Then they come slidderin' past Fairlight in a great smoky pat vambrished with red gun-fire, and our ships flyin' forth and duckin' in again. The smoke-pat sliddered over to the French shore, so I knowed Frankie was edgin' the Spanishers toward they Dutch sands where he was master. I says to my Aunt, "The smoke's thinnin' out. I lay Frankie's just about scrapin' his hold for a few last rounds shot. 'Tis time for me to go."

This is from "Simple Simon" in "Rewards and Fairies" by Kipling.

I do not understand the meaning of this.

scrapin' his hold for a few last rounds shot

I am so glad if somebody kindly teach me.

  • 2
    This is direct speech in an English dialect that may be rare or may no longer even exist. The "hold" of a ship is where cargo is stored and is frequently the lowest part of a ship's interior so it may mean that the bottom of the ship was virtually scraping the sea floor in order to take few last shots with the ship's cannons. But that is a guess. – Jeff Morrow Dec 27 '17 at 1:13
  • 2
    @JeffMorrow Close: Drake was scouring the bottom of the now mostly empty hold to find the last few cannonballs ("rounds [of] shot") stored there. – StoneyB on hiatus Dec 27 '17 at 1:57

It is written in the (East) Sussex dialect. This dialect still exists, but like most dialects in England, it closer to standard British English these days.

"I lay Frankie's just about scrapin' his hold for a last few rounds shot"


"I bet [i.e. I reckon] Frankie is scouring the hold (storage area) of his ship for the last few rounds of shot"

| improve this answer | |
  • John, thank you so much for your answer! It is so helpful! – Hiroshi Inagaki Dec 27 '17 at 7:14
  • Yeah, I didn't know it was East Sussex, but I sort of knew what the character was saying when I was reading it. – Nick Dec 27 '17 at 7:16

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.