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mates rastle the hands afi fie told them that
they^ could go ashore the next morning for a


' liberty-day' of four-and-twenty hours, with twenty
dollars pay to blue, and no questions asked if they
came aboard drunk. So forward gfoes all hands
merrily, to rout out their go-ashore things, their
red handkerchiefs, and ' sombre-airers,' for to
astonish the Dons. And ashore they goes the
next morning, after breakfast, with their silver
dollars in their fists, and the jolly-boat to take
them. And ashore they steps, and ' So long ' they
says to the young fellows in the boat, and so up
the Mole to the beautiful town of Panama.

"Now the next morning that fellow Bill I told
you of was tacking down the city to the boat,
singing some song or another. And when he got
near to the jetty he went fumbling in his pocket
for his pipe, and what should he find but a silver
dollar that had slipped away and been saved. So
he thinks, ' If I go aboard with this dollar, why
the hands'll laugh at me; besides, it 's a wasting
of it not to spend it.' So he cast about for some
place where he could blue it in.

" Now close by where he stood there was a sort
of a great store, kept by a Johnny Dago. And if
I were to tell you of the things they had in it, I


would need nine tongues and an oiled hinge to
each of them. But Billy walked into this store,
into the space inside, into like the 'tween decks,
for to have a look about him before buying. And
there were great bunches of bananas a-ripening
against the wall. And sacks of dried raisins, and
bags of dried figs, and melon seeds, and pome-
granates enough to sink you. Then there were
cotton bales, and calico, and silk of Persia. And
rum in puncheons, and bottled ale. And all man-
ner of sweets, and a power of a lot of chemicals.
And anchors gone rusty, fished up from the bay
after the ships were gone. And spare cables, all
ranged for letting go. And ropes, and sails, and
balls of marline stuff. Then there was blocks of
all kinds, wood and iron. Dunnage there was,
and scantling, likewise sea-chests with pictures
on them. And casks of beef and pork, and paint,
a::d peas, and peterolium. But for not one of
these things did Billy care a handful of bilge.

"Then there were medical comforts, such as
ginger and calavances. And plug tobacco, and
coil tobacco, and tobacco leaf, and tobacco clip-
pings. And such a power of a lot of bulls' hides



as yoii never saw. Likewise there was tinned
things Hke cocoa, and boxed things like China
tea. And any quantity of blankets, and rugs,
and donkeys' breakfasts. And oilskins there was,
and rubber sea-boots, and shore shoes, and Crimee
shirts. Also Dungarees, and soap, and matches,
so many as you never heard tell. But no, not
for one of these things was Bill going for to

"Then there were lamps and candles, and
knives and nutmeg-graters, and things made of
bright tin and saucers of red clay; and rolls of
coloured cloth, made in the hills by the Indians.
Bowls there were, painted with twisty-whirls by
the folk of old time. And flutes from the tombs
(of the Incas), and whistles that looked like flower-
pots. Also fiddles and beautiful melodeons. Then
there were paper roses for ornament, and false
vv^hite flow^ers for graves; also paint-brushes and
coir-brooms. There were cages full of parrots,
both green and grey; and white cockatoos on
perches a-nodding their red crests ; and Java love-
birds a-billing, and parrakeets a-screaming, and
little kittens for the ships with rats. And at the


last of all there was a little monkey, chained
to a sack of jib-hanks, who sat upon his tail a-

" Now Bill he sees this monkey, and he thinks he
never see a cuter little beast, not never. And then
he thinks of something-, and he pipes up to the
old Johnny Dago, and he says, pointing to the

" ' Hey-a Johnny! How much-a-take-a little

" So the old Johnny Dago looks at Bill a spell,
and then says:

" ' I take-a five-a doll' that-a little munk.'

"So Billy planks down his silver dollar, and

" * I give-a one doU', you cross-eyed Dago.'

"Then the old man unchained the monkey,
and handed him to Bill without another word.
And away the pair oi them went, down the Mole
to where the boats lay, where a lanchero took
them off to the Mary.

"Now when they got aboard all hands came
around Bill, saying: 'Why, Bill, whatever are
you going to do with that there little monkey?'


