The Groom's Encore

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
The Groom's Encore
by Arthur Conan Doyle

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
'orse 'ad 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
Siberian,
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!