'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the ocean
Not a sea creature was stirring, not even a dolphin.
The rods were hung by the gunnel with care,
In hopes that Captain Steven soon would be there.
The snook were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of greenbacks danced in their heads;
And grouper under the skyway, and grunt in their reef,
Had just settled their brains for a long winter's keep.
When out in the bay there arose such a clatter,
They sprang from their beds to see what was the matter.
Away to the bait they swam like a flash,
Tore open the lures and scarfed down the stash.
The moon on the water of the new-fallen tide,
Gave a luster of midday to fishes that hide.
When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But a giant redfish and many tiny silver snappers.
With a blue Crevalle boat so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment he must be Captain Brophy.
More rapid than Cobia his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:
"Now, Mackerel! Now, Hogfish! Now, Permit and Flounder!
On, Snapper! On, Tarpon! On, Sheepshead and Puffer!
To the top of the water! To the top of the surf!
Now reel away, reel away, reel away all!"
So up to the surface the coursers they swam,
With the boat full of fish, and Captain Drew, too —
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the waves
The splishing and splashing of each little fin.
As I drew in my line and was turning around,
Down the gunnel Captain Dakota came with a bound.
He was dressed all in white, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with seaweed and bait.
A bundle of fish he had flung in his ice chest
And he looked like a captain that’s been put to the test.
His eyes — how they twinkled! His hands, how messy!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a sunburnt cherry!
His sharp little knife was covered in scurf
And the beard on his chin was as rough as the surf.
The end of a hook he held tight in his teeth,
And the net, it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a tanned face and a little surfer belly
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.
He was chiseled and fit, a right jolly young elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.
A wink of his eye and a sweep of his net
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the ice chests, then turned with a jerk;
And laying his finger aside of the throttle,
And giving a nod, up the river he drove.
To the Poseidon team he gave a whistle
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard them exclaim, ‘ere they drove out of sight —
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"