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I sailed on a ship called the Caroline
Burke was the captain's name
Bound out on the coast of Africa
On a sweet and pleasant gale
We had on board four hundred slaves
In our ship's hole below,
We did not know what moment would turn on us
And prove our overthrow.
Oh, we had not been sailing long
When a storm it did arise,
And dark and dismal was the night
And cloudy looked the skies.
The captain called, " All hands on deck,
Come bear a hand aloft,
Be quick and reef out foretopsails,
Our ship is fore and aft."
As up aloft like tars we mounted
Our canvas to take in,
When the heavy clap of thunder came
And the lightning first began.
Likewise the mate and cabin boy
Fell from the maintop yard,
And then we were eight in number
Our ship and lives to guard.
Oh, it was after a long time sailing
Our ship in port arrived,
Then it was off to the hospital we were marched
Four seamen lame and blind.
Oh, the doctors there tried all their skill
But it was all in vain,
It 's in a state of darkness
We all have to remain.
Oh, if it is to be God's will
That only we could see,
We'd earn our bread as we always did
By sailing the rough salt sea.
From Creighton, Songs and Ballads of Nova Scotia, no. 54
collected from Richard Hartlan of Southeast Passage, NS
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