Page:Departmental Ditties and Ballads and Barrack-Room Ballads, Kipling, 1899.djvu/245

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
61
THE THREE CAPTAINS

The skipper called to the tall taffrail: "And what is that to me?
"Did ever you hear of a privateer that rifled a Seventy-three?
"Do I loom so large from your quarter-deck that I lift like a ship o' the Line?
"He has learned to run from a shotted gun and harry such craft as mine.
"There is never a Law on the Cocos Keys to hold a white man in,
"But we do not steal the niggers' meal, for that is a nigger's sin.
"Must he have his Law as a quid to chaw, or laid in brass on his wheel?
"Does he steal with tears when he buccaneers? Fore Gad, then, why does he steal?"
The skipper bit on a deep-sea word, and the word it was not sweet,
For he could see the Captains Three had signalled to the Fleet.
But three and two, in white and blue, the whimpering flags began:

"We have heard a tale of a foreign sail, but he is a merchantman."