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Title: A Little Fleet
Author: Yeats, Jack B.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Little Fleet" ***

of the Digital Library@Villanova University







  or, Coloured by the Author, with an Original Sketch
  in Colours, price 5s. net.










The following account of the Fleet, and of the various histories of the
voyages of the vessels which compose it, has been written out by me at
the request of the owners. I have also made for them the drawings and
the chart which illustrate the account.

The owners of this small merchant fleet had nowhere else handy to float
their vessels in than the small and winding Gara river and a very small
pond; the vessels when upon the river drove along with the stream, their
sails, when they had any, only being of use to get them out of bad
places, except occasionally when the current ran slowly; then, with a
fair wind, the "Pasear" and the "Monte," at any rate, would walk along
at a fine pace.

Long, light sticks were carried to steer the ships round dangerous
corners, and through narrow and difficult channels like the Two Snags;
and when I say she steered this way, or her skipper took such a course,
you will understand it is just put that way because it sounds better.

The two longest voyages were those of the "Theodore" and the "Pasear,"
both of which vessels travelled about a mile along the river. The owners
think that any other little boys who live near a stream sufficiently
deep to float ships drawing so little water might like to follow their
example and build a fleet, therefore I am to tell you how each vessel
was built, as well as the story of its voyage.

The chart shows the winding river down which the clippers voyaged, and
on it are marked the various snags, rapids, and other dangers.

  _Gara River_.

The owners and myself are indebted to the Fleet Poet for the verses
through the book.


  _The Monte_            Fore and Aft Schooner
  _The Moby Dick_        Paddle Steamboat
  _The Theodore_         Fireship
  _The Pasear_           Top-sail Schooner
  _The New Corinthian_   Brig



The "Monte" was the first of our vessels, and was made out of a flat
piece of wood about five inches long, shaped at one end for the bow. She
had two masts of very thin wood, and was rigged as a fore and aft
schooner with paper sails, which had holes in them so as to fasten them
to the masts.

She had a stone underneath her to keep her upright, and a piece of
string tied round her, amidships, to keep on the stone. In the picture
the stone is shown through the water, so that you can see how it was
fastened on, but it did not really show like that.


She started from No Name Strait with wind and tide; it was blowing a
gale at the time--of course you will understand that it was not blowing
a gale _to us_, but in proportion to the size of her, it must have been
a gale to _her_.

She kept her course toward the land, going by the Round Channel, as we
had not then discovered the passage through the Two Snags she then put
her helm to port and bore away for mid-stream to avoid the nifty Snags
that lie at the foot of the bluff called Pirate's Leap, called that
because a poet who had been a pirate, I expect, was thinking about a
poem when he ought to have been shoving the vessel off the rocks, and so
he fell in.

The "Monte" then put her head south-west by south, half south, a little
southerly, sir, and tried to make the current called the Bully Bowline,
but she kept too far to the west'ard, and so she got caught by the other
current, the wrong one, called the Blackwall Hitch. The "Monte's"
skipper got excited then, and tried to cross the middle of the river,
but she dashed round in the current under the cliffs, and was only saved
by very good steering from running straight into the very dangerous
snags called the Bad Snags.

However, she weathered them and dashed on over the Marbley Shallows; we
called them that because the stones under the water used to roll along
like a lot of little marbles. She kept a fine course from that on, and
went at a great pace, about fifteen knots; once she stuck her nose in
the bank, but the sails swung her round, so on she went and ran
beautifully into Safety Cove. But, like a silly, her skipper came out of
it again before we could tell him not to, and hit against, oh! such a
nasty rock; it heaved her on her beamends, and then she turned very
slowly round until her masts and sails were underneath, and her stone
keel on top. And that was the end of her.

This was what the Pirate Poet made about her:

    And now by Gara rushes,
      When stars are blinking white;
    And sleep has stilled the thrushes,
      And sunset brings the night;

    There, where the stones are gleamin',
      A passer-by can hark
    To the old drowned "Monte" seamen
      A-singing through the dark.

