Read I.  NARRATIVE VERSES AND SONGS of Songs Of The Road , free online book, by Arthur Conan Doyle, on


(Coronation Year, 1911)

     God save England, blessed by Fate,
          So old, yet ever young: 
     The acorn isle from which the great
          Imperial oak has sprung! 
     And God guard Scotland’s kindly soil,
          The land of stream and glen,
     The granite mother that has bred
          A breed of granite men!

God save Wales, from Snowdon’s vales
To Severn’s silver strand!
For all the grace of that old race
Still haunts the Celtic land. 
And, dear old Ireland, God save you,
And heal the wounds of old,
For every grief you ever knew
May joy come fifty-fold!

Set Thy guard over us,
May Thy shield cover us,
Enfold and uphold us
On land and on sea! 
From the palm to the pine,
From the snow to the line,
Brothers together
And children of Thee.

Thy blessing, Lord, on Canada,
Young giant of the West,
Still upward lay her broadening way,
And may her feet be blessed! 
And Africa, whose hero breeds
Are blending into one,
Grant that she tread the path which leads
To holy unison.

May God protect Australia,
Set in her Southern Sea! 
Though far thou art, it cannot part
Thy brother folks from thee. 
And you, the Land of Maori,
The island-sisters fair,
Ocean hemmed and lake be-gemmed,
God hold you in His care!

Set Thy guard over us,
May Thy shield cover us,
Enfold and uphold us
On land and on sea! 
From the palm to the pine,
From the snow to the line,
Brothers together
And children of Thee.

God guard our Indian brothers,
The Children of the Sun,
Guide us and walk beside us,
Until Thy will be done. 
To all be equal measure,
Whate’er his blood or birth,
Till we shall build as Thou hast willed
O’er all Thy fruitful Earth.

May we maintain the story
Of honest, fearless right!
Not ours, not ours the Glory! 
What are we in Thy sight? 
Thy servants, and no other,
Thy servants may we be,
To help our weaker brother,
As we crave for help from Thee!

Set Thy guard over us,
May Thy shield cover us,
Enfold and uphold us
On land and on sea! 
From the palm to the pine,
From the snow to the line,
Brothers together
And children of Thee.


A horse!  A horse!  Ah, give me a horse,
To bear me out afar,
Where blackest need and grimmest deed,
And sweetest perils are.
Hold thou my ways from glutted days,
Where poisoned leisure lies,
And point the path of tears and wrath
Which mounts to high emprise.

     A heart!  A heart!  Ah, give me a heart,
          To rise to circumstance! 
     Serene and high, and bold to try
          The hazard of a chance. 
     With strength to wait, but fixed as fate,
          To plan and dare and do;
     The peer of all and only thrall,
          Sweet lady mine, to you!


     I ’ave no grudge against the man —
          I never ’eard ’is name,
     But if he was my closest pal
          I’d say the very same,
     For wot you do in other things
          Is neither ’ere nor there,
But w’en it comes to ’orses
          You must keep upon the square.

     Now I’m tellin’ you the story
          Just as it was told last night,
     And if I wrong this Arab man
          Then ’e can set me right;
     But s’posin’ all these fac’s are fac’s,
          Then I make bold to say
     That I think it was not sportsmanlike
          To act in sich a way.

     For, as I understand the thing,
          ’E went to sell this steed —
     Which is a name they give a ’orse
          Of some outlandish breed —,
     And soon ’e found a customer,
          A proper sportin’ gent,
     Who planked ’is money down at once
          Without no argument.

     But instead o’ this ’e started
          A-talkin’ to the steed,
     And speakin’ of its “braided mane”
          An’ of its “winged speed,”
     And other sich expressions
          With which I can’t agree,
     For a ‘orse with wings an’ braids an’ things
          Is not the ’orse for me.

     I’ve not a word to say agin
          His fondness for ’is ’orse,
     But why should ’e insinivate
          The gent would treat ’im worse? 
     An’ why should ‘e go talkin’
          In that aggravatin’ way,
     As if the gent would gallop ’im
          And wallop ’im all day?