And Bill he said: 'You shut your heads about
that there Httle monkey. I'm going- to teach that
little monkey how to speak. And when he can
speak I'm going to sell him to a museum. And
then I'll buy a farm. I won't come to sea any
more.' So they just laugh at Bill, and by and by
the Mary loaded, and g;ot her hatches on, and
sailed south-away, on the road home to Liverpool.
"Well, every evening, in the dog-watch, after
supper, while the decks were drying- from the
washing-down. Bill used to take the monkey on
to the fo'c's'le head, and set him on the capstan.
'Well, ye little divvle,' he used to say, 'will ye
speak? Are ye going to speak, hey?' and the
monkey would just grin and chatter back at Billy,
but never no Christian speech came in front of
them teeth of his. And this game went on until
they were up with the Horn, in bitter cold weather,
running east like a stag, with a great sea piling
up astern. And then one night, at eight bells,
Billy came on deck lor the first watch, bringing
the monkey with him. It was blowing like sin,
stiff and cold, and the Mary was butting through,
and dipping her fo'c's'le under. So Bill takes the


monkey, and lashes him down good and snug on
the drum of the capstan, on the fo'c's'le head.
* Now, you little divvle,' he said, ' will you speak?
Will you speak, eh?' But the monkey just grinned
at him.

"At the end of the first hour he came again.
'Are ye going to speak, ye little beggar?' he
says, and the monkey sits and shivers, but never
a word does the little beggar say. And it was the
same at four bells, when the look-out man was
relieved. But at six bells Billy came again, and
the monkey looked mighty cold, and it was a
wet perch where he was roosting, and his teeth
chattered; yet he didn't speak, not so much as a
cat. So just before eight bells, when the watch
was nearly out, Billy went forward for the last
time. ' If he don't speak now,' says Billy, 'over-
board he goes for a dumb animal.'

"Well, the cold green seas had pretty nearly
drowned that little monkey. And the sprays had
frozen him over like a jacket of ice, and right blue
his lips were, and an icicle was a-dangling from
his chin, and he was shivering like he had an ague.
'Well, ye little divvle,' says Billy, 'for the last


time, will ye speak? Are ye going to speak, hey?'
And the monkey spoke. ' Speak is it ? Speak is
it?' he says. * It 's so cold it's enough to make a
little fellow swear. '

*' It 's the solemn gfospel truth that story is."



Lanky Job was a lazy Bristol sailor, notorious for
his sleepiness throughout the seven seas. And
though many captains had taken him in hand,
none had ever made him spryer, or got more than
a snail's work out of him. Perhaps he would have
been more wakeful had he not been born with a
caul, which preserved him at sea from any danger
of drowning. Often he had fallen from aloft or
from the forecastle rail while dreaming during his
work or look-out. But his captains had always
paused to pick him up, and to all his captains he
had made a graceful speech of thanks which ended
with a snore at the ninth or tenth word.

One day he was lolling on a bollard on the quay
at Bristol as fast asleep as man could wish. He
had fallen asleep in the forenoon, but when he
woke the sun was setting, and right in front of
him moored to the quay, was the most marvellous


ship that ever went through water. She was bluff-
bowed and squat, with a great castle in her bows
and five poops, no less, one above the other, at
her starn. And outside her bulwarks there were
painted screens, all scarlet and blue and green,
with ships painted on them, and burning birds
and ladies in cloth of gold. And then above them
were rows of hammocks covered with a white
piece of linen. And every little poop had a rail.
And her buckets were green, and in every bucket
there were roses growing. And the masts were of
ebony with mast-rings of silver. And her decks
were all done In parquet-work in green and white
woods, and the man who did the caulking had
caulked the deck-seams with red tar, for he was a
master of his trade. And the cabins was all glorious
to behold with carving, and sweet to smell, like
oranges. And right astern she carried a great
gold lantern with a big blue banner underneath it,
and an ivory staff to the whole, all carved by a

So Job looks at the ship, and he thinks he never
see a finer, so he ups alongside, and along a
gangway, and there he sees a little sea captain


with a big- red hat and feather, and a silver whistle
to him, walking- on the quarter-deck.

"Good morning. Job," says the little sea cap-
tain, "and how dy'ye like my ship? "

" Sir," says Job, " I never see a finer."

So the little sea captain takes Job forrard and
gives him a bite in the forecastle, and then takes
him aft and gives him a sup in the cabin.

"And Job," he says, "how would ye like to
sail aboard this beautiful ship ? "

So Job, who was all wide awake with the beauty
of her, he says :

"Oh, sir, I'd like it of all things; she be so
comely to see."