    There, where the gnats are pesky,
      They sing like anything;
    They sing like Jean de Reszke,
      This is the song they sing:

    Down in the pebbled ridges
      Our old bones sing and shout;
    We see the dancing midges,
      We feel the skipping trout.

    Our bones are green and weeded,
      Our bones are old and wet;
    But the noble deeds that we did
      We never can forget.




    She sailed down Gara Valley,
      She startled all the cows;
    With touchwood in her galley,
      And green paint round her bows.

       *       *       *       *       *

The "Moby Dick" was supposed to be a Mississippi River steamboat; she
was built out of a flat piece of board almost fourteen inches long and
six inches broad; on top of that she had a cardboard box with cabin
windows drawn on it, and she had cardboard paddle-boxes with her name
painted on them with ink; she also had an eagle painted on her
deck-house. Inside her deck-house there was a cocoa tin with a
cardboard funnel coming out of the top of it. The tin was there so that
we could make a fire in it of paper and touchwood. At first, when we
made our fire, it would not burn because there was no draught, so we
made a large hole in front of the deck-house and another one abaft, also
holes in the side of the cocoa tin; that made a draught, and then you
should have seen the smoke coming out of her funnel!


She started from No Name Straits, but she had to put back again because
her fire was not burning, so we stirred it up a bit and put in some more
dry touchwood, then it smoked fine, and we let her go.

She was going the Round Channel when her Mate sung out to the Captain:

"She'll go through the Two Snags!"

"She'll never do it!" shouted the Captain.

"Let's try her!" yelled the Mate.

"Go ahead!" roared the Captain, and the Mate shoved the helm hard up,
and she slid through without touching anywhere.


_And so the "Moby Dick" was the first to use the Two Snags Passage._
Since then all our vessels have used it.

After she had passed through she bore away towards the easterly shore,
and went easily along with the Bully Bowline current; but as she was not
smoking properly, her Captain gave orders to beach her on Treasure Beach
(we called it that name because it looked just the sort of beach pirates
would choose to bury treasure in). When she came ashore we stirred up
her furnace until it burnt magnificently, then we shoved her off again,
and she looked really great as her smoke and herself were both reflected
in the water as clear as anything. She then continued her voyage over
the Marbley Shallows on to Safety Cove.

The "Moby Dick" did so well that run that we thought we would send her
down the river again at once, and we _did_ send her down, and no
mistake, because we put an anchor on her stern, with lots of cable, and
just when she was going through No Name Straits she let go her anchor,
because we wanted to see how she would look when it brought her up all

Well, she dragged her anchor for a few yards until it caught in a weed,
and what did she do but get pulled right down to the bottom of the
river, the stream was too strong for her.

    She came to flying anchor
      At the twilight time of day,
    But the strain on the cable sank her,
      And her crew, oh, where were they?



There was nothing very grand about the appearance of the "Theodore"; we
were in a great hurry to go out, so could only build her very badly, but
in spite of that she was a jolly good clipper.

She was built out of a long cardboard box, and had the lines of her
ports painted on with ink, and the portholes were cut out. She did not
have any masts, we did not have time to make any for her.


The "Theodore" was launched to the north of the Two Snags, but she
caught fire suddenly--really, we set fire to a lot of touchwood and
stuff inside her because we wanted to see what a ship on fire would look
like on the river.

And she looked splendid with the crimson flames coming out of her ports,
and the reflection on the still piece of water just under the cliffs was

The fire burnt away like mad, and did not go out till she got as far as
Safety Cove. But the fire had not done the old "Theodore" a bit of harm;
the water kept the fire from burning through her, except for one big
hole the fire had burnt through just above the water line.

The skipper set all hands to work to rig up a tarpaulin to keep the
water out; we really stuffed a big dock leaf in, and the "Theodore"
continued her voyage right through a terribly dangerous passage at the
western end of the Twisty Straits, opposite the Desolate Dead Man's
Teeth, and she passed The Narrows, the most dangerous place on the whole
river, where there is only just room for one vessel to pass through at a

She continued round the next bend in great style, passing under the
Buccaneers' Gallows, another most desperate place, and came out in the
beautiful clear water, where she went along finely.


