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THE THREE-DECKER.

"The three-volume novel is extinct."

FULL thirty foot she towered from waterline to rail.

It cost a watch to steer her, and a week to shorten sail;

But, spite all modern notions, I found her first and best

The only certain packet for the Islands of the Blest.

Fair held our breeze behind us-'twas warm with lovers' prayers:

We'd stolen wills for ballast and a crew of missing heirs;

They shipped as Able Bastards till the Wicked Nurse confessed,

And they worked the old three-decker to the Islands of the Blest.

Carambas and serapés we waved to every wind, We smoked good Corpo Bacco when our sweethearts proved unkind;

With maids of matchless beauty and parentage unguessed

We also took our manners to the Islands of the Blest.

We asked no social questions-we pumped no hidden shame

We never talked obstetrics when the little stranger came:

We left the Lord in Heaven, we left the fiends in Hell.

We weren't exactly Yussufs, but-Zuleika didn't tell!

No moral doubt assailed us, so when the port we neared,

The villain got his flogging at the gangway, and we cheered.

'Twas fiddles in the foc'sle-'twas garlands on the mast,

For every one got married, and I went ashore at last.

I left 'em all in couples akissing on the decks.

I left the lovers loving and the parents signing checks.

In endless English comfort by county-folk caressed,

I left the old three-decker at the Islands of the Blest!

That route is barred to steamers: you'll never lift again

Our purple-painted headlands or the lordly keeps of Spain.

They're just beyond the skyline, howe'er so far you cruise

In a ram-you-damn-you liner with a brace of bucking screws.

Swing round your aching search-light-'twill show no haven's peace!

Ay, blow your shrieking sirens to the deaf, graybearded seas!

Boom out the dripping oil-bags to skin the deep's unrest

But you aren't a knot the nearer to the Islands of the Blest.

And when you're threshing, crippled, with broken bridge and rail,

On a drogue of dead convictions to hold you head to gale,

Calm as the Flying Dutchman, from truck to taffrail dressed,

You'll see the old three-decker for the Islands of the Blest.

You'll see her tiering canvas in sheeted silver spread;

You'll hear the long-drawn thunder 'neath her leaping figure-head;

While far, so far above you, her tall poop-lanterns

shine

Unvexed by wind or weather like the candles round a shrine.

Hull down-hull down and under-she dwindles to a speck,

With noise of pleasant music and dancing on her deck.

All's well-all's well aboard her-she's dropped you far behind,

With a scent of old-world roses through the fog that ties you blind.

Her crew are babes or madmen? Her port is all to make ?

You're manned by Truth and Science, and you steam for steaming's sake?

Well, tinker up your engines-you know your business best

She's taking tired people to the Islands of the Blest!

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