And immediately he said that. Job see the little
captain pipe his whistle, and a lot of little sailors
in red hats ran up and cast her hawsers off. And
then the sheets sheeted home of themselves and
the ship swung away from Bristol, and there was
Job nodding on the quarter-deck, a mile out to
sea, the ship running west like a deer.

"You'll be in the port watch," said the little
captain to him, " and woe betide you. Lanky Job,
if we catch you asleep in your watch."


Now Job never knowed much about that trip of
his among- them little men in red hats, but he
knowed he slept once, and they stuck needles in
him. And he knowed he slept twice, and they
stuck hot pokers in him. And he knowed he slept
a third time, and "Woe betide you. Lanky Job,"
they said, and they set him on the bowsprit end,
with bread in one hand and a sup of water in the
other. "And stay you there, Lanky Job," they
said, *' till you drop into the sea and drown."

Now pitiful was his case truly, for if he looked
behind there was little red men to prick him, and
if he looked before he got giddy, and if he looked
down he got sick, and if he looked up he got
dazzled. So he looked all four ways and closed
his eyes, and down he toppled from his perch,
going splash into the wash below the bows.
"And now for a sleep," he says, "since there's
no water wet enough to drown me." And asleep
he falls, and long does he drift in the sea.

Now, by and by, when he had floated for quite
a while, he sees a big ship, black as pitch, with
heavy red sails, come sailing past him in the
dawn. And although he had a caul and couldn't



be drowned, he was glad enough to see that ship,
and right glad indeed to clutch her braces as she
rolled. She came swooping down on him, and he
caught her main brace as she lay down to leeward
from a gust. And with her windward roll and a
great heave, he just managed to reach her deck
before he fell asleep again. He noticed as he
scrambled up the side that she was heavily
barnacled, and that she had forty boats to a
broadside, all swinging on ivory davits.

But when he woke from his sleep, lo and behold,
the ship was manned by nothing but great rats,
and they were all in blue clothes like sailors, and
snarling as they swung the yards. And as soon as
they saw Lanky Job they came around him, gnash-
ing their long yellow teeth and twirling their
hairy whiskers. And the multitude of them was
beyond speech, and at every moment it seemed to
Job that a boat came alongside with more of them,
till the decks were ropy with their tails. Six or
seven of them seized hold of him and dragged him
aft to where a big bone tiller swung, with a helms-
man on each side of it, seated in heavy golden
chairs. These helmsmen were half men, half rats,


and they were hairy like rats, and grey like rats,
and they had rats' eyes. But they had the minds
of men, and they were the captains of that hooker,
and right grim they were to look at. Now when
he sees those grim things sitting there, Job knew
that he'd come aboard the rat flag-ship, whose
boats row every sea, picking up the rats as they
leave ships going to sink. And he gave a great
scream and punched out at the gang who held
him, and over the side he bounded. And he
drifted a day and a night, till the salt-cracks were
all over his body, and be came ashore half dead
at Avonmouth, having been a week away. But
always after that Lanky Job was a spry sailor, as
smart as you could find anywheres.



The galleon Spatiish Rose was built in Saint Mary
of the Bells by the Lord Alva of Meroquinez. He
built her for one of the beauties of the court, whom
he loved in a stately manner, that was ceremonious,
like the worship of a relic. Being" a rich man he
built her of costly things, of cedarwood from the
East, of Indian rosewood, so that each plank of
her was sweet to smell. Her fastenings were of
wrought silver, curiously beaten. The streets of
the silver workers rang noisily for a twelvemonth
over the lovely hammering of them. Her decks
were beautifully inlaid by the parquetters of Verona,
who made in them delicate patterns of coloured
woods more brilliant than the seaweeds. The
figure-head, carved in a hard wood, was the work
of that artist who carved the Madonna in St. James's
Church at Seville. It was a design of the Rosa
Dei, bursting her golden petals that the cross might


show, a rare piece, sweetly wrong-ht; the folk came
far to see it. Her sails were of a fine bleached
canvas, edg-ed with red Cordoba leather. They
bore a wreathed intricacy of roses, embroidered in
crimson or yellow silk by the ladies of Meroquinez.
The roping- was of that precious hemp which grows
only on the Sacred Hill (in Igorroti, in Luzon), so
that an ell of it was worth a Florence crown by the
time it reached the Spanish riggers' hands. Her
high stern, that was built in three decks, had
painted bulwarks, each of which bore some painted
history of the sea, each history by some Italian.