Then we had to go home, and the last we saw of her she was going round a
big bend as fast as anything, and the man on the look-out was singing

"All clear ahead!" and the skipper was singing out,

"Keep her as she goes!" and the man at the wheel was singing out,

"Aye, aye, sir! as she goes it is."

We went down the next day, but saw nothing of her, though we went ever
so far along the river.

She may now be on the high seas, with a skipper shouting all the time,

"Keep her as she goes, and for the Spanish Main."

    And let no landsman doubt it,
      She was a gallant ship;
    And her Cap. (brave man) throughout it
      Kept a stiff upper lip.


The "Pasear" was a top-sail schooner, and could not she just travel when
the wind was in the proper quarter! She was built out of a bright green
cardboard tie box, with a lid, and stones inside to ballast her.

On her fine, long voyage she passed all the dangers of the narrow
reaches of the river, and sailed out into the deep, clear channel before
the wind; and she went so far and so fast that it took us all our time
to keep up with her, so we could not think of names for all the
headlands she passed--she went nearly a mile.

Then "it was time for us to leave her," so we left her all snug and
comfortable in a little cove called Huckleberry Cove, after Finn.

We could not get down to the river again for two days, and when we did
we could not find her for a long time, but at last we did find
her--under water--she had gone down in twenty fathoms, we could see her
quite clearly resting on the sandy bottom; she must have sprung a leak,
and her captain had not the sense to beach her, as he should have done.



She was the finest vessel we had in the fleet.

She was built out of a toy lifeboat, with a lead keel fastened on, and
she had paper sails and a rudder.


The "New Corinthian" sailed in the nicest way, but we were too proud of
her, after we had rigged her, to let her go down the big river, so we
sailed her on a small pond called Mystery Bay; we called it that name
because it looked so terribly deep, but was really only about three feet

The "New Corinthian" did not have any adventurous voyages, but she had
as good a time as she could have, sailing round and round Mystery Bay.

But it must have been pretty exciting on her when the tadpoles tried to
board her.

But what we liked best was seeing the vessels of our fleet tearing and
gliding and shooting down the flood and through the currents of the Gara



Since the above was written, the owners have put a buoy in mid-stream,
between the Blackwall Hitch and Bully Bowline currents, and mariners
will keep a south-easterly course, leaving the buoy nine fathoms and
a-half on the starboard.

       *       *       *       *       *

JACK YEATS'S CHAP BOOKS, _Printed for, and Sold by_ ELKIN MATHEWS, _in_
Vigo Street, _nigh the_ Albany, London. _Sold also by the_ BOOKSELLERS
_in_ Town _and_ Country.

       *       *       *       *       *


For the Years 1902-3. With Pictures by P. Colman Smith and Jack B.

Hand-coloured, Twenty-four Numbers, with portfolio, £1 7s. 6d. free.

The Contributors include W. B. Yeats, Lady Gregory, Professor F. York
Powell, "A.E.," Wilfred Gibson, John Masefield, Dr. Douglas Hyde, and

* Specimen copies may be had, post free, 1s. 2d. net.

    "Mr. Yeats has not yet come by his own; when he does the world will
    recognise more exactly than it has done hitherto what a facile and
    original artist he is."--_Speaker._

    "Miss P. Colman Smith undoubtedly has a great eye for colour, and a
    most curious conception of its application; indeed the colouring of
    'A Broadsheet' is its most striking feature."--_The Reader._

    "These twenty-four Broadsheets may be wisely collected by the
    curious."--_The Sphere._


_One of Jack B. Yeats's Books for Children._


Foolscap 8vo, 1s. net; or Coloured by the Author, 5s. net.


    "'You'll see how the little dears will sing out when they ketches
    hold of me and my bob-tail'--here the Bosun paused to turn his quid
    and hitch his trousers up. Then he dexterously tied another knot on
    his Comet's tail lest it should sweep the pens off the table, or
    upset the ink-pot."--_The Daily News._

    "The title is sufficient to indicate the nature of the little book
    in which Mr. Yeats displays all the humour which has so
    characterised the series of picture books, and his facile pen has
    lost none of its old-time cunning."--_Dublin Express._

_One of Jack B. Yeats's Plays for the Miniature Stage_



1s. net; or, Coloured by the Author, 5s. net.

