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Title: Looking Seaward Again
Author: Runciman, Walter, 1847-1937
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Looking Seaward Again" ***

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LOOKING SEAWARD AGAIN

by

Sir WALTER RUNCIMAN, Bart.,

Author of _The Shellback's Progress_, _Windjammers and Sea Tramps_, etc.

London: Walter Scott Publishing Co. Ltd.

1907.



TO
MY WIFE
THESE FRAGMENTS
ARE AFFECTIONATELY INSCRIBED.



PREFACE.


The following tales have been told to some few men and women by the
fireside. The stories themselves only claim to be unvarnished matters
of fact; and I may repeat here what I said in a previous volume, that
my object has not been to strain after literary effect or style. My
too early desertion of home-life to graduate in the harsh and
whimsical discipline of sailing-vessels in the days when they had
still some years to live and "carry on" ere steam took the wind out of
their sails, precluded such studies as are natural to the embryo man
of letters. But the circumstances that told against mere study did not
prevent my preserving many memories of my sojourns ashore and voyages
in distant seas. I mention this fact, not as an apology, but as an
explanation which I hope may commend itself to the amiable reader.

WALTER RUNCIMAN.

_3rd December_ 1907.



CONTENTS.


THROUGH TORPEDOES AND ICE
FAIR TRADE AND FOUL PLAY
SMUGGLERS OF THE ROCK
A PASHA BEFORE PLEVNA
A RUSSIAN PORT IN THE 'SIXTIES
"DUTCHY" AND HIS CHIEF



Through Torpedoes and Ice


"Osman the Victorious," as Skobeleff called the matchless Turkish
pasha, had kept the Russian hordes at bay for one hundred and
forty-two days. Never in the annals of warfare had the world beheld
such unexpected military genius, combined with stubborn endurance, as
was shown during the siege of Plevna. On December 10th, 1877, Osman
came out and made a desperate struggle to break through the Russian
lines; but after four hours' hard fighting the Turks sent up the white
flag, and boisterous cheering swelled over the snow-clad land when it
became known that the greatest Turkish general of modern times had
surrendered. His little army of Bashi-Bazouks had annihilated more
than one Siberian battalion. The Russian loss was forty thousand, and
the Turkish thirty thousand. Had Suleiman and the other Turkish
generals shown the same stubborn spirit as Osman, the Russian army
would never have been permitted to cross the Balkans, much less reach
Constantinople.[1] But after the fall of Plevna the resistance of the
Turkish army was feeble, and the Muscovites were not long in pitching
their camp at San Stefano. Indeed, a rumour got abroad one night that
the Russians were in the suburbs of Constantinople. This roused the
indignation of the English jingoes to such a pitch that the great
Jewish Premier, with the dash that characterized his career, gave
peremptory orders for the British fleet to proceed, with or without
leave, through the Dardanelles, and if any resistance was shown to
silence the forts. Russia protested and threatened, and Turkey winked
a stern objection, but Lord Beaconsfield was firm, and suitable
arrangements were arrived at between the Powers.

Bismarck offered his services as mediator, and suggested that a
European Congress should be held at Berlin to discuss the contents of
the Treaty of San Stefano. This was agreed to, and Lord Beaconsfield,
accompanied by Lord Salisbury, were the British representatives at the
Congress. The Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary drove a hard
and favourable bargain for Turkey and for Britain. Turkey, it is
needless to say, got the worst of it; but, considering her crushing
defeat, came well out of the settlement. Cyprus was ceded to the
British, to be used as a naval station, and subsequent experience has
proved the wisdom of this acquisition. Lord Beaconsfield proclaimed to
a tumultuous crowd on the occasion of his return to London that he had
brought back "peace with honour." This was the acme of the great
Jew's fame. It looked as though he could have done anything he liked
with the British people, so that it is no wonder that the old man lost
his balance when such homage was paid him by that section of the
public which was smitten with his picturesque and audacious
personality.

Naturally, his policy impregnated Russia with a strong anti-British
feeling, and it was said that her activity in running up earthworks
and apparently impregnable fortifications was in anticipation of
Disraeli declaring war and ordering the fleet to bombard the Crimean
ports; hence, too, in addition to the strong fortifications, torpedo
mines were laid for miles along the seaboard, and every possible means
and opportunity were taken to make it widely known that the Black Sea
was one deadly mine-field. The Press on all sides was, as usual,
brimful of reports of the most alarmist nature--these, of course, for
the most part extravagant and inaccurate rumours. Nor did the Russian
Press minimize accounts of the terrible devastation that was wrought
on unarmed trespassers who came within the zone of terror. I read
twice of my own rapid and complete destruction. There is no doubt that
mines were laid, though both their capacity for destruction and the
number of them was very much exaggerated.

From the end of ---- outer breakwater to beyond the ---- there was a
line of mines which left between the land and them a channel less than
half a mile wide. A gunboat with torpedo pilots aboard was moored at
the south end, and vessels prior to the war and during the armistice
were compelled to take a pilot in and out; but no vessel was allowed
to pass in or out from sunset to sunrise. A gunboat was also stationed
outside the inner breakwater. A large fleet of steamers had been
attracted by the high freights, inflated by the war fever that
permeated Europe at that time, and also because the season was far
advanced, and merchants were anxious to get their stuff shipped in
case hostilities broke out. The heavy snowstorms had made the roads
almost impassable, but in spite of great difficulties the loading was
carried on; slowly, it is true, but with dogged perseverance. The
frost had become keen, and large floes of ice were rushed down the
reaches by the swift current. Booms were moored outside the vessels to
protect them, but these were constantly being carried away, and not a
little damage was done. A consultation amongst the captains was held
as to the advisability of leaving with what cargoes they had aboard,
but only two decided to start on the following morning. Some of the
others said they could force their way through six inches of ice, and
would risk waiting to receive their whole cargo. Accordingly, as soon
as it was daylight one of the captains who had made all arrangements
to leave gave orders to unmoor. The other had changed his mind, and
fell in with the views of the majority. The captain of the
_Claverhouse_, however, got underweigh, but before getting very far
his engineer reported that the hot-well cover had broken in two. It
was temporarily repaired, and she got along famously until they came
to a bend in the river where there was much packed ice. For two hours
manoeuvring continued without any appreciable result. At last the big
mass began to move, and a navigable channel was opened, which enabled
the vessel to make slow though risky progress through a field of
moving ice.

The anchorage at ---- was reached before darkness set in, and a vessel
which had left four days previously was observed to be ashore, with
the ice drifting up against her port side, forcing her farther on to
the bank. Signals were hoisted offering assistance, but before the
reply could be made a blinding snowstorm came on, which lasted all
through the night. The next morning, at daylight, signals were again
made by the _Claverhouse_ to the stranded vessel asking if they would
accept assistance. The reply came, "I want lighters." The crew were
jettisoning the cargo of wheat on to the ice as it flowed past, but
the more they lightened the farther the vessel was forced on to the
bank by the rushing current. The master of the _Claverhouse_,
observing the critical position, sent a boat away with a small line.
A communication was effected, but not without great difficulty. The
master of the _Aureola_ was worn out with anxiety and want of rest,
for his vessel had been ashore for forty-eight hours. He very wisely
accepted the assistance which had opportunely come to him. A tow-rope
was attached to the small line, and by this means a thick tow-line was
got aboard, and she was dragged off the bank; then orders were
unaccountably given to cut the tow-rope. This very nearly resulted in
a more serious disaster, as the engineers in the confusion kept the
engines going astern, and the rope drifting with the current, became
entangled round the propeller. If the anchor and chains had not held
the great strain that was put on them, she would have gone ashore
again in a worse position, and inevitably have broken her back. As it
was, the propeller was cleared in about a couple of hours. The captain
of the _Aureola_ was not well acquainted with the locality, and
arranged that he should follow the other steamer to----. Suitable
plans and signals were settled, and both vessels weighed anchor and
proceeded as fast through the ice as was compatible with safety. Once
out of the narrows and clear of the obstruction, the engines were put
at full speed and kept going until they were forced to slow down on
account of the snow squalls, which obscured everything. The sea had
become rough, and the utmost resources of the commanders were taxed in
their efforts to navigate the coast and yet keep together. They groped
their way until ---- town lights were visible. It was then seen that
the gunboat anchored at the south end of the mine-field was signalling
to them to stop; but still they went slowly on, feeling their way by
the lead, while those aboard the gunboat began to fire rockets with
exciting rapidity. Regardless of the warning, the two steamers kept on
their way until they got to the anchorage, when the warship was hidden
from view.

It was past midnight; and although the crews of both vessels had gone
through a severe ordeal of physical endurance, they were each anxious
to hear what the other had to say about the events of the last
forty-eight hours, which were beset with peril, and had culminated by
boldly running into the anchorage over the mines in defiance of the
regulations--to say nothing of the danger of being blown up, or the
mysterious prospect of Siberia! The captain of the _Aureola_ was
greatly perturbed, and he promptly ordered his gig to be manned to
take him to the _Claverhouse_. On getting aboard, he reproached his
friend for leading him into what might prove a serious scrape. The two
men talked long of the exciting doings of the day and the policy that
should be adopted on the morrow, when they would be confronted with
officials that were not over well-disposed to British subjects. They
fully realized that the case would have to be managed with great
astuteness, so they bethought themselves of one of the cleverest and
most popular men in----, and sent a message to him asking his help.
His name need not be mentioned; he is long since dead, and it is
sufficient to say that he was an educated Maltese, and held a kind of
magnetic influence over the harbour authorities. The Admiral was an
amiable man in an ordinary way, and susceptible to the temptations
that beset officials in these places; but the _Claverhouse's_ offence
was no common one, nor could it be approached in an ordinary way of
speech.

On going ashore, the captains were ushered into the presence of the
infuriated official who was to decide their destiny. He fumed and
foamed savagely, and whenever an attempt was made to speak his
paroxysms became inhuman. Their Maltese friend had come to their aid,
and was waiting patiently for the storm to subside, so that he could
explain how it happened that the regulations came to be broken. Things
looked black until Mr. C---- began to speak in Russian. It took him
some time to get the great man pacified, and as soon as that was
accomplished he said to the master of the _Claverhouse_--"You know
that you could be sent to Siberia or less. How am I to explain it? Why
did you not keep at sea all night? There is only one thing that will
save you."

"Well, then," responded the captain of the _Claverhouse_, "let that
one thing be arranged; but let me also state the cause of our breaking
the law. We could have kept the sea quite well had we known exactly
where we were, but we could see nothing, and had to navigate by taking
soundings, and as soon as we got into seven fathoms the water became
smooth, and, fearing we might run aground, the anchor was let go. As
for the rockets that were fired by the gunboat, we had passed the line
of torpedoes before our attention was attracted by the firing. The
Admiral himself could not have avoided it. Surely he cannot think we
deliberately ran into the anchorage?"

"That is just what he does think," said Mr. C----. "What am I to do?"

"Settle on the best terms," said the captain.

At this point two officers took the captains to another room, and they
were locked in. An hour afterwards Mr. C---- came to them and said--

"I have managed to get him quietened down. You have had a narrow
squeak. It took me a long time to get him to speak of liberating you,
and now I am requested to bring you to him so that you may be severely
reprimanded. He talked of gaol, and sending you out of the country for
ever, and inflicting a heavy fine; but that stage has passed, so come
with me."

When they were ushered into the Admiral's presence he frowned severely
at them. Russian officers and high officials always expect you to
tremble when they administer a rebuke. Needless to say, the reception
was harsh. There was a good deal of long stride, prancing from one end
of the room to the other, vehement talk in Russian, and wild
gesticulation. The Maltese told the somewhat callous captains that the
Admiral declared the next Englishman that attempted such a thing, if
he were not blown up, would have to be shot. An example must be made.
The genial intermediary interjected with apparent sternness--

"Captains, you must apologize for the crime you have committed, and be
thankful that you are going to be dealt leniently with. The Admiral
is right: you deserved to be blown up with your ship. But apologize
suitably, and leave the rest to me."

All but the last sentence was interpreted to the gallant official. An
apology was made, and silently accepted; but the real penalty was not
disclosed to the captains until afterwards, and then it was kept
secret by them and by the two contracting parties. The two commanders,
when being congratulated on their release, said they did not know what
all the fuss was about. They had done no harm to anybody, and if
hostilities were resumed they hoped the Turks would wipe the Russians
off the field, and so on.

Three stirring months passed before the _Claverhouse_ returned to
----. When she arrived at the gunboat guarding the torpedo channel,
she took a pilot, and proceeded into the harbour in a law-abiding
manner, while her captain, audibly and inaudibly, declaimed against a
Government whose barbarous notions led them to impose restrictions
that caused expense and interrupted the normal process of navigation.
"What right have these beastly Russians to hamper British shipping
like this?"

When the captain landed he was met by several friends, who cheerfully
inquired if he had found another new channel into the port. He
jokingly retorted--

"No; but I might have to find a new one out."

He was solemnly advised not to attempt it. The Admiral, whom he
occasionally met, was unusually cordial, and this attitude of courtesy
was ungrudgingly reciprocated. One evening the captain wished to visit
a friend of his, whose vessel lay at the forts. The sentry asked him
to retire. He refused to move, and commenced to harangue the soldier
in a language he supposed to be Russian. There must have been
something wrong about it, for after a few words of conversation the
sentry rushed at him with the bayonet fixed, and but for the swiftness
of his heels there might have been a tragedy. He immediately called at
the Admiral's office, informed him of what had occurred, and
requested that he should be escorted where he desired to go. An
officer was sent with him, and when they got to the sentry the officer
spoke to the man in a heated tone, and then slapped him on the face
with the flat of his hand. The captain asked why he had struck the
sentry. The officer replied--

"Because he told me you had used some Russian language to him that
caused him to believe you were a suspicious character. I told him he
was a fool, and that you were a friend of mine and of the Admiral. You
will have no more trouble."

A _douceur_ was slipped into the willing hand, and on the return
journey another was given to the poor sentry, who showed a meekness
and gratitude that was nearly pathetic.

On the following day there was a sensational rumour that the armistice
would be raised and hostilities between the two belligerents resumed.
At the forts and at the military quarters of the city there was much
activity. The troops were being reviewed by one of the Grand Dukes,
and there were evidences of conscription everywhere. Aboard the
warships the flutter was quite noticeable, and the frequent
communications between them and the shore augured trouble. Merchants,
agents, and captains displayed unusual energy to complete their
engagements. A strongly-worded order was handed to the captains of the
few vessels still remaining in port that, on penalty of being sunk by
the warships or blown up by torpedoes, no vessel was to go out of the
port after sundown at 6 p.m.

On the second day after this instruction was given the loading of the
_Claverhouse's_ cargo was completed. A gentleman sent a note
requesting the captain to see him, and not to remove the staging
between his vessel and the quay, as it would be required to carry out
an important shipment which would be of great benefit to himself and
all concerned. Negotiations were opened, and were briefly as
follows:--This estimable Briton had been approached by a person of
great astuteness and easy integrity, who was neither an Englishman nor
a Turk, to engage at all costs a steamer to take bullocks on deck to
a certain unnamed destination. The freight would be paid before the
cattle were shipped, but the vessel would have to sail that night, and
a large sum would be paid for running that risk.

"State your price," said the genial agent; "anything within reason
will be paid."

The captain was as eager to do a deal as his new acquaintance, though
he pleaded the almost impossible task of running out of the port
without being observed, and if observed the inevitable consequence of
being sunk, probably with all on board. The agent, having in mind his
own considerable interest, played discreetly on the vanity of the
commander, and laughed at the notion of an astute person like him
allowing himself to be trapped; appealed to his nationality, and the
glory of having run out of a port that was severely blockaded. The
captain cut this flow of greasy oratory short by stating that for the
moment he was thinking of the amount of hard cash he was going to get,
and not of the glory.

"I know what I will have to do, and I think I know how it will have
to be done; but first let us fix the amount I am to have for doing it.
My price is £----. Do you agree?"

"Yes," said the agent; "though it's a bit stiff. But the animals must
go forward."

The captain did not expect so sudden a confirmation, and remarked, "I
fancy I have not put sufficient value on the services I am to carry
out; but I have given my word, and will keep it."

In due course the money was handed over in British gold. The cattle
were taken aboard, and just as the sun was setting the moorings were
cast off, and the vessel proceeded to the outer harbour and anchored.
The chief mate was instructed to put as little chain as possible out,
and the engineer was told to have a good head of steam at a certain
hour. Meanwhile, the captain proceeded to the city to clear his ship,
and at the stated hour he was stealthily rowed alongside. The pawls of
the windlass were muffled, and the anchor was hove noiselessly up by
hand; the engines were set easy ahead, and as soon as she was on her
course the telegraph rang "full speed." She had not proceeded far
before a shot was fired from the inner gunboat, which landed alongside
the starboard quarter. The chief officer called from the forecastle
head--

"They are firing at us--hadn't you better stop?"

"Stop, be d----d! Do you want to be hung or sent to the Siberian
mines?"

The next shot fell short of the stern. They now came thick and heavy,
but the _Claverhouse_ by this time was racing away, and was quickly
out of range. The most critical time arrived when she was rushed
headlong over the line of torpedoes; and as soon as the outer gunboat
was opened clear of the breakwater, she, too, commenced to fire. Once
the line of mines was safely passed, the course was set to hug the
land. The firing from the torpedo gunboat was wildly inaccurate, never
a shot coming within fathoms of their target, and soon the little
steamer was far beyond the reach of the Tsar's guns.

Her captain had no faith in the report industriously circulated that
the Crimean coast and the Black Sea were impenetrably mined, so he
proceeded gaily on his voyage, shaking hands with himself for having
succeeded in running the gauntlet without a single man being hurt, or
the breaking of a rope-yarn. The crew were boisterously proud of the
night's exploit. They knew that no pecuniary benefit would be derived
by them, and were content to believe that they had been parties to a
dashing piece of devil-may-care work. The average British sailor of
that period loved to be in a scrape, and revelled in the sport of
doing any daring act to get out of it. It never occurred to the
captain that his crew might jib at the thought of undertaking so
perilous a course. He had been reared in the courage of the class to
which he belonged, and his confidence in the loyalty of his men was
not shaken by the thoughtless interjection of the chief officer, who,
in a shameful moment asked him to turn back after the first shot was
fired. He had no time to think of that senseless advice when it was
given, but it may be taken for granted the cautious mate did not add
to his popularity with the crew. He had commanded large sailing
vessels in the Australian passenger trade, and this was his first
voyage in steam. The new life, with all its varied sensationalisms,
was a mystery to him, and this little incident did not increase his
belief in the wisdom of his change from sail to steam. He explained
that the thought of what he regarded as inevitable disaster caused him
to spontaneously call out that they were firing.

"Besides," he continued, "I don't like the business; so I'll resign my
position and go back to sailing vessels again, on the completion of
the voyage."

The captain reminded him of the fine spirit of enterprise that
prevailed amongst the crew; only in a lesser degree, perhaps, than
that which caused Nelson under different circumstances to say of his
sailors, "They really mind shot no more than peas."

"Nelson may have said that, and our crew may have a fine spirit of
wholesale daring, but I don't like to be mixed up with either the
enterprise or the shot," retorted the reflective officer; and I
daresay if the captain were asked for an opinion now he would be
disposed to take the mate's view.

The thought of being pursued kept up a quiet excitement. The vessel
was pressed through the water at her maximum speed and arrived at her
first destination without any mishap to herself or the deck cargo,
which was landed expeditiously. She then continued on her voyage. On
arrival at the discharging port, a letter was received from the owners
complimenting the captain on the success of an undertaking which would
contribute so considerably to the profits of the voyage, and at the
same time calling his attention to a newspaper cutting. An official
telegram to the English Press stated that "_A British steamer, name
unknown, in attempting to run out of ---- harbour over the torpedo
lines, was warned and fired upon by a Russian warship which was
guarding the harbour. The steamer refused to stop. She was shelled,
and in crossing the mine zone the vessel, with her crew, was blown to
atoms!_" This was a sensational piece of news to read of one's self.

Two years elapsed before the captain again steamed into ---- harbour.
He expected to meet his old friend the Admiral, and a few other
Russian gentlemen in whom his interest was centred; but they had
either gone to their rest or had been removed. It seemed as though the
incident that caused so much commotion at the time had passed out of
recollection. Indeed, there seemed quite a new order of things. New
officials were there. The gunboats were removed from their familiar
stations. The torpedoes that had been the dread of navigators had been
lifted, and it was commonly reported that many of them were loaded
with sand. No signs were visible of there having been war defences
that were meant to be regarded as impregnable--and it is not to be
denied the earthworks justified that opinion. There were whisperings
that when those in high places discovered what some of the mines were
charged with, the persons responsible for the laying of the mines
were seized; and tradition has it that an impromptu scaffold had been
erected outside the town, and every one of the suspects hanged without
trial--and merely on the suspicion that they knew of, even if they had
not contributed to, the treacherous act. In the light of the horrors
that are occurring in Russia at the present time, it is not improbable
that there was treachery; and that when it was discovered, suspicion
centred on certain persons, who were, in accordance with Muscovite
autocracy, dispatched without ceremony, guilty or not guilty.

"Ah!" said Mr. C---- to the captain, who had just finished describing
his last departure from ---- Harbour, "you may thank your stars that
the torpedoes were loaded with sand or some other rubbish, or you
wouldn't have been here this day. The officers were in a great fury at
the wires not operating when you were running out, and the
men--submarines, I think, they are called--who were behind the
earthworks were knocked about badly. They came to my place to get to
know the name of the vessel, but I bamboozled them, and gave them
cigars and vodka, and they weren't long in forgetting about what had
happened. I think there is no doubt about your being the cause of
having the mines raised, as, to my certain knowledge, they tried to
explode them the day after you left the port, and very few of them
went off. Things were kept a bit quiet, but I can always get to know
what is going on, and if the gunboats had been properly handled that
night it would have been all up with you."

"But," said the captain, "what on earth is the use of talking that
way! They were not properly handled, and here I am. And what I want to
know is this: do you think there will be any more about it, now the
war is over, and old Pumper Nichol [the Admiral] and his friends are
not here?"

"I don't know," said his friend. "You never can tell what these sly
rascals are thinking or doing; but I will know as soon as there are
any indications. If I had been you, I wouldn't have come out here so
soon; or, at least, have first made sure that all danger was over. But
never mind; we'll soon smuggle you off, if we can get the slightest
hint. 'Palm oil squares the yards,' as the old sailors used to say,
and nobody has had more experience of that than I."

"Does G----d and old J----b know about the affair?"

"I think they are bound to, though they may have forgotten. Anyhow,
they are absolutely loyal, and may be depended upon if their aid is
called into requisition. Do you know they had to clear out of the
country with their families, and nearly every English family had to do
the same?"

"Well, Patrovish C----," said the captain, "they may seize the
steamer, but they will never be allowed to seize me, even should it be
legal to do so, now the war is at an end."

"What do they care about what is legal," said Patrovish. "If it suits
their purpose, and those in authority learn what took place, there
will be no scruples about doing anything. My advice is to keep quiet
and cool-headed, and I feel almost certain you won't be interfered
with. But there comes Yaunie. Hear what he says."

This gentleman was a Greek pilot, who had previously been a boatswain
aboard a Greek sailing-vessel. He saw an excellent opening at the
beginning of the steamship era to add to his income, so commenced a
business which flourished so well that his riches were the envy of a
large residential public, to say nothing of the seafaring itinerants
who swarmed in and out of the port. He spoke English with a Levantine
accent. Physically, he was a fine-looking, well-built man, who
commanded attention and respect from everybody. He was on excellent
terms with the port authorities, and with sea captains, and deemed it
part of a well thought-out policy to share with popular shrewdness a
portion of his takings. His benevolence was more partially shown
towards the officials than to those from whom he derived his income;
but because of his geniality, and--mostly, I should say--on account of
his generosity, he was well liked by both sections of people. He was
quite uneducated, and, like most clever men who have this misfortune,
he had great natural gifts. His memory was prodigious, and he invested
his savings with the judgment of an expert, keeping mental accounts
with startling accuracy; but, notwithstanding this, his memory never
retained anything he conceived it to be policy to forget. When asked
his opinion as to whether there was any likelihood of anything more
being heard of the captain's running out of the harbour and over the
torpedoes, he suggestively put his finger to his mouth, and said--

"I can know nothing, but I tink it is over." And shrugging his broad
shoulders, he 'cutely remarked, "Some dead, some maybe Siberia,
and"--with a significant smile he lowered his voice to a
whisper--"some, maybe, 'fraid to say anything because for many reason.
Yes, I tink finis; but if not, den you trust me to help. I knows these
people, and some of dem knows me."