     Supposin’ this ’ere Arab man
          ’Ad wanted to be free,
     ’E could ’ave done it businesslike,
          The same as you or me;
     A fiver might ’ave squared the gent,
          An’ then ’e could ’ave claimed
     As ’e’d cleared ’imself quite ’andsome,
          And no call to be ashamed.

     Per’aps ’e sold ’im after,
          Or per’aps ’e ’ires ’im out,
     But I’d like to warm that Arab man
          Wen next ’e comes about;
     For wot ’e does in other things
          Is neither ’ere nor there,
     But w’en it comes to ’orses
          We must keep ’im on the square.


     Now this poor reward of merit
     Rankled so in Peter’s spirit,
     It was more than he could bear;
So one night in mad despair
     He took his canvas for the year
     ("Isle of Wight from Southsea Pier"),
     And he hurled it from his sight,
     Hurled it blindly to the night,
     Saw it fall diminuendo
     From the open lattice window,
     Till it landed with a flop
     On the dust-bin’s ashen top,
     Where, ’mid damp and rain and grime,
     It remained till morning time.

     Then when morning brought reflection,
     He was shamed at his dejection,
     And he thought with consternation
     Of his poor, ill-used creation;
     Down he rushed, and found it there
     Lying all exposed and bare,
Mud-bespattered, spoiled, and botched,
     Water sodden, fungus-blotched,
     All the outlines blurred and wavy,
     All the colours turned to gravy,
     Fluids of a dappled hue,
     Blues on red and reds on blue,
     A pea-green mother with her daughter,
     Crazy boats on crazy water
     Steering out to who knows what,
     An island or a lobster-pot?

     Oh, the wretched man’s despair! 
     Was it lost beyond repair? 
     Swift he bore it from below,
     Hastened to the studio,
     Where with anxious eyes he studied
     If the ruin, blotched and muddied,
     Could by any human skill
     Be made a normal picture still.

     “Ah, Wilson,” said the famous man,
     Turning himself the walls to scan,
     “The same old style of thing I trace,
     Workmanlike but commonplace. 
     Believe me, sir, the work that lives
     Must furnish more than Nature gives. 
     ‘The light that never was,’ you know,
     That is your mark but here, hullo!


     Cox of the Politicals,
          With his cigarette and glasses,
     Skilled in Pushtoo gutturals,
          Odd-job man among the Passes,
Keeper of the Zakka Khels,
          Tutor of the Khaiber Ghazis,
     Cox of the Politicals,
          With his cigarette and glasses.

     Mr. Hawkins, Junior Sub.,
          Late of Woolwich and Thames Ditton,
     Thinks his battery the hub
          Of the whole wide orb of Britain. 
     Half a hero, half a cub,
          Lithe and playful as a kitten,
     Mr. Hawkins, Junior Sub.,
          Late of Woolwich and Thames Ditton.

     Eighty Tommies, big and small,
          Grumbling hard as is their habit. 
     “Say, mate, what’s a Bunerwal?”
          “Sometime like a bloomin’ rabbit.”
“Got to hoof it to Chitral!”
          “Blarst ye, did ye think to cab it!”
     Eighty Tommies, big and small,
          Grumbling hard as is their habit.

     Swarthy Goorkhas, short and stout,
          Merry children, laughing, crowing,
     Don’t know what it’s all about,
          Don’t know any use in knowing;
     Only know they mean to go
          Where the Sirdar thinks of going. 
     Little Goorkhas, brown and stout,
          Merry children, laughing, crowing.

     Funjaub Rifles, fit and trim,
          Curly whiskered sons of battle,
     Very dignified and prim
          Till they hear the Jezails rattle;
Cattle thieves of yesterday,
          Now the wardens of the cattle,
     Fighting Brahmíns of Lahore,
          Curly whiskered sons of battle.

     Up the winding mountain path
          See the long-drawn column go;
     Himalayan aftermath
          Lying rosy on the snow. 
     Motley ministers of wrath
          Building better than they know,
     In the rosy aftermath
          Trailing upward to the snow.


(Being a Sequel to “The Groom’s Story” in “Songs of Action”)

Not tired of ‘earin’ stories!  You’re a nailer,
so you are! 
I thought I should ’ave choked you off with
that ’ere motor-car. 
Well, mister, ’ere’s another; and, mind you,
it’s a fact,
Though you’ll think perhaps I copped it
out o’ some blue ribbon tract.

