A Custom House Breeze

One day - no matter for the month or year,
A Calais packet¹; just come over,
And safely moor'd within the pier,
Began to land her passengers at Dover¹;
All glad to end a voyage long and rough,
And during which,
Through a roll and pitch,
The ocean king had sickophants enough!

Away as fast as they could walk or run,
Eager for steady rooms and quiet meals,
With bundles, bags, and boxes at their heels,
Away the passengers all went, but one,
A female, who from some mysterious check,
Still linger'd on the steamer's deck,
As if she did not care for land a tittle,
For horizontal rooms and cleanly victual -
Or nervously afraid to put
Her foot
Into isle described as 'tight and little.'

In vain commissioner¹ and touter¹,
Porter and waiter throng'd about her;
Boring, as such officials only bore --
In spite of rope and barrow, knot and truck,
Of plank and ladder, there she stuck,
She couldn't, no, she wouldn't go on shore.
'But ma'am,' the steward¹ interefered,
'The wessel must be cleared.
You mustn't stay aboard, ma'am, no one don't!
It's quite agin the orders so to do --
And all the passengers is gone but you.'
Says she I cannot go ashore and won't!'
'You ought to!'
'But I can't!'
'You must!'
'I shan't!'

At last attracted by the racket
Twixt gown and a jacket,
The captain himself, and cap in hand,
Begg'd very civilly to understand
Wherefore lady could not leave the packet.
'Why then' the lady whispered with a shiver
That made the accents quiver
'I've got some foreign silks about me pinn'd, [Note 733.1]
In short many things, all contraband,
To tell the truth I am afraid to land,
In such a searching wind!'