W3C The Skeleton Beagles   SONGS

 

 

From locations mentioned in the lyrics this song dates back to around 1890 and emanates from the Airedale Beagles hunting country which stretches from Trawden in the south west to Horton in Ribblesdale in the north, with Otley in the east.

Anybody any ideas as to why this song refers to skeletons? If so, please email me.

This is a long song - 58 verses - but an interesting tale, so keep scrolling down!

One Boxing Day, long years ago
A bright, fine day, and very clear,
A friend of mine, — we'll call him Brown,
Made up his mind to hunt the hare.

He'd heard a lot about the hunt,
And being fond of outdoor sport,
Thought it the best of ways to spend
A day of such a lovely sort.

Dick Hundson's was the meet that time.
And thought the day was more than cool,
A lot of happy sports were there,
Like merry lads let out of school.

The season's greetings passed around,
The flowing blow dispelled all gloom,
Mid such a genial jovial crowd
Brown very soon was quite at home.

non the huntsman blew his horn.
The hounds and hunters gathered round.
A start was made, hounds ranged about
And 'twasn't long before they found.

Like sweet toned bells the pack gave voice,
Through Brown it sent a joyous thrill,
And like a two year old he faced
The bog and heather on the hill.

The scent was very good that day.
The hare was cunning swift and strong.
Brown thought himself a runner, but
His lungs soon played a wheezy song.

But still he paddled on with pluck,
A check or two gave him a rest.
And when the hare was killed at last
Brown finished with the very best.

'Twas then too late to start again,
So to Dick's once more they bent their way.
Determined that a right good night
Should finish up a happy day.

The host was there with table spread,
A feast of jolly Christmas cheer,
A well stuffed goose adorned one end,
Attended by two jugs of beer.

A sirloin graced the other end,
And numerous dishes stood between,
For hungry hunters strong and well,
A better feed was never seen.

Brown found himself an honoured guest,
And played a lively knife and fork,
And after dinner did his best,
With bottle, glass and popping cork.

The evening passed in jovial mirth,
Song followed song, toast followed toast,
The fun went fast and furious till
"Times up! 'tis ten," sung out the host.

So out they went to face the night.
The moon rode high, the sky was clear,
A still calm night, as bright as day,
But a cold and biting frosty air.

'Twas then too late to start again,
So to Dick's once more they bent their way.
Determined that a right good night
Should finish up a happy day.

The host was there with table spread,
A feast of jolly Christmas cheer,
A well stuffed goose adorned one end,
Attended by two jugs of beer.

A sirloin graced the other end,
And numerous dishes stood between,
For hungry hunters strong and well,
A better feed was never seen.

Brown found himself an honoured guest,
And played a lively knife and fork,
And after dinner did his best,
With bottle, glass and popping cork.

The evening passed in jovial mirth,
Song followed song, toast followed toast,
The fun went fast and furious till
"Times up! 'tis ten," sung out the host.

So out they went to face the night.
The moon rode high, the sky was clear,
A still calm night, as bright as day,
But a cold and biting frosty air.

Brown bade his new-found friends adieu,
He had some long, lone miles to go,
And if what everybody says is true,
He had a load to carry too.

But light of heart and happy mind,
He whistled on his lonely road,
And thought about the snug warm bed
Awaiting him at his abode.

He soon spied Weecher Reservoir,
A silver lake of dazzling sheen,
Brown thought it, as he stood and gazed,
The fairest sight he'd ever seen.

Just then a distant noise assailed his ear,
It sounded like a horn-and yet-
Had something ghostly, weird and queer.
A sound that he will ne'er forget.

Then as he turned to take the road,
A something dashed before his feet,
It chilled him with a sudden shock,
And filled him with a dread complete.

A four-legged thing that went with speed,
The momentary glance had shown,
But horror filled his quaking sound,
For it was nothing more than bone.

And then a form jumped on the wall.
Another grisly skeleton shape
T hat would be stoutest heart appal.

And as he stood it seemed to him,
His heart must burst its very bounds,
For other shapes jumped into view,
The shapes of awful skeleton hounds.

Then another horror worse than all
Burst on his staring startled eye,
Beyond the wall a human skull
Was clear outlined against the sky.

The figure reached a near by gate,
Placed bony hands upon the bar,
And then this fearsome frightful thing
Leaped on the road with rattling jar.

Brown's trembling limbs near let him down,
He longed for help at any price,
Great drops of sweat stood on his brow,
Although his blood was cold as ice.

