Bivouac

Up, and my father being gone to bed ill last night and continuing so this morning, I was forced to come to a new consideration, whether it was fit for to let my uncle and his son go to Wisbeach about my uncle Day’s estate alone or no, and concluded it unfit; and so resolved to go with them myself, leaving my wife there, I begun a journey with them, and with much ado, through the fens, along dikes, where sometimes we were ready to have our horses sink to the belly, we got by night, with great deal of stir and hard riding, to Parson’s Drove, a heathen place, where I found my uncle and aunt Perkins, and their daughters, poor wretches! in a sad, poor thatched cottage, like a poor barn, or stable, peeling of hemp, in which I did give myself good content to see their manner of preparing of hemp; and in a poor condition of habitt took them to our miserable inn, and there, after long stay, and hearing of Frank, their son, the miller, play, upon his treble, as he calls it, with which he earns part of his living, and singing of a country bawdy song, we sat down to supper; the whole crew, and Frank’s wife and child, a sad company, of which I was ashamed, supped with us. And after supper I, talking with my aunt about her report concerning my uncle Day’s will and surrender, I found her in such different reports from what she writes and says to the people, and short of what I expected, that I fear little will be done of good in it. By and by newes is brought to us that one of our horses is stole out of the stable, which proves my uncle’s, at which I am inwardly glad — I mean, that it was not mine; and at this we were at a great loss; and they doubting a person that lay at next door, a Londoner, some lawyer’s clerk, we caused him to be secured in his bed, and other care to be taken to seize the horse; and so about twelve at night or more, to bed in a sad, cold, nasty chamber, only the mayde was indifferent handsome, and so I had a kiss or two of her, and I to bed, and a little after I was asleep they waked me to tell me that the horse was found, which was good newes, and so to sleep till the morning, but was bit cruelly, and nobody else of our company, which I wonder at, by the gnatts.

I come with my gun
and the belly of a heathen

hatch like a sad will
in some lawyer’s indifferent hands

kiss her and go to sleep
bit cruelly by gnats


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 17 September 1663.

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