It was in the days when farmer men were
jolly-faced and stout,
For all the cash was comin’ in and little
goin’ out,
But now, you see, the farmer men are
’ungry-faced and thin,
For all the cash is goin’ out and little
comin’ in.

But in the days I’m speakin’ of, before
the drop in wheat,
The life them farmers led was such as
couldn’t well be beat;
They went the pace amazin’, they ’unted
and they shot,
And this ’ere Jeremiah Brown the liveliest
of the lot.

‘E was a fine young fellar; the best roun’
’ere by far,
But just a bit full-blooded, as fine young
fellars are;
Which I know they didn’t ought to, an’ it’s
very wrong of course,
But the colt wot never capers makes a
mighty useless ’orse.

The lad was never vicious, but ’e made the
money go,
For ’e was ready with ’is “yes,” and back-
ward with ’is “no.” 
And so ’e turned to drink which is the
avenoo to ’ell,
An’ ’ow ’e came to stop ‘imself is wot’ I
ave to tell.

Four days on end ’e never knew ’ow ’e ’ad
got to bed,
Until one mornin’ fifty clocks was tickin’
in ’is ’ead,
And on the same the doctor came, “You’re
very near D.T.,
If you don’t stop yourself, young chap,
you’ll pay the price,” said ’e.

“It takes the form of visions, as I fear
you’ll quickly know;
Perhaps a string o’ monkeys, all a-sittin’ in
a row,
Perhaps it’s frogs or beetles, perhaps it’s
rats or mice,
There are many sorts of visions and
there’s none of ’em is nice.”

But Brown ‘e started laughin’:  “No
doctor’s muck,” says ’e,
“A take-’em-break-’em gallop is the only
cure for me!
They ’unt to-day down ’Orsham way. 
Bring round the sorrel mare,
If them monkeys come inquirin’ you can
send ’em on down there.”

Well, Jeremiah rode to ’ounds, exactly as
’e said. 
But all the time the doctor’s words were
ringin’ in ’is ’ead —
“If you don’t stop yourself, young chap,
you’ve got to pay the price,
There are many sorts of visions, but none
of ’em is nice.”

They found that day at Leonards Lee and
ran to Shipley Wood,
’Ell-for-leather all the way, with scent
and weather good.
Never a check to ’Orton Beck and on
across the Weald,
And all the way the Sussex clay was weed-
in’ out the field.

There’s not a man among them could
remember such a run,
Straight as a rule to Bramber Pool and on
by Annington,
They followed still past Breeding ’ill
and on by Steyning Town,
Until they’d cleared the ’edges and were
out upon the Down.

Full thirty mile from Plimmers Style,
without a check or fault,
Full thirty mile the ’ounds ’ad run and
never called a ’alt.
One by one the Field was done until at
Finden Down,
There was no one with the ’untsman save
young Jeremiah Brown.

And then the ’untsman ’e was beat.  ’Is
orsead tripped and fell. 
“By George,” said Brown, “I’ll go alone,
and follow it to well,
The place that it belongs to.”  And as ’e
made the vow,
There broke from right in front of ’im
the queerest kind of row.

There lay a copse of ’azels on the border
of the track,
And into this two ’ounds ’ad run them
two was all the pack —
And now from these ’ere ’azels there came
a fearsome ’owl,
With a yappin’ and a snappin’ and a
wicked snarlin’ growl.

Jeremiah’s blood ran cold a frightened
man was ’e,
But he butted through the bushes just
to see what ’e could see,
And there beneath their shadow, blood
drippin’ from his jaws,
Was an awful creature standin’ with a
’ound beneath its paws.

A fox?  Five foxes rolled in one a
pony’s weight and size,
A rampin’, ragin’ devil, all fangs and
’air and eyes;
Too scared to speak, with shriek on shriek,
Brown galloped from the sight
With just one thought within ’is mind —
“The doctor told me right.”

That evenin’ late the minister was seated
in his study,
When in there rushed a ‘untin’ man, all
travel-stained and muddy,
“Give me the Testament!” he cried, “And
’ear my sacred vow,
That not one drop of drink shall ever pass
my lips from now.”