    "A 'memory' of R. L. Stevenson comes seldom amiss, and now
    especially, when the romancer's name and fame are as a shuttlecock
    between wholly adoring and still discriminating friends, may be
    considered apt and seasonable. So it won't hurt to read this:

    "There stands, I fancy, to this day (but now how fallen!) a certain
    stationer's shop at a corner of the wide thoroughfare that joins
    the city of my childhood with the sea. When upon any Saturday we
    made a party to behold the ships, we passed that corner; and since
    in those days I loved a ship as a man loves Burgundy or daybreak,
    this of itself had been enough to hallow it. But there was more
    than that. In that window, all the year round, there stood
    displayed a theatre in working order, with a 'forest set,' 'a
    combat,' and a few 'robbers carousing' in the slides; and below and
    about--dearer tenfold to me!--the plays themselves, those budgets
    of romance, lay tumbled, one upon another."--_A Penny Plain and
    Twopence Coloured._

    "Here, palpably, was a hint for somebody, who has turned out to be
    Mr. Jack B. Yeats. The first of his 'plays in the old
    manner'--'_James Flaunty; or, The Terror of the Western
    Seas_'--lies before me, and it is a study in grotesque. The most
    notable point in this production is the fact that the interest
    thereof attaches not only to the dialogue--you will, however,
    relish that--but to the setting, the close reproduction of
    old-world lettering and art, which is a vast deal more than an
    ordinary publisher's advertisement, and cunning enough to deceive
    the very elect. The ferocious woodcuts, the jaunty humour of the
    speeches, the fore-and-aft and down-the-hatchway plot, the bizarre
    characters, harmonize perfectly, and well they may; for Mr. Yeats,
    all by himself, has invented those same characters, contrived the
    plot, fashioned the speeches, and designed the illustrations.

    "Debauched by sixpenny and even threepenny editions, some may rail
    at this as a dear shilling's worth. (For superior copies the charge
    is a crown.) For all such niggards this lean but precious
    pamphlet--it is no more--will be caviare. But drat economy, say I,
    when a paltry subscription will land you straight into the arms of
    a real toy pirate. Never again will you have so good a chance of
    seeing one, of hanging on his talk, of sympathising with his peril.
    Never, I mean, apart from the present showmen, who, however,
    promise yet better things. Stevenson, you mark, had two sources of
    enjoyment--play and puppet-show--and Mr. Mathews announces his
    intention of producing the plays, with scenes and characters, on
    sheets, to be cut out and played on miniature stages. What _will_
    the next generation be like? Certes, 'tis a bold experiment, and,
    to say the worst, a queer revival."--_Speaker, 1/2/02._ F. J. S.

    "At a time when the palmy days of the drama are a melancholy
    remembrance, we welcome the publication of _James Flaunty; or, The
    Terror of the Western Seas_, by Jack B. Yeats (Elkin Mathews),
    which, in its awakening of romance, may be dimly associated with
    the Celtic revival. The spirit of the publication may be indicated
    by a quotation on the cover from Stevenson's 'A Penny Plain and
    Twopence Coloured.' It is announced that copies of the play
    coloured by the author may be had for five shillings, but it is
    difficult to believe that colour can add materially to the
    excellence of these designs. Still, a judicious use of crimson lake
    ('Hark to the sound of it, reader,' as Stevenson says) might add
    something to the glories of Captain Gig and the rest. We may
    particularly commend the reticence of effect in the pictures, which
    aim at no vulgarity of facetiousness, and there is an exquisite
    moderation in the dialogue. 'It is intended later to produce the
    plays with scenes and characters on sheets, to be cut out and
    placed on miniature stages.' We should like to be there to
    see."--_Manchester Guardian, 10/12/01._

_One of Jack B. Yeats's Plays for the Miniature Stage_

1s. net; or, Coloured by the Author, 5s. net.


