Thursday, 30 January 2014

The Fisherman and the Piskeys



The Fisherman and the Piskeys by Jonathan Couch


John Taprail, long since dead, moored his boat one evening beside a barge of much larger size, in which his neighbour, John Rundle, traded between Polperro and Plymouth; and as the wind, though gusty, was not sufficient to cause any apprehension, he went to bed and slept soundly. In the middle of the night, he was awoke by a voice from without, bidding him to get up, and "shift his rope over Rundle's", as his boat was in danger. Now as all Taprail's capital was in his boat and gear, we may be sure that he was not long in putting on his sea clothes, and going to its rescue. To his great chagrin he found that a joke had been played upon him, for the boat and the barge were both riding quietly at their ropes. On his way back again, when within a few yards of his home, he observed a crowd of little people congregated under the shelter of a boat that was lying high and dry upon the beach. They were sitting in a semi circle holding their hats towards oneo f the number, who was engaged in distributing a heap of money, pitching a gold piece into each hat in succession. Now John had a covetous heart , and the sight of so much cash made him forget the respect due to an assemblage of piskeys, and that they were not slow to punish any intrusion on their privacy: so he crept slily towards them, hidden by the boat, and reaching round, managed to introduce his hat without exciting any notice. When the heap was getting low, and Taprail was awakening to the dangers of detection, he craftily withdrew his hat and made off with the prize. He had got a fair start before the trick was discovered; but but the defrauded piskies were soon on his heels, and he barely managed to reach his house and to close the doors upon his pursuers. So narrow indeed was his escape that he left the tails of his sea coat in their hands.


Fron "History of Polperro" by Jonathan Couch. Collected during the 1860's and published shortly after his death in 1871. Artwork by Frank Varty from the same publication.

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