Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Third Time Lucky!

THEME THURSDAY suggests "FIRE!" as a topic this week.
This story is true, and I am related to one of the very minor characters in the drama.


My tenuous link with the story I tell
 Is something that's fragile and frail,
But my ego demands that I tell you my link 
To this truly remarkable tale.
My grandparents lived in a small Devon town
Known as Babbacombe, there by the sea,
And my grandfather had a small iron-monger's shop,
Near the  water and close to the quay.
Now Olive, their daughter, and, later, my aunt,
Played her part in the family toil.
She was up before school going round all about.
Her job was delivering oil.
For oil-lamps were used in those long-ago days,
So the folk used to wait for her call,
And backwards and forwards she'd go with her wares,
To cottage and homestead and hall.
The cliffs in those parts were quite steep and unsafe;
The paths were quite muddy as well,
 But she had to climb down and she had to climb up
And many times she almost fell.
One house, in particular, she called-upon,
Not often, but just now and then.
Miss Emma Ann Keyes had a house with a view,
A house that she christened 'The Glen'.
On November the 15th the town was agog,
'A murder most foul!' it was said.
Miss Keyes had been killed in her house by the sea,
And 'The Glen' was a house of the dead.
The murder was brutal, a blow to the head,
Then many more blows had rained down,
While, finally, FIRE had put-paid to the corpse!
The flames had been seen from the town!
John Lee was a servant who worked at 'The Glen'
And a jury decided his guilt.
They said, though he swore he had not done the deed,
He was in it, right up to the hilt.
He was sentenced to death and the hanging date set,
And it's now that we learn the strange story,
For John Lee survived and from that time henceforth
He was practically covered in glory!
The day of the hanging dawned just as it should
With everything going to plan,
The scaffold was set, the rope was prepared,
And the ghastly procedure began.
But the trap-door stayed put! It just wouldn't perform.
The hanging just had to be stopped!
John Lee stood alive on the edge of his doom
By the pit where he might have been dropped!
They tried it again! With the same odd result
And what torment for prisoner, John Lee!
So he called out aloud 'I'm an innocent man!
No noose can now put paid to me!'
For a third time he stood with the rope round his neck,
And the Hangman stood ready once more.
The order was given, John Lee held his breath......
And deliverance came as before!
The judges proclaimed that enough was enough.
And the public quite loudly agreed.
It was obvious God had smiled down on John Lee!
In due course he was pardoned and freed.
In the annals of crime his remains the one case
Where a botched execution's resulted
In a possible felon retaining his life,
And the whole population exulted! 
He was hailed as a hero and feted as such,
Though a rogue he continued to be,
And the interesting thing, if I stretch things a bit,
Is that he was 'related' to me!
After all, if Aunt Olive had not sold the oil
That ignited the FIRE on that night,
Miss Emma Ann Keyes might have died of old age,
And I'd have had nothing to write!


Lavender and Vanilla Friends of the Gardens said...

I enjoyed your poetry, how interesting that this really had happened! With your words, despite the grisly story you could show the funny site of it.
I came to Australia in 1974, my diary and stories are "Under a hotter Sun".

Maggie May said...

Quite a tale and a true one at that!
Wonder what the odds against that happening 3 times were?

Ronda Laveen said...

What a great story. The lucky dog!

Kris McCracken said...

It's usually the butler...

Kat said...

how easily you're able to tie a knot between Oil, Fire and Rhyme..!!!