'Ware Holes

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Ware Holes  (1898) 
by Arthur Conan Doyle
from Songs of Action (1916)

A sportin' death! My word it was!
      An' taken in a sportin' way.
Mind you, I wasn't there to see;
      I only tell you what they say.

They found that day at Shillinglee,
      An' ran 'im down to Chillinghurst;
The fox was goin' straight an' free
      For ninety minutes at a burst.

They 'ad a check at Ebernoe
      An' made a cast across the Down,
Until they got a view 'ullo
      An' chased 'im up to Kirdford town.

From Kirdford 'e run Bramber way,
      An' took 'em over 'alf the Weald.
If you 'ave tried the Sussex clay,
      You'll guess it weeded out the field.

Until at last I don't suppose
      As 'arf a dozen, at the most,
Came safe to where the grassland goes
      Switchbackin' southwards to the coast.

Young Captain 'Eadley, 'e was there,
      And Jim the whip an' Percy Day;
The Purcells an' Sir Charles Adair,
      An' this 'ere gent from London way.

For 'e 'ad gone amazin' fine,
      Two 'undred pounds between 'is knees;
Eight stone he was, an' rode at nine,
      As light an' limber as you please.

'E was a stranger to the 'Unt,
      There weren't a person as 'e knew there;
But 'e could ride, that London gent—
      'E sat 'is mare as if 'e grew there.

They seed the 'ounds upon the scent,
      But found a fence across their track,
And 'ad to fly it; else it meant
      A turnin' and a 'arkin' back.

'E was the foremost at the fence,
      And as 'is mare just cleared the rail
He turned to them that rode be'ind,
      For three was at 'is very tail.

'Ware 'oles!' says 'e, an' with the word,
      Still sittin' easy on his mare,
Down, down 'e went, an' down an' down,
      Into the quarry yawnin' there.

Some say it was two 'undred foot;
      The bottom lay as black as ink.
I guess they 'ad some ugly dreams,
      Who reined their 'orses on the brink.

'E'd only time for that one cry;
      ''Ware 'oles!' says 'e, an' saves all three.
There may be better deaths to die,
      But that one's good enough for me.

For mind you, 'twas a sportin' end,
      Upon a right good sportin' day;
They think a deal of 'im down 'ere,
      That gent what came from London way.


[1] ''Ware Holes!' is the expression used in the hunting-field to warn those behind against rabbit-burrows or other such dangers.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923.

The author died in 1930, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.