Angus Bainbridge - The Gloucester Bastard
The four day journey from Gloucester to Gurry Cove was cold and
cramped. Stowed-away, I was quick to be ill and had grown very
anxious to set foot on the rocky coast of the Auscocisco....
I was born a bastard to a handsome washer-woman who died of
smallpox before my eighth birthday. Mother, who was indebted to the
proprietor of "Willem's Tavern", saw fit to contract my youthful
labors to Mr Mackey in exchange for a meal a day and a blanket under
the stairwell just prior to her passing. Though forever grateful for
her vision, I had grown weary of the following eight years of
ridicule of my small stature and the sodomy commited by the spirited
drunkards attracted to it.
Rumors of The King's Land had grown rampant. The townspeople, who
lived their lives as permanent fixtures and never once stepped foot
out of Gloucester, alongside the increasing number of weary
travellers who came to rest at "Willem's Tavern", contributed to the
outrageous tales with his own personal embellishments. Falmouth, the
tiny fishing hamlet on the frontier land of the Massachussetts
colony, quickly became the source of contrived speculation and
adventure for the bored and the downtrodden. I quickly became
enthralled by these tales of fancy and spent many sleepless nights in
the distant land.
"...Oi found meself a Yankee gal an' sure she wasn't civil,
So Oi stuck a plaster on her back an' set her to the Divil.
Sheepskin, pitch, an' beeswax, they make a bully plaster;
The more she tried ter git it off it only stuck the faster.
Then Oi got meself an Oirish gal an' her name wuz
She stole me boots, she stole me clothes, she pinched me
plate an' pannikin.
Oi courted then a Frenchie gal, she took things free an'
But naow Oi've got an English gal an' sure she is a daisy.
So list while Oi sing ter yer about me darlin' Nancy,
She's copper-bottomed, clipper-built, she's jist me style
Ye may talk about yer Yankee gals an' round-the-corner-
But they couldn't make the grade, me bhoys, wid the gals
from down our alley...."
With the aid of a young apprentice warehouseman I befriended
years before, I stowed away in the hold of a small aging cargo vessel
bound to Falmouth with such base commodities as coils of rope, casks
of nails, cakes of salt, and barrels of molasses. I layed quiet for
four days and four nights, subsiding on a couple of hard-tack
biscuits and a small slice of cheese.
"Gurry Bay" was aptly named; for hanging low and still, the
early morning fog assaulted even the most seasoned fishermen with its
lingering low-tide stench of rotting fish entrails, burnt pine-tar
and human excrement. Bouy bells echoed in short distance of the
small, rocky cove, telling of unseen hazards as the hazed moon dimly
lit the forested backdrop. Certainly, I mused, this isnt the scene of
such famed fables told at Willem's Tavern.