The Brule Boys (Lehr and Best)

Come all ye Newfoundlanders,
I'll sing for ye a song -
I promise if ye will attend
I won't delay ye long;
It's of two men from Brule
wanting to have some fun -
They went up to St Peter's
to bring back a load of rum.

The day it being a fine one
and the sun was shining bright,
When those two men from Brule
arrived there just at night;
They took on board a heavy stock
and then the wind veered down -
They then set sail for Brule,
leaving St Peter's town.

They runned her for St Lawrence
and the sky looked kind of black.
Our skipper said: 'Now we'll go in
where we can take a nap.'
We anchored 'round the point
of the beach and put the line ashore;
Our skipper said: 'Now we can sleep
while the wind and sea do roar.'

That night the storm kept raging,
but we came through all right -
And when the water smoothened down
'twas then we put her out;
Being late up in the evening,
the sky looked kind of clear,
But very shortly after,
the wind began to veer.

The wind came from the east'ard,
and the sky fell thick with snow;
And now the storm is raging,
he says: 'Where can we go?
We have no compass for a guide,
no means to make a light.'
The waters still washed over them
on that cold winter's night.

'We must give up and pray to God,'
our skipper he did say,
'For we can't live no longer,
for this is our last day!'
They thought of friends and loved ones
whom they had left on shore,
And took each other by the hand
to part forevermore.

O who can tell the feeling
of those two Brule men,
Tossed on the stormy ocean
with nothing to comfort them;
The blood was frozen in their veins,
the salt tears in their eyes -
They raised their eyes to heaven above,
and they muttered mournful cries.

They drifted before wind and sea
all that long cruel night -
And when the daylight cleared away,
no land or strand in sight.
But very shortly after,
a vessel hove in sight -
The captain's name was Harvey,
was out that long winter's night.

When Harvey saw them coming,
he called: 'All hands on deck -
O come and look to wind'ard
and see that little jack.
Have we no means of saving them?'
he said unto his crew;
'Get ropes and lifeboats ready,
and we'll see what we can do.'

Those men got near that vessel,
hailing with all their might,
Crying: 'Save us, captain, save us -
do try to save our lives!'
There was no time for talking,
he told them what to do -
'Just run around our quarter,
and then heave her head to.'

In the shelter of the vessel
drifted this little jack,
When they got hold of those two men,
they dragged them in on deck,
And took them to the cabin
where they were treated kind -
And placed them by a hard-coal fire
and gave them boiled claret wine.

Now Harvey he gave orders,
unto his men did say:
'The wind is on the drop, me boys,
so get her underway -
Go trim your canvas by the wind
and then we'll reef her down.'
And on the following evening
we arrived at Marystown.

O telegrams were soon dispatched
unto their friends and wives,
And said how Harvey picked them up
and saved their precious lives;
Theirselves will tell the story
on some cold winter's night,
In praise of Captain Harvey
who saved their precious lives.

It was the hand of Providence
that brought him in this bay,
And saved those men from Brule,
all for a longer day;
They thought their time had come to go,
their friends to see no more,
And now they're safely landed
once more on Brule shore.

Before that I do finish,
for Harvey I must say:
'May the great God protect him
while sailing on the sea -
And grant him all the pleasure
in every port he'll find,
For saving those two Brule men
and acting very kind.'

Come all ye men from Brule,
I'll have ye to beware -
Don't go to St Peter's 'til
the springtime of the year;
While winter storms are raging
I'm afraid you'll get a fright,
For Harvey won't be always there
waiting to save your life!

####.... Author unknown. Traditional Newfoundland ballad ....####
This song was collected in 1977 by Genevieve Lehr and Anita Best from Mrs Mary (Min) Caul [1902-?] of Arnold's Cove, NL, and published as #14 in Come And I Will Sing You: A Newfoundland Songbook, pp.23-24, edited by Genevieve Lehr (University of Toronto Press © 1985/2003).

Genevieve Lehr noted that Brule, a community on Merasheen Island in Placentia Bay, was one of the prime smuggling areas for the St Pierre rum-running operation. The two lads in the song were on such a venture when caught in a severe storm. Lehr further noted that much of the smuggling was done between 1850 and 1950. However, this song takes place in the early 1900s.

See more songs by Lehr and Best.

Paraphrased from:
The Dictionary Of Newfoundland English:
Jack - small boat which carried one dory and had two or three men for crew, used for various fisheries purposes ... about thirteen to fifteen tons with rudder outside ... a ponderous, clumsy affair, twenty-five or thirty feet long with not much breadth of beam, rudely built, with short masts, and small sails stained red or black - or with both colors ... the oars are of spruce, and very large and heavy, and the stern of the boat is provided with two stakes, such as whalemen use for sculling.
Sculling - steering or propelling a craft with a long (sculling) oar having a pin at one end to enable a twisting motion often through a (sculling) hole or two stakes at the rear through which the oar can be worked.


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