On a warm summer’s evening
On a ship bound to nowhere
I met up with a doctor
We were both too drunk to sleep
So we took turns a-starin'
O’er the rail in the darkness
Til the boredom over took him
And he began to speak
He said "Lad, I’ve made a life
From medicines and leeches
Taking gold from fools and thieves
And sawing off their feet.
So if you don’t mind me sayin'
I can see the plague has got you
So for your gold and your whiskey
I’ll cure it with a leech"
So I handed him my bottle
He drank down my last swallow
Then he took my pouch of gold
And tossed it to a Scot
And the night got deathly quiet
And his face lost all expression
Said "If you’re gonna play this game, boy
You gotta learn to play it hot."
"You got to help those who need ya
Con those who’ll bleed ya
Know when to throw your glove
Know when to run
You’ll not be counting money
Til you’ve earned the right to do so
There’ll be time enough for counting
When your year is done."
Now every swordsman knows
The secret to surviving
Is not to win that bout but to look the best you can
For when the marshals’ jaws are dropping
And the maidens all are swoonin'
That gent you cut six ways to noon
Has become your biggest fan
And when he’d finished speakin'
He turned back towards the Scotsman
Picked up that battered cane
And bashed me in the head
And somewhere in the darkness
This Spaniard took a beating
And when I woke, I understood
Everything he said