The other shapes came scrambling o'er
The wall that lined the frost bound road,
And soon he stood admist a group
On which he gazed in shuddering mood.

The skeleton hounds ran here and there,
As living hounds are wont to do,
When scent is bad and they are checked,
And want to pick it up anew.

The human skeletons watched them work,
Although they had no eyes to see,
Brown watched them too, and all the time
Played postman's knock with knee to knee.

Imagine then those grinning skulls,
Those empty sockets void of eyes,
The bare gaunt teeth, the gibbering jaws,
The ghastly shapes of different size.

The ribs that formed a hollow cage,
With neither heart or lungs within,
And other bones that when they moved,
Gave forth a terrorising din.

But how can one describe a scene
Beyond the power of mortal pen,
There are no words that can portray
those hideous scaffoldings of men.

One dreadful shape that stood near by,
Approached — Brown heard a clink —
And lo !— a flask beneath his nose,
The skeleton offered him a drink.

Brown shook with fear but took the flask,
Where it had been he couldn't guess,
They had no pockets and no clothes,
Nothing but bony emptiness.

He thought it best to be polite,
So bowed and took a mighty swig.
It tasted nice and what it was
Brown said he didn't care a fig.

Whate'er it was it gave new life.
It made him feel more like a man,
And soon old Brown was moving round
As if a member of the clan.

He seemed at home among them all,
'Twas quite a treat to see his nibs,
He bowed all round, shook hands with some,
And poked another in the ribs.

And when at last they found the line,
Brown bounded off with all the rest,
His fear forgot, he joined the fun
As if he'd been invited guest.

The line went straight across the moor,
Knee deep in twisted, tangled ling,
'Twas heavy going, but he went
With dauntless, jaunty, study swing.

His pals spread out, as fields will do,
Some walked, some ran, all jogged along.
But Brown had got his spirit up,
And galloped with the fastest throng.

How far they went God only knows,
Brown says that it was fifty miles,
I think that this is stretched a bit,
I know the man and all his wiles.

He said they saw the "Hermit" Inn,
And the Rifle Butts upon the moor,
That once they touched on Drake Hill ridge,
And twice they passed Dick Hudson's door.

The lost the scent at Lobley Gate,
On Baildon Moor it still was cold,
But on they went to Shipley Glen,
Then crossed the moor and through Sconce Fold.

They scared the game in Hawksworth wood,
They climbed away to Reeva Top,
And back again the Weecher Dam
Without a single blessed stop.

'Twas here Brown had a slight mishap,
He was running ithe group that led,
And climbing oe'r a six foot wall,
He slipped and fell upon his head.

When he came round the moon had gone,
Though stars were there still shining bright,
B ut when he tried to get his feet
He found himself in awful plight.

His muscles strained like twisted ropes,
His thighs were just one mass of pain,
And oh ! the awful molten band
That seemed to bind his throbbing brain.

Then he remembered in a flash,
The ghastly sort of time he'd had,
The horrid shaped, the rattling bones,
The restrospection made his sad.

He sought his pals, but they had gone
Back to the charnel house and grave,
Back to some horrid smelling vault,
Or perhaps to some funereal cave.

With many a sigh and many a groan,
He struggled to his feet at last,
And weakly took the road again,
With pain and misery overcast.

So reeling, stumbling, on he went,
And cursed each agonizing mile,
He burned and froze and burned again,
His throat was sand, his tongue a file.

But all things finish up at last,
He reached the spot where he was bred,
And here he had another fall,
This time he tumbled into bed.

And there he lay for three long months,
Raving of horns and hounds and bones,
Of long, long runs on moonlit moors,
And gory heaps of blood stained stones.

Three times the Doctor gave him up,
Three times 'twas thought to be the end,
Then someone gave him some old beer,
And poor old Brown began to mend.

He told his tale to all he met,
They met the tale with unbelief,
They laughed about his skeleton hounds,
And filled his soul with bitter grief.

They said he'd tumbled on the road,
Too beastly drunk to rise again,
And there he'd laid and dreamed the dream,
So all his protests were in vain.

"But what about the fearful pain
In all my aching limbs," he cried,
"Pooh ! that is easily explained,"
"Acute rheumatic," they replied.

"And what about the flask," he said,
"The skeleton's flask. I have it yet."
They said, quite plain, hed' stolen this,
From someone at the hunt he'd met.

His tale's a dream, a yarn, a lie,
Say all his friends in language plain,
But whether it was dream or not
Brown never came to hunt again.

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