Yaunie was taken fully into the confidence of the captain and
Patrovish, and when he took his leave they felt sure that to have him
as a friend was of great value in the event of the affair being
resurrected. The captain had renewed many old friendships, and spent
his evenings in the hospitable homes of an English colony whose
kindness is unequalled anywhere. Unlike most English families who
settle in foreign countries, they retained a great many of their
national customs in food, and also in their mode of life generally. Of
course the extremes of climate have to be considered, but all their
homes preserve their British atmosphere.

The _Claverhouse_ had nearly completed loading, and the kindly
emissaries of her captain had reported nothing of a disturbing
character, until one morning a steamer came in and was moored
alongside the _Claverhouse_. Yaunie was the pilot, and after
completing his work he went aboard the _Claverhouse_ and asked to see
the captain.

"He is not astir yet," said the steward.

"I must speak with him at once," said Yaunie.

The captain, overhearing the conversation, called out, "All right,
come to my room."

"Well, Yaunie, what news this morning?" asked the captain.

"Ah, it is very bad news," replied Yaunie. "That fool Farquarson,"
pointing to where the other steamer lay, "speaks all the time about
what happened when you went from the port without permission. He say
that he was aboard the gunboat asking for a torpedo channel-pilot, and
that he could not get one because they were firing at you all the
time. They asked him the name of the steamer, but he told some other.
I say to him he was wrong, but he say no; and he will jabb, as you
call it."

"Well, Yaunie, what's to be done? What is the remedy?"

"What's to be done--I don' know what you call the other. I say, get
the steamer loaded quick and away. I don' tink trouble, but O Chresto!
his tong go like steam-winch, and you much better Black Sea dan here."

"Very excellent advice, Yaunie. Now let us go on deck."

A sudden inspiration came to the captain, which caused him to
exclaim--

"Yaunie, I'll ask him to eat with us. This is our English mode of
settling obstacles, and making and retaining friendships. Don't you
think it a good suggestion?"

"Do anything you like. Give him the Sacrament, but keep him quiet. He
is very dangerous now."

The captain of the other steamer was on deck, and as soon as he got
his eye on them he bellowed out in terms of unjustifiable
familiarity--

"Hallo, old fellow, how are ye? So they've not sent ye to the silver
mines yet?"

"No," smartly retorted the captain, with some warmth, "they've not, or
I wouldn't have been here. But they d--d soon will if you don't keep
your mouth shut!"

Without heeding what was said to him, the distinguished commander of
the new-comer slapped his thigh vigorously with his right hand, and
laughed out--

"By Joshua, you were in a tight corner, and will never be nearer
being popped! [sunk]. They were furious at me, and would have blown
all England up because I said I didn't know who it was."

"Oh," said the _Claverhouse's_ commander, "that is old history. Come
aboard and have breakfast with me."

"All right," said Farquarson, "I'll have a wash up, and then come. But
what a darned funny thing not to blow you up with the mines. I just
said to my mate, they are a lot of lazy beasts, or there's something
wrong with the wires. But the mate said, 'No; he's taken them
unawares.' 'Unawares be d----d!' said I; 'he's not taken these gunboat
chaps unawares, for I couldn't get them to stop firing.'"

"He's off again!" interjected Yaunie.

"All right, all right!" replied the impatient captain to his voluble
compatriot. "Come to breakfast as quick as you can, there's a good
fellow."

Farquarson got to the companion-way--_i.e._ the entrance to the
cabin--and was about to make some further remarks when the captain of
the _Claverhouse_ said to Yaunie, "Let's go below, for God's sake! As
long as he sees us he'll keep on."

When they got into the cabin, the burly pilot was almost inarticulate.
All he could say was--

"My goodness, what a tong! He must be dangerous to his owners. I have
never see such a tong."

In due course the irrepressible person appeared, and was received with
professional cordiality. He had no sooner taken his seat at the table
than he became convulsed with laughter, slapped his hand on the table,
and shouted--

"By Cocker, I'll never forget it! The rage of them Russians, and the
way they blazed away their shot, and it never going within miles of
where you were! Miles, mind you!"

Yaunie and his friend looked at each other in savage despair, as he
persisted in reeling off quantities of disconnected incoherencies. But
relief to his perturbed friends came when the steward placed the
breakfast on the table. He stopped the flow of narration, and
exclaimed--

"Ah! that's what I like--dry hash and a bit of ham with an egg or two.
I was just saying to my mate--who's as big a born fool as ever drank
whisky--there's not a better meal made at sea than dry hash."

By this time his mouth was full, and it was difficult to know what he
wished to convey. His eating was quite as boundless as his talk,
though he could not do both at once. Having finished a good sound
plate of hash, he passed his plate along for some ham and eggs, and
asked his host if he did not observe what a good appetite he had
compared with what he used to have.

"Yes," said the captain, in blissful ignorance of what he was saying.
"Your appetite was never very good. I'm glad to see you making such a
good breakfast."

"Well, you know," replied the guest, "the worst of me is, I appear to
be unsociable when I'm eating, as I cannot both eat and talk."

"Go on eating, then," said the host.

"Yes, go on eatin'," responded Yaunie. "You had a long passage, and
must be hungry."

"Quite right," replied the guest, with his mouth full. "I'm glad you
don't think me uncivil, but as I say, I like my breakfast better than
most meals, and I can only do one thing at a time. My wife always says
I must have been born either eating or talking."

He laughed heartily at this little domestic joke, and proceeded with
the putting in of the "bunker coals," as he called it. The captain of
the _Claverhouse_ and the pilot had purposely lingered over their meal
to keep him company. He observed this, and effusively asked them not
to mind him a bit, and to leave the table if they wanted to. After
expressing a few unreal excuses for their apparent rudeness, they were
prevailed upon to go into the state-room, where the captain solemnly
conveyed to Yaunie that he never thought he would live to have imposed
upon him such humiliation.

"I hope the brute will have an apoplectic fit!" said he.

Yaunie did not quite understand all that was said, but knew it meant
some form of obliquy, and replied, "Yes, and I hope so too."

As soon as Farquarson had finished eating, he straightway came to the
state-room and assured his host that he never remembered enjoying a
breakfast so much.

"Let's have a cigar," said he, "to soothe my nerves a bit."

This was given him. He lit up, and was proceeding to discuss the
merits of good feeding with great volubility when his harangue was
snapped by a request from his host to "cut it," as he wished to have a
yarn with him about a matter which was of great importance to himself.
"In short, I wish you to be most careful not to attract attention to
me by any friendly comment about that affair of two years ago. No one
who is in office now would appear to have any suspicion of what took
place; or if they do, it is obvious they are not desirous of opening
the question up again. But should it be brought prominently before
them, they will have to do something, and it may make it very awkward
for me. Now, what I want you to do for me is this: never mention the
incident again. I am sure you would not intentionally do anything that
would jeopardize my safety, and I feel that I have only to ask and you
will give me your word not to do it."

Farquarson jumped to his feet, gripped the hand of the captain in a
sailorly fashion, and said--

"On my Masonic honour, I swear never to breathe again what you have
warned me against, and I'm glad you told me. I might innocently have
got you into a nasty mess. It never struck me when I was bawling out
to you that there was danger. But between ourselves, it was a bit
thick your dashing out of the 'impregnable port,' as they called it,
and expectin' to get off scot-free, I have often spun long twisters
about it, and you can bet it was always made attractive."

"I feel sure you would do that, Farquarson, as you were always a good
story-teller."

This encouraging flattery switched his mind with eager interest on to
a subject quite irrelevant to the one which had engaged their
attention so long.

"Yes," said he, with a self-satisfied smile, "that's true. But talking
about yarns, you remember when I was with Milburn's, running to
Hamburg? The old gentleman asked me to take a few overmen a trip. They
belonged to some mine he was interested in. By the time we got
outside, and got the decks cleared up, it was dark, and the watch was
set. The look-out man went on to the topgallant forecastle, and I was
walking from side to side of the bridge when one of the miners came
running up, and in great excitement he said--

"'Captain, for God's sake gan doon to the cabin and pacify them!
They're playin' nap, and they've faalen oot amang theirselves, and
there's fair almighty hell gannin' on. Aa's sure if ye divvent get
them pacified ther'll be morder!'

"'My good man,' I said,'I cannot leave the bridge.'

"'Ye canna' leave the bridge! What for, then?'

"'Because,' I said, 'I must keep a look-out and see that that man on
the forecastle-head does the same. If he were to see me leave the
bridge, the chances are he would get careless and sit down and go to
sleep, and we might run into something, and probably sink ourselves or
somebody else and lose a lot of lives.'

"By this time I heard loud voices and awful oaths coming from the
after-end of the ship, so says I, 'This must be put a stop to, but I
cannot leave here without somebody takin' my place. You must take it,
and walk across and across as I am doing, so that that fellow on the
look-out will think it's me.'

"'Aa'm not pertikler what aa dee, mister, if ye ony get thor
differences settled before ye come up. Aa nivor heerd sic swearin'.'

"'Very well,' said I; 'you do what I've told you to do. Walk steadily
to and fro, and I'll go and see what can be done.'

"When I got down below they were still wrangling, but I soon made
peace with them, and they asked me to have a hand with them. I had a
look on deck. It was a fine moonlight night, and nothing seemed to be
in the way, so I began to play, and forgot all about the fellow on the
bridge, and everything else for that matter, until I heard four bells
go. This reminded me, so I stopped short, went on to the poop, and the
other fellows came up with me. I was chaffing them about their row,
and I heard the look-out man call out, 'A red light on the port bow,
sir!' I saw we were going a long way clear, so took no notice; but the
miner on the bridge increased his pace. In less than a minute the
look-out man called out again, 'A red light on the port bow,' and got
no answer. I thought to myself, 'What's going to be the upshot of
this?' when the man called out again, sharply this time, 'A red light
on the port bow!' The miner quite excitedly shouted at the top of his
voice, 'Blaw the b----y thing oot, then, and let's hear ne mair aboot
it!'"

At this conclusion the two captains laughed heartily, and so did
Yaunie. Then all at once Farquarson began as suddenly as he had left
off--

"Now, let us make up our minds never to broach running the gauntlet
again in Russian waters, for they're devils to listen, and you never
know where they are. Why, I've seen them at the time of the war
crawlin' and sneakin' about all over, lying on the sofa in the
billiard-rooms, and come and ask you to play in good English.
Sometimes the impudent villains would come and barefacedly sit down at
the same table where you were having a meal, and begin speakin' and
get you to say something disrespectful about Russia and their Tzar,
and lots of poor fellows were asked to leave the country for it. Talk
about despotism and bribery! Well, I've seen some of their goings on.
What did they do when the poor Turks that were taken prisoners when
Plevna fell marched into Reval? A few of us cheered them, and the
Russians got quite annoyed about it, and hustled us about as though we
were common thieves, and threatened to run us into their filthy gaol.
My word, how things have altered since the days when you could kill a
Russian and nobody cared a brass button! But now--well, there's no
word to express it."

"Ah! they're a cruel, merciless lot," interjected Captain S--; "but I
think you are getting excited, Farquarson, so you better cease talking
about them."

"It is time I was getting up to the city. They are rattling it into
her. She'll be loaded in a jiffy, and I've much to do."

"Very well," said the bluff skipper, "get away. And it's understood
that mum's the word; but mind you're not through the wood yet. What do
you say, Yaunie?"

"I say you no speak so loud or so much. It is better not."

"Very well, old skin-the-goat," said Farquarson playfully; "I suppose
I am a bit noisy."

He then jumped aboard his vessel, and invited the trusty pilot to
follow him so that they might work out a scheme that would thwart any
possibility of a raid being made on the _Claverhouse_. He prided
himself on being fertile in strategy, and certainly his notions were
not those of an ordinary person. His confidences were given to Yaunie
without any reserve. First, he suggested inveigling the raiders from
S----'s vessel to his own, getting them down below and filling them
full of champagne or whisky, whichever they preferred; and in the
event of their remaining on board his friend's ship, they were to be
made drunk there, and that being accomplished, the vessel was to be
unmoored and taken to sea with them aboard, and they were to be landed
or cast adrift in an open boat. The recital of these dare-devil
propositions caused Yaunie's face to wear a careworn look, and when
asked what he thought of it he said--

"Well, I try to tink, bit it is impossible. You speak what cannot
happen. If you do what you say, how can you come back here? No, no;
that must not be. I have better plan. No trouble, no get drunk, no run
off with officers, no put him in boat; but leave it me: I settle
everyting, suppose trouble come."

"Agreed again, old cockaloram. I'm only saying what I'd do. As I said
before, you can do as you like, but I prefer giving these fellows
'what cheer!' I says again, what business have they to interfere with
Englishmen carryin' on their business in their own way? I say they had
no right to put a blockade on, and England should see that her
subjects are duly protected."

This eloquent pronouncement of patriotism, with comic gesture added,
excited the fiery dissent of the critical Levantine.

"Yes!" he retorted; "you tink everyting foreign should be for English.
You swagger off with other people's country and say, 'This mine.' You
like old J----b and G----d; they speak all the time same as you.
English, English, everyting English! an' I say what for you stay? I
Greek, an' I stay because Russia better for me."

This was said partly in jest and partly in good-natured earnestness,
for Yaunie was a student of English characteristics. Farquarson
explained that he would have to go to the Custom-house, and then to
see his agents. Yaunie, with a significant look and gesture, warned
him not to speak too much to port officers, bade him good-morning,
said he would call back again in the afternoon, jumped on to the stage
and went ashore.

It was late in the afternoon before Captain S---- got down to the
docks. His steamer was loaded and ready for sea. At the quay, close to
the stern of the vessel, Mrs. C----, with her daughter, was seated in
a drosky. She explained that they had come to say good-bye, and to
convey a message from Patrovish that he, Yaunie, and some officers
were aboard Captain Farquarson's vessel. "He commissioned me to say
that you were to slip out of the harbour quietly to avoid trouble, as
he had reason to believe that there was something going on, and you
might be stopped. Meanwhile, they are doing some entertaining for your
benefit, so I will not detain you longer. Good-bye, and we hope to see
you again soon."

The captain made haste aboard, and gave instructions to cast off the
moorings. The _Claverhouse_ glided quietly out of the harbour, and in
less than an hour she was steaming fall speed towards the Bosphorus.
The two captains did not meet again for several months, and when they
did, Farquarson gave a vivid account of the development and ultimate
success of what he termed the plot to extricate S---- from the
possibility of being detained or heavily fined.

"I assure you," said he, "they were on the scent. They asked if I was
the man who was on the gunboat when the English steamer ran over the
mines. I swore by all that was holy that I didn't know what they were
talking about. Then Yaunie and Patrovish asked them in Russian to have
some refreshment aboard my ship, and they kicked up a devil of a row
when they found you had gone without saying good-bye. Yaunie swore it
was to cheat the pilotage, and Patrovish said he couldn't have
believed it of you. I said you always were a bowdikite, and that you
were putting on 'side.' The Russians were very jolly. They had a
thimbleful or two of whisky, which made them talk a lot. We had a good
laugh after they went away, and Patrovish said it was a good job you
were gone, because they would have been sure to have caused trouble.
Yaunie wasn't sure, but I was on C----'s side, for, I said, why did
they mention the gunboat to me, if they didn't mean anything?"

"Whatever their intentions were," rejoined Captain S----, "the
precautions you took to checkmate were successful, and I am much
obliged for the trouble you took after you realized the danger. I must
always be grateful to you for that; and the next time you go out
there, thank my two friends for their important share in it, and say
to Patrovish that his own and his wife's wish to see me soon back is
much appreciated, but my present plans are such that I will not be
able to visit Russia for a long time to come, and it may be I never
shall again."

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 1: How came it to pass that the Russians were allowed to
cross the Balkans? How was it that they were allowed to take
possession so easily of the Schipka Pass? Did the personages who so
soon afterwards disappeared mysteriously and were never heard of again
yield up this stronghold to the possessors of a golden key? Poor
Turkey!]



Fair Trade and Foul Play


Smuggling at the beginning of the nineteenth century, and right up to
the middle of it, was rampant, and was regarded as a wholesome
profession by those who carried it on. They called it "fair trade,"
and looked upon those whose duty it was to destroy it with an aversion
that oftentimes culminated in murderous conflict. The seafaring
portion of this strange body of men, in characteristic contrast to
their "landlubber" accomplices, never at any time, or under any
circumstances, tried to conceal what their profession was. They were
proud to be known as smugglers; whereas their shore colleagues, many
of whom were gentry, or offshoots from it, adopted every possible
means to turn suspicion from themselves when the preventive men were
on the scent. Smugglers of that day were adroit tacticians; they had
their signs just as Freemasons or any other craft have theirs. The
pursuit was exciting, and the romance of it attracted men and women of
gentle as well as of humble birth into its ranks. The men who manned
the luggers were sailors who knew every bay and nook round the coast.
They made heroic speeches expressive of their contempt for death. They
talked boldly of powder magazines, and of blowing themselves and any
one else up who put them into a tight corner; and there are instances
on record that this was actually done. Be that as it may, they had
great organizing skill and not a little business ability, whilst in
their combination of strategy and valour they were unsurpassed. In
many ways they were akin to pirates, though it could never be said
that they went outside their own particular business--_i.e._, they
were not predatory buccaneers who murdered first and plundered
afterwards. They believed, as I have said, their calling to be as
legitimate as any other form of trading. Their doctrine was that it
was the Government that acted illegally, and not themselves. It was
not surprising, therefore, that the system should take so long a time
to wipe out, notwithstanding the rigid way in which the whole
coastline of the British Isles was guarded. Much has been written
about the desperate ways of these men, but no accurate estimate can be
formed by the present generation of the extent of the system, and the
methods adopted to carry it on. Romance has gone far, but rarely too
far, in describing it; and to really know it as it was you must have
lived in its atmosphere, or have taken part, either for or against, in
its attractions. One of the greatest ambitions of my early boyhood
days comes to me now. I had resolved that when I grew up I would
secretly leave my home and join some smuggling lugger. Happily for me,
the luggers had disappeared before I grew up.

Here is an authentic instance of professional attachment and pride.
When I was quite a small boy a brig ran on to the rocks beneath my
father's house. The captain was a fine, rollicking, sailorly-looking
man, with a fascinating manner. He often came to our house during his
stay in the locality, and one of the first things he told my parents
was that in his younger days he was a smuggler, and had had many
encounters with Deal coastguards. He spoke sadly of the way the
"trade" was ruined by Government intervention, and said that he had
never been really settled or happy since he was driven out of the
business, and had to take service in the merchant navy for a living.
He was asked if he would like to go back to it again.

"Go back to it again!" said he; "I wish I could! There is nothing to
fill its place in the whole world. But that is done for now. Oh! what
good money we used to make, and what narrow squeaks we had of being
captured or killed."

It seems incredible that so great a change should have taken place in
so short a time, considering that these sea-rovers were so firmly
persuaded that their profession was as lawful as any other, and that
they were persecuted and hounded to death by a set of whippersnappers
who made insufferable laws! The system became so gigantic in the early
part of last century that the Government had to appeal to the Navy,
and a large number of officers and men were landed on the coast of
Kent and Sussex, where a strict blockade was enforced. Later, a
semi-civilian force under the control of the Customs was formed. This
was called the "Preventive Water Guard," and subsequently it went
under the new title of "Preventive Coastguard." The duties were
arduous and risky. The men never went forth unless armed with a big
dagger-stick and a flint-lock pistol, both of which were not
infrequently used with effect. Owing to the dangerous character of the
occupation, a high wage and pension was offered as an inducement to
join the service; at least, the wage and pension were considered very
good at the time. The men, however, rarely had decent houses to live
in. Their uniform was rather like that of a naval officer. They would
have disdained wearing the garb of the present-day coastguard. Their
training in most cases consisted in service aboard a Revenue cutter
for a few months before being appointed to a station. Many of these
men were tradesmen who had never been to sea at all, and often were
men of education and sterling character. For the most part these
educated men were Wesleyans--or "Ranters," as they were called--and
not a few were local preachers, and some of them were well versed in
theology. They were stationed usually eight miles apart, right along
the coast, and their ordinary duty was to meet each other half-way and
exchange despatches. This gave the religious section opportunities of
comparing experiences and discussing the faith that was in them. I
knew one who spoke and taught French and Latin, another who could make
an accurate abstract of Bishop Butler's _Analogy_ from cover to cover,
and another who became possessed of a small schooner, which made him a
fortune while he was still in the service. The wives of these three
coastguardsmen were quite as well informed and as ardent religionists
as themselves, and took a common interest in books, educational
matters, and in each other's home affairs. Their homes were always
neat and clean, and the children were disciplined into a rigid,
methodical life. It is a remarkable fact that the sons of each of
these men have all risen to high positions in commerce, literature,
art, and politics, and those that still survive are proud to
acknowledge that they owe their position to the splendid example and
beautiful home-life which they were taught to live when children.
Guarding the coast was not the only occupation of the Preventive
Coastguard.

There arose in 1848 a manning difficulty in the Navy, which became so
grave that the large force of disciplined men employed in protecting
the revenue were drilled in gunnery to fit them for sea service. Many
of them were called out to serve aboard ship during the war with
Russia in 1854. One of the grievances in the service was the
irritating and unfair policy of the Board of Customs in constantly
moving the men from one station to another. In many instances the
hardships constituted a public scandal. Adequate recompense was never
made for this breaking-up of their little homes, and frequently when
they arrived at some outlandish coast village there was no provision
made for housing them. I know of several instances where families were
beholden to the generosity of the villagers or farmers for lodgings
until a house was found. During the interval their furniture was
stored in some dirty stable or store. It was not an uncommon thing for
these poor fellows to be removed, with their families, from one end of
England to the other two or three times in a year, at the behest of an
uneasy bureaucratic commander-in-chief who knew little, and probably
cared less, about the domestic hardships incurred. From Holy Island or
Spital to Deal in those days of transit by sea was a greater and more
hazardous voyage than that of Liverpool to New York to-day. The
following story may give some idea of their life as they then lived
it.

A group of fishermen stood at the north end of the row, watching a
smart cutter that was beating from the north against a strong S.S.E.
wind and heavy sea, which broke heavily on the beach and over an
outlying reef of rocks which forms a natural breakwater and shelters
the fishermen's cobles from the strong winds that blow in from the sea
during the winter months. The cutter tacked close in to the north end
of the ridge several times during the forenoon. Her appearance was
that of a Government vessel, and her commander evidently wished to
communicate with the shore. When the ensign was hoisted to the main
gaff, the onlookers knew that she did not belong to the merchant
service. The simple people who inhabited this district were concerned
about the intentions of what they regarded as a mysterious visitor,
and the firing of a small cannon from the taffrail did not lessen
their perplexity. At last the national flag was hauled up and down,
and the squire, who had come from his mansion amongst the woods, told
the fishermen that those aboard the cutter were really asking for a
boat to be sent to them.

The flood tide had covered the rocks. A volunteer crew of five fine
specimens of English manhood were promptly got together, and a large
coble was wheeled down the beach and launched into the breaking sea.
They struggled with accustomed doggedness until they had passed the
most critical part of the bay and got safely within speaking distance
of the vessel. Two good-looking fellows in naval uniform stood on the
quarter-deck, and one of these, the commander, asked the fishermen to
take one of his officers ashore. To this they readily agreed, though
they said it would be most difficult to land, as it was much safer to
go off than come in, but they would risk that. The officer jumped into
the boat, the rope was slipped, and then commenced a struggle between
the endurance and skill of the hardy fishermen on the one hand and the
angry cross seas which threatened to toss the boat and its occupants
to destruction on the other. The officer suggested that the reefs
should be let out of the sail to rush her over the dangerous corner of
the entrance.

"I have used this plan often," said he, "and it always succeeded."

The coxswain demurred, although these men are very skilled in the
handling of their boats; but at last he was prevailed upon by his crew
to allow the officer to try the experiment. The latter only agreed to
do so on condition that he was in no way interfered with, and his
orders were strictly carried out. Up went the close-reefed lug; the
occupants were instructed to lie low to windward, the men at the main
sheet were ordered in a quiet, cool manner to ease off and haul in as
necessity required. In a few minutes they had reached the crucial
point. The men began to express anxiety, when amid the shrill song of
the wind and the noise of the breaking seas, the man now in charge
called out with commanding vigour--

"Steady your nerves, boys! I know quite well how to handle her."

The helmsman had barely finished his appeal when the combers began to
curl up in rapid succession; the mass of water threatened to overwhelm
the rushing craft, but she was manipulated with such fine seamanship
that only the spray lashed over her in smothering clouds. Suddenly
orders were given to stand by to lower the sail, and in another minute
the helm was put down to bring the boat head to sea and wind. The sail
was lowered, oars shipped, and she was manoeuvred stern on to the
beach. As soon as she struck, a rush to help was made by those who had
watched with feverish anxiety the passage through the broken water,
lest the frail craft should be overturned and all aboard drowned. A
rope was bent on to the stern, and the crowd quickly hauled the coble
away from the heavy surf into safety. At this point, an elderly
gentleman, tall, with a long, shaggy beard and bushy grey hair, which
might have been a wig, rode up on a brown mare. His appearance and
demeanour stamped him with the characteristics of a real old country
gentleman, who put on what sailors would call an insufferable amount
of "side." He promptly introduced himself to the officer as the Lord
of the Manor, giving his name as Crawshaw.

