Scotch Express from Ireland, The

The hero prevents disaster by putting a halfpenny on line. The Scots driver stops the train to retrieve it.

I stood on the bridge at midnight
At the railway station-way back,
And what should I see on the tram-lines
But a train on the railway track

'Twas the Scotch Express-from Ireland,
And as it came roaring along
I noticed the wheels were all going round
So I knew there was something wrong.

The driver I'd known from a cow-boy,
His name-it was Sandy McThistle;
As clever a steeplechase jockey
As ever blew down a whistle I

He'd driven that engine for 99 years,
His photo hung in the 'Red Lion'
The passengers always gave him a cheer
And shouted out, 'Any old iron?' [Note 374.1]

He'd always enjoyed the best of bad health,
Except p'raps a leak in his oiler
But now he'd got sparks flying out of his funnel
And steam coming out of his boiler.

He never saw any danger
He never saw the Red Light
Except when his wife went to the pictures
With the lodger-on Saturday night

On came the train with a rattle and roar
At a pace that was really a crime;
Seven hours late-but doing his best
To get there before closing time.

The stokerĀ¹ was all agitated, too,
His poker kept wobbling about,
But he still kept on with his duty
Raking the clinkers out.

The train was packed tight-with Scots, that night
All treading on each other's feet
And riding 1st class-with 3rd class tickets [Note 374.2]
With a few more under the seat. [Note 374.3]

Little they knew that the driver
Had been on night-duty all day,
And there was certain to be a collision
If another train got in his way

And tho' most of those folks knew Sandy,
There were people in that train
Who, once they got cut to pieces
Would never speak to him again.

So now was the time for action,
Before the worst came to the worst,
Should I stand on the track and push the train back ?
But something said, 'Safety first!'

So I rushed down the steep embankment
No thought of my own affairs
I rushed down the steep embankment
'Cause I couldn't rush down the stairs.

And diving my hand in my pocket
I'd only been paid that day
I placed my last ha'penny on the line
And the train only ten miles away

The hours seemed like minutes as I stood and watched
That ha'penny there on the track.
Would the driver see it-and stop the train
Or would he turn round and go back ?

It was all over soon-and I fell in a swoon,
For the brave driver not only saw it
He was down in a flash-after the cash,
And the stoker was fighting him for it

But he soon got a shock in his rolling stock
And his language was too bad to mention.
His boiler nigh bust, when he found in disgust
That the ha'penny he'd got was a 'French un!'

In trying to pass it on slot-machines [Note 374.4]
He worked himself into a panic,
Broke three of his fingers, and then got a month
For trying to bribe the mechanic.

He tried it on blind men and beggars galore
But had all his troubles in vain
Threw it into the river, but divers went down
And brought it up to him again.

This morning at three, he was seen out at sea
The Exchange - he soon hopes to arrange it,
For a Scot's not the one that's going to be done
So he's swimming to France to change it!