THE AGED PILOT MAN

Mark Twain

 

 

     All             1. On the Erie Canal, it was,

                      2. All on a summer's day,

                      3. I sailed forth with my parents

                      4. Far away to Albany.

 

     Reader 1    5. From out the clouds at noon that day

                      6. There came a dreadful storm,

                      7. That piled the billows high about,

                      8. And filled us with alarm.

 

                      9. A man came rushing from a house,

     Reader 2    10."Tie up your boat I pray!

                      11.Tie up your boat, tie up, alas!

                      12.Tie up while yet you may."

 

                      13.Our captain cast one glance astern,

                      14.Then forward glanced he,

      Captain     15.And said, "My wife and little ones

                      16.I never more shall see."

 

                      17.Said Dollinger the pilot man,

                      18.In noble words, but few--

     Dollinger    19."Fear not, but lean on Dollinger,

                      20.And he will fetch you through."

 

        All           21.The boat drove on, the frightened mules

                      22.Tore through the rain and wind,

                      23.And bravely still in danger's post,

                      24.The whip-boy strode behind.

 

      Captain     25."Come 'board, come 'board," the captain cried,

                      26."Nor tempt so wild a storm;"

      All            27.But still the raging mules advanced,

                      28.And still the boy strode on.

 

                      29.Then said the captain to us all,

      Captain     30."Alas, 'tis plain to me,

                      31.The greater danger is not there,

                      32.But here upon the sea.

 

                      33.So let us strive, while life remains,

                      34.To save all souls on board,

                      35.And then if die at last we must,

                      36.I ... _cannot_ speak the word!"

 

      All             37.Said Dollinger the pilot man,

                      38.Tow'ring above the crew,

     Dollinger    39."Fear not, but trust in Dollinger,

                      40.And he will fetch you through."

 

       All            41."Low bridge! low bridge!" all heads went down,

                      42.The labouring bark sped on;

                      43.A mill we passed, we passed a church,

                      44.Hamlets, and fields of corn;

 

    Reader 3     45.And all the world came out to see,

                      46.And chased along the shore,

                      47.Crying, "Alas, the sheeted rain,

                      48.The wind, the tempest's roar!

                      49.Alas, the gallant ship and crew,

                      50.Can _nothing_ help them more?"

 

       All            51.And from our deck sad eyes looked out

                      52.Across the stormy scene:

                      53.The tossing wake of billows aft,

                      54.The bending forests green,

 

                      55.The chickens sheltered under carts,

                      56.In lee of barn the cows,

                      57.The skurrying swine with straw in mouth,

                      58.The wild spray from our bows!

 

   Reader 4      59.     "She balances?

                       60.        She wavers!

                     _61.Now_ let her go about!

                       62.If she misses stays and broaches to

                       63.We're all"--[then with a shout,]

     Reader 5     64.        "Hurray! hurray!

                       65.        Avastbelay!

                       66.        Take in more sail!

                       67.        Lorwhat a gale!

                       68         Ho, boy, haul taut on the hind mule's tail!"

 

      Dollinger    69."Ho! lighten ship! homan the pump!

                       70.Ho, hostler, heave the lead!"

                       71."A quarter-three!--'tis shoaling fast!

                       73.Three feet large!--three-e feet!--

     All              74.'Tis three feet scant!" I cried in fright,

                       75."Oh, is there _no_ retreat?"

 

                       76.Said Dollinger the pilot man,

                       77.As on the vessel flew,

      Dollinger    78."Fear not, but trust in Dollinger,

                       79.And he will fetch you through

 

      Dollinger     80."Sever the tow-line! Stop the mules!"

        All            81.Too late! .... There comes a shock!

 

                      *       *       *       *       *

 

                       82.Another length, and the fated craft

                       83.Would have swum in the saving lock!

 

    Reader 6      84.Then gathered together the shipwrecked crew

                       85.And took one last embrace,

                       86.While sorrowful tears from despairing eyes

                       87.Ran down each hopeless face;

                       88.And some did think of their little ones

                       89.Whom they never more might see,

                       90.And others of waiting wives at home,

                       91.And mothers that grieved would be.

 

   Reader 7       92.But of all the children of misery there

                       93.On that poor sinking frame,

                       94.But one spake words of hope and faith,

                       95.And I worshipped as they came:

                       96.Said Dollinger the pilot man--

                       97.(O brave heart strong and true!)--

      Dollinger    98."Fear not, but trust in Dollinger,

                       99.For he will fetch you through."

 

     Reader 8    100.Loscarce the words have passed his lips

                      101.The dauntless prophet say'th,

                      102.When every soul about him seeth

                      103.A wonder crown his faith!

 

      Reader 9   104.And count ye all, both great and small,

                      105.As numbered with the dead!

                      106.For mariner for forty year,

                      107.On Erie, boy and man,

                      108.I never yet saw such a storm,

                      109.Or one 't with it began!

 

          All         110.So overboard a keg of nails

                      111.And anvils three we threw,

                      112.Likewise four bales of gunny-sacks,

                      113.Two hundred pounds of glue,

                      114.Two sacks of corn, four ditto wheat,

                      115.A box of books, a cow,

                      116.A violin, Lord Byron's works,

                      117.A rip-saw and a sow.

 

                      118.A curve! a curve; the dangers grow!

      Dollinger

                      119."Labbord!--stabbord!--s-t-e-a-d-y!--so!--

                      120._Hard-a.-port_, Dol!--hellum-a-lee!

                      121.Haw the head mule!--the aft one gee!

                      122.Luff!--bring her to the wind!"

 

    Reader 10     123.For straight a farmer brought a plank,--

                      124.  (Mysteriously inspired)--

                      125.And laying it unto the ship,

                      126.In silent awe retired.

    Reader 11     127.Then every sufferer stood amazed

                      128.That pilot man before;

                      129.A moment stood. Then wondering turned,

                      130.And speechless walked ashore.