The naval man gave his as Thomas Turnbull, and explained that he was
sent to organize some system of resistance to the smuggling that was
being carried on along that part of the coast. Mr. Crawshaw
volunteered assistance, and hinted that the task would be rendered all
the more arduous as he would not only have the smugglers to deal with,
but their accomplices, the fisher-folk and farmers. After a few weeks'
experience, it was quite obvious that the squire was right, and in
view of this, Thomas Turnbull sent for his wife and six children, and
settled down to his work in real earnest.

The intimation that the new-comer was a religious man, and could
preach and pray, soon spread through the villages, and large numbers
flocked to see and hear him. Many came out of pure curiosity, and some
to mock and jeer, but these seldom succeeded in setting at defiance
the great power that was behind the preacher. He was of commanding
presence; his face, as some of the villagers used to say, was good to
look at, and the message that he delivered to his audience came with
irresistible force, which broke the spirit of some of the most
determined obstructers, and turned many into friends, and a few even
into saints. The fisher-folk did not take kindly to him, and so strong
was their opposition that they threatened many times to take his life.
Their savage ignorance would have unnerved and discouraged a less
powerful personality, but this man seemed to be buoyed up by his
belief that it was God's work and he was only the instrument in
carrying it out. He was often warned of the violence that was
threatened towards him, but the intimation never disturbed his
inherent belief that no earthly power could break through the cordon
that protected him; and so he continued his work, temporal and
spiritual, undisturbed by the threats of a class whom he was
determined to civilize, and, "with God's help, Christianize." The
process was long, the methods of resistance wicked.

Jimmy Stone, one of the worst scoundrels in the district, had laboured
to persecute Turnbull, and to break up the meetings for months past.
He tyrannized over men and brutally maltreated women, and his
blasphemy was terrible to listen to. It was during one of his
outbursts of wrath against the "Ranter" preacher that he was suddenly
staggered by Turnbull going up to him, laying his hand on his
shoulder, and admonishing him to refrain from such shocking conduct.
He attempted to seize the preacher by the throat, and I fear at this
juncture Turnbull forsook for a little his usual attitude of
equanimity, for before the giant knew where he was he lay on the
ground, stunned by a left-hander. The preacher was an awkward customer
to deal with, and it would seem as though he did not entirely trust to
Divine interposition when hands were laid on him. His tormentor lay, a
humiliated heap, at his feet. Never in Jimmy's life had any one dared
to resent his attacks in this way. He could not understand it, and was
overcome more by superstition and a fear of Turnbull's reputed
supernatural aids than by real fear of his physical powers. Turnbull
ordered the bully to stand up, and warned him against experimenting
on strangers. He then, in quaint, old-world phraseology, the outcome
of much deep reading of Butler, Baxter, and Jeremy Taylor, and wholly
without cant or affectation, went on to say--

"I intend to let you off lightly on this occasion, but if I hear of
you practising any injustice or in any way giving annoyance to your
neighbours again, I shall deem it my duty to teach you a salutary
lesson. Now, bear in mind what I say to you; and remember that the
Almighty may visit you with His wrath. It may be that He will send to
your house affliction, and even make it desolate by taking some one
from you whom you love. Or He may see that the only way of checking
the course of your wickedness is to have you laid aside with sickness.
It is probable that He will smite you by taking away from your evil
influence some of your children. God is very merciful to little
children when they are in the hands of brutes like you. Go away from
me! and ponder over what I have said."

Jimmy slouched off, muttering vengeance against the Almighty if He
dared to interfere with his bairns, and, as an addendum, he vividly
portrayed the violent death of Turnbull. He slunk listlessly into his
cottage, tumbled on to a seat, and was lost in meditation. Jenny, his
wife, tremulously asked what ailed him. She was alarmed at his subdued
manner; she had never known him come into the house without bullying
and using blasphemous language to her and the children, and oftentimes
this was accompanied by blows that well-nigh killed her and them; and
yet she stood loyally by him whenever he needed a friend. Suddenly he
jumped to his feet, and as though he had become possessed of an
inspiration, broke silence by vigorously exclaiming to his wife that
he had settled the manner of the "Ranter" preacher's death.

"Aa'll catch him some neet betwixt here and the burn [stream], and
finish him. That'll stop his taak aboot the Almighty takin' ma bairns
frae me!"

Jimmy's idea was that Turnbull was in communion with the Almighty for
the removal of his children, and if he were put out of the way there
would be an end to it. Jenny was no less ignorant than her husband,
and therefore no less superstitious about meddling with this
mysterious person who had come amongst them and wrought such
extraordinary changes in the lives of many of her class. She doubted
the wisdom of killing the preacher, as she had heard that these people
lived after they were killed, and might wreak more terrible vengeance
when their lives assumed another form. She urged her husband to leave
well alone; not because she in any way differed from his views in
regard to Turnbull's preaching and his attitude generally towards
evil-doers, or objected to his being put to death; but she preferred
some person other than her husband should do it. Hence, she disagreed
with his policy, and he in turn raged at her for taking sides against
him.

"This interloper's spyin' into everythin' we dee and say," said he.
"We had nee taak aboot religion afore he cum, and noo there's nowt
but religion spoken, so that we can hardly get a man or a woman t' dee
any trootin' inside the limit; an' when we dee get a chance we hev t'
put wor catches into th' oven, for feor him or his gang gan sneakin'
aboot and faal in wi' summat they hae nee reet t' see. Forbye that,
within the last few months he's driven the smugglers off the coast,
and deprived us o' monny an honest soverin' in helpin' them t' and
theor stuff. And then he's got the gob t' tell me that if aa divvent
change me ways, the Almighty'll dee God knaw's what tiv us! He'll myek
sickness cum, and mebbies tyek sum o' th' bairns frae us. It'll be
warse for him if harm cums t' th' bairns, or me either! Aa tell't him
that this mornin', an' aa said he might tell his Almighty that he
taaked see much aboot, if he liked."

Jenny secretly disapproved of carrying retaliation any further, but
dared not openly say another word in favour of her views, for, as she
afterwards said, "Aa was afeared ye might kill me afore ye got a
chance o' killin' the preacher."

Mr. Turnbull knew what Jimmy's intentions were, and purposely put
himself in his way, so that he might say a cheery word to him in
passing; but he never got more than a grunt in response. He knew that
this wild creature was in league with a gang of the most desperate
smugglers that the "Preventer men" had to contend with. No landing,
however, had been seriously attempted during the time that Turnbull
had been at the station. Craft had been sighted and signals exchanged,
and then the suspected craft disappeared for weeks. The men who
guarded the coast knew these buccaneers had emissaries, and could have
laid hands on them, but preferred to catch them red-handed.

After weeks of close watching and waiting, information was passed
along the coast that a landing would take place close to the spot
where Turnbull now lived with his wife and children. Men from all the
stations extending over a radius of fifty miles were summoned to meet
at a certain point at eleven o'clock on a certain night. Trusted
civilians had been drafted into the service for the occasion; and so
accurate was the information given, that within a couple of hours of
the time several boat-loads of contraband were landed above high-water
mark. Three carts came along, and while the process of transhipping
into them was going on, the "Preventer" men, led by Turnbull, quietly
came from their concealment, and with a sudden rush surrounded the
smugglers. Those of their accomplices who had smelt the scent of
battle fled behind the hills, and got clean away. One of the carts
attempted to bolt, but a shower of shot targeted into the horses
peremptorily stopped that move, and the drivers were easily captured.
The smugglers fought like polecats, but received no help from the few
accomplices who had not escaped. These, either from fear or policy, or
both, did not attempt to extricate themselves or lend their support to
a lost cause. It was common knowledge that smugglers drew lots as to
who had to escape if severe fighting or capture became inevitable, and
the battle became the more fierce in order to cover the escape of
those few. They did not all succeed in getting off in their boat, but
it was estimated half a dozen might have done so. The rest, something
like a score, were ultimately overpowered, sent to prison and tried in
the good old style, and sentenced to transportation to the criminal
dumping-ground of Western Australia.

The notorious Jimmy Stone on that memorable moaning night was
disguised, but that did not prevent him being detected while rendering
assistance to land and convey the contraband on to the beach and into
the carts. One of the Government men was indiscreet enough to shout
"James Stone, you are my prisoner!" and almost before the words were
out of his mouth Jimmy dropped a keg of gin on to him and fled. The
companions of the stunned man were too busy with the other cut-throats
to follow Jimmy, or to see in what direction he had gone. It was only
after the conflict was over that they were reminded that this lawless
fisherman had escaped, and must at all costs be captured and brought
to justice. A party was selected to search for him. They knew that he
must be hiding in some of the hollows where the thick clusters of
bents and bracken would give him cover. Some of the party had strayed
from the central group, and were talking of Jimmy's prowess and
astuteness, and wondering where he was concealed, when they suddenly
came across a man with his head and part of his body up a rabbit-hole.
He was asking in subdued tones, "Are the ---- gyen yet?" and one of
the party, in the same tone of voice and the same dialect and language
as he had used, cautioned him not to speak too loud, as they were
still hovering about.

"My God!" said he, "when aa get oot o' this mess aa'll hae ma revenge
on that Ranter." And becoming impatient, he began to curse at his
supposed friend for advising him to put his head in a rabbit-hole,
vigorously announcing that he wished his ---- head was there instead
of his own. "Aa cud hae run if ye hadn't persuaded me t' hide heor."

"Hae patience!" responded the voice from without.

"Patience be d----!" said he; "Aa wish aa had them ---- Government
men heor. Aa wad make short work o' them, the ---- rascals!"

"Whisht," said his companion; "they're comin' this way!"

In a few seconds Jimmy's posterior became the subject of some vigorous
thrashing. He was dragged, yelling, from his retreat, and confronted
with the men he had so recently sworn to murder. They asked if he was
Jimmy Stone. He replied in the affirmative, and added--

"Aa thowt it was Jack Dent aa was taakin' tee. He cum heor wiv us."

"Where is he now?" inquired the officer.

"Hoo am aa t' knaa?" said Jimmy; "but the Lord help him when aa dee
cum across him. He's betrayed me. Nivvor more will aa put me heed in a
rabbit-hole!"

His soliloquy was cut short by his captors putting his hands in irons
and conveying him to where their colleagues were; and Jimmy would have
been included amongst the convicts but for the magnanimous
intercession of Turnbull, who informed his captors that they were to
leave Jimmy to him. He was working out a scheme whereby his knowledge
would be invaluable to the Service. So James was not sent to the
Colonies.

A well-known farmer, who was accustomed to make friendly calls on the
Turnbull family, was caught in the act of bolting with a cartload of
unlawful merchandise. He was sent to Australia, but not as a convict.
Turnbull had found some useful purpose for him also, and he was
advised to get out of the country, lest it became too hot for him.

A couple of ladies had attracted special attention; not that they were
bellicose, but because in consequence of their abnormal bulk they
created some suspicion that they had concealed beneath their
crinolines more than their ordinary form. They were asked
unchivalrously to undo their clothing, and with comic dignity and
superb self-possession they defiantly declined. They were then told in
the name of the Queen that if they did not undress voluntarily it
would have to be done for them, whereupon they adopted the old dodge
of weeping and calling themselves unprotected women, whose characters
were being assailed by men whom it was not safe for females to be
amongst, making the sandy hollows resound with their artificial
shrieks and sobs; but it was all to no purpose. Their skirts were
examined, and there were found boxes of cigars, packets of tobacco,
and bottles of gin, all hooked in methodical order to an ingenious
arrangement connected with the skirt. These ladies were proved to be
on familiar terms with the red-capped gentlemen who were defrauding
the Revenue, and not infrequently shooting down its guardians.

One of these women was the sister of Jimmy Stone, and the other his
wife, and it would have gone hard with them had Turnbull not conceived
the humane idea of reclaiming and ultimately drafting them into the
Service. He convinced his colleagues that they would be invaluable
adjutants. They would take a deal of taming, as there was little to
distinguish them from a species of wild animal. He requested that
they should be handed over to him for the purpose of trying the
experiment. The women and Jimmy were locked up in separate rooms in
the Old Tower for a week. Turnbull visited them daily, and detected on
each visit the growth of penitence; his little talks had penetrated
their stony, vicious natures, until at last they broke down and humbly
solicited pardon and release, which was granted under well-defined
conditions. There was much talk in the village about the leniency
extended to the fishers. Tom Hitchings, the cartman, declared that
they should have been sent to the Colonies, the same as the other
smugglers; and Ted Robson said transportation was too good a
punishment, they ought to have been shot or bayonetted, and had any
other person but a ranter preacher been in charge it would have been
done.

"How de we knaa, Tom," said Ted, "that them fiends o' smugglers winnot
rise oot o' theor beds in the deed hoor o' the neet and break into wor
homes and cut wor throats afore we're awake? We helped te catch them,
whaat for shouldn't we hev some say aboot theor punishment?"

"That's whaat aa says," replied Tom. "But ye'll heor o' some queer
things happenin' varry syen. He'll be hevvin' his meetin's in Jenny's
hoose, and Jimmy'll be preachin' afore lang. Ther'll be fine scenes if
it's not throttled i' the bud."

"Get away, man," said Ned; "they're the biggest blackguards roond the
countryside, and they'll steal, rob, or morder, whichivver comes
handiest. What d'ye think that fellow Jimmy did once? A ship was in
the offin'. She had distress signals flyin'. He could get neebody te
man a boat but women; the men wadn't hev onythin' te dee wiv him, so
his awn wife, Ailsie's Jenny, Nanny Dent, and Peggy Story went. They
pulled the boat through monster seas, and the brute was cursin' at the
women aal the way until they gat alangside, when the captain said, 'Ma
ship's sinkin'.' The crew were telled to jump into the boat smart, and
as syen as the captain said, 'We're aal heor,' Jimmy sprang aboard
like a cat, cast the boat adrift, shooted to his wife, 'She's mine!
Pull the ---- ashore, and then come off and we'll take her in!' The
captain saa the trick and demanded to be taken back, but Jenny felled
him with the tiller, and threatened to slay onny of the others. They
were nearly ashore when the captain exclaimed, 'She's not his; Sancho,
the dog, has been left behind!' The crew were landed, and the boat
went back to the ship. The women gat aboard, and asked Jimmy if he had
seen a dog. He said, 'There's nee dog heor; the ship's wors,' and they
say he fand the dog on the floor and that he put it ower-board. Now,
there's a born convict for ye! An' they tell me, him and his women gat
the ship safely into port, and the folk shooted, 'Bravo, Jimmy Stone!'
They said he was a hard swearer, but a brave, clever fellow, and aa
said when aa hard it, 'Whaat aboot the dog?' The ship was selled, and
Jimmy gat summit--whaat de they caal it--salvage, aa think. They say
he's worth lots o' money."

"But whaat did they say aboot the dog?" said Tom.

"Wey, the captain said the dog was left as a safeguard against bein'
boarded and claimed as a derelict; but Jimmy swore that the dog wasn't
there when he gat aboard, and neebody saa what becam' on't, and so the
matter rests. They often say te him, 'Whe tossed the dog ower board?'
and aa believe he's nearly mordered half a dozen big men for sayin'
sic things."

"Eh, man," said Tom pensively, "what a grand Christian gentleman he'll
make!"

Shortly after Jimmy's release from the Old Tower, his youngest child
succumbed to the ravages of a malignant fever. He and his wife were
distracted, as, in spite of their pagan instincts and habits, their
devotion to their offspring was a passion. They remembered Mr.
Turnbull appealing to them to flee from the wrath to come by amending
their ways, lest something terrible befell themselves or their
children, and instead of the recollection of this warning kindling
strong demonstrations of resentment against the lay preacher now,
Jenny implored her husband to run over the moor and get Mr. Turnbull
to come and administer comfort to them.

"He'll give us the sacrament, and pray for us at the bedside were the
deed bairn lies."

Jimmy was dazed at the suggestion. He could not quite bring himself to
give up the idea of some day renewing his former habits of aiding the
smugglers, and of doing a bit of poaching. He was quite frank in
stating to his wife that he feared if Turnbull came and prayed with
them he would get him to join the chapel folk, and there would be no
more poaching or smuggling after that.

"And see what a loss it wad be tiv us. But," said he, "to tell the
truth, aa hev been for prayin' mesel ever since the bairn tuck bad,
but then aa thowt it was cowardly to ask help when aa was in
difficulties and nivvor at ony other time. So I didn't dee 't."

Jenny interjected that at the risk of being led to join the
Methodists, and throwing over all thought of joining in any more
lawlessness, he must go to the village and ask Mr. Turnbull to come.

"I feel somethin' forcin' me to this, Jimmy; so get away and be quick
back."

And as James felt the same throbbing impulse, off he went, and within
an hour presented his petition to Mr. Turnbull, who received him in
his usual kind way, which caused the redoubtable ruffian to melt into
tears, and volubly to confess all his murderous intentions towards the
man he now believed to be the only agency on earth that could give him
comfort.

The two men started at once for the bereaved home. The first part of
the journey was tramped in solemn meditation. At last Jimmy broke
silence by asking his companion if he thought God had taken his child
from him as a punishment for his sins. Turnbull said--

"Well, James, I believe your heavenly Father has some work for you to
do. He has often warned you of the wrath to come by confronting you
with danger at sea; and only a short time since you were caught in the
act of committing a crime, and narrowly escaped being banished to a
penal settlement, and He mercifully used a friend as an instrument to
save you from this degradation. But you still maintained the spirit
of defiance, and were a law unto yourself. The Almighty saw that
drastic measures would have to be taken to break down your wilful
opposition. Your child was stricken with illness, and still you went
on cursing God and man; and then in His wondrous compassion for you
and hundreds of other men and women to whom I believe He has planned
you shall carry the message of peace, He has taken your child in order
that you may be saved. He knew that was the only way of bringing you
to see the great plan of salvation, and to save your innocent little
girl from growing up in a heathenish home, where there was no beauty,
no kindness, no good example, no God. I beseech you to surrender
yourself at once. Remember, the Spirit will not always strive with
you, and if you chase it away now it may never return."

That night, kneeling by the side of his dead child, Jimmy implored God
to be merciful to him, and professed to have experienced the great
transition from death unto life. Now, Jimmy, though quite uneducated,
had an intellectual head and great natural gifts, and when he was
careful he spoke with amazing correctness. He commenced to take part
in the prayer meetings at once, and having a good memory, he picked up
all the stock phrases and used them vigorously. Being an apt pupil, he
soon learned to read, and then commenced one of the most extraordinary
religious campaigns that has ever been witnessed in that part of Great
Britain. Hundreds of men and women were led to change their lives by
this rugged, uncultured, but natural preacher. A certain number of his
own class viciously persecuted him for years, and none more so than
his own wife. It seemed as though Hell had been let loose on him, and
yet he went on undisturbed, steadfastly believing that he was the
agent of the living God to carry the message of truth to the heathen.
His old enemy Turnbull had become his fast friend, from whom he sought
and received much help and many acts of kindness. He owed the
conversion of his wife and many of his persecutors to this
spiritually-minded man, and it was remarkable that nearly all the
worst characters who were "brought in" opened their doors whenever he
wanted to have a prayer meeting or a preaching service, and the rooms
were always packed with people.

Attracted by the originality of the converted fisherman, a few young
people belonging to the better families in the locality gathered
together to witness what they imagined would be mere burlesque. There
was only standing room behind the kitchen bed for them, and there was
anything but an air of sanctity amongst that portion of his
congregation. Jimmy's pulpit style was peculiar. He was flashing out
eloquent phrases that were not commonly used in the orthodox pulpit.
As he warmed to his work he broke out in rhyme--"Yes, brothers and
sisters, there was little brother Paal, the very best of aal, laid
down his life," etc. His use of biblical names was quite eccentric,
which caused the undevotional members of his audience to snigger
audibly. Without seeming to heed the irreverence, Jimmy pursued his
impassioned diatribe and smote unbelievers hip and thigh, in language
that was not conventional, or even relevant to the subject of his
discourse. The sniggering had developed into suppressed laughter, and
James suddenly stopped the even flow of his oratory, brought his giant
fist down on the deal table and sent everything flying. Ladies'
dresses were more or less damaged by candle grease; but the cooler
heads prevented an outbreak of panic by getting the candles relighted
and put on to the table. Then in reverent tones they asked the
preacher, who stood apparently unmoved, to proceed with the service;
so Jimmie gave out the verse of a hymn which he thought would be
suitable to the occasion. (Methodists always did that when the lights
went out or the preacher stuck.)

In the good old days, when village Methodism was quivering with
spiritual life, and pouring its converts into the cities and towns of
England to teach the simple gospel of the Founder of our Faith,
without any artificial fringes being attached to it, they were too
poor, and perhaps too conscious of the superiority of the real
God-given vocal capacity, to have anything to do with what many of
them believed to be artificial aids to religion. It was a fine sight
to see the leader of the songsters shut his eyes, clap his hands, and
with strong nasal blasts--which resembled the drone of the immortal
instrument that is the terror of the English and the glory of the
Scottish people--"raise the hymn," while, as the others joined in the
singing, the volume of sound swelled louder and louder, until the
whole congregation were entranced by the power of their own
performance.

I give the words of the verse which Jimmy asked to be sung. Here they
are--

    "Come on, my partners in distress,
     My comrades through the wilderness,
       Who still your bodies feel;
     Awhile forget your griefs and fears,
     And look beyond this vale of tears
       To that celestial hill."

This was sung with appropriate vigour over and over again. It is very
difficult to stop a real country Methodist when the power of song is
on him, and on occasions such as this they generally break off
gradually, until only one or two irrepressible enthusiasts are left
singing, and these have to be brought to the consciousness of time and
the propriety of things by being pulled down into their seats. Jimmy
wished to proceed with his rebuke to the persons who had been the
cause of the diversion, so he put a peremptory stop to the vocalists
by telling them to "sit doon, and listen to God's ambassador." He then
resumed his address by stating that when his fist knocked the candles
off the table he was "nearly givin' way to temptation. In fact," said
he, "I was just on the point of usin' profane language to the mockers
and scoffers of the sarvent of the livin' God. I mean them parvarse
lads and lasses aback o' the bed theor."

"Amen!" interjected several saintly voices.

"But, hallelujah!" resumed James, "aa felt God was ha'd'en me back!"

"Glory!" shouted Adam Jefferson.

"Yes, ma brethren and sistors. Aa cum amang ye t' seek and t' save
sinners that repenteth; rich or poor, it makes nee difference to me
nor ma Maister, for hasn't He said 'where two or three are met
tegithor in Ma Name, there am I in the midst'?"

"Bless Him!" cried Nannie Dent, a late accomplice of the smugglers.

Jimmy's rebuke to the offenders was delivered with boisterous
earnestness, but the comic phrasing of it created irrepressible
hilarity, and they had to leave the room. The preacher, in his closing
remarks, reminded his hearers that he was once a black-hearted rascal,
drinking, swearing, stealing, poaching, smuggling, and but for the
mercy of God he might have added to his other crimes that of murder. A
shudder went through the congregation when "murder" was uttered, and
their minds were obviously centred on the derelict vessel and the dog,
which Jimmy was suspected of doing away with.

"Ah!" whispered Sam Taylor, the butler, "he should never have ventured
on that affair. Folks are varra queer, and whether it is true or not,
they like sensation and scandal."

As though he had been gifted with prescience, Jimmy continued--"Aa can
feel whaat ye are thinking aboot, but it's not true. This is the man
aa threatened te kill," pointing at Turnbull. "And now let us bow oor
heads in solemn, silent prayor for a few minutes, and ask forgiveness
for oor past and daily sins. And aa want ye to join with me in asking
for pardon and speedy repentance to be sent tiv a porson that belangs
te the gentry of this district, but whe hes been, and is noo engaged
in trafficking in wickedness. May the Lord bring him to His footstool
of mercy before he is nabbed, as aa was."

These remarks, with the exhilarating petition, caused an amount of
irreverent speculation as to who was the person alluded to. The
service was brought to a close without any evidences of spiritual
emotion such as had characterized previous meetings, and the people
proceeded in groups to their respective homes filled with fertile
curiosity, and a sinister suspicion as to who the sinful person was
that Jimmy had so fervently prayed for. But only one person who heard
the rugged deliverance fixed her mind on him that was guilty, and she
resolved to keep her thoughts a secret, for reasons that will be
explained hereafter. Meanwhile, many innocent men were suspected, and
gossip ran rampant. Jimmy, when asked whom he meant, was piously
reticent, and merely answered--

"That is a matter that concerns God and mysel'! The time may come when
he'll accuse hissel'. Aa'm prayin' mornin', noon, and night, that the
strings of his heart may be broken, and that a penitent condition of
mind may take possession of him, and in the fulness of a new borth he
may cry aloud, 'O Lord, once I was blind, noo I see!'"

