pigtail and his girl a chance to be free.
Now, some day if you sail the soft southern sea
Somewhere between Hispanola and Dead Man’s key
And you land on an island of delightful grace
You will notice the natives are most fair of face
As you anchor your boat and lower your sails
It seems now everyone is wearing pigtails.
Robert Borden is a longtime Hamilton resident. Before retiring he was an elementary school teacher in North Hanover for many years.