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.

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