When Thomas Turnbull and his wife arrived home, they found the younger
members of their family in an excited state of hilarity. The youngest
daughter was mimicking Jimmy perfectly, and had her brothers and
sister in fits of laughter. Their father could not refrain from
joining in the fun, but the mother was quiet and pensive, and got
rather huffed when her husband chided her in his good-humoured way
with being indifferent to the happy surroundings. Poor woman, she was
troubled about Jimmy's prayer, and thought it irreligious to be joyous
in the midst of such dark mystery.

The following afternoon, Mrs. Turnbull paid a visit to Mrs. Clarkson,
who listened with eager interest to the account of the meeting, and
when the words of the closing prayer were conveyed an anxious look
came over her countenance, and she made an effort to change the
subject, without, however, preventing Mrs. Turnbull from detecting her
confusion.

"Let us talk of something else; I do not like," said she, "conversing
about sensational things; it makes me nervous. And if I were you, I
would try to forget what has been said to you about important
personages being involved in lawless traffic. It will only make you
unhappy, and serve no good purpose. If there is anything of the sort
going on, it will be discovered, and those that are guilty will be
brought to justice."

Mrs. Turnbull did not pursue the subject any farther, but the sad,
pained look of her hostess became fixed in her memory. She could not
shake the conviction from her that Mrs. Clarkson was haunted by the
dread of some one belonging to herself having some connection with
Jimmy's prayer.

Mrs. Turnbull paid frequent visits to the farm, and one winter evening
she happened to be there when a violent snowstorm made the ground
impassable, so she was prevailed upon to stay until the following day.
The household consisted of Mrs. Clarkson, her sister, and two nieces,
who were very pleased to have the company of a woman who was so full
of information and reminiscence. Her mother was said to have been the
daughter of a Scottish law-lord's son, who was disinherited because he
was thought to have married beneath his station--that is, instead of
marrying the lady selected by his father from his own class, who had
nothing in common with him, he had chosen and fixed his affections on
a lady outside his rank, who was talented, had high intellectual and
religious qualities, and good looks, but was financially poor. Mrs.
Turnbull had excited the curiosity of the two young ladies by relating
this part of her history, and they were naturally eager to hear more.
With that object in view, they asked their aunt to allow her to sleep
in their room, and the request was granted. The good lady, however,
had said all that she intended to say about herself, and
notwithstanding the ingenious and persuasive requests of her young
friends, she stood steadfastly to her resolve. She talked to them
about the farm and their aunt and cousins, and her own family, and the
religious work that was being carried on, but never another word about
herself or her ancestry could be drawn from her. Perhaps it was that
she considered it scarcely wise to discuss romance with young girls.
And so they talked themselves out about other things, and then went to
sleep.

Early in the morning, Mrs. Turnbull was awakened by what she took to
be a door slamming. She got up with the intention of closing it, and
then heard voices talking, sometimes in an ordinary tone, but for the
most part in an excited whisper. She listened, with the bedroom door
ajar, and heard the voice of Mrs. Clarkson say--

"If you do not dissociate yourself from these wicked men you will come
to grief. You are supposed to be in Australia. Indeed, it may be that
Mr. Turnbull has his suspicion even now that I am harbouring an
accomplice of the men whose trade is smuggling, and who try to get rid
of those who prevent them carrying it on. I beseech you to cut
yourself adrift from that other man, who, I believe, has you under his
influence, and who, I feel sure, is associated with this gang of
lawbreakers."

At this stage, Mrs. Turnbull could not restrain the desire to cough.
She did try to subdue it, but Mrs. Clarkson's companion whispered to
her--

"Whist! I hear some one on the landing."

"Do not fear," said Mrs. Clarkson; "it is only the wind making noises
through the trees."

But her companion knew better, so not another word was spoken.

The next morning Mrs. Clarkson looked worried, but she was quite
affable with her guest, who acted her part without giving the
slightest suspicion of having overheard the little nocturnal
conversation.

Immediately after breakfast, Mrs. Turnbull bade farewell to the
family, and was soon in the thick of domestic matters in her own home.
That night's experience at the Dean Farm settled the destiny of
several families. The information unwittingly gleaned and discreetly
used, led to far-reaching consequences to the district, and to all
those involved.

It was well known that the smugglers had places of concealment other
than the accommodation gratuitously given them by certain farmers. The
secret of the real cave's whereabouts was successfully kept, but one
of those accidents that often come to disturb the current of human
affairs led to an important discovery.

       *       *       *       *       *

Softly the night wind blew over a glassy sea. The sound of the
rippling water on the reef of rocks and on the sandy beach had a
weird, melancholy effect. Then came the dull noise of muffled oars
commingling with the cawing of the gull and hollow surging of the
waters into the Fairy Rocks. There was neither moon nor stars visible,
but in the bay the experienced eye could discern the mysterious
lugger. There she lay, hove to, or anchored below the Dean House,
which could be seen peeping out between two sandy hills. A dim
light--which, to the uninformed, would have conveyed the impression of
a light in a cottage window, but which was really a signal to the
smugglers that the coast was clear--flickered in a line with the sandy
valley; and, in truth, the quietude of the night betokened all was
well. The landing was successfully made without interruption, and the
men gaily entered on the task of transporting the cargo to its
destination, believing, as they had a right to believe, that a big
haul would be stored without a single hitch in the process. The
accomplices scattered after their work was done, and the sailors
returned to their vessel, no doubt well satisfied with the night's
enterprise. But notwithstanding the many scouts they sent out, they
were quite oblivious of the fact that their movements had been closely
watched. Sail was set, and the sneaking craft crept out into the
illimitable darkness, having apparently completed its work unseen by
unfriendly eyes. There was not a little talk round the countryside
about the landing that had taken place without any one in authority to
check its progress. Wise, knowing people said it was timidity, and
others attributed it to indifference to the public service; the truth
being, it was neither the one nor the other. It was, in fact, a
carefully-planned scheme to discover exactly where the mysterious cave
was situated; and although in spite of exhaustive search the entrance
to it could not be found, they had got a clue to its locality. A
vigorous policy of exploration was inaugurated, but after many weeks
of toil the operations were abandoned without the mystery having been
penetrated. It was thought that time and opportunity would solve the
problem, but how it was to be solved no one knew. There was, indeed,
great speculation as to what might happen should another landing be
attempted, but month after month passed without any indication of
this, and the little population had settled down to a dull monotony.
Except for a casual reference to the stirring times, the smugglers and
their emissaries were apparently all but forgotten. The Preventive men
were secretly as much on the alert as when the smugglers were most
active. They purposely adopted an apparent indifference with the idea
of luring the rovers into over-confidence. Each party took into
account the possibility of being betrayed. In all secretive illegal
societies there are suspects. Jimmy Stone having changed his mode of
life, suspicion fell very naturally on him; but though he sometimes
darkly hinted at the identity and the secrets of his late allies, he
was never known to definitely divulge anything that would incriminate
them. The nephew of Mrs. Clarkson was another marked man, as was also
a friend of his. The former had been very little heard of in those
parts since the night that his aunt implored him to give up his
associates. The last that was really seen of Lawrence and his friend,
they were drinking together in a public-house, and a few days after
some of their torn and blood-stained clothes were found in a lonely
hedged-in lane close by the moor. This dreaded place was called the
"Mugger's Lonnin" by the country-folk, owing to its being a
camping-ground for the gipsies, and from end to end it was prolific of
bramble-berries and other wild fruit. When the children went during
the summer months to gather these they were always accompanied by a
few grown-up people, as it was believed that many terrible tragedies
had happened there. The discovery of the clothes and the patches of
blood right in the middle of the lonnin was indicative of a foul
murder having taken place, and the bodies dragged along the grass to
some place of concealment. Search parties were formed, bloodhounds
were called into requisition, but no trace of the murdered lads'
bodies could be found, and for many months this supposed terrible
crime was sealed in mystery. A few people were callous enough to say
that they were convinced that no murder had taken place, but these
were very unpopular. The greater part of the small colony liked
sensation, and nursed this one assiduously until an almost greater
came to hand by it leaking out that the two men had been expeditiously
sent to Australia, and that the blood on their clothes was not their
own, but that of a sheep which had been killed for the purpose of
misleading. This exciting revelation lead to important issues. Were
they really alive and in Australia? Had they been bribed to reveal the
secrets of their former friends, or was it dread of capture that
caused them to be sent out of the country? These were some of the
outspoken conjectures that flowed with ever-increasing imagination.
The real facts never became known, but the tales of these stirring
times have been handed down in more or less hyperbolic form. It may be
fairly assumed that Thomas Turnbull got reliable information from some
source which he was never known to disclose, and having got it, he
hastened to use it judiciously and to advantage.

The entrance to the cave was at last found at a spot where he and his
comrades had many times traversed. It was so ingeniously concealed
that they might have searched until the day of doom, and it could
never have been found but for the agency that conveyed him to the
spot. Tradition speaks of it being a long subterranean passage,
running east to west, and opening out close to a road that was quite
accessible to carts. It was honeycombed with compartments, and so
carefully were they constructed that only the initiated could have
discovered their locality. Some of the cells still contained
quantities of contraband, so that the Board of Customs made a good
haul.

Turnbull frequently rubbed shoulders with men and women who eloquently
declaimed against the smugglers and their allies. He knew these people
were in the inner circle of the traffic. He realized also that it was
not good policy to let them see that he knew that they were merely
acting a part. He might some day have to make use of them. There was
a section who never disguised their antipathy to him. They saw that
through him the day of smuggling on that part of the coast was
well-nigh over--if not over altogether. It was he who had been the
instrument of emptying the vaults of treasure which they regarded as
legitimately theirs, and closing them to further enterprise. It was,
in fact, the system that he represented that was paralyzing their
honest efforts of contributing to their means of subsistence! These
were only some of the many indictments proclaimed against him and his
colleagues. The aggrieved ones strolled about with an air of injured
virtue, and their ferocious looks and veiled threats at the intruder
as he passed along betokened the belief in their prescriptive right to
plunder the Revenue. I think it is Macaulay who says that "no man is
so merciless as he who is under a strong self-delusion."

The seizure of the storehouse gave a staggering blow to the
"fair-traders," but it did not prevent them from making another
desperate attempt to land their wares, and also to have their revenge
by destroying a few of her Majesty's servants. On dark nights the horn
lanterns were seen about the links, the flare-light flashed across the
sea, and the curlew's shrill call was heard. These signs were now
known to the Preventive staff; but they also had their signs and their
means of conveying news, so that when the low, sneaking black lugger
again appeared, they were ready for the fray.

There she was, snugly anchored in the sleepy bay. The first boat-load
had left her side. The slow, dull sound of the horses' hoofs vibrated
through the hollows, and the night wind from the fields of sleep blew
softly over the rustling bents, causing a weird, peaceful lullaby. The
boat's bow is run on to the beach, a dozen or more men jump from her
into the water and haul her up as far as the weight of the cargo will
allow. They then commence to discharge. Again the curlew's call is
heard, again the sharp flare-light is seen; but no aid comes. The
cargo is landed at high-water mark; they realize something is wrong,
and hesitate whether to re-ship or re-embark without it. They are soon
disillusioned. A horse gallops madly from the south. The rider shouts
at the top of his voice, "Run, sailors, run! Treachery!" and then
heads his horse full speed in the direction he came from, and is soon
lost to view. The men push their boat into the sea, and row with all
their might towards the vessel. Bullets from a score of muskets whiz
over their heads; but they are accustomed to this, and lay their backs
into the oars with increased vigour. Meanwhile, a coble sails almost
peacefully alongside their ill-fated craft. In an instant a crowd of
concealed men rush aboard and call out, "Surrender!" But smugglers
were not given to surrender when merely requested, so a hand-to-hand
fight took place. The butt-end of muskets were freely used, and to
some purpose. There was no heroic effort to get at the powder
magazine, so that they might blow themselves and everybody else up.

The lugger was in undisputed possession of the Revenue men before the
boat from the shore reached her. They, too, were quickly disposed of,
after a short, angry, though feeble resistance. Stringent precautions
were taken to prevent any blowing-up exploits. The whole gang were
well secured against that, and any other hostile outbreaks. This
having been done to the satisfaction of the officer in charge, the
anchor was weighed, a course was shaped towards the south, and the
last of the low, black, romantic luggers, with their gallant crews,
passed away, never more to be seen on this part of the coast.

Recognition of the deeds done by the dauntless heroes of that age in
the Government service was very scanty. It may be they did not expect
it. In that case they were rarely disappointed. Thomas Turnbull seems
to have got his reward in being allowed to remain on the station until
the time came to retire on a pension. He went about his routine work
with placid regularity, and devoted what leisure he had to widening
his reading, which consisted mainly of history, theology, and Burns's
poems. He was never known to miss his class-meeting, and travelled
eight miles each way to keep his pulpit appointments on Sundays. He
sometimes entertained his family and the young folk that visited them
by relating his experiences with the smugglers, but his greatest
pleasure was in holding religious meetings in one or other of the
fishers' cottages. In this he was gratuitously aided by Jimmy Stone,
who entered into his work with energy, zeal, and oftentimes amazing
resource. Jimmy had developed a form of religious mania, insisting on
the theory that he was, as a preacher, a direct descendant of the
Apostles. This assumption severely taxed the Christian virtues of the
little society. Turnbull, who had a keen sense of humour, viewed the
new situation with intense amusement, and always excused the foibles
of his old convert up to the time of leaving the district to end his
own eventful career within easy reach of his family, who were all
grown-up and doing well. Jimmy did not long survive him, but he lived
long enough to see the passing away of that spiritual wave that had
changed his whole life.

Many years after, an ugly incident broke the spell of monotony in the
village. A hideous-looking creature came to it and addressed himself
to a fisherman. His voice was that of a drunkard. He was dirty, his
eyes were bleared, and the cunning, shifty look betokened a long life
of vicious habits. He wished to know when Mrs. Clarkson died, where
all her relations that lived round about her were, to whom the estates
were sold, and whom the money they realized went to; what had become
of Turnbull and his family, and how long was it since the smugglers
were driven off the coast? These questions were only meagrely
answered, as the man he inquired of belonged to another generation,
and there were only very few left who knew anything of the period or
the people that he desired information about. The following day the
body of a man, supposed to be a tramp, was found in a barn. He had
left evidence of his identity, and when it was discovered that the
stranger was Stephen Lawrence, Mrs. Clarkson's nephew, the once flashy
young gentleman who controlled her estates, and who had been sent
abroad when grave suspicion rested upon him of being seriously
involved in pecuniary defalcations, it created a fresh sensation, and
revived all the old stories of bygone days. He had come to die within
the shadow of the home in which he was so indulgently reared, and his
remains were buried by those who knew not of him. It was probably
through him and Melbourne that the secret locality of the cave and
other valuable information which led up to the final conflict and
defeat of the smugglers became known.

The "Mugger's Lonnin," all blazing with red and yellow flowers and
long silvery grass growing wild, and covering the mysteries that lie
beneath, is still there. The superstitions regarding its history still
exist. The sandhills, capped with the rustling, silky bents, looking
down into the bay, are still there. The thrilling sea winds come and
go, and the music of the shells on the beach is whispering as before,
but the shrill wail of the curlew is never sounded from knoll to knoll
now. The horn lantern is not seen by the roadsides, nor the quick
flashlight that signalled the coast was clear; and the rattle of the
horses' hoofs on the stones during the mystic night is never now
heard. There is nothing to indicate, in fact, that this lonely, superb
piece of England was once (not so long ago) a great centre of illicit
trading. The smuggler and Revenue man have disappeared, and the scenes
of their successes or failures, daring, comic, and sometimes tragic,
are undisturbed save by nature's sights and sounds. Man-o'-war sailors
(fine fellows though they be), with ribboned caps, and trousers that
flap like sails of a ship tacking, have replaced the trim,
gentlemanlike civilian of old. Some of the latter are still remembered
with affection, and even veneration, by people who were young when the
last of them passed away.



Smugglers of the Rock


Captain S---- was a man of enterprise, and never lost an opportunity
of scheming to supplement the freight of the vessel he commanded. His
common phrase was, "Look for business, and you'll meet it on the
road." He was well known all over the Mediterranean, and had done much
trade with the Spanish ports, so that he got to know a good deal about
the character and methods of their business. On one occasion, at
Gibraltar, a deputation of traders, as they called themselves, made
him a proposition that was startling in its remunerative dimensions.

"I presume," said the captain, "this business which you are good
enough to put before me is sound; there is no humbug about it?"

"Not one bit, captain. You undertake to do certain work for which we
pay you before starting."

It was arranged that he should wire from his last port of call when
passing down the Mediterranean. He fixed his mind on the amount he was
to receive, and did not inquire too closely into the character of the
business. He would have been virtuously indignant if any one had
hinted that he was capable of going beyond the limits of stern
rectitude, although he admitted the undertaking to be extraordinary,
otherwise he would not have been so well paid for it. His knowledge of
character told him that he was going to do business with a squad of
rascals who knew no moral law, and yet the fascination of exciting
enterprise held him in its grip. So it came to pass that he sent his
telegram announcing approximately when he might be expected at
Gibraltar, and asking them to have all in readiness against his
arrival. In the early morning of the eighth day after leaving Malta,
the steamer crept from under the Great Rock into the beautiful bay,
and was promptly boarded by a few gentlemen of effusive manners who
were greatly concerned about the health of Captain S----. The latter
requested them to cease their chatter and to get to business.

"Are the craft ready?" said he.

"Oh yes," replied the Rock-scorpions; "but you will have to wait until
dark before they can be brought from their moorings."

This was agreed to. The captain put his vessel alongside the coal
hulk, and by noon the required bunker coal had been shipped, and
through the kindness of the captain of the hulk she was allowed to
remain alongside until darkness set in, on the plea of repairs being
done to defective machinery. She was then slowly moved towards three
feluccas which lay waiting in the bay. The night was still, and the
moon shone bright and made the sea silvery by its reflection; but a
large halo encircled it, and the seamen knew that foreboded stormy
weather. "Telegraph boys" were coming up from the west very swiftly.
There was to be trouble outside Cape Spartel, and they were anxious to
get through the stream before the gale had developed strength. A boat
came alongside. Two Levantines stepped aboard. The captain said--

"So you have come at last. Have you got the money with you? Let me
have no wriggling, or I will have you put over the side and steam away
without your merchandize."

"No, no, capitan, you must not do that! Come to the charthouse and you
shall be paid at once."

After three-fourths of the agreed sum had been counted out the
paymaster stuck, and said, "Capitan, you must be satisfied. We are
poor men like yourself."

In an instant the captain was out of the charthouse _with his money_,
and went on to the upper bridge and called out to his officers to see
the gentlemen into their boat. They pleaded to him to come into the
charthouse again, and every cent due to him would be handed over
according to agreement.

"I did not mean what I said to be taken seriously," said the financial
agent.

"But I did," replied the captain. "And take notice that if you
wriggle again I will make short work of this business."

The balance of freight was handed over without further demur, and the
craft taken in tow as arranged. It was urged that the heaviest laden
of the three lighters should tow astern of the others. The engines
were set easy ahead. The two scorpions were asked to get into their
boat quickly. They wished the captain good luck, and gave him
instructions to steer over to the African side of the gut, as the
current was easier there. He was warned in true Levantine eloquence,
and with an accent and tone that indicated anxiety for the success of
the project, to look sharply after the "wolves" when they got off
Tarifa, for this is the narrowest part of the entrance to the
Mediterranean. It was clear that this traffic welcomed no publicity.

The _C----_ was soon plunging into a strong westerly swell, though
there was as yet but little wind. They had got Tarifa abeam, when the
look-out man reported a small vessel three points on the starboard
bow. In a few more minutes the "wolves" announced themselves by a few
small shot rattled against the smoke stack. Orders were given to the
second officer to go aft with a hatchet, and when the signal was given
he had to snap the tow-rope of the last felucca. All hands were
ordered to lie low--_i.e._, lie under shelter of the bulwarks. The
captain and chief officer took shelter on the port side of the
charthouse. The vessel's course was altered, but being so far over on
the African coast there was not much room to play on. The firing was
still directed at the funnel, though at times it was erratic. One of
the seamen shouted, "I'm hit!" In an instant the captain blew his
whistle, and the tow-line of No. 3 craft was cut. The steamer's speed
increased, though it did not much matter so far as getting out of the
fire zone was concerned, as the Spanish _Costaguardia's_ attention
became fixed on the abandoned craft.

"My God!" soliloquized the chief mate, "the Rock-scorpions are right.
They have pounced upon the derelict like wolves. I almost wish I was
there to see the effect when they realize they have been fooled, and
they find that that craft is loaded with stones. It was just done in
the nick of time; they might have compelled us to heave to."

"I would never have done that," said the captain. "I knew they would
not risk being defeated in their object when they saw so excellent a
prize thrown at them."

"They are setting the sail," observed the officer.

"Yes," responded the captain. "The gentlemen will find one of their
craft anchored in Gibraltar Bay to-morrow morning, and may be the
whole three. I do not like the look of it; both the wind and sea are
making. I hope we may be able to reach to the westward of Trafalgar
Bay before it gets worse."

Instructions were given to have the wounded seaman brought to the
saloon, and it was found that he was not seriously injured. After the
wound was dressed, orders were given to set the regular watch. Little
progress was made during the night, owing to the heavy west wind. By
six the following morning she was just a little west of Cape Spartel,
and the wind had increased to a heavy gale. The engines had to be
slowed down in order to save the two little vessels from being dragged
under water; indeed, as it was, their hulls were sometimes buried. The
captain saw that he was in for a tragedy if the craft were kept in
tow. He did not like to slip them, as it meant certain capture, and
while he was thinking out the wisest and best course to pursue, the
problem was solved by the people aboard the feluccas letting go the
tow-line, and the last that was seen of them was that they were
heading towards the Spanish coast with small storm sails set.

Captain S----'s vessel had a severe passage, and on arrival in
Falmouth he went to an hotel. In the course of the evening he was
relating the incidents of the voyage, as was the custom with orthodox
captains on arrival in port, and of course he included his experiences
with the Rock-scorpions and their feluccas. Before he had completed
the tale, the proprietor interposed by reading as follows from a
shipping paper:--

    "Information was conveyed to the Spanish Customs Authority that
    a British steamer had run out of Gibraltar Bay with three
    feluccas laden with manufactured tobacco destined for Cadiz. She
    was to be intercepted at Tarifa by the coastguards, and the
    craft with their cargo were to have been seized. When she got to
    Tarifa the coastguards fired at her. The third lighter was
    slipped, boarded by the officials and their men, and taken
    behind the Rock, when it was discovered on removing the hatches
    that she was laden with stones. The other two parted their
    tow-ropes, and were driven through the Gut and captured. These
    were laden with tobacco. The stone-laden craft was obviously
    intended as a decoy, and but for the heavy gale that came on,
    the other two would have succeeded in reaching their
    destination."

A few months later, Captain S---- entered Gibraltar Bay, and was
boarded by the chief commissioner of the last enterprise, accompanied
by a friend, who was introduced as being engaged in "our" trade.

"Ah," said the former in genuine Rock-scorpion dialect, "The last was
a great disaster; but it has never been said that you did not do all
that was possible to carry out your contract properly. If there had
been any appearance of not doing so, my friend and I would not have
said that Captain S---- is the very man to carry out our new affair,
which is doubly better than the other."

"Well, shut up about that," said the captain. "Come to the point. What
is it you wish me to do?"

"Ah! capitan, but for the knowledge we have of your ability, and the
affection my friends and myself have for you, we would have hesitated
to show you this token of our much esteem."

"Shut up!" interjected the sailor. "I don't want a display of pretty
nothings. I want business."

"Oh! capitan, why do you say such things when we are so anxious to put
something your way. I tell you there are thousands of men that would
be glad to have your chance. The job we have is this: three feluccas
are lying up in the harbour laden with tobacco. Tonight you must lie
off the town without anchoring, and they will be brought alongside.
You must take the cargo aboard, and proceed off Amonti Pomoron. A
pilot and interpreter will go with you, and you must not go near the
land until darkness comes on, when craft showing signals which the
pilot understands will be there to meet you and have men to tranship
the cargo into lighters. You will have £400 for doing this--half in
cash before leaving, and the other half on arrival at Amonti. The
transaction will be quite straight."

