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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 8, 1897.djvu/306

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282

Miscellanea.

advance, in order to buy what clothes he may need for the voyage When that month is up all the sailors collect together to " bury the dead horse," or, as it were, "the dead month." The ceremony can hardly be in its original form, but the following is what took place on board a ship bound from London to Melbourne, on which I was a passenger a short time ago, and I fancy it is very much the same on other sailing vessels.

In the morning one of the crew collected from the passengers as much money as they would give (in our case it amounted to jQ\ I OS.) towards the " auction " of the dead horse in the evening. Then a horse was made, life-size ; an empty tar-barrel stuffed with straw for body, wisp of tow for tail and mane, ears, eyes, and mouth imitated cleverly upon a stuffed head. The horse was well made, the crew being, like most sailors, clever with their fingers.

As soon as it was dark the fun began. One of the crew dressed as a jockey mounted the horse, and the two were pushed along the main deck in little jerks, followed by the whole crew in a long procession, singing the following doggrel in a slow chanting fashion :

gg^g^

s^

3

A poor old man came ri - ding by, They say so, And they hope so,

^t^^=-SEA

22

They say, " Old man, your horse will die,'

Poor old horse !

If he dies, I will tan his skin,

They say so, and they hope so, If he lives, I will sell him again, Poor old horse !

Old horse, old horse, what brought you here-

They say so, and they hope so, Drawing turf for many a year, Poor old horse !

From Ballycottin to Ballyack,

They say so, and they hope so, Where I fell down and broke my back, Poor old horse !