’E swore it and ’e kept it and ’e keeps it to
this day,
’E ’as turned from gin to ginger and says ’e
finds it pay,
You can search the whole o’ Sussex from
’ere to Brighton Town,
And you wouldn’t find a better man than
Jeremiah Brown.

And the vision it was just a wolf, a big
A great, fierce, ’ungry devil from a show-
man’s caravan,
But it saved ’im from perdition and I
don’t mind if I do,
I ’aven’t seen no wolf myself so ’ere’s
my best to you!


Squire wants the bay horse,
For it is the best. 
Squire holds the mortgage;
Where’s the interest? 
Haven’t got the interest,
Can’t raise a sou;
Shan’t sell the bay horse,
Whatever he may do.

     Did you see the bay horse? 
          Such a one to go! 
     He took a bit of ridin’,
          When I showed him at the Show.
First prize the broad jump,
          First prize the high;
     Gold medal, Class A,
          You’ll see it by-and-by.

     I bred the bay horse
          On the Withy Farm. 
     I broke the bay horse,
          He broke my arm. 
     Don’t blame the bay horse,
          Blame the brittle bone,
     I bred him and I’ve fed him,
          And he’s all my very own.

     Just watch the bay horse
          Chock full of sense! 
     Ain’t he just beautiful,
          Risin’ to a fence!
Just hear the bay horse
          Whinin’ in his stall,
     Purrin’ like a pussy cat
          When he hears me call.

     But if Squire’s lawyer
          Serves me with his writ,
     I’ll take the bay horse
          To Marley gravel pit. 
     Over the quarry edge,
          I’ll sit him tight,
     If he wants the brown hide,
          He’s welcome to the white!


     Three women stood by the river’s flood
          In the gas-lamp’s murky light,
     A devil watched them on the left,
          And an angel on the right.

     The clouds of lead flowed overhead;
          The leaden stream below;
     They marvelled much, that outcast three,
          Why Fate should use them so.

     Said one:  “I have a mother dear,
          Who lieth ill abed,
     And by my sin the wage I win
          From which she hath her bread.”

     The third she sank a sin-blotched face,
          And prayed that she might rest,
     In the weary flow of the stream below,
          As on her mother’s breast.

     Now past there came a godly man,
          Of goodly stock and blood,
     And as he passed one frown he cast
          At that sad sisterhood.

     Sorely it grieved that godly man,
          To see so foul a sight,
     He turned his face, and strode apace,
          And left them to the night.


“Tell me what to get and I will get
“Then get that picture that the
girl in white.” 
“Now tell me where you wish that I should
set it.” 
“Lean it where I can see it in the

“If there is more, sir, you have but to say
“Then bring those letters those
which lie apart.”
“Here is the packet!  Tell me where to
lay it.” 
“Stoop over, nurse, and lay it on
my heart.”

“Thanks for your silence, nurse!  You
understand me! 
And now I’ll try to manage for
But, as you go, I’ll trouble you to hand
The small blue bottle there upon the

“And so farewell!  I feel that I am
The sunlight from you; may your
walk be bright!
When you return I may perchance be
So, ere you go, one hand-clasp
and good night!”


They recruited William Evans
From the ploughtail and the spade;
Ten years’ service in the Devons
Left him smart as they are made.

     Thirty or a trifle older,
          Rather over six foot high,
     Trim of waist and broad of shoulder,
          Yellow-haired and blue of eye;

     Short of speech and very solid,
          Fixed in purpose as a rock,
     Slow, deliberate, and stolid,
          Of the real West-country stock.

     Old Field-Cornet Piet van Celling
          Lived just northward of the Vaal,
     And he called his white-washed dwelling,
          Blesbock Farm, Rhenoster Kraal.

     In his politics unbending,
          Stern of speech and grim of face,
     He pursued the never-ending
          Quarrel with the English race.

     Grizzled hair and face of copper,
          Hard as nails from work and sport,
Just the model of a Dopper
          Of the fierce old fighting sort.

     With a shaggy bearded quota
          On commando at his order,
     He went off with Louis Botha
          Trekking for the British border.