"It seems to me so uncommonly like a huge smuggling affair, that I
cannot entertain it," replied S----.

"No, no! my dear capitan; here you are mistaken. We would not ask such
a thing of you. How can it be smuggling? The cargo is put aboard in
neutral waters; you take it off the coast of Spain and deliver it as
arranged. You get your money, and know nothing more about it. How can
that be smuggling?"

"Well," said the captain, "it has nothing to do with me where the
stuff comes from, or where it is going to. If you will give me five
hundred pounds, all cash, before leaving here, I will agree to take
it."

The Rock-scorpion gasped--

"What, five hundred pounds! Capitan, now do be reasonable. I tell you
no other man would get the half of what you are offered."

"Very well, then," replied the captain, "it is off. Give it to the
person who will do it for half."

"Certainly not; that is not what I mean," said the commissioner. "How
can I face my friends with such news after all I have said to them
about you? They will form a bad opinion of both you and myself."

"Oh! d---- both you and your friends. Get over the side, or I'll help
you."

"Well, Capitan S----, I have never seen a man in such a temper
before."

"Oh, go to----!"

"Oh no, no, capitan; don't say that. I cannot tell my friends of
this."

"I wouldn't take your stuff for a thousand pounds now," said the
captain.

"Forgive me, my best friend. I did not mean to be offensive; you have
misunderstood my meaning. I will give you five hundred pounds, though
I know I will have to pay one hundred out of my own purse. It is very
hard."

The captain hesitated, but was overcome by the thought of making so
large a clean profit without involving any material loss of time. In
less than an hour after darkness came on the cargo was being put
aboard with amazing facility. The first lighter was nearly discharged,
when the captain asked the agent to pay the freight. This gentleman,
with many greasy apologies, informed him that he had only half of the
money with him. He could not get his friends to agree to pay all
before starting, "but they will agree to pay half here and the other
half as soon as the lighters come to you at Amonti." "Very well,
then; I won't take another bale in, and will steam away at once."

"But," said the cunning Rock-scorpion, "you have a lighter of goods
aboard. You are very dreadful for talking about running away with it."

"You make me sick," said the captain, with a killing look of scorn.

"Capitan, you say queer things to your best friends. Now, I tell you
what I will do: I will on my own responsibility give you in cash
two-thirds now, and the other third I pledge myself will be paid at
Amonti. It would be a scandal to all concerned to allow it to drop at
the present time."

"Scandal be d----d!" replied the commander. "You're a fine lot to talk
about scandal--you who would rob Jesus Christ of his shoe-strings."

"Capitan, you do me wrong; I would never do the things you say."

"Stump up the dross like a man, then, and don't stand whining there
like a sucking turkey craving for pity," retorted Captain S----. A
look of injured piety came over the old rascal's face, who was playing
a game of Levantine jugglery, subtle and crafty.

"Ah," said he, "I am so sorry. Indeed, I cannot express my grief that
you should have changed in so short a time from the kind, generous
capitan of old times long ago to the very cruel, disobliging person of
this minute, who calls me names and refuses to reciprocate kindness
for kindness. I think my friends will say that I tell lies, which they
would not think of me, when I tell them that you have become morose
and disobliging. They will stare and say that my judgment has been
deceived. But to show my trust in you, nevertheless, I will, as I have
said, give you two-thirds cash, and the other third you will be paid
at your destination. No other man in Gibraltar would do the same; but
we are old friends who have done business together before--not
profitable, but still it was business, very hard business. Come, now,
capitan, do be reasonable, and do not look at me as though you would
like to strike my face with your fist."

The captain had been standing in a reflective mood during the
Rock-scorpion's harangue, obviously reviewing the whole position and
the policy that should be adopted. He was dubious as to the wisdom of
accepting the terms offered; but seeing that the risk to him was less
than it was to them, he spontaneously replied--

"Agreed! But I warn _you_, and you must intimate the warning to your
friends, if there is any attempt at deceiving me, or any reluctance
shown at the other end to pay the balance of freight, I will steam off
with the merchandise and the men you propose sending with me, and I
don't care to say what will become of them."

"Shake hands," said the wily agent; "and I give you my word of honour,
which everybody trusts but you since you came this time, that there
will be no trouble made. Now come to the charthouse and take over the
cash."

This formality was speedily accomplished, though not without a further
attempt to reduce the cash payment on the plea that it would endanger
his professional reputation in the eyes of his commercial friends.

"I care nothing for your reputation," murmured the candid sailor.
"What I want is two-thirds freight, so stump it all up, or I will have
it taken from you and then hoist you into your boat."

Whereupon the agent became afflicted with grief at his dear friend's
threatened cruelty.

"Really, my best friend, I must not give way here, but I will shed
tears when I get to my silent home, and speak with myself of the
change that has come to your mind."

"Don't you bother about shedding tears; you see that your friends play
the game," said the inexorable captain. "I will carry out my part;
but, by heavens! if your people don't carry out theirs, you shall all
pay dearly for it."

"You are too excited on this occasion, my dear capitan, and for this I
am sorry, as I like to see you as usual. I tell you if they do not
play the fair way, I will be responsible and be very vexed."

"Shut up, you blatherskite; the cargo is all aboard. Get into your
boat quick, and remember what I have said to you when you can overcome
the effects of your wriggling and dodging. Your cargo can only be
delivered on one condition. Keep in mind what it is. Begone, and never
let me see your evil countenance again."

Thus spoke the enterprising commander, who had begun to realize that
he was having dealings with a gang whom he would have to fight in
order to get his own. The engines were put at full speed, and kept at
that until she was fifty miles north-west of Cape Spartel, when they
were slowed so that she might not arrive before the appointed time. As
the vessel trailed sinuously over the quiet sea, the captain's
thoughts were centred on material things and the reception he was
likely to have on meeting the men his mind's eye pictured as
cut-throat ruffians. He had several conferences with the interpreter,
whose look and speech he regarded as a revelation of villainy. He was
tall and slim, with ricketty legs, dark shifty eyes, a low receding
forehead, and a mouth and chin that indicated the animal. The captain
felt instinctively the approach of trouble, and frankly told the
wretch, who he knew was deceiving him, that every bale of tobacco
would be held until after the freight was paid over in gold
sovereigns; and with an air of ostentatious authority he gave
instructions to have all the muskets and revolvers loaded and ready in
case they should be required. The hideous scoundrel fixed his eye on
the captain, and with ironic accent intimated he could not help being
filled with concern when he heard the orders given to prepare the
firearms.

"Capitan, we are not pirates; we are respectable men carrying on a
respectable trade. You need not prepare anything; we are honest
tradesmen."

The captain laughed heartily at this comic assurance of fidelity, and
felt convinced that a deep impression had been made, as the
interpreter shortly after was seen vigorously conversing with his two
compatriots. The one had been introduced as the representative of the
owner of the cargo, and the other the pilot, whose business it was to
direct the captain to that part of the coast where the craft was
awaiting the vessel's arrival. The treacherous dusk was casting its
shadows over them, and had brought with it a weird sound of the
moaning wind. The crew stood in little knots, talking earnestly to
each other. Obviously they conversed of the night's work, and all the
grave possibilities that lay in front of them. For the most part they
wore an anxious look on their faces, but there was one there whose eye
was full of sparkling fun, and whose face beamed with a self-satisfied
expectation of exhilarating dangers. The captain called him to the
bridge, and gave him some specific orders as to how he was to act when
certain signals were given. The chaste and simple motto of "the blow
first and jaw afterwards" guided him, and he was only profane when
discipline demanded it. His superstitious tendencies were in an
ordinary way an anxiety to him, but on the night in question the only
signs he gave of being affected in this way was by the half coherent
remark to the captain that he did not like to hear the shrill wail of
the wind through the rigging; "it seems to be speaking to us of some
trouble near at hand." Suddenly the interpreter called out, "I see the
feluccas." In a moment all thought of the wail of the wind had
disappeared, and this fine athletic seaman was commanding his men like
a hero. He had been told by his captain that there would more than
likely be rough work to do, and he prepared for it with a skill and
vigour that left no doubt as to how his instructions would be carried
out. "Give the signal at the proper time," said he, "and leave the
rest to me." A shipwrecked crew was being taken home in the steamer,
and these, together with her own crew, made the number look
formidable, and although they were never requested to give assistance,
they offered it in case of need. Undoubtedly the addition to the
ordinary crew had a moral effect upon the Spaniards.

The craft came alongside, and her crew jumped aboard and commenced to
handle the bales. They were peremptorily stopped by the captain
giving instructions that not a single bale was to be allowed to pass
into the lighters until the freight was paid and he had given orders.
Soon there was a carnival of foes. The captain called to the
interpreter to bring the man with the money to the saloon. The
interpreter came but not the man. The former said the money was coming
on the second lighter, but the one alongside must be loaded and sent
away first.

"No, no!" interposed the captain; "no money, no bales." He would wait
until the second lighter came, which could easily be placed alongside
astern of the first one. In a short time number two came, and was
moored as directed. A large number of men jumped aboard from both
craft. The captain again called out to bring the man with the money,
and again no one turned up but the interpreter. This time he was
defiant. He put his back against the saloon side, folded his arms and
began--

"Capitan, you see the number of people aboard your vessel. They can
take her from you, if they so wish it. I tell you frankly we have no
money; but, by God! we must and shall have the tobacco."

The captain had been reared amidst a race of men who had imbued him
with the importance of hitting decisively and with promptness, when
confronted with situations which demanded physical action. In an
instant he had hold of the scoundrel, who, he was convinced now, was
the leader of a plot to take the cargo by force. Under peremptory
compulsion, the Levantine was rushed on deck, informed that he had
miscalculated with whom he had to deal, and that any one who attempted
to carry out his threat would be fired upon.

"I give you fair warning there shall be no half measures, and I
command you to inform your friends what I have said; and also state to
them that as soon as I have been paid my freight, they will not only
be allowed to have the cargo, but I will instruct my crew to assist in
the transhipment."

It never will be known now what this plant of grace intimated
precisely to his colleagues, but the general impression was at the
time that the captain's message had not been conveyed verbatim. Soon
the babble of tongues charged the air and gave an impression of
Bedlam. The captain had resolved upon a course of action which was
strenuous. He had given certain orders to the chief engineer, and was
standing on the lower bridge reviewing the situation, when the second
officer came up to him and said in a whisper--

"The Spaniards are all armed to the teeth, sir."

"All right," said the captain, "they will soon be disarmed. Meanwhile,
as a precaution, put our men on their guard. This business must be
carried through vigorously, and with dash."

At this juncture the interpreter, apparently with the intention of
breaking the deadlock, attempted to come on the bridge, and was warned
if he put his foot on the ladder he (the captain) would jump on top of
him. He did so, and the next moment he was flattened on the deck. The
Spaniards, in great excitement, surrounded the two. At last, one of
the shipwrecked men spoke to them in Spanish, and the master asked
him if he could really speak Spanish. He replied in the affirmative.

"Then," said the captain, "translate to these men that I do not wish
to hold the cargo, but that my agreement was for the freight to be
paid immediately the craft came alongside."

This pronouncement seemed to make an impression, but they still
coveted and cavilled for the goods. They endeavoured to persuade the
master of the steamer, who had gone on to the bridge again, to anchor,
and the money would be brought off in the morning. He prevaricated
with them, and at the same time told the chief engineer secretly to
put the engines easy ahead. She was brought head on to the sea, and
the wind having risen, a nasty swell came with it, which caused the
lighters to jump and put jerky strains on their moorings. A few of
their crew jumped aboard, and were trying to pass additional ropes
around the rigging of the steamer when the captain blew his whistle.
In an instant the tow-rope of the forward lighter was cut; then it was
that the Spaniards realized what was happening. They remonstrated
with the captain; they shouted to each other excitedly; those that had
not got aboard the feluccas flew along the deck and jumped, one after
the other, on to their vessel as she swung round. Another shrill
whistle, and the last rope of lighter No. 2 was snapped. Captain S----
called out to the interpreter, who was pleading piteously to allow
them to have only some of the cargo, to jump at once if he did not
wish to lose his passage, and to be taken away with the steamer. He
quickly realized his true position, and sprang over the stern. It was
supposed that he was picked up by one of the craft. They then
commenced to fire wildly from the feluccas, but little harm was done,
and in a brief time the steamer had travelled far outside the range of
their guns, and was heading towards Cape St. Vincent, with the whole
of the contraband aboard of a value of something like £5000. The
question of how it was to be disposed of was a problem not easily
solved. The first thought was to take it to Lisbon. This idea having
broken down, the next thought was one of the Channel Islands (Jersey
or Guernsey). This also, for specific reasons, gave way. It was then
decided to take it to the port of discharge of the ordinary cargo; but
after calculating all the trouble, the payment of duty, time lost, and
possible legal technicalities, the captain resolved that the best and
cleanest way of disposing of it was to jettison the whole of it. This
decision brought him into sharp conflict with his chief officer, who
entirely disagreed with such a course.

"Is it for this," he said, "that we risked being shot and having the
steamer seized and confiscated? The tobacco belongs to us by right of
conquest, as well as by moral right, and it will be an abomination to
throw it overboard. Even if we make only a thousand pounds out of it,
it is always something; but to put it into the sea would be sinful
beyond description. I cannot bring myself to be a party to such a
thing."

The decision of the captain was irrevocable, in spite of the
persuasive eloquence of a deputation of the crew and engineers. So,
after passing the Burlings, orders were given to cut the bales, save
the packing, and shovel the tobacco overboard. This very nearly caused
open revolt, but the captain made a few tactful statements which had
good effect. He presented a case that could not be controverted, and
they yielded to the inevitable. The jettisoning commenced with bad
grace, and a continual growl was kept up until the captain himself was
overcome by the sight of the beautiful tobacco being thrown away. He
called a halt, after persuading himself that a new idea might be
presented to the mind as time went on, which would show how a profit
could be made without risking any vital interest; but this only
endured for a couple of days. No really sound idea came, and so the
work of destruction was resumed until only half a dozen bales were
left, and it was resolved to hold these whatever happened. The mate
was a sailor of the old school, and clung to the grog and tobacco
traditions of the eighteenth century. He might have forgiven the
purveyors of defective food, but if bad grog and tobacco were
supplied there was no forgiveness for that, here or hereafter! He
believed in the crew being served with grog whenever they were called
upon to do extra work, such as shortening sail or setting it, and
although he never allowed smoking when on duty, or expectoration on
the quarter-deck, a skilful seaman was all the more popular with him
if he chewed. His opinion was that they did better work, and more of
it, when they rolled a quid about in their mouths. If his attention
was called to a small boy who was practising the habit, a
pride-of-race smile would come into his face, and his laughing eyes
indicated the joy it was giving him. Then he would say, "Thank God,
the race is not becoming extinct. I have always hope of a youngster
turning out satisfactorily if he works well and chews well." As a
matter of fact, his conviction was that a boy or man who adopted the
practice did so instinctively because they were born sailors, and were
true types of British manhood. Indeed, he regarded manhood as strictly
confined to his own class, though on many occasions I have seen
volcanic evidences of shattered faith. It was not so much the money
value of the tobacco, but the _racial affection he had for it_ that
caused him to feel indignant at the suggestion of it being thrown to
the waves.

The second day subsequent to this conflict, it was the first mate's
afternoon watch below. He had partaken of his midday meal, and went to
the bridge to have a smoke. As he looked down at the bales of goods,
he said to the second mate--

"However the thought of destroying that beautiful stuff can have
entered the mind of man I cannot fathom. I think I have got him
persuaded to leave well alone. It must be nothing short of stark
lunacy."

And the two men were agreed that had their captain _been as short of
it as they_ had been one time and another he would not talk such
foolishness. The chief mate intimated that he was going to have a nap,
but that his mind was torn with presentiment which he could not speak
about calmly. At four o'clock when he came on deck he was made aware
of what had taken place during his watch below, whereupon he lapsed
into a kind of inarticulate stupor, and could not speak the
unutterable. He placed his right hand on his brow, and then on his
left breast, and stood gazing at the long Atlantic rollers, which had
the appearance of an uneven reef of rocks. The stage of stupor and
grief was superseded by that of resigned indignation. He plaintively
called out--

"Well, I'll--be--teetotally--d----d! Miles of sea to be paved with
that beautiful tobacco! Retribution will come to somebody; and, by
thunder! it should come with a clattering vengeance. I will never
forget the sight as long as I have breath."

The captain came up to him, and seeing that his mind was centred on
what he regarded as not only a calamity but a crime, he was so much
amused at his ludicrously pathetic appearance that he laughingly
repeated--

"Oh, for the touch of a vanished hand, and the sound of a voice that
is still."

The inappropriate words were merely used as a piece of chaff, but Mr.
S---- was not in a chaffing mood, so he retorted that he did not see
where the humour came in, and there was nothing to laugh at, and so
on. He then walked on to the bridge, and he and the captain were not
on friendly speaking terms any more during the voyage.

At midnight on the sixth day after parting company from the Spaniards,
the vessel was hove to to take a pilot aboard. Captain S---- took him
aside as soon as he boarded, and asked him in an undertone if he ever
did anything in the contraband line. He held up his hands as though he
were horrified at the suggestion, and exclaimed--

"Not for the world, captain!"

"Very well," replied the captain; "you go below, and I will join you
in a minute or two, after giving orders to the steward to make tea for
us."

As a matter of fact, he remained behind to give orders to the mate to
throw overboard the remaining six bales, which was a further trial to
the grief-stricken officer; and having done this the captain joined
the pilot, and entered into conversation with him. The two men were
not long in discovering that they each belonged to the brotherhood of
Freemasons. This put them on easy terms at once, and encouraged the
pilot to inquire into the meaning of the words spoken to him on
boarding.

"I do not quite know how I stand in relation to that," said the
captain. "Indeed, I am perplexed as to the plan I ought to adopt. So
many difficulties confront me as the scheme of development goes on;
but so far as I have been able to work out the problem, I think my
attitude must be straightforward, and that I should make a full
voluntary statement to the authorities. Meanwhile, if you pledge me
your Masonic honour to keep it a secret until I have made it public, I
will tell you the whole story."

The undertaking was readily given, and long before the whole story was
told, the pilot's Christian virtues had broken down. At frequent
intervals while the narrative was being told he interjected, "Oh! why
didn't you tell me?" His mind was transfixed. Then the processes of
it became confused. The vision of wealth and the reckless squandering
of some of it took possession of him, and with uncontrolled zeal he
called out--

"My God! what a story! O captain, why didn't you tell me what it was
at once, and not waste time? Let us get to work without delay. I will
undertake to land what you have got on an island and share the
proceeds with you."

"Too late, too late, my friend. You have thrown away an opportunity
which may never come to you again," replied the master, with a
mischievous twinkle in his eye. "Transactions of this kind are done
spontaneously and with vigour--they are not to be dreamed about."

"I admit my error, captain; but, oh! how was I to know? Surely you do
not mean to tell me that the balance of the tobacco has been thrown
overboard since I came here?"

"Yes, it is all gone. We do not hesitate when we face the inevitable,
no matter what the sacrifice may be."

"Well, I'm blowed!" soliloquized the pilot. "It will take me some
time to get over this little bit of history."

"I daresay," said the captain; "but it is time you took charge--she is
now within your jurisdiction. What do you say to going on the bridge?
You will find the chief officer there, with whom you may condole, if
it be safe for a stranger to speak of so delicate a subject to him.
You will, perhaps, find him stupefied with grief and shame at the
unpatriotic conduct of his commander, and I daresay his language will
impress you with the venerable traditions cherished by his class when
things are supposed to have gone wrong."

The pilot greeted the chief officer cordially, but did not receive a
very polite response to his attempts to draw him into conversation
about his recent experiences, and was cut short in a sailorly fashion
by being told if he wanted any information about experiences, as he
called them, to go and ask "that ---- fool of a skipper about it."

"I have had a little conversation with him," replied the pilot; "and
it does seem to me extraordinary--and if I were not here I might
almost say an outrage--that no other course could be found than utter
sacrifice."

"Oh, don't talk to me!" exclaimed the vivacious mate, in a flood of
passion. "You call it extraordinary and an outrage! Is that a proper
name for such wickedness? You ask me what I think of it? I tell you I
cannot think. You talk about outrage! I say, sir, it is joining
outrage to injustice, and I cannot believe that any other than a
frozen-souled fool would have done it. There is not a glimmering of
common-sense in it. The wonder is that he didn't take it back to the
scoundrels, for pity's sake!"

This outburst of withering scorn encouraged the pilot to ask what the
sailors thought of it.

"Go and ask them, if you want to hear something you've never heard
before."

The captain, who was in the charthouse, could not help hearing these
interesting opinions of himself, nor could he help enjoying the rugged
humour of them. His mate had his peculiarities, but he never doubted
his loyalty to himself, and he was sure that on reflection he would
come to see the wisdom of disentanglement. He went on to the bridge as
though all was serene, asked a few questions of the pilot, and settled
down until the vessel arrived at her discharging port.

On landing, a message-boy told him there was a telegram at the office
for him. He eagerly asked if he knew where it was from. The boy
replied, "Gibraltar." He requested the messenger to get it for him,
and found it was from the agent who shipped the tobacco, the purport
of it being to offer him £500 to bring it back, and intimating that a
letter was on the way. When this came to hand, it explained
exhaustively the reason the freight was not paid as agreed, and boldly
accused the port authorities and officials of having organized a plot
in order to accomplish their own evil ends. This precious document was
signed by the writer, and, needless to say, was not replied to. As a
necessary protection to himself, the master had a declaration signed
by the whole of the crew, stating that they had no tobacco concealed
or in their possession other than that shown to the Custom-house
officers.

As is usual after a vessel arrives in a home port, and is properly
moored and decks cleared up, the crew go aft, draw a portion of their
wages, and then go ashore. They had a fine tale to relate, and it may
be taken for granted that no incident connected therewith lost any of
its flavour in the process of narration. It would appear that the
sailors got drunk and "peached" in a most grotesque way. They declared
that although much of the contraband had been disposed of, this was
only done as a blind, and that there were tons beneath the iron ore
and in the peaks and bunkers, and all over the vessel. The story
spread, and grew as it was passed along, until it became the most
colossal smuggling enterprise ever known in the country. The captain
came on board at noon on the day following the arrival, and found a
large number of Custom-house officers on board. Some were in the holds
digging vigorously at the ore with picks and shovels. Their coats
were off, and their shirt sleeves doubled up. Others were on deck
ready for action, but the chief mate prevented them going into the
forepeak, which caused both suspicion and irritation. The captain gave
them permission. Two went forth full of hope and confidence that they
were on the point of reaping their reward. They had no sooner got down
than indescribable cries for God to help them were heard. A rush was
made to see what had happened. The lights were out, and nothing was
visible. They groped their way to the peak ladder, and were nearly
dead with fright when they reached the deck. When they had
sufficiently recovered, they said that there was something in the peak
alive, which kept butting up against them. They were sure it wasn't a
man, and that it must be something evil. An Irish sailor stood close
by laughing and jeering at them, and in genuine brogue he charged them
with being haunted by their own "evil deeds."

"You had no business there," said he, "and to prove to you that I am
right I'll swear divil a thing is there in the peak but cargo gear
and other stores. I'll go down myself and face the evil one you talk
about."

And down he went, but the fright of the officers was feeble to the
Irishman's. He shrieked and flew on deck shouting, "Be God, you're
right, he's there!"

The chief mate suspected what it was, but was not keen on going down
himself or ordering any one else to do so, so the anchor light was
lowered down and shone upon the captain's pet goat. It had been long
aboard for the purpose of supplying milk to the captain and his wife.
The peak hatch had been off, and Nannie, accustomed to go wherever she
pleased, strayed into the darkness and tumbled down. The incident
stopped all work for a time, and created a lot of good-humoured chaff.
The Irishman was especially droll, and endeavoured to carry it off by
swearing he knew it was the goat, but he wanted some other fellow to
have a go at it. "But no fear," said he; "every one of them was dying
with funk."

After a time the captain thought it right to disillusion the officer
in charge, and going up to him asked the meaning of the raid.

"Well," replied the officer, "we have information that there is a
large quantity of tobacco aboard, and that some of it is in the
forepeak, but most of it is about a couple of feet below the iron
ore."

The captain replied, "We had a lot of it a few days since, but there
is not a leaf aboard now that I know of. Every particle has been
thrown overboard. Let me reassure you on this point."

"But," said the officer, "what about the packing? My men have come
across a large quantity."

"That is very true," said the commander; "the packing is the only
thing we saved. Now get your men ashore, there's a good fellow. You
are only working them to death for no earthly reason."

"But the sailors say the tobacco was emptied out of the packing and
covered over with ore."

"Well, if you believe the sailors and you don't believe me, go on
digging. I can only repeat, the search is futile."

