The little town of Banjo Bay sits proudly in the cove,
Welcoming her sons home from their toil,
Her harbor filled with laughter, her streets bedecked with love,
A place for growing up and growing old.
The morning sun shines down upon the busy little forge,
Sidney Armstrong at the anvil stands,
The mighty bellows suck and blow, the fiery furnace roars,
The hammer rings within his tattooed hands.
Not only on the work-worn hands the inky pictures rest,
But 5 and 30 do they count in all,
Decked along his muscled arms and o’er his rippling chest,
One for every year he has been born.
The sacred cross of Jesus, a ship ‘neath stormy skies,
A crouching leopard snarling on his back,
An eagle in ascendance on his shoulder gaily flies,
A heart of deepest red upon his neck.
No family does Sidney have, every soul passed on,
Taken when the fever stalked the town,
The sparks that burned his father’s hands now fall upon his own,
The forge, in perpetuity passed down.
The citizens of Banjo Bay treat Sidney with respect,
Not a one his wrath would care to see,
The hand that bends the chain could just as surely bend a neck,
So none would wish to be his enemy.
No foe has he to fight and yet no friend with which to bide,
No loving wife to claim as kith and kin,
None to know the caring heart that Sidney Armstrong hides,
The gentle giant ‘neath the tattooed skin.
No daughter born of Banjo Bay would Sidney care to charm,
Not one could bring a twinkle to his eyes,
Except for she who milks the cows upon her father’s farm,
She who he has worshipped all her life.
Sweet 16 and never kissed is beautiful Claudette,
A-dreaming as she goes about the farm,
By day she cuts the creamy curds that keep the family fed,
By night she weaves the cloth that keeps them warm.
“A blessing” say her family. ‘The best in all the world,
Never has she missed one day of work”,
“A credit” say the wagging tongues “A simple, modest girl,
Not one to wear the paint or twirl the skirt”.
And she, the beautiful Claudette, whose eyes know only good,
Sees the gentle giant ‘neath the skin,
Only Sidney Armstrong, no other would she choose,
Only he, to slip the wedding ring.
To spare her from the wagging tongues in secret have they met,
Strolling on the ever shifting sand,
But no longer can he live without the beautiful Claudette,
And now he comes to ask the milk-maid’s hand.
But sad to say, for such as they, no happy ending waits,
‘Too young” the farmer says, “to be a wife”,
As Sidney leaves she watches, beside the rusty gate,
Thinking on her simple, empty life.
Now hands that gently cradled, her shoulders roughly grasp,
“Away lass, to the loom” the farmer cries,
But she, with every dream of happiness so cruelly dashed,
Turns on him with hatred in her eyes.
“All my life, devotedly I laboured at your side,
And never have I asked for praise or pay,
But always have I dreamed that I would one day be the bride
Of he who works the forge in Banjo Bay”.
“No more will I cut the creamy curds or weave the cloth,
Away am I to seek my lover spurned”,
Then, cutting of the apron strings that keep her from her love,
She leaves the farmhouse, never to return.
But without the farmer’s blessing she can never be a bride,
So to the forge no entry does she gain,
She knocks the heavy door again, the blacksmith stays inside,
He loves the girl too much to bring her shame.
The cord is cut, the die is cast, and now we find the girl
Wandering a dark and stormy night,
Cast adrift is she upon an unforgiving world,
Will no-one here take pity on her plight?
Curtains twitch at casements, but ne’er a welcome here,
Only at the Inn is succour given,
To the swell of raucous laughter and the reek of foaming beer,
An arm around her shoulders leads her in.
And so the seasons turn upon the restless, rolling tide,
Another weaves the cloth and fills the pail,
Sidney Armstrong sits alone and tends his wounded pride,
The girl, deserted, hurtles from the rails.
Now in the little Inn we see the girl about her work,
All eyes upon her undulating hips,
And ne’er a sailor there who has not turned the twirling skirt,
Or smudged the scarlet on the pouting lips.
The chilling mist creeps in upon the narrow, cobbled streets,
As Sidney Armstrong takes his evening stroll,
And now, a moaning terrible as of a wounded beast
Echoes from an alley, damp and cold.
There upon the cobbles, ‘neath a pile of bloodied clothes,
Sidney finds the beautiful Claudette,
Tossed aside to meet her fate by hand of heartless rogue,
Lingering is she twixt life and death.
Sidney in his agony seeks a helping hand,
Every door in Banjo Bay is knocked,
But ne’er a hand is offered to the fearsome, tattooed man,
Every door in Banjo Bay stays locked.
So now into the quiet forge he brings the dying lass,
But at the door the sickened reaper waits,
Now beautiful Claudette into a kinder world must pass,
For hands that bend the chain cannot bend fate.
‘”Parted for eternity” you say. Well, maybe not,
The blame is his; the damage has been done,
Sidney Armstrong draws the blind and turns the heavy lock,
Even now, the happy ending comes.
For there we see, within the tattooed hand, a gleaming knife,
That splits in two the heart of deepest red,
Now joined are they in death as they could never be in life,
The blacksmith and his beautiful Claudette.
But souls in torment cannot rest and so it is with they,
Cursed are they to wander evermore,
Arm in arm together through the streets of Banjo Bay,
Their ghostly fingers tapping at the door.
Maybe their quest is over. Maybe they rest in peace,
Maybe they found an answer to their knock,
And maybe it is just a dream that wakens you from sleep,
And just the wind a-rattling the lock.