     When Natal was first invaded
          He was fighting night and day,
     Then he scouted and he raided,
          With De Wet and Delaney.

     Till he had a brush with Plumer,
          Got a bullet in his arm,
     And returned in sullen humour
          To the shelter of his farm.

     By a friendly Dutchman guided,
          A Van Eloff or De Vilier,
     They were promptly trapped and hided,
          In a manner too familiar.

     When the sudden scrap was ended,
          And they sorted out the bag,
     Sergeant Evans lay extended
          Mauseritis in his leg.

     So the Kaffirs bore him, cursing,
          From the scene of his disaster,
And they left him to the nursing
          Of the daughters of their master.

     Now the second daughter, Sadie —
          But the subject why pursue? 
     Wounded youth and tender lady,
          Ancient tale but ever new.

     On the stoep they spent the gloaming,
          Watched the shadows on the veldt,
     Or she led her cripple roaming
          To the eucalyptus belt.

     He would lie and play with Jacko,
          The baboon from Bushman’s Kraal,
     Smoked Magaliesberg tobacco
          While she lisped to him in Taal.

     So he asked an English question,
          And she answered him in Dutch,
     But her smile was a suggestion,
          And he treated it as such.

     Now among Rhenoster kopjes
          Somewhat northward of the Vaal,
     You may see four little chappies,
          Three can walk and one can crawl.

     And the blue of Transvaal heavens
          Is reflected in their eyes,
Each a little William Evans,
          Smaller model pocket size.

     Each a little Burgher Piet
          Of the hardy Boer race,
     Two great peoples seem to meet
          In the tiny sunburned face.

     And they often greatly wonder
          Why old granddad and Papa,
     Should have been so far asunder,
          Till united by mamma.

     And when asked, “Are you a Boer. 
          Or a little Englishman?”
     Each will answer, short and sure,
          “I am a South African.”

     It may seem a crude example,
          In an isolated case,
     But the story is a sample
          Of the welding of the race.

     So from bloodshed and from sorrow,
          From the pains of yesterday,
     Comes the nation of to-morrow
          Broadly based and built to stay.

     Loyal spirits strong in union,
          Joined by kindred faith and blood;
     Brothers in the wide communion
          Of our sea-girt brotherhood.


1 With acknowledgment to my friend Sir A. Quiller-Couch.

     ’Twas in the shadowy gloaming
          Of a cold and wet March day,
     That a wanderer came roaming
          From countries far away.

     Scant raiment had he round him,
          Nor purse, nor worldly gear,
     Hungry and faint we found him,
          And bade him welcome here.

     His weary frame bent double,
          His eyes were old and dim,
     His face was writhed with trouble
          Which none might share with him.

     We guessed not whence he hailed from,
          Nor knew what far-off quay
     His roving bark had sailed from
          Before he came to me.

     But there he was, so slender,
          So helpless and so pale,
     That my wife’s heart grew tender
          For one who seemed so frail.

     She cried, “But you must bide here! 
          You shall no further roam. 
     Grow stronger by our side here,
          Within our moorland home!”

     To mine he had been welcome,
          My suit of russet brown,
     But she had dressed our weary guest
          In a loose and easy gown.

     And long in peace he lay there,
          Brooding and still and weak,
     Smiling from day to day there
          At thoughts he would not speak.

     The months flowed on, but ever
          Our guest would still remain,
     Nor made the least endeavour
          To leave our home again.

     With these our guest would tell us
          The things that he liked best,
     And order and compel us
          To follow his behest.

     He ruled us without malice,
          But as if he owned us all,
     A sultan in his palace
          With his servants at his call.

     Those calls came fast and faster,
          Our service still we gave,
     Till I who had been master
          Had grown to be his slave.

     In vain had I commanded,
          In vain I struggled still,
     Servants and wife were banded
          To do the stranger’s will.

     And then in deep dejection
          It came to me one day,
     That my own wife’s affection
          Had been beguiled away.

     Our love had known no danger,
          So certain had it been! 
     And now to think a stranger
          Should dare to step between.

     They would sit in chambers shady,
          When the light was growing dim,
     Ah, my fickle-hearted lady! 
          With your arm embracing him.