"Very well," replied the disconcerted official, "I shall withdraw all
my men but two, who must remain to watch and make sure of there being
no concealment. Not that I disbelieve you. It is merely a formal
precaution which I hope you will think nothing of."

The whole affair had been reported to the Collector of Customs, and
the master was informed that all things considered, the best thing had
been done in ridding himself of an awkward encumbrance. In a few days
an emissary of the Gibraltar syndicate had an interview with the
captain, and then disappeared. It was said that he was strongly
advised to disappear, lest he should be detained by legal authority.

The owner received the freight paid in advance with obvious pleasure,
like a good, Christian gentleman; but the intelligence of how it was
earned and the disastrous conclusion of the undertaking was listened
to with studied gravity. A sermon on the danger of little sins such
as covetousness and the growing love of money was impressively
preached. The owner was convinced that if ever the gentlemen involved
in this little transaction got the opportunity they would take the
master's life, so in the goodness of his heart he determined that the
vessel should not call there for coal until the spirit of vengeance
had had ample time to cool down.

More than twelve months had elapsed since these affairs occurred, when
the owner was offered a charter from the Black Sea, but one of the
unalterable conditions was that the vessel should call at Gibraltar
for orders. The captain strongly urged his owner not to lose so good a
charter because of his anxiety for him, but he was obdurate until the
captain said--

"Then I shall have to resign my command. I cannot go on like this any
longer."

"If you make this the alternative, then I must give way; but the
responsibility is yours alone," was the reply.

The charter was signed, and on a fine summer day two months after, the
_C----_ let go her anchor in Gibraltar Harbour to await her orders. A
tall, fine-looking man came aboard to solicit business of a legitimate
character. He spoke English with fluency and an almost correct accent.
The captain knew he had some business connection with the syndicate,
but did not give him any reason to suppose he had this knowledge. He
was cognisant of the characteristics of these people, and determined
that his safety was in assuming an injured attitude, and making a
slashing attack on the blackguards who had done him so much harm.
Excepting for a slight humorous twist in the corner of his mouth, Mr.
---- received the onslaught with perfect equanimity. The captain asked
if he knew the rascal P----.

"Yes," said he, "I know him. He is a bad lot, and I advise you never
to trust him again. But if you wish me to, I will convey to him what
you say; and I think you would be perfectly justified in carrying out
your intention." (The intention was to horsewhip him publicly.)

The following morning the captain landed with his wife and family, and
boldly walked past the resorts of the men who he had reason to
believe were on his track. He kept his hand on the revolver which was
in his trouser-pocket, and the sound of every foot behind him seemed
to be a message of warning. This ordeal went on for four days, and
never a sign of the dreaded assassins was seen. On the afternoon of
the fifth day he was walking down towards the boat-landing to go on
board, when his eye came in contact with the interpreter and the whole
gang that were concerned in the tobacco enterprise. There was a look
of murder on their villainous faces, which the captain said would
haunt him to his dying day. He spontaneously and without thought said
to his wife, who walked beside him--

"I see the smugglers. Don't look!"

But it came so suddenly upon her that she could not restrain the
temptation of seeing them, and the impression of their malignant looks
had a lasting effect on her. When they reached the boat, the gentleman
who had boarded her on arrival was there. He drew the captain aside,
and whispered that he was being shadowed, and urged that a double
watch be kept at the entrance to the cabin. As a matter of policy the
captain assumed an air of defiance. He promised a sanguinary reception
for them if they attempted to come near his vessel, and he believes to
this day that this alone was the means of preventing an attack.

Next morning orders were brought off, and no time was lost in weighing
anchor and clearing out, and he has never visited the place since.



A Pasha before Plevna


The Eastern Question was ablaze. Mr. Gladstone had published his "bag
and baggage" pamphlet, and made his Blackheath speech in September
1876. Both are memorable for the strong feelings they generated for
and against the object of his attack. Benjamin Disraeli had become the
Earl of Beaconsfield, and had made his bellicose and Judaical speech
at the Lord Mayor's Banquet. The fleet had been ordered to Besika Bay,
and the metropolitan Press was busy backing Turkish saintliness for
all it was worth. The Black Sea ports were crowded with steamers, and
a great rush was made to get them loaded before hostilities broke out.
In a few days there were but two vessels left in ---- Harbour. The
last cart-loads of grain in bags were being shipped. The vessel was
held by a slip-rope at bow and stern, and as soon as she was loaded
they let go, and the pilot took her to the outer harbour and anchored.
The captain went to the town to clear his ship and sign bills of
lading, and great exertions were made by his agents and himself to
have this smartly done so that he could sail before darkness set in.
After his business was done, he came to the landing and was about to
get into his boat when a gentleman stepped up to him, and in an
undertone said--

"Come to my office; I have something important to communicate to you.
Don't, for God's sake, open your lips here. The very stones feel as if
they were spying at me."

The captain hesitated, but his friend whispered--

"You must come; it is urgent, and it will be made worth your while."

Whereupon the cautious commander fell like a slaughtered lamb. They
were soon alone within the four walls of a sumptuously-furnished
private office.

"What's the game?" asked the impatient captain, uneasily.

"This is it," said his friend, coming close up to him and speaking in
a low voice: "I have a secret job for you."

"Is there danger attached to it?" asked the captain.

"Yes, a good deal," replied his friend; "and I have chosen you to do
it, because I know you will carry it out successfully if you'll take
the risk."

"That's all very well," responded the captain, "but I don't care to
overburden myself with danger and risk of confiscation, without I'm
handsomely recompensed for it."

"Hush!" said his friend, nervously; "I think I hear voices. If we are
overheard by any one, we may be betrayed and pounced upon at any
moment."

After listening, he was reassured, and intimated that the worthy
skipper would be well rewarded.

"That entirely alters the question," said the captain. "How much am I
to have, and what is it you wish me to do?"

"You are to have two hundred and fifty pounds if you succeed in
getting a distinguished Turkish pasha and his suite from here, and
land them at Scutari."

"What!" exclaimed the commander. "Do you expect me to run the gauntlet
with a Turkish pasha for two hundred and fifty pounds? Why, his head
is worth thousands, to say nothing about the danger I run of having my
ship confiscated, and myself sent to Siberia. Do not let us waste
time. I will risk it for a thousand pounds, and put my state-room at
his disposal."

The agent demurred, but the captain was for some time obdurate.
However, seven hundred and fifty for the owners with two hundred for
the captain was, after keen negotiation, agreed upon. It was further
arranged that the steamer was not to sail until after midnight, so
that the risk of stoppage would be lessened, and in rowing off as soon
as it came dark, the oars were to be muffled.

"Leave these matters to me," said the captain. "How many passengers
are there?"

"Six," said the agent. "They are in hiding. I will undertake to bring
them aboard, with their baggage, in good time. Extreme care must be
used in getting them away, as we may be watched. I have had to use
'palm oil' liberally, but even that may not prevent their betrayal and
arrest."

"Well, then," said the shrewd commander, "under these circumstances I
must have my freight before the risk actually begins."

It took some time for the agent to make up his mind to part with the
money in advance, but the captain intimated that unless it was paid at
once he would throw the business up. This promptly settled the matter,
and a pledge was given by the enterprising captain to relax no effort
or dash--"Combined with caution," said the agent--to fulfil his
important mission. At 10 p.m., he was rowed alongside the steamer
without having been interrupted or spoken to from the guardship or the
sentries at the forts. After the gig was hoisted to the davits, the
chief officer and chief engineer were asked to go to the saloon, where
specific instructions were given as to the mode of procedure. The
anchor was to be hove short at once very quietly. All lights had to be
put out or blinded, and a full head of steam up at the hour of
sailing. The officers were made aware of the job that had been
undertaken, and relished the excitement of it. At 11.30 the
passengers, with a large amount of baggage, came alongside and were
taken aboard; and as a double precaution, the distinguished pasha and
his attendants went down the forepeak until the vessel got outside.
Their goods were put into the upper side-bunkers, and a wooden
bulkhead put up to obscure them from view in case the vessel was
boarded before getting clear. At midnight the anchor was weighed, and
the steamer slipped out into the Black Sea. Every ounce of steam was
used to make speed, and she was soon into safety so far as distance
could help her.

The passengers, composed of the pasha, his priest, cook, interpreter,
and servant, were then brought from their hiding-place and taken to
the captain's private room. The vessel by this time was enveloped in a
dense black fog. The first blast of the steam whistle startled the
party, and the panic-stricken interpreter rushed on to the bridge. In
a confusion of languages he implored the captain to say whether there
was danger, and begged him to come to his master and his priest and
reassure them that the whistle was being blown to let passing vessels
know of their whereabouts and the course they were steering.

"Ah," said he, "my master is a brave, clever soldier; but like most
soldiers, he does not know anything about the sea, and was in
consequence uneasy when he heard the shrill sound of the whistle.
Indeed, it made him change colour; he thought it might be a Russian
privateer demanding you to stop. And the priest did not wait one
minute; he went on to his knees and bowed his head in prayer, and the
pasha ordered me to come to you quick. You must not think that I was
nervous, captain; I was very excited only."

"Very well," replied the captain, smiling. "You may call it
excitement, but I should call it white funk, the way you conducted
yourself on my bridge. Why, you spoke every language in the universe!"

"Ah, that was not funk, captain; that was what you call confusion,
caused by anxiety for that brave soldier in your cabin, and his
spiritual adviser. Besides, captain, how can you speak to one of your
own countrymen in this fashion, and accuse him of talking so many
tongues! I am a Maltese, and have interpreted for many years for my
good friend, Osman Pasha."

"What!" cried the captain. "Is this the Turkish patriot, Osman Pasha?"

"Now, captain, _you_ are excited; but I do not say that you speak many
languages. Keep cool, and I will tell you. It is not Osman, but it is
very near him, being his lieutenant or aide-de-camp."

"Is it Suleiman?"

"No, it is not."

"Then who the devil is it? By Jupiter! I believe it _is_ Osman."

"I dare not tell you his name; he has been reconnoitring, and has had
narrow escapes."

"That's not what I want to know. Tell me straight away--is it Osman
Pasha, or is it not?"

"Captain," said the wily interpreter, "this is a secret mission. I
cannot tell secrets that may get us all into trouble; but I will
inform you that you will hear of this warrior during the next few
months. I must ask you to come and see him. He cannot speak one word
of English. Bring your chart, as he is sure to ask you to point out to
him exactly our position."

The captain followed the interpreter into the presence of a
majestic-looking person, who saluted him with kindly dignity. His face
wore a thoughtful appearance; his eyes were penetrating, and under a
massive forehead there rested well-developed eyebrows, betokening keen
observation. His chin and nose were strong, and altogether his general
looks, if not handsome, were comely. He gave the commander a real,
big-hearted grip of the hand, which settled the question of friendship
for him at once. Sailors detest a "grisly shake of the flipper." Likes
and dislikes are invariably fixed by this test. The pasha was
exceedingly cordial; asked, through his interpreter, all sorts of
questions about the British Government, British statesmen, admirals,
and generals, and the Army and Navy; but, above all, he was anxious
to hear whether the British people were for or against Turkey. He was
aware that Disraeli was with his nation, and regretted the attitude of
Gladstone. He said poor Turkey had many enemies, and when the captain
told him that he thought the bulk of the British people were in favour
of Disraeli's policy, he held out his hand again in token of
appreciation. The captain spoke very frankly about the Bulgarian
atrocities, and the bad policy of the Turkish Government with her
subject races. The pasha admitted that reforms ought to be given, but
held that the Balkan insurrections were encouraged by Russia in order
to ultimately get hold of Constantinople.

"My Government," said he, "is a better Government than that of Russia.
We do not treat our people worse than she does hers. Are there no
atrocities committed in Russia proper, in Siberia, in Poland? Why does
Mr. Gladstone not demand that Russia shall give reforms to her
subject races? Is it because she is big, and near to India, and calls
herself a Christian nation? We are Mohammedans; and our religion
teaches honesty, cleanness, sobriety, devotion to our God and his
prophet Mahomet, and we adhere to it. Does the Russian adhere to his
religion, which I admit, if carried out, is as good as ours? I think
our consistency is superior to theirs, and the extent of our cruelty
no worse, though I do not justify it. But do you think that the
Servians, Armenians, Herzegovinians, Montenegrins, and Bulgarians are
saints? Do you think that the Turkish people and Governors have not
been provoked to retaliation? There may have been excesses, but no one
who knows the different races will say that the Turks are all bad, or
that the subject races are all good."

He then requested to be shown the position of the steamer on the
chart, asked if there was any danger of collision if the fog
continued, and hoped she was steaming full speed, as he must get to
Constantinople without delay. The captain informed him that so long as
he heard the whistle going the fog was still on, and it might become
necessary to ease down as she drew towards the regular track of
vessels; and when the danger of collision was explained to him, he
agreed that it was necessary to guard against it, but asked through
his interpreter that he should be shown the chart every four hours,
which was agreed. The interpreter then intimated that the priest would
hold a service previous to retiring to rest, and during the passage
they would be held before and after every meal. The food, cooking
utensils, and cook were provided by themselves. They would not eat the
food of Christians, or use their utensils for the purpose of preparing
it. In fact, what with the weird, shrill wail of their "yahing"
prayers, the intolerable smell of their cooking, the smoke from their
"hubblebubbles," and a perpetual run of messages coming from the pasha
(while he was awake) to the officer in charge, they became somewhat of
a nuisance before the first twenty-four hours had expired. The
officers could not get their proper rest, which caused them to feel
justified in becoming profane, and wishing the Turkish windpipes
would snap.

The fog lifted, as it generally does, a little before noon, on the day
after sailing, and an accurate latitude was got; but during the
afternoon it shut down blacker than ever. The engines had to be
slowed, and the whistle was constantly going. The pasha's anxiety to
get to his destination was giving him constant worry, and he became
more and more troublesome. The interpreter explained that the Sultan
was waiting to consult his master about the plan of campaign, and
other military matters, and that the delay was making the pasha
impatient; but in spite of annoying pressure, the captain refused to
depart from the wise precaution of going slow while the fog lasted. At
midnight it cleared up a little, and the engines were put at full
speed until 8 a.m. the following morning, when they ran into a bank of
fog again. The speed was slackened to dead slow, and as she was
nearing the Bosphorus land the lead was kept going; but, owing to the
great depth of water, sounding is little guide towards keeping
vessels clear of the rocks of that steep and iron-bound coast.
Currents run with rapid irregularity, and in no part of the world is
navigation more treacherous than there. According to the reckoning,
the vessel was within four miles of the entrance to the Bosphorus, but
no prudent navigator would have risked going farther until he could
see his way; so orders were given to stop her. This brought more
urgent messages from the pasha. As the day wore on and the mist still
continued, all hope of getting into the Bosphorus had disappeared. The
pasha sent for the captain, and said he must be at Constantinople that
evening.

"Well," said the captain to the interpreter, "tell your master that if
the Sultan and all his concubines were to ask me to go ahead I would
have to refuse."

Then he proceeded to point out the dangers on the chart. This did not
appeal to the pasha's military understanding. What he wanted was to be
landed somewhere, and he did not regard running the vessel ashore with
any disastrous consequences to himself until he was assured that the
rocks were so steep that even in a calm the vessel might sink in deep
water and everybody be drowned.

"Anyhow," said the captain, "I'm not going to try it on; so you must
inform your master of my definite decision. He cannot be more anxious
than I am. I've scarcely closed my eyes since we left, and if this
continues I must face another night of it."

He then went on to the bridge, and had only been there about half an
hour when his persistent passenger approached him beseechingly,
stating that the pasha would give a hundred pounds if he was landed
that night.

"I would not attempt such a thing for twenty hundred," said the
captain.

"Will nothing tempt you, then, to run a risk?" asked the interpreter.

"Nothing but the clearing away of the fog," replied the commander.

He then commenced to walk the bridge, and pondered over the experience
he was having, wrestling with himself as to the amount of risk he
should run. He called the second officer to him, and gave him orders
to go aloft to the foretopgallant mast-head and see if he could make
anything out. The officer was in the act of jumping into the rigging
when a Turkish schooner sailed close alongside and was soon out of
sight. The captain knew then that he was in the vicinity of the
entrance, and set the engines easy ahead. The second mate, after being
at the mast-head about ten minutes, shouted--

"I see over the top of the fog a lighthouse or tower on the port bow.
I can see no land."

When he was asked if he could see anything on the starboard bow, his
answer came in the negative. The captain, fearing lest he might be
steering into the false Bosphorus, which is a treacherous deep bight
that has been the death-trap of many a ship's crew, gave orders to
stop her while he ran aloft to verify the officer's report and scan
over the mist for some landmark to guide him in navigating in the
right direction. He had only been a few minutes at the mast-head when
he discerned the white lighthouse on the starboard bow. There was no
doubt now that these were the Bosphorus lighthouses, and the vessel
was heading right for the centre. The captain asked if they could see
anything from the deck. The chief mate replied that he could scarcely
see the forecastle head, so dense was the fog. The master shouted that
he would navigate the steamer from the topgallant-yard, and gave
instructions to go slow ahead, and to keep a vigilant look-out for
passing vessels. Half an hour's steaming brought them abreast of the
lighthouses, when suddenly they glided into beautiful, clear weather.
The scene was phenomenal. Not a speck of fog was to be seen ahead of
the vessel, while astern there stood a great black pall, as though one
had drawn a curtain across the harbour entrance.

After the papers had been landed at Kavak, the pasha and interpreter
came to the bridge and asked for a few minutes' talk with the captain,
who was in excellent temper at having cut through the fog and saved
daylight through the narrow waters. The pasha was dressed gorgeously,
and many decorations adorned his uniform. He shook the proud commander
warmly by the hand, and through his interpreter gratefully thanked him
for carrying himself and his suite safely to their destination. He did
not undervalue the great danger of having them aboard in the event of
being chased and captured, nor did he under-estimate the risk that had
been run in steaming into dangerous waters during a dense fog; and in
order that the captain might be assured of his grateful appreciation,
he begged to hand him two hundred Turkish pounds for himself. After
suitably offering his thanks for so generous a gift, the captain again
asked the interpreter the name of the distinguished general he had had
the honour of carrying as a passenger, and was again told that such
questions could not be answered.

Before the sun had sunk beneath the horizon, they had reached Scutari;
and in order that the passengers might be disembarked comfortably, the
anchor was dropped. Caiques came alongside for them and for their
baggage. The captain went to the gangway to see the pasha safely into
the boat, and to say his _adieux_ to him. After he had got safely
seated in the caique, and the interpreter was about to follow, the
commander held out his hand to him and said--

"Before bidding good-bye, may I again venture to ask if I have had the
honour of conveying Osman Pasha to Constantinople, or whom I have
conveyed?"

The interpreter, with an air of injured pride, drew himself up to his
full height, and said--

"Captain, I have told you not to ask such things. Good-day."

But that was how one of the heroes of Plevna made his first English
ally by sea.



A Russian Port in the 'Sixties


My first visit to Russia was at the age of thirteen. I was serving
aboard a smart brig that had just come from the Guano Islands in the
Indian Ocean. The captain and officers belonged to the "swell" type of
seaman of that period. The former has just passed away at the age of
eighty-four. He was in his younger days a terror to those who served
under him, and a despot who knew no pity. In an ordinary way he was
most careful not to lower the dignity of his chief officer in the eyes
of the crew, but wherever his self-interest was concerned he did not
stick at trivialities. I have a vivid recollection of a very
picturesque passage of words being exchanged between him and his
first mate. The officer had been commanded to go ashore in the
longboat at 5 a.m. on the morning after arrival for the labourers who
were required to assist the sailors to discharge the cargo. The
infuriated mate asked his commander if he took him for a "procurator"
of Russian serfs, and reminded him that his certificate of competency
was a qualification for certain duties which he was willing to
perform; but as this did not come within the scope of them, he would
see him to blazes before he would stoop to the level of becoming the
engager of a drove of Russian convicts.

"What is it coming to," said he, "that a chief mate should be
requested to take charge of a boat-load of fellows who wouldn't be fit
to live in our country? The boatswain is the proper man to do this
kind of work, and if you cannot trust him to select the lousie
rascals, then go yourself!"

These harsh words affected the captain so much that he became
inarticulate with passion; but when he had somewhat recovered, the
splendour of his jerky vocabulary could be heard far beyond the
precincts of the cabin. He declared that his authority had never been
outraged in such a fashion before, and with the air of an autocrat
ordered the mate to his berth until the morrow, when he would have to
appear before the British Consul.

The officer's pride was injured, his temper was up, and he began to
suitably libel everybody. Her Majesty's representative was the object
of much vituperation, and a rather brilliant harangue was brought to a
close by the officer stating that he would go and see the blooming
Consul, and say some straight things to him. With a final flourish he
called out at the top of his voice, disdainfully--

"Who the h---- is he?"

The next morning at ten o'clock the captain gave orders to row him
ashore. The mate wore a humbler appearance than on the previous day:
meditation had mellowed him. He stepped into the boat beside his
commander, but was told with icy dignity that the boy would take him
ashore in the cook's lurky. No greater insult could have been offered
to an officer. The Consul at that time was Walter Maynard, a charming
man whom I knew well years afterwards. Although I only heard odds and
ends of what transpired, I feel sure the advice given was in the
mate's interests, and made him see his objection from another point of
view. He did not take kindly to bringing the labourers off, but he
sullenly commenced from that day to do it.

Coal cargoes were at that time jumped out of the hold with four ropes
bent on to one called a runner, which was rove through a coal gin
fastened on to the end of a derrick composed of two studdingsail booms
lashed together, and steps were rigged with studdingsail yards and
oars. The arrangement had the appearance of a gate, and was fixed at
an angle. Four men gave one sharp pull with the whip ropes, and then
jumped from the step on to the deck. The men in the hold changed
places with the whips every two hours. It was really an exciting thing
to witness the whipping out of coal cargoes. It may be seen even now
in some ports of the United Kingdom, but the winch has largely taken
the place of this athletic process. Most captains supplied rum or
vodka liberally, with a view to expediting dispatch, and did not
scruple to log and fine those seamen who acquired a craving for
alcohol, and misconducted themselves in consequence when they got
liberty to go ashore. Nobody was more severe on the men who committed
a breach of discipline than those who, for their own profit, had
taught them to drink.

The poor, wretched Russians who were employed aboard English and other
vessels were treated with a cruelty that was hideous. Before the
emancipation of the serfs by the Emperor Alexander II. in 1861, it was
not an uncommon occurrence for captains and officers and seamen to
maltreat them, knock them on the head, and then pass their bodies over
the side of the vessel into the Mole. One of the first things I
remember hearing in a Russian port was a savage mate swearing at some
labourers and threatening to throw them overboard. It is no
exaggeration to say that almost every day dead bodies came to the
surface and were taken to the "Bran" Wharf or to the mortuary, with
never a word of inquiry as to how they came by their end, though it
was well known that there had been foul play. It is true they were
awful thieves, very dirty, very lazy, and very provoking, and it was
because the officers were unable to get redress that they took the law
into their own hands. It is incredible that such a condition of things
was allowed to exist.

A stock phrase even to this day of predatory Russians is, "Knet
crawlim, tackem"--_i.e._, "I have not stolen, I have only taken." They
have a pronounced conviction that there is a difference between
stealing and taking. Tradition has it that a humorous seaman ages ago
conveyed this form of distinction to them, and it has stuck to them
ever since. Another peculiarity of the race is that they wear the same
large grey coat in the summer as they do in the winter; they are
taught to believe that what keeps out cold keeps out heat. When they
take drink they never stop until they are dead drunk, then they lie
anywhere about the streets and quays. The police, who are not much
better, use them very cruelly. During the Russo-Turkish war hundreds
of the common soldiers, who are similar to the common labourer, were
found lying on the battle-field, presumably dead, when it was found
they were only dead drunk. I was told by a doctor, who went right
through the campaign, that it was customary to fill the "soldads," as
they are called, previous to a battle, with vodka. The lower order of
Russians must be hardy, or they could never stand the extremes of cold
and heat, and the terrible food they have to eat. They are not
long-lived. I cannot recall ever having seen a very old Russian
labourer.

The emancipation of the serfs was a great grievance to the old seamen,
who looked back to the days when they could with impunity chastise or
finish a serf without a feeling of reproach. After the emancipation it
became a terror to have them aboard ship. Many a mate has been heavily
fined and locked up in a pestilential cell for merely shoving a
fellow who was caught in the act of stealing, or found skulking, or
deliberately refusing to work properly. Labourers, in fact, became a
herd of blackmailers, and were encouraged in it by some agency or
other, who shared the plunder. One old captain, with an expression of
sadness on his face, told me, on my first visit to Cronstadt since I
was a boy, that everything had changed for the worse.

