Amidst the all of them drunk and them all still drinking, this, upon the learning of her name his having asked
Mother: Margaret. Margaret Gordon
Father: Anyone ever call you Peggy, Peggy?
to which she shakes her head.
Mother (shaking her head): Close, closeby...
jabbing up into the air with a finger
She is out for one final go-round with these new-found friends to bittersweet celebrate the last night of her placement in Scotland, during the course of which her student group has increasingly abutted another, their proximity dictated by the bar’s narrow dimension, even its ceiling visibly lowered beneath the gathering exhalation of cigarette smoke.
Father (losing focus): Peggy, Peggy
and then thus prompted
Father (singing): “Oh Peggy Gordon, you are my darling. Come sit you down upon my knee, and tell to me the very reason why I am slighted so by thee.”
and while he was at first serenading her direct, very soon thereafter finds himself subject to the song itself, hostage to a voice he understands not his own, one seemingly lacking even his any trace.
Father: "I’m so in love that I can't deny it. My heart lies smothered in my breast. It's not for you to let the world know it, a troubled mind can find no rest."
whatever sense of courting with which he had begun overtaken by a melancholy tone dictated by the lyric’s longing, and its carrying melody,
Father: “I leaned my head on a cask of brandy, it was my fancy I do declare"
holding his empty glass to his chest as if it were the one possession he would not ever surrender
Father: “for when I'm drinking, I am thinking, and wishing Peggy Gordon was there."
now standing up from his seat, transported unaware, unconcerned too of whatever attention such behaviour might attract, his friends staring on in their silent amaze never once having heard him sing before.
Father: “I wish I was in some lonesome valley, where womankind cannot be found”
the forming of these words some source of indistinct pain, their ceaseless hope of something so long longed for,
Father: “and the pretty small birds they change their voices, and every moment a different sound.”
his voice forcing into existence a widening silence around itself, spreading from out its central quiet heart to the back walls,
Father: "I wish I was away in Ingo, far across the briny sea”
while his eyes brim to recognise that sudden unexpected sentiment by which he understands himself ambushed, and despite having started knowing he knew, if that, only the chorus or elements thereof, he becomes conscious of himself singing words he has no actual knowledge of knowing and in such is his initial diffidence overtaken by a growing faith in the song’s own use of him to be sung, increasingly confident the unknown words will continue on in the voice ascribed him, however temporary.
Father: “and sailing over deepest waters, where love nor care never trouble me.”
The song’s original intended conscious too of a shared tearfulness, herself these past weeks that much more aware of her own Scottish ancestry, both long-dead maternal grandparents themselves having each separately emigrated from within literal walking distance of this very street, connecting her to the song’s complex celtic origin containing as it does elements of Scotland, Ireland and Nova Scotia.
Father: “Oh Peggy Gordon, you are my darling"
singing on now not because he wants to but because he can no longer not, the lament freighted with that very homesickness she understands only too well here on this the eve of her departure, but which he has himself yet to experience in any meaningful way.
Father (finishing): “and tell to me the very reason why I am slighted so by thee."
Returned home, but unable to forget or assimilate this memory and leave him behind, she eventually writes him care of the university, knowing only his first name and course of study, asking disingenuously for him to send her the song’s lyric which words could she knew be had from any bookstore, and which words he too had to likewise obtain in order to fulfill her request, their subsequent ensuing brief but intense correspondence running August to November.
Still she remains unwilling yet to place in him her any actual faith until the very moment she is awaiting him at the Toronto airport, her hair again cut to that same length as when first they met, hoping he will not find her changed too very much.
When she does find him she finds him jumpy and dishevelled from this first plane flight since childhood, surprising him mid-swallow from the tin of Coca Cola bought at a concourse news-stand so that, momentarily unable to speak, he responds instead with a mute thumb-up gesture, one which will become for some time part of their shared private language, remaining so until either suddenly understands that it has not.
Only later in the day will he remember his sometime plan to serenade her again upon arrival, distracted as he was by euphoric relief and distress.
Father: “and tell to me the very reason why I am slighted so by thee."
There are daughters in their future, two, the eldest of which will come to resent this song serving to lullaby from birth her younger sister, having believed it these two years hers alone.
Father: “where the marble stones are black as ink, where the pretty girls they all adore me, I’ll sing no more until I drink.”
Father: “I wish I had some jolly boatman to ferry over my love and I”
deleted name: Stop, please.