    "Mr. Jack B. Yeats's latest play for the miniature stage, _The
    Scourge of the Gulph_ (Elkin Mathews, pp. 18, 1s. net), has the
    same exalted qualities that endeared 'James Flaunty' and 'The
    Treasure of the Garden' to the judicious. Blood runs gaily through
    the lee scuppers, in accordance with the best precedents; but
    plenty more of it is left to keep up the native hue of resolution
    in the cheeks of the survivors. If Mr. Andrew Lang ever finds the
    'Odyssey' losing its power to affect the mind like ocean thundering
    on a Western beach, he should try 'The Scourge of the Gulph.' There
    is a delicious drawing by Mr. Jack Yeats on the back of the
    cover."--_Manchester Guardian, 12/1/04._

_One of Jack B. Yeats's Plays for the Miniature Stage_



With Illustrations, Hand Coloured by the Author, 4to, 5s. net;
Uncoloured copies, 2s. 6d. net.

* Stages, with Prosceniums designed by the Author, Footlights, Slides,
and Scenes can be had, price 5s. net, each. The Play set up ready for
Acting by the Author, with Stage and all necessaries, price three

    "The sensations of wonder and respect produced by Mr. Jack B.
    Yeats's play (for a miniature theatre), 'James Flaunty; or, The
    Terror of the Western Seas,' are deepened by the appearance of _The
    Treasure of the Garden_ (Elkin Mathews, 5s. net). Here we have no
    mere jejune text, but also the characters and the scenery painted
    unstintingly by the author, and all ready to be gummed on cardboard
    and strut and fret their five minutes on the toy stage. As
    Stevenson, were he now living, would probably cut his work in order
    to produce this drama if it reached him in working hours, the rest
    of us need take no shame to ourselves for the same inclination. For
    about ten shillings--a stage costs five shillings--the least among
    us may now explore the sensations of theatrical management--a
    happiness for which far higher prices have been paid by many famous
    lessees of Covent Garden and Drury Lane."--_Manchester Guardian,

    "So many in these days are for reviving the romantic drama, for
    bringing to life--

          The mellow glory of the Attic stage,

    and for restoring the arts of acting and of speaking verse, that we
    have come to regard the exposition of a new theory without emotion;
    the advent of a new play without excitement. Our romantic
    dramatists take themselves too seriously, and aim at expressing
    rather the sorrows than the joys of life. Since the world has heard
    the beauty of the muted string it has forgotten that life ever went
    merrily to a pipe, or to the Arcadian, but penny, whistle. It has
    forgotten the song, and the old tune, and the old story. It has
    forgotten that the drama ever shook men's hearts, and has come to
    prefer that it should help to digest men's dinners. We want--

          The old laughter that had April in it.

    Now perhaps the chief reason for the dulness of modern plays is the
    somewhat exclusive attitude of the playwright. His appeal is no
    longer to the world. His appeal is to an audience. No breadth of
    range, no scope, is allowed to him. He has lost touch with the
    external forces of daily life. An introspective study, an allegory
    of the state of his own mind, is the most we can look for from him.

    But in Mr. Jack B. Yeats we recognise the makings of a dramatist of
    an older order; a writer of plays that are written in the intimate
    speech of the folk-ballad. While his contemporaries argue, wrangle
    and disagree as to what is music, and what is the best music, and
    what music saves a man's soul, he, like the hero Finn, is content
    with the best of all music--

          The music of the thing that happens.

    His play of '_The Treasure of the Garden_' carries on a tradition
    that shook the stage before playwrights became self-conscious and
    before poets aimed to please the high foreheads in the stalls.
    There is no mental dyspepsia in his characters. They present no
    problem. Their aim is to be real. To be glad and sorry for a little
    while on a miniature stage measuring a foot across."--_Academy,



       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: _ELKIN MATHEWS_]

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes:

Added table of contents.

Underscores are used to represent _italics_.

Converted asterisms to asterisks for text edition.

Added missing open quote before "Debauched by sixpenny and even
threepenny editions" in James Flaunty advertisement. Also reformatted
Manchester Guardian attribution to include em-dash for consistency
with other quotation attributions.

Changed some double quotes to single quotes in the final quotation of
the James Flaunty advertisement for more appropriate quote nesting.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Little Fleet" ***

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