"At one time," said he, "you never got up of a morning without seeing
a few dead Russians floating about. You could chuck them overboard if
you liked, and nobody interfered. Many a time I've put one over the
side. But now you dare not whisper, much less touch them."

The general opinion amongst English seamen, from the master downwards,
was that a great injustice had been done to us by the Decree of
Liberation.

On one occasion I lay alongside a Yankee ship which was loading flax.
Work had ceased for breakfast. I saw the chief officer on the poop,
said "Good morning" to him, and asked him how the loading was going
on.

"Well," said he, "it goes not so bad, but we've had an accident this
morning which stopped us for nearly an hour. There were three or four
bales of flax slung in the hatchway; the slings slipped, and the bales
fell right on a dozen Russians."

"That is very serious," I said. "Did it kill them?"

"No," drawled he, with a slow smile; "it didn't exactly kill them, but
I guess it has flattened them out some."

The "Bran" Wharf was then a large pontoon, with dwelling accommodation
for Custom-house officers and harbour officials. It was moored just at
the entrance to the dock or mole, and was in charge of an official who
regulated the berthing of vessels. This man was originally a boatswain
aboard a Russian warship. He was illiterate, but very clever, so much
so that great power was put into his hands; indeed, he became quite as
powerful in his way as his Imperial Majesty himself. Every
conceivable complaint and petty dispute was taken to him, and it was
soon found that it could be settled in a way that did not involve a
fine or imprisonment. In fact, there were occasions when a favourite
English captain or mate asked this official's aid in getting the
Russians to work properly. He would, if agreeably disposed, come
aboard, spit, stamp, and swear at the men in a most picturesque way,
and if he had had a glass or two of grog, or wanted one, and the
captain or mate made a very bad report, he would lash the skulkers
with a piece of rope. When he was finished there was no more need for
complaint. This notorious person was called Tom the Boatswain. He drew
very fine distinctions as to whom he favoured with his countenance and
his chastening rod. For obvious reasons, he loathed a Swede and a
Norwegian. In truth, he told me himself that Englishmen were "dobra"
(good), and that Norwegians and Swedes were "knet dobra." He spoke a
peculiar kind of English, with a fascinating accent, and when he went
his rounds in the early morning, rowed by two uniformed sailors,
studied respect was paid to him. His invitations to breakfast, or to
have a glass of brandy (which he preferred to whisky), indicated the
esteem, fear, or amount of favours inspired by him. He in turn
endeavoured to pay a hurried visit to each of his guests, ostensibly
to see that their vessels were properly berthed, and the men working
properly, but really to test the generosity of the captains, who
seldom let him go without a "douceur," which was sometimes
satisfactory. He was accustomed, when asked to have refreshment, to
request that his two men should have a nip also. One morning he
visited a favourite captain who had arranged with his mate to act
liberally towards the men. His stay in the cabin was prolonged, and
when he came on deck and called for the boat, his devoted henchmen did
not come forth. He looked over the quarter-deck, and was thrown into
frenzy by seeing them both lying speechless, their bodies in the
bottom, and their legs sticking up on the seats of the boat. He got
into her, kicked the two occupants freely without producing from them
any appreciable symptoms of life, and then finally rowed himself back
to the "Bran" Wharf. The two culprits were compulsory teetotalers
after that.

Their master went on accumulating roubles, which, under Russian law,
Tom could not invest in his own name, and perhaps he had personal
reasons for secrecy. He did not allow the amount of his wealth to be
known to gentlemen who might have relieved him of the anxiety of
watching over it. But, alas! there came a period of great trial to
Tom. That portion of the "Bran" Wharf where the roubles were concealed
took fire. The occupants had to fly for their lives, and soon the
whole fabric was burnt to the water's edge. Another pontoon was
erected in its place, and Tom put in command; but before he had time
to replace the fortune he had lost, he was superseded by a naval
officer, and his roubles were taken from him. I believe his dismissal
was brought about by one of the countrymen to whom he had such a
strong aversion making a complaint to the Governor about his
partiality to Englishmen. Great sympathy was secretly extended to poor
Tom by his English friends, but the loss of his position and his
wealth broke his heart, and he only survived the blow for a few weeks.

In addition to controlling the berthing of vessels, and keeping the
harbour free from confusion, it was Tom's duty to see that no fires or
lights were allowed either by day or night, and, as these rigid rules
were frequently broken, his "hush money" very largely contributed to
his already affluent income. Nor did his removal affect the
acquisitiveness of his successor, who loyally followed in his
footsteps. As soon as a sailing-vessel arrived in the Roads, the
galley fire had to be put out before she was allowed to come into the
Mole. All cooking was done ashore at a cookhouse that was loathsomely
dirty. A heavy charge was made for the use of the place, and also for
the hire of the cook's lurky, a flat-bottomed kind of boat constructed
of rough planks. These boats were invariably so leaky that on the
passage to and from the shore they became half-foil of water, and the
food was frequently spoiled in consequence. But, even if all went
right, the crews often had to partake of badly cooked, cold rations.
Many a meal was lost altogether, and once or twice a poor cook who
could not swim was drowned by the boat filling and capsizing. The
frail craft of this kind were of curious shape, and only a person who
had the knack could row them. No more comical sport could be witnessed
than the lurky race which was held every season. Many of the cooks
never acquired the art of rowing straight, and whenever they put a
spurt on the lurky would run amuck in consequence of being
flat-bottomed and having no keel. Then the carnival of collisions,
capsizing of boats, and rescuing of their occupants began. Some
disdained assistance, and heroically tried to right their erratic
"dug-outs." It would be impossible to draw a true picture of these
screamingly funny incidents, but be it remembered they were all
sailor-cooks who took part in the sport, and the riotous joy they
derived therefrom was always a pleasant memory, and kept them for
days in good temper for carrying out the pilgrimage to and from the
cookhouse.

The popular English idea is that there are only two classes in
Russia--viz., the upper and lower; but this is quite a mistake. There
has always been a thrifty shopkeeping and artisan class, which may be
called their middle lower class. Then there is a class that comes
between them and the common labourer. Nearly all the shopkeepers that
carry on business at Cronstadt, Riga, and other Northern Russian ports
during the summer have their real homes in Moscow, and mostly all
speak a little English. There are also the boatmen, who are a
well-behaved, well-dressed lot of men, whose homes are in Archangel.
They, as well as the tradesmen, come every spring, and leave when the
port closes in the autumn. In the sailing-ship days each of the
greengrocers--as they were called, though they sold all kinds of
stores besides--had their connection. Every afternoon, between four
and six, batches of captains were to be found seated in a
greengrocer's shop having a glass of tea with a piece of lemon in it.
It was then they spun their yarns in detail about their passages,
their owners, their mates, their crews, and their loading and
discharging. If their vessels were unchartered they discussed that
too, but whenever they got authority from their owners to charter on
the best possible terms they became reticent and sly with each other.
To exchange views as to the rate that should be accepted would have
been regarded as a decided token of business incapacity. Supposing two
captains had their vessels unchartered, each would give instructions
to be called early in the morning, that they might go in the first
boat to St. Petersburg, and neither would know what the other
intended. When they met aboard the passenger boat they would lie to
each other grotesquely about what was taking them to town. If they
were unsuccessful in fixing, they rarely disclosed what had been
offered; and this would go on for days, until they had to fix; then
they would draw closer to each other, and relate in the most minute
fashion the history of all the negotiations, and how cleverly they
had gained this or that advantage over the charterers; whereas, in
truth, their agents or brokers had great trouble in getting some of
them to understand the precise nature of the business that was being
negotiated. The following is an instance.

Mr. James Young, of South Shields, whose many vessels were
distinguished by having a frying-pan at the foretopgallant or royal
mast-head, had a brig at Cronstadt which had been waiting unloaded for
some days. Her master was one of the old illiterate class. His peace
of mind was much disturbed at Mr. Young's indifference. At last he got
a telegram asking him to wire the best freights offering. He proceeded
to St. Petersburg, bounced into Mr. Charles Maynard's office, and
introduced himself as Mark Gaze, one of Jimmy Young's skippers.

"Well," said Mr. Maynard, in his polite way, "and what can I do for
you, Captain Gaze?"

"Dee for me, sorr? Wire the aad villain that she's been lyin' a week
discharged."

"Yes," said the broker, writing down something very different. "And
what else?"

"Tell him," said Mark, "te fetch the aad keel back te the Gut, and let
hor lie and rot wheor he can see hor!"

"Very good," said Maynard, still waiting; "and what else?"

"Whaat else? Oh, tell him to gan to h----, and say Mark Gaze says see.
Ask him whaat the blazes he means be runnin' the risk of gettin' hor
frozzen in. Say aa'll seun be at Shields owerland, if he dizzen't mind
whaat he's aboot."

"Well, now," said the agent, "I think we have got to the bottom of
things. We'll send this telegram off; but before it goes, would you
like me to read it to you?"

"For God's sake send the d---- thing away!" said Mark. "And tell him
te come and tyek the aad beast hyem hissel; or, if he likes, aa'll run
hor on te Hogland for him."

"Well, you do seem to understand your owner and speak plainly to him.
I should think he knows he has got an excellent master who looks
after his interest."

"Interest! What diz he knaa aboot interest? He knaas mair aboot the
West Docks. Understand him, d'ye say? If aa divvent, thor's neebody in
his employ diz. Aa've been forty-five years wiv him and his fethor
tegithor. Aa sarved me time wiv him. He dorsent say a word, or aa'd
tell him to take his ship to h---- wiv him."

"That is really capital," said the much amused agent. "Now, what do
you say, captain, if we have some light refreshment and a cigar?"

"Ay, that's what aa caal business. But aa nivvor tyek leet
refreshment. Ma drink is brandy or whisky neat," said Captain Gaze,
his face beaming with good-nature.

They proceeded to a restaurant, and when they got nicely settled down
with their drinks and smokes, the skipper remarked--

"Aa wonder what Jimmie waad say if he could see Mark Gaze sittin' in a
hotel hevvin' his whisky and smokin' a cigar?"

"I should think," said Mr. Maynard, "he would raise your wages, or
give you command of a larger ship." And then there was hearty
laughter.

Captain Gaze had a profound dislike to Russians, and more than once
narrowly escaped severe punishment for showing it. I have often heard
him swearing frightfully at the men passing deals from the lighters
into the bow ports of his vessel, and declaring that God Almighty must
have had little on hand when he put them on earth. Certainly he would
have considered it an act of gross injustice if, having killed or
drowned any of them, he had been punished for it.

Mark did not know anything about history that was written in books. He
only knew that which had occurred in his own time, and the crude bits
he had heard talked of amongst his own class. He, and those who were
his shipmates and contemporaries during the Russian War, believed that
a great act of cowardice and bad treatment had been committed in not
allowing Charlie Napier to blow the forts down and take possession of
Cronstadt.[2] They knew nothing of the circumstances that led to the
withdrawal of the fleet, but their inherent belief was that a dirty
trick had been served on Charlie, and Russians, irrespective of class,
were told whenever an opportunity occurred, that they should never
neglect to thank Heaven that the British Government was so generous as
to refrain from blowing them into space.

At Cronstadt, after the introduction of steam, it became a custom for
stevedores' runners, and representatives and vendors of other
commodities, to have their boats outside the Mole at three and four
o'clock in the morning during the summer. The captain of each vessel,
as soon as she was slowed down or anchored, was canvassed vigorously
by each of the competitors. One morning, the representative of Deal
Yard No. 6, who was an ex-English captain, came into sharp conflict
with a Russian competitor. The latter rudely interrupted the
ex-captain while he was complimenting a friend who had just arrived on
having made a smart passage. All captains like to be told they have
made a smart passage, but the ardent advocate of Deal Yard No. 6 kept
welcoming his friend at great length, obviously to prevent the other
runners from getting a word at the new arrival. There arose a revolt
against him, headed by a person who was always supposed to be a
Russian, but who spoke English more correctly than his English
competitor. The ex-captain was somewhat corpulent. He was short, and
had a plump, good-natured face which suggested that he was not a
bigoted teetotaler; he had a suit of clothes on that did not convey
the idea of a West-end tailor; his dialect was broad Yorkshire, and
his conversational capacity interminable. The representative of No. 10
Deal Yard undertook to stop his flow of rhetoric by calling out,
"Stop it, old baggy breeches! Give other people a chance!" But he paid
no heed, and did not even break the thread of his talk until the
captain of the steamer began to walk towards the companion-way, when
he stopped short and said, "Well, I suppose I'm to book you for No.
6?" and then there was a clamour. The whole of the runners wished to
get their word in before the captain definitely promised, but they
were too late. No. 6 had got it; but instead of accepting his success
modestly, he was so elated at having taken away an order from another
yard, that he stood up in his boat and congratulated himself on being
an Englishman.

"No use you fellows coming off here when I'm awake; and, you bet, I'm
always awake when there's any Muscovite backstairs gentlemen about."

As the boats were being rowed into the Mole again, some one asked who
had got the ship. The Russian competitor, who was angry at the work
being taken from his master, called out, "Bags has got her, the
drunken old sneak!"

Bags lost no time in letting fly an oar at him, the yoke and rudder
quickly following. His vengeance was let loose, and he poured forth a
stream of quarter-deck language at the top of his voice. His phrases
were dazzling in ingenuity, and amid much laughter and applause he
urged his hearers to keep at a distance from the fellow who had dared
to insult an English shipmaster.

"Or you will get some passengers that will keep you busy.
They--_he_--calls them _peoches_, but we English call them _lice_!"

This sally caused immense amusement, not so much for what was said as
for his dramatic style of saying it. His antagonist retorted that he
had been turned out of England for bad language and bad behaviour, and
he would have him turned out of Russia also. This nearly choked the
old mariner with rage. He roared out--

"Did I, an English shipmaster, ever think that I would come to this,
to be insulted by a Russian serf? I will let the Government know that
an Englishman has been insulted. I will lay the iniquities of this
Russian system of rascality before Benjamin Disraeli. I knows him; and
if he is the man I takes him for, he won't stand any nonsense when it
comes to insulting English subjects. He has brought the Indian troops
from India for that purpose, and when the honour of England is at
stake he will send the fleet into the Baltic, and neither your ships
nor your forts will prevent his orders to blow Cronstadt down about
your blooming ears being carried out. I know where your torpedoes and
mines are, and Disraeli has confidence in me showing them the road to
victory. The British Lion never draws back!"

The Russian deal-yard man, to whom this harangue was particularly
directed, went to the Governor on landing, and stated what the rough,
weather-beaten old sailor had been saying. The Governor communicated
with the authorities at St. Petersburg, and an order came to have the
old Englishman banished from Cronstadt and Russia for ever within
twenty-four hours. The poor creature had made a home for himself in
Cronstadt, his wife and four children being with him. The blow was so
sharp and unexpected, it stupefied him. His first thought was his
family, but there was little or no time for thought or preparation. He
had either to be got away or concealed. A liberal distribution of
roubles at the instigation of many sympathizers made it possible for
him to be put aboard an English steamer, and a week after his
banishment was supposed to have taken effect he sailed from Cronstadt,
a ruined and broken-hearted man. The old sailor's grief for the harm
his wayward conduct had done to his wife and family was quite
pathetic, and so far as kindness could appease the mental anguish he
was having to endure it was ungrudgingly extended to him, and when he
left Cronstadt he left behind him a host of sympathizers who regarded
the punishment as odious.

The fact of any public official listening to a miscreant who told the
story of a stevedores' row, to which he himself had been a party, and
seriously believing that the threats, however extravagant and
bellicose, of a verbose old sailor could be a national danger, is, on
the face of it, so ludicrous that the English reader may easily doubt
the accuracy of such an incident; and yet it is true.

       *       *       *       *       *

In other days I used occasionally to meet members of the Russian
revolutionary party at my brother's home in London. They were all men
and women of education and refinement. The first time I met them the
late Robert Louis Stevenson (who generally used the window as a means
of exit instead of the door), William Henley, George Collins (editor
of the _Schoolmaster_), and, I think, Mr. Wright (author of _the
Journeyman Engineer_) were there. The talk was very brilliant. My
brother, who was a charming conversationalist, kept his visitors
fascinated with anecdotes about Carlyle and John Ruskin, whom he knew
well. They spoke, too, about the unsigned articles which they were
each contributing to a paper called the _London_, and their criticism
of each other's work was very lively. But to me the most touching
incident of the afternoon was the story told by one of the
revolutionary party about Sophie Peroffsky, who mounted the scaffold
with four of her friends, kissed and encouraged them with cheering
words until the time came that they should be executed. He related
also a touching and detailed story of little Marie Soubitine, who
refused to purchase her own safety by uttering a word to betray her
friends, and was kept lingering in an underground dungeon for three
years, at the end of which she was sent off to Siberia, and died on
the road. No amount of torture could make her betray her friends. They
spoke of Antonoff, who was subjected to the thumbscrew, had red-hot
wires thrust under his nails, and when his torturers gave him a little
respite he would scratch on his plate cipher signals to his comrades.

The account of the cause and origin of the revolutionary movement and
its subsequent history, which sparkled with heroic deeds, was told in
a quiet, unostentatious manner. I had just come from Russia. I had
been much in that country, and thought I knew a great deal about it
and the sinister system of government that breeds revolutionaries; but
the tales of cruel, senseless despotism told by these people made me
shudder with horror. I had been accustomed to abhor and look upon
Nihilists as a scoundrelly gang of lawless butchers, but I found them
the most cultured of patriots, loving their country, though detesting
the barbarous system of government which had driven them and thousands
of their compatriots from the land and friends they loved, and from
the estates they owned, into resigned and determined agitation for
popular government and the amelioration of their people. The upholders
of this despotic system of government are now engaged in a
life-and-death struggle, and all civilized nations are looking forward
to the time when, for the first time in its history, Right and not
Might shall prevail in Russia. It has been said, "Happy is the nation
that has no history." Russia knows this to her cost, for her history
is being made every day, with all the horrible accompaniments of
massacres, injustice, and tyranny. Only it should be remembered that
the fight must be between tyranny and liberty, and that the Russian
peasant must work out his own salvation. This may be--nay, must
be--the work of years, but England's sympathy will be with the workers
for freedom. English feeling on the matter was well expressed by the
statesman who had the courage to say publicly, "Long live the Duma!"
and every Englishman will in his heart of hearts applaud any efforts
made to secure constitutional government.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 2: Napier was a great favourite with his sailors,
notwithstanding his apparent harshness to them at times. Whenever he
wanted a dash made on a strong position, he inspired them with a fury
of enthusiasm by giving the word of command incisively, and then
adding as an addendum, "Now, off you go, you damned rascals, and
exterminate them." This was a form of endearment, and they knew it.]



"Dutchy" and his Chief


A handsome barque lay at the quay of a South Wales port, ready to
sail, and waiting only for the flood tide. Her name was the _Pacific_,
and she was commanded by a person of laborious dignity. His officers
were selected to meet the tastes and ambitions of their captain, whose
name was John Kickem. I have said before it was customary in those
days for crowds of people to congregate on the quays or dock sides to
watch the departure of vessels. Some came out of curiosity, but many
were the relatives and friends of different members of the crew who
wished to say their _adieux_, and to listen to the sombre singing of
the chanties as the men mastheaded the topsail yards, or catted and
fished the anchors. These vessels were known as copper-ore-men. They
were usually manned with picked able seamen and three apprentices. In
this instance they were all fine specimens of English manhood. It was
no ordinary sight to witness the display of bunting as it stretched
from royal truck to rail, and the grotesque love-making of the
seafarers as they hugged and kissed their wives and sweethearts over
and over again with amazing rapidity. One of the favourite songs which
they delighted to sing on such auspicious occasions was rendered with
touching pathos--

    "Sing good-bye to Sal, and good-bye to Sue;
      Away Rio!
    And you that are list'ning, good-bye to you;
    For we're bound to Rio Grande!
      And away Rio, aye Rio!
    Sing fare ye well, my bonny young girl,
    We're bound to Rio Grande."

It didn't matter, of course, where they were bound to, this ditty was
the farewell song; and it always had the desired effect of melting
the bystanders, especially the females, though Jack himself showed no
really soft emotion. Not that they were not sentimental, but theirs
seemed always to be a frolicsome sentimentality.

The eldest apprentice of the _Pacific_ was in his eighteenth year. He
was a fine, broad-shouldered, fair-haired, medium-sized youth. He had
been dividing his attentions amongst a number of girl admirers, and
was told to come aboard to unmoor and give the tug the tow-rope. While
these orders were being carried out the lad caught sight of a young
girl who had just arrived in a great state of excitement. She was
dressed in dazzling finery, and carrying something in a basket. The
boy sprang on to the dock wall, and created much merriment with his
elephantine caresses. They shouted to him from the vessel to jump
aboard or he would lose his passage. He made a running spring for the
main rigging as she was being towed from her berth. A wild cheer went
up from the crowd when they saw the smart thing that had been done,
and that he was safe. The devoted female who had caused him to dare so
much, in the luxuriance of grief, shouted to him--

"Good-bye, Jim! You've always been a rare good pal to a girl. Take
care of yourself; and mind, no sweethearts at every port!" The latter
communication was made almost inarticulate with sobbing. Her last
words were, "Don't forget, Jim!" To which he replied, "You bet, I
won't!"

Soon the attractive craft, and her equally attractive crew were lost
sight of amidst the haze of the gathering night. A quiet, easterly air
was fitfully blowing in the Channel, and when full sail was set, the
pilot and tug left. All night she trailed sinuously over the peaceful
sea, and as the cold dawn was breaking she slid past the south end of
Lundy Island with a freshening breeze at her stern. In a few days the
north-east trade winds which blow gently over the bosom of the ocean
were reached, and every stitch of canvas was hung up. The sailors had
got over their monotony, and began to entertain themselves during the
dog-watches from six to eight. The imperious commander was never happy
himself, and was angry at the sight of mirth in anybody. He forthwith
commenced a system that was well calculated to breed revolt, and which
did ultimately do so. Orders were given that there were to be no
afternoon watches below, and all hands were to be kept at work until 6
p.m. In addition to this petty tyranny, the crew were put on their
bare whack of everything, including water; and so the dreary days and
nights passed on until Cape Horn was reached. They had long realized
that the burden of their song should be "Good-day, bad day, God send
Sunday." The weather was stormy off the Horn, and nearly a month was
spent in fruitless attempts to get round. The spirit had been knocked
out of the officers and crew by senseless bullying and wicked
persecution. They had no heart left to put into their work, otherwise
the vessel would have got past this boisterous region in half the
time. At last she arrived at Iquique, and, like all ill-conditioned
creatures who have been born wrong and have polecat natures, the
captain blamed the hapless officers and crew for the long passage, and
in order to punish the poor innocent fellows, he refused to them both
money and liberty to go ashore. Treatment of such a character could
only have one ending--and that was mutiny, if not murder; and yet this
senseless fellow, in defiance of all human law, kept on goading them
to it. He was warned by a catspaw (whom even despised bullies can have
in their pay) that the forecastle was a hotbed of murderous intent,
and that for his own safety he should give the men liberty to go
ashore, and advance them what money they required.

"Let them revolt!" said he. "I will soon have them where they deserve
to be, the rascals. Let them, if they dare, disturb me in my cabin,
and I'll riddle them with lead. If they want to go ashore, let them go
without liberty; but if they do, their wages will be forfeited, and I
will have them put in prison."

A policy of this kind was the more remarkable, as even if the men were
driven to desertion it was impossible to fill their places at anything
like the same wages, or with the same material. The available hands
were either not sailors at all, or if they were, they belonged to the
criminal class that feared neither God nor man, and knew no law or
pity except that which was unto themselves. On the other hand, this
vessel was manned with the cream of British seamen, who would have
dared anything for their captain and owners had they been treated as
was their right. He had run the length of human forbearance. The crew
struck. They demanded to see the British Consul, and submit their
grievances to him. Sometimes this authority is but a poor tribunal to
appeal to when real discrimination is to be determined. On this
occasion the seamen were fortunate in getting a sympathetic verdict,
and the captain got what he deserved--a good trouncing for his
treatment of them. They were willing to sign off the articles, and he
was plainly told that they must either be paid their wages in full, or
he undertake to carry out the conditions of engagement in a proper
manner. "And I must warn you," said the irate official of the British
Government, "if you drive these men out of your ship, you may expect
no assistance from me in collecting another crew. The men are right,
and you are wrong."