     So, at last, lest he divide us,
          I would put them to the test. 
     There was no one there beside us,
          Save this interloping guest.

     So I took my stand before them,
          Very silent and erect,
     My accusing glance passed o’er them,
          Though with no observed effect.

     But her answer seemed evasive,
          It was “Ducky-doodle-doo! 
     If his mummy loves um babby,
          Doesn’t daddums love um too?”


[Bendigo, the well-known Nottingham prize fighter, became converted to religion, and preached at revival meetings throughout the country.]

     You didn’t know of Bendigo!  Well, that
          knocks me out! 
     Who’s your board school teacher?  What’s
          he been about?

     Chock-a-block with fairy-tales full of
          useless cram,
     And never heard o’ Bendigo, the pride of

     Fightin’ weight eleven ten, five foot nine
          in height,
     Always ready to oblige if you want a

     I could talk of Bendigo from here to king-
          dom come,
     I guess before I ended you would wish your
          dad was dumb.

     I’d tell you how he fought Ben Caunt, and
          how the deaf ’un fell,
     But the game is done, and the men are
          gone and maybe it’s as well.

     If you seed him in the pulpit, a-bleatin’
          like a lamb,
     You’d never know bold Bendigo, the
          pride of Nottingham.

     His hat was like a funeral, he’d got a
          waiter’s coat,
     With a hallelujah collar and a choker round
          his throat,

     His pals would laugh and say in chaff that
          Bendigo was right,
     In takin’ on the devil, since he’d no one
          else to fight.

     But the devil he was waitin’, and in the
          final bout,
     He hit him hard below his guard and
          knocked poor Bendy out.

     Now I’ll tell you how it happened.  He
          was preachin’ down at Brum,
     He was billed just like a circus, you should
          see the people come,

     The chapel it was crowded, and in the fore-
          most row,
     There was half a dozen bruisers who’d a
          grudge at Bendigo.

     Jack Ball the fightin gunsmith, Joe Mur-
          phy from the Mews,
     And Iky Moss, the bettin’ boss, the
          Champion of the Jews.

     A very pretty handful a-sittin’ in a
     Full of beer and impudence, ripe for any-

     Sittin’ in a string there, right under
          Bendy’s nose,
     If his message was for sinners, he could
          make a start on those.

     “Stow it, Bendy!  Left the ring!  Mighty
          spry of you! 
     Didn’t everybody know the ring was
          leavin’ you.”

     Bendy fairly sweated as he stood above
          and prayed,
     “Look down, O Lord, and grip me with
          a strangle hold!” he said.

     “Fix me with a strangle hold!  Put a stop
          on me! 
     I’m slippin’, Lord, I’m slippin’ and I’m
          clingin’ hard to Thee!”

     Till a workin’ man he shouted out, a-
          jumpin’ to his feet,
     “Give us a lead, your reverence, and heave
          ’em in the street.”

     Then Bendy said, “Good Lord, since
          first I left my sinful ways,
     Thou knowest that to Thee alone I’ve
          given up my days,

     But now, dear Lord"—and here he laid his
          Bible on the shelf—
     “I’ll take, with your permission, just five
          minutes for myself.”

     Right and left, and left and right, straight
          and true and hard,
     Till the Ebenezer Chapel looked more like
          a knacker’s yard.

     Platt was standin’ on his back and lookup
          at his toes,
     Solly Jones of Perry Bar was feelin’ for
          his nose,

     Connor of the Bull Ring had all that he
          could do
     Rakin’ for his ivories that lay about the

     Five of them was twisted in a tangle on
          the floor,
     And Iky Moss, the bettin’ boss, had
          sprinted for the door.

     Five repentant fightin’ men, sitting in a
     Listenin’ to words of grace from Mister

     Listenin’ to his reverence all as good
          as gold,
     Pretty little baa-lambs, gathered to the

     “The Lord,” said he, “has given me His
          message from on high,
     And if you interrupt Him, I will know
          the reason why.”

     But to think of all your schooling clean
          wasted, thrown away,
     Darned if I can make out what you’re
          learnin’ all the day,

     Grubbin’ up old fairy-tales, fillin’ up with
     And didn’t know of Bendigo, the pride
          of Nottingham.