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The French Corvette

David Lewis Paget

At midnight, out on the cobblestones
There’s the sound of rolling wheels,
And a shadow cast on a window pane
From the road outside, it steals,
A wagon, black in its livery,
And pulled by a single horse,
As black as the heart of the man that steers,
Whipped up from the watercourse.

From down in a tiny inlet, deep
Enough for a man of war,
A French corvette is lying, waiting,
Just metres away from shore,
It carried a cargo of brandy, wine,
And cases full of tea,
Smuggled into the tiny cove
Its goods all duty free.

Now it’s waiting upon the tide
To turn the ship around,
Its cargo gone in the wagon now,
Headed for higher ground,
And then the galloping hoofbeats echo
Over the cobblestones,
The crack of a couple of pistols and
The air is filled with groans.

The horse breaks free of its halter and
The wagon rolls back down,
It’s shadow passing my window pane
A second time around,
It rolls back into the harbour while
I hear the boom of guns,
Firing from the French Corvette
As it hoists its sail, and runs.

Once a year on the fifth of June
And late into the night,
Whenever the moon is lying low
And casting down its light,
I see the shadows and hear the sounds
From that deadly time of yore,
As the ghostly French Corvette departs
And sails from the ghostly shore.

And glistening out on the cobblestones
There’s a dampness, looks like mud,
That dissipates in an hour or two,
A pool of the smuggler’s blood,
I dare not go to the window, look,
Or even open the door,
In case I’m carried away by them
From two hundred years before.

David Lewis Paget

© 2017, David Lewis Paget. All rights reserved.

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