‘Twas a windy night up in Hadleigh,
The castle lay dark and still.
Not a mouse stirred over at Murrell’s,
Where the witch sat, making his will…
The rickety table wobbled,
His pen scratched the paper and bled.
In the herb bunches drying above him
An upside-down bat yawned, quite dead.
He sat on a barrel of brandy,
A horse blanket hiding the view.
The Revenue man on another
Kept asking his question anew:
“What do you know about smuggling?
Have you seen any stash by the Ray?”
“What would I know about smuggling?
I’m not out on the Downs ev’ry day.
I did hear of Hadleigh’s Grey Lady,
But probably so will have you.
She frightens the men from the castle
And anyone else passin’ thru’.”
The Revenue man changed position.
The old man was far too aloof.
“I think you know more than you’re telling,
Be sure, I’ll be finding the proof.
I know you’re in league with the smugglers,
Folk trust you, they ask what to do.
You’re sitting on many a secret.”
“But so, my dear fellow, are you.”
The pen kept scratching the paper.
The taxman kept scratching his head.
If only he’d scratched what he sat on,
He’d scratched something useful instead.