We couldn't make him out; he seldom spoke;
We never caught him smiling at a joke -
And yet he was a decent lad at work:
On watch or off, he was the last to shirk -
So that, among ourselves, we came to say,
'Jim, he's alright, he's only got his way.'
Yet, somehow, in each storm he didn't care.
His life or death seemed only God's affair -
So when the cry came, in Nor'west Blow,
'Man overboard!' we each one seemed to
From the main topsail yardarm he had gone
Into the boiling seas . . . the ship held on;
There was no saving him in such a gale.
Then, when the dawn came, wide, and grey, and pale,
We brought his sea-chest aft with all it stored
(The custom when a man goes overboard).
It held the usual things that sailors own;
But at the bottom, in a box, alone,
We found a woman's picture - and we knew,
Now, why he'd been so offish with the crew -
He'd written it as plain as plain could be -
'She went and married HIM instead of me!'
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