The captain was in a state of sullen passion at the turn things had
taken against him. He said that he would decide the following day
whether the proper course for him to take, now that his authority had
been broken, was to pay the men off or not. On the morrow he
intimated his decision to pay them off. Poor creature, it would have
been well for him and all connected with this doomed vessel had he
swallowed his pride and resolved to behave in a rational way to his
crew. The places of respectable men were filled with human reptiles of
various nationalities--criminals, every one of them. He must have
persuaded himself that his despotism would have fuller play with these
foreigners, whose savage vengeance was destined to shock the whole
civilized world with their awful butchery. The apprentices and
officers did not take kindly to the changed condition of things. They
instinctively felt that they were to become associated with a gang of
-, and hoped that something would transpire to prevent this
happening. An opportunity was given the oldest apprentice in an
unexpected way. The captain had ordered his gig to be ashore to take
him aboard at a certain time at night. The boat was there before the
captain, and as he was so long in coming the boat's crew went for a
walk ashore. The great man came down and had to wait a few minutes for
his men. This caused him to become abusive, which the oldest
apprentice, James Leigh, resented by using some longshore adjectives.
The master seized the foothold of the stroke oar and threw it at the
lad, and when they got aboard the captain again attempted to strike
him, but the lad let fly, and did considerable damage in a rough and
tumble way to the bully, who was now like a wild beast. James was
ultimately overpowered and got a bad beating. He thereupon determined
to run away, and he laid his plans accordingly. In a few days he was
far away from the sea in a safe, hospitable hiding-place, with some
friends who knew his family at home, and the _Pacific_ had sailed long
before he reached the coast again.

After a few months' travelling about, picking up jobs here and there,
he was brought in contact with a rich old Spaniard who owned a leaky
old barque which was employed in the coasting trade. The captain of
her was a Dutchman who spoke English very imperfectly, and what he did
know was spoken with a nasal Yankee twang. It was a habit, as well as
being thought an accomplishment in those days, as it is in these, to
affect American dialect and adopt their slang and mannerisms in order
to convey an impression of importance. Even a brief visit to the
country, or a single passage in a Yankee ship was sufficient to turn a
hitherto humble fellow into an insufferable imitator. It was obvious
the skipper had been a good deal on the Spanish Main, as he spoke
their language with a fluency that left no doubt as to what he had
been doing for many years. He was discovered at a time when the owner
was in much need of some one to take charge of his vessel, as she did
not attract the highest order of captain. The Dutchman had no Board of
Trade master or mate certificate; he was merely a sailor. James Leigh
was discovered in pretty much the same way as the captain, and the
owner took a strong liking to him at the outset. He was good to look
at, and gifted with a bright intelligence which made him attractive,
besides having the advantage of knowing something about navigation.
The chief mate's berth was offered to him and accepted. Furthermore,
it was suggested that he should visit and stay at the owner's house,
whenever the vessel was in port and his services were not required
aboard, and seeing that he was not yet eighteen, he felt flattered at
the distinction that had been thrust upon him. Perhaps he accepted the
invitation all the more readily as he was informed by his employer
that he had two daughters that would like to make his acquaintance.

The first voyage was to Coronel and back with coal to Iquique. Mr.
Leigh, as he was now addressed by everybody, on the ship or ashore,
had intimated to his commander that he liked his berth for the
prospects that might open up to him, but he didn't relish the thought
of having to pump so continuously; whereupon Captain Vandertallen
winked hard at him, and strongly urged that it should be put up with,
and to keep his eye on the girls who were to inherit their father's
fortune.

"I tink," said he, "I vill marry de one and you vill have de other."

"I don't know about that," retorted James Leigh. "You see I've a girl
at home, and somehow I thinks a lot about her. But a bit of money
makes a difference; I must think it over."

Quarterdeck etiquette was not observed between the two men. The
captain addressed his first officer as Jim, and Jim addressed his
captain as "Dutchy." This familiarity was arrived at soon after they
came together, owing to a strong difference of opinion on some point
of seamanship which had to do with the way a topgallant sail ought to
be taken in without running any risk of splitting it. The quarrel was
furious. Jim had called his commander "a blithering, fat-headed
Dutchman, not fit to have charge of a dung barge, much less a
square-rigged ship. Captain Kickem of the _Pacific_ would not have
carried you as ballast."

Vandertallen was almost inarticulate. He frothed out--

"Yes, an' you he vould not carry at all; you too much chick. Remember
I the captain, and I vill discharge you at first port."

"Oh, you go to h----!"

"No, I vill not go to h----. I'll just stay here, and you can go to
----. You jist a boy."

"All right, Dutchy," replied the refractory mate; "you'll want me
before I want you."

And this was a correct prediction, as, a few days later, Dutchy lost
himself, and was obliged to come to his mate and ask the true position
of the vessel.

"I am not captain," said he. "Do it yourself; you are a very clever
fellow."

"No, no," said Vandertallen; "you know better dan me. Let us be
friends, Jim. I call you Jim; you call me Dutchy, or vat you like."

"All right, then," said James Leigh. "If that is to be the way, I'll
tell you where you are, and if you had run in the same direction other
four hours you would have been ashore on the Island of Mocha."

"Vair is dat?" said Vandertallen, nervously.

"For Heaven's sake don't ask such silly questions," said the mate.
"You are miles out of your reckoning."

"Vell, I'm d----!" said the amazed skipper. "Den you must do de
reckonin' now, Jim."

"That's all very well, Dutchy, but if I have to do the navigation I am
entitled to share the pay."

"Vary vell," replied his captain, "dat agree."

So henceforth they were co-partners in everything--wages,
perquisites, and position; and they never again got out of their
reckoning. It was obvious James was first favourite with the crew,
and after the first voyage the veteran owner showed his marked
approval. Jim was allowed to do just as he pleased. The daughters were
charmed with him, and frequently visited the vessel with their father
when the officers could not get conveniently to their home. A strong
and growing attachment was quite apparent so far as the girls were
concerned. There seemed to be a preference with both of them for the
first mate, who, in turn, fixed his affections on the youngest. His
comrade was not quite satisfied with being so frequently ignored, so
remonstrated with Jim to stick to one, and he would stick to the
other; but the ladies having to be taken into account, it did not work
at all smoothly, as each desired to have Mr. Leigh, and before it was
settled the sisters had a violent tiff, which brought about the climax
and made it possible for negotiations to be carried on in favour of a
settlement. The father selected the elder girl for Vandertallen, and
the younger was fixed on Leigh, who threw himself into the vortex of
flirtation with youthful ardour. He thought at one time of marrying
and settling down in Chili, and undoubtedly the owner and daughter
gave encouragement to this idea.

But letters began to arrive from home, which had an unsettling effect
on him. He was afraid to give his confidence to the captain lest he
might break faith with him, but in truth his mind and heart were
centred on a picturesque spot on the side of a Welsh hill, and in that
little home there was one who longed to have him back. Indeed, she had
written to say that if he did not come soon to her she would come to
him. These communications revived all the old feelings of affection in
his breast, and he resolved to tear himself away from the environment
which had gripped him like a vice. The old Spaniard kept hinting
marriage to him each time he paid a visit to the superb villa, but he
refused to be drawn into anything definite. As he said--

"The place is getting too hot for me. I must face it sooner or later
if I am not to permanently settle in Chili. Once married it is all
over with me. I will have loads of money, but am I sure it will bring
happiness? I think I must say that I lean towards a daughter of my
native land, who may not have wealth, but who has all the attributes
that appeal to me. In a few days I must decide."

These were some of the thoughts occupying Jim's mind as the leaky old
ark lounged her way along the coast. The captain, on the other hand,
talked freely to his mate as to his own thoughts, prompted no doubt by
close companionship and the idea of becoming brothers-in-law. He told
Leigh that both of them would be very wealthy some day, but Jim kept
his counsel. He had resolved that if the subject was mentioned by the
Spaniard again he would make himself scarce.

On their arrival at Iquique, Leigh received more letters from home. He
went to the owner's house, and in the course of the evening the old
gentleman asked him right out to marry his daughter. Mr. Leigh was
confused, and said he would like to save a little more money.

"Never mind the money. You will have plenty of that," said the father.

It was duly arranged that the wedding should take place at the end of
the next trip, and on the strength of that there was much rejoicing at
the villa, in which James Leigh heartily joined. He was pressed to
stay all night with the happy family, but he said that he could not do
so, owing to pressing official duties; so he bade his usual _adieux_,
and slipped out into the balmy night and made his way aboard the
vessel. He packed his belongings in a bag, woke the captain, who was
asleep in his berth, shook hands with him, and said--

"Good-bye, Dutchy. _You_ can do what you blessed well like, but I am
off."

And before the captain had recovered from his sleepy amazement his
mate had slipped over the side into a boat. That was the last Dutchy
ever saw of his prospective brother-in-law.

James Leigh stowed himself away aboard a Yankee full-rigged
packet-ship which had to sail the following morning, and when the
coast was clear he made his appearance. He was subjected for a time to
that brutal treatment which at one time disgraced the American
mercantile marine,[3] but being a smart young fellow who could do the
work of a competent seaman, and handle his "dukes" with aptitude, the
officers began to show partiality towards him, and before many days he
became quite a favourite with them and with the captain. To his
surprise, when the vessel had been at Philadelphia a few days, he was
asked to qualify for the second officer's berth. He received the
compliment with modest reserve, but his inward pride gave him trouble
to control. This was a position of no mean order even to men far
beyond _his_ years, but the thought of serving as an officer under the
magic Stars and Stripes was more fascinating than any pride he had in
the size of the vessel. A life of slash and dash was just the kind of
experience that appealed to a full-blooded rip like Jim Leigh, so that
he needed no persuading to take the offer, and adapt himself with
fervour to the new conditions, which invested him with the
knuckle-duster, the belaying pin, and the six-shooter. The _Betty
Sharp_ was chartered for London instead of the Far East, as was
expected, and twenty days after passing Cape Henry she entered the
Thames; but even in that short time the sprightly officer had made
quite a name for himself, by his methods of training and taming a
heterogeneous team of packet rats.

As the vessel was being hauled into the Millwall Docks, spectators
were attracted by the disfigured condition of many of the crew. A
gentleman came aboard to solicit business, and after a few preliminary
remarks he said--

"Pardon me, captain, but I cannot help noticing that some of your
sailors look as though there had been fighting. Did they mutiny?"

"Well, no; it was not exactly mutiny, but it was getting near to it."

"It must have been an anxious time for you, sir," continued the
visitor.

"Well, no; I guess I was not anxious at all, for my officers went
about their rough work with some muscular vigour. The war-paint was
soon put on and the rebellion squashed out of them. The chief officer,
understand, is an old hand at the game; and that there young fellow,
the second officer, takes to the business kindly. So we'll get along
right away."

When the vessel was moored and the decks cleared up, the second
officer and the boatswain asked the captain's permission to go ashore
for the evening. This was granted, with a strong admonition to keep
straight and return aboard sober. The boatswain was a short, thick-set
man, with no education, but a sailor all over in his habits, manner,
and conversation, and was just the kind of person to have as a
companion if there was any trouble about. The two sailors were like
schoolboys on a holiday. They were well received by their friends,
male and female. In the West of London both were objects of interest,
and told their tales with unfailing exaggeration. The boatswain was
especially attractive, owing to his rugged personality and his
unaffected manner. His sanguinary tales of American packet-ship life
were much canvassed for, and being a good story-teller, he embellished
them with incidents that gave them a fine finishing touch. He was
asked by some young ladies if he had ever done any courting.

"Oh yes," said he; "I have mixed a lot of that up with other things.
The very last time I was stranded in Chili I got on courting a girl
whose mother kept a bit of an hotel, and I was getting on famously,
when one day the old lady told me I wasn't to come about her house
after her daughter; but I kept on going in a sort of secret way, and
one night I was sitting in what you would call the kitchen, and the
old girl sneaked in with a great big stick. I saw the fury in her eye.
She made a go for me. I couldn't get out, so I bobbed under a
four-legged wooden table, picked it up on my shoulders, and tried to
protect my legs as much as I could. The girl screamed, and rushed to
open the door, and then called out for me to run. I didn't need any
telling. I rushed out, the old witch laying on the table with all her
might until I got out of her reach. And that is the way I am here,
because I shipped at once aboard the _Betty Sharp_, for fear I might
be copped and put in choky by the old fiend."

"Have you heard from your sweetheart since?" asked one of the ladies.

"No," said Jack the boatswain; "nor I don't want to. I'll soon get
another where they knows how to treat genuine sweetheartin'."

Jim Leigh at this point said--

"Now then 'Shortlegs,' we must be going. I've heard that yarn fifty
times."

"Yes, _you_ have; but these here ladies haven't."

"Quite right," said the ladies. "And we would like you to continue
telling some more of your love experiences on the Spanish Main."

Jack, however, said--

"Well, not to-night. Jim wants to get away. I'll come some other
time."

The two sailors then left and made their way back to the docks, and as
they approached the East End a fog which had been hanging over became
so dense that they could not see where they were, and after groping
about for a couple of hours they ran against a house which had a light
in the window. Jim rapped at the door, and a man presented himself. He
was only partially clad. His voice and dialect left no doubt as to the
locality they were in.

"Wot yer doin' of 'ere this time o' night? 'Ave yer come to rob some
o' these yere 'ouses, or wot's yer gime?"

Mr. Leigh was a talkative person, and hastened to explain where they
were going, and that they could not find their way. The man asked the
two officers in, and presented them to a woman who sat by the fire
with a shawl over her shoulders. She was young, and seemed to be of
the gipsy type; tall, handsome features, jet black hair, sparkling
eyes and eyebrows; and when she asked them to be seated, her voice and
accent gave the impression of a lady. She chatted quite freely to the
sailors about their profession and the countries they had visited,
which led them to suppose that the lady was a great traveller. She,
however, told them that her knowledge was derived from books.
Shortlegs was mute. While the others talked he was closely
scrutinizing the surroundings. Their host was a tall, well-set man,
with shifty, evil-looking eyes that were kept busy, as was his tongue.
After they had been in the house some time, he asked them if they
wished to stay all night.

"We don't want ter press yer, but if yer like we've got a comfortable
room. But ye'll both 'ave to sleep in one bed."

"We don't mind that," said James Leigh. "Show us where it is."

They bade the lady good morning, as it was 2 a.m., and they were
escorted upstairs to a moderately-furnished room with an iron bed,
wooden washstand, wardrobe, two chairs, and canvased floor.

"Well, do you think it'll do?" asked the host.

"Yes," replied James, in a jaunty way. "We've slept in many a worse
place than this, Shorty, haven't we? See that we're called at six in
the morning, gov'nor."

"That's all right," said the shifty-eyed host; "we're early birds, we
are, in this 'ere 'ouse. We goes to bed early too. Wot'll ye 'ave for
breakfast?"

"Never mind breakfast; we'll get that when we get aboard," replied
Leigh. "Good-night; it's very good of you to put us up."

The host remarked that he was pleased to do a kindness to anybody, but
especially to sailors, and then he slid out of the room. Shortlegs
watched him downstairs, then closed the door. When he looked round his
second officer was half undressed. He whispered to him not to undress,
and that if he knew as much about bugs as he did he would need no
telling.

"Oh! d---- the bugs and everything else. I'm in for a good nap."

"Well," said Shortlegs, "you may do as you like, but I'm a-going to
keep my clothes on."

Jim, however, did not heed his companion's advice; he undressed,
jumped into bed, and was soon asleep. Shortlegs sat smoking his pipe
for a while, then rose and commenced a survey of the room. He looked
under the bed, into a cupboard, behind the curtains, and then sat down
and pondered over their strange experience. At last he pulled his
boots and coat off, and was preparing to get into bed, when it
occurred to him that he had not examined the wardrobe; so he jumped
up, opened the door, stood gazing at the inside, closed the door,
went to the bed, shook his mate into consciousness, and speaking in a
loud whisper, he said--

"Jim, for God's sake get up!"

"What for?" said Jim.

"Because there's a dead 'un in the wardrobe," replied Shortlegs.

"A what?" asked Mr. Leigh.

"A corpse," responded his companion.

"Go on, don't talk such rot!"

"Very well, look for yourself," said the boatswain, who again opened
the door, and exposed the dead body to view. James Leigh turned pallid
and almost inarticulate. He could only touch his friend on the
shoulder, and utter--

"My God, where are we? What shall we do with the corpse?"

Visions of being had up for murder had seized him. But he was quickly
pulled up by his more discreet shipmate, who told him to cease
speaking, allow the dead 'un to remain where he was, keep their boots
off, open the window quietly, see how far it was to drop or to lower
themselves down with the bedclothes. This being done, they found the
plan of escape impracticable without being "nabbed," so they took the
bold resolve of going out as they had come in, with their boots on.
Before they had got half-way down the stairs they heard suppressed
conversation. It was evident they were detected.

"Use your knuckle-duster, Jim, if necessary, and charge them with
murder," whispered Shortlegs.

"You leave that to me, Shorty; I'm going to get out of this."

When they reached the bottom of the stairs, the room door, which was
ajar, opened, and the man who showed them upstairs stood before them.
He was in his sleeping clothes. They requested him to open the outer
door and let them out, as they did not desire to remain any longer in
the house. He asked why they were leaving comfortable lodgings on
such a night. Jim being the spokesman, said they didn't like sleeping
with corpses, and raising his voice with nervous courage, declared
that if the door was not immediately opened he would stand a good
chance of being put in the wardrobe where the other poor devil was.
The wretched bully, shivering with passion and sudden fear, made a
grab at Jim, and in an instant he was lying on the floor, and the two
sailors opened the door and stepped out into the cold fog.

"My God, what an experience!" said Shorty. "What a lucky thing I
looked in the wardrobe. We might have been given up to the police as
the murderers; and that lady, as we thought, what a demon she must be
to be connected with such."

"My dear fellow," said the second mate, "don't say anything wrong
against the lady. How do we know but she is a prisoner, or in some way
beholden to the rascal. What a strange thing she never appeared. I
wonder if she was there. She must have been, as we heard voices."

"That's right enough," said the boatswain; "but was it her voice?"

"I never thought of that, Shorty. What d'ye say if we go back and try
and learn more about this mysterious affair?"

"Not me," said Shorty; "I've had enough of this kind of experience."

"But," remonstrated the officer, "suppose the lady is in captivity?"

"Never mind that, boss. I don't care if there were twenty blessed
women in captivity. I'm not going back, because I thinks the lady is
in the swim."

"Nonsense, Shorts. She is an educated woman!"

"Yes; and I've heard, boss, of educated women doin' funny things. How
d'ye know but it's her husband that's in the wardrobe, gov'nor? No,
no; I knows some of these 'ere ladies, and I'm not a-going to mix
myself up with them. And if you takes my advice you'll stick to me and
get aboard as soon as we can. And keep this 'ere affair mum, or we may
have a visit from some of her Majesty's detectives."

"Well," ejaculated James Leigh, "it is a mystery, and must remain such
so far as we are concerned. But I am tempted to tell the police, as I
feel certain that woman cannot be there of her own free will."

"Woman be d----d, boss! How do you know, as I said before, that she's
not at the bottom of it? You never knew an affair like this that a
woman had not her hand in it; and if you are going to give
information, don't introduce your humble servant, who has his own
ideas of this 'ere person."

The young fellows had talked on ever since they left the tomb of the
dead, unheeding the direction in which they were going. When the fog
cleared they found themselves amidst the East End slums, environed by
all that was villainous. They were not long in winding their way
aboard the _Betty Sharp_. The night's exploits made a deep impression
on James Leigh; it caused him to review the Bohemian career he had
lived ever since he ran away from the _Pacific_ in Chili. He resolved
to pay a visit to his home in Wales, as he was so near, and in spite
of strong protestations on the part of the captain he resigned his
post. There was great rejoicing in the little village when he
unexpectedly made his appearance. The news of the mutiny aboard the
_Pacific_, and the tragic end of the captain, officers, and part of
the crew preceded him. His family had blamed him for leaving at
Iquique. They now said he had been guided by a strange but merciful
Providence to his old home. He told the eager listeners of the family
circle many tales of daring adventure as they sat in the cosy room by
the fire, but whenever the gruesome figure of the dead man in the
wardrobe crossed his mind he became reticent and pensive. These
lapses did not go unnoticed, and he was often pressed for the cause of
so sudden a change from mirth to sullen silence.

"I will tell you what it is," said he; "a corpse is the cause."

And then he told them all about it. James Leigh's change of life,
manner, and habits dated from the dreaded night when he saw with his
own eyes the ghastly figure of what he believed to be a murdered man.
From being a roving, reckless, devil-may-care sailor, he settled into
a steady, ambitious, capable man. He married a Welsh girl after his
own heart, and forgot all about the daughter of the old Spaniard, who,
if subsequent accounts were correct, pined for his return to Chili.
Mrs. Leigh resented any allusion to the Spanish maiden. She always
reminded her husband that people should marry their own countrywomen,
and that instead of thinking of her he should be using his mind in
attaining that knowledge that would enable him to reach the height of
his profession. He was not long in satisfying the lady's ambition and
his own. In less than five years from leaving the Yankee ship he was
in command of a smart, up-to-date English steamer, trading between
Mozambique and Zanzibar, trafficking in slaves and other merchandise.
He made heaps of money for his owners, and was gifted with an aptitude
for never neglecting himself in matters of finance. In due course the
trade collapsed, and he was ordered to bring his vessel home. By this
time his savings from several sources had accumulated to a decent
little fortune, and with it he resolved to start business on his own
account. He sought the aid of a few friends, and was enabled to
purchase a small steamer. It was while he was on a visit to this
much-boasted-of craft that he came across Shorty at a fair outside
Cardiff. The rugged ex-boatswain had a machine for trying strength,
and asked him to have a go. Captain Leigh recognized his old shipmate
by a defect in his speech, and made himself known. Shorty was filled
with delight, and would have given him the whole show. He rushed off,
called out to a lady who was attending to the machine, and brought her
to be introduced.

"This is my bit o' cracklen, Jim. She's a good 'un, she is. Now, don't
ye be a-fallin' in love with her, James, as you used to with the other
girls out in Chili, ancetera, ancetera. Don't ye reckonize her? Don't
ye remember that fine hotel we landed in, and the wardrobe and one or
two other incidents?"

"I do," said Captain James Leigh; "but surely this is not?"

"Yes, it is," said the proud husband. "It's she, isn't it, chubby?"

The lady merely nodded her head and smiled.

"Then what have you been doing, Shorty, all these years?"

"This," said he, pointing to the show. "I never got over the 'orror of
that night, so I made my mind up not to go a rovin' agen; and this
'ere girl, that I thought so badly of, 'as helped me to make a livin'
ever since I came across her. Very queer, you was right; she was sort
o' confined to the 'ouse, but had nothin' to do with the corpse. She
didn't know of it until I told her."

"My God! don't talk of it, Shorts. I cannot bear to think of it even
now. But how did you pick her up?"

"At the docks," said John Shorts. "She came to look for us, and I took
on with her and got married."

"You must have had a strong belief in her."

"Yes; and so would you if you knew her as I do. I'd trust my money,
and my life, and everything with her. D'ye see that waggon of mats and
baskets? That's her department; started on her own 'ook. My word,
she's a daisy."

"Well, Shorty, I'm delighted to see you. And now I must be going. You
seem quite happy."

"Happy," said the boatswain, "that's not a name for it. It's 'eaven on
earth this 'ere thing," looking and pointing at his wife. Breaking off
quickly, he said, "'Ave ye ever heard from Chili, Jim?"

"Oh yes," said he; "I had a letter only the other day from Dutchy. The
old owner died, and left all his money to his two daughters and
Dutchy, who married the eldest."

"That's a bit thick, isn't it, Jim--for that fat Dutchman to go
wandering about the Spanish Main doin' all sorts of things, and then
fall on his feet like this?"

"Well," said Jim, "you have fallen on your feet, so you say; and I'm
sure I have."

"That's right," said Shorts. "I wasn't thinken' that the wife was
standin' by."

The lady quietly smiled, shook hands with her husband's late chum, and
walked off towards her caravan. Captain Leigh endeavoured to draw
Shorty to tell him about his wife, but the old sailor evaded all his
questions.

"Well," said Leigh, "this has been a joyful meeting to me, and if we
never met again, God bless you!"

"The same to you, Jim," said Shorts. "Good-bye, old chap."

The two men never did meet again. James Leigh is now a prosperous
merchant, and may be seen any day in a smart-cut "frocker" and silk
hat, having his lunch at a bar, surrounded with kindred spirits,
telling his wonderful tales--some truthful, others well padded, but
all interesting.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 3: It may be said in passing that America at that period,
and for some years later, supplied Great Britain and other nations
with the finest and fastest ships afloat, large and small. The
Americans have always had a reputation of doing things on a large
scale. Unmistakably their vessels were bad to beat. Their crews were
well paid and well fed. They had the best cooks and stewards in the
world; but the inadequacy of their manning, and the cruel treatment of
the poor wretches who composed the crew, was a national disgrace. An
American vessel with a mediocre crew aboard was nothing short of a
hell afloat, and even with an average lot of men it was little better,
unless they had the courage and the capacity to straighten the
officers out, which was sometimes done with salutary effect.]





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