There one might see Ulysses, in his red-beaked
galley, as he rowed past those piping trulls the
sirens. There was the barge of Antony, hung- with
purple, taking the Egyptian beauty along- Nilus.
There was Saint Brandan Bright Hair, in his
curragh of holy wood, with his singing monks
about him. There was the fishing-boat of Peter,
that was long worshipped by the Galileans when
the spring fisheries were in hand. There was the
Genoan in his bark, his yellow banner blowing out
bravely. There was Arion at his luting. There
were the strange sailors of Atlantis, the seven


brothers that loved the merrows of the sea, as the

Arabian poet has set down. Also there was painted

lively the great Flood, with green waves running

fiercely, tossing the Ark skyward. Opposite thereto

was a table of the Last Day, the sea stilled, with

drowned mariners, made glorious, ascending in

triumph to the harping of sainted hosts. Within

her, in her cabins, she was wrought with more

beautiful things. For in the decks of the cabins

were roses, worked in parquetry of scarlet logwood,

with green leaves, in stained fir, surrounding the

heavy blossoms. The bulkheads were of precious

wood, carven in pilasters that had gilded roses at

their tops. There was a painting on each cabin

wall, of Elizabeth with her roses, of Mary in the

flowered field, or of those other hallows that have

the rose as their symbol. The doorways were hung

with blue arras of Persia, or with grey tapestry,

splendid with purple peacocks, from the nuns' looms

at Ephrata. Each cabin was lit with a silver lamp,

that swung in gimbals above a mirror. In every

cabin was a silver crucifix, above an old censer of

flowered copper, studded with jewels, which sent

up scented smoke at every canonical hour. Tl.e


cabin beams were painted in designs of flowers,
but always of red or crimson flowers, such as the
rose or poppy, to symbolize love in her activity or
weakness. Inlaid upon certain parts of the walls,
such as those at the carved bed's head, were curious
transcripts from Holy Writ, in praise of love, or
verses of the amorous poets, such as Ovid or
Petrarch. In each cabin was a cabinet, like a
reliquary for richness, containing- the precious
books of love, written upon vellum, in coloured
inks, by fine penmen to whom art was a religion.
There might you see Messer Dante, or some rare
scroll sealed in red wax, written in Greek, with the
tale of Psyche. These books were bound in a green
leather, to signify their immortality, while on the
cover of each book some jeweller had fashioned a
rose in tiny rubies, that typified the love of the

Now about the decks of this wondrous galleon
were stands of curious armour, all scrupulously
bright. At her ports, which had every one a wreath
of painted roses round it, were cannon of polished
brass that shone' like gold. Above these were the
close fights, or strips of canvas, running the length


of the deck, all curiously painted with the Lord
Alva's arms, in a desig"n of coloured shields that
showed the blazoningfs of his family. The mariners
were all Spaniards from Boca Gara, the little port
of Meroquinez fronting the Atlantic. The soldiers
were but few in number, some twenty swords from
Estremadura, who had been in the Indies under
Oviedo. They wore bright armour inlaid with gold.
In their helmets they wore jewels, or gloves, or
feathers, that were the gifts of ladies whom they
had served. Their sword-belts were of green
leather, in token of hope. Their swords had, every
blade of them, drawn blood in the defence of
beauty. If I had the pens of twenty poets I might
not tell the glory of the stately life they lived, on
board the Spanish Rose, the ship built for the
Lord Alva's lady. For, in lieu of the exeixises
common to soldiers or shipmen, they would gather
about the mast to hear some pleasant singing in
praise of love by one of the Provencal poets, of
whom the ship carried nine. Or the lutenists would
take their viols, playing some sweet music that for
its beauty was like a woman's hair. In the twilights,
at Boca Gara, while the ship was fitting for the sea,


those on board of her would gather at the mast,
with their censers, to sing- their vespers, at the
first rising of the evening star.

At night, when the moon was up, some of the
mariners, coming from tlie mysterious darkness in
the bows, would light the lantern on the poop, a
lantern shaped like a rose. The glass of it was
stained crimson, so that when lit it burned like a
red rose through the darkness, a sight passing a
rose in beauty. All of these amorous subtleties, all
of this extravagance of beauty, was for the Lady
Alathe of Ayamonte, the woman whom Lord Alva
loved. He had courted her during the months
while the ship was being fitted for the sea; for he
had vowed to bring his bride home to Meroquinez,
by water, in a ship fitting her birth. When the
Spanish Rose was ready, her crew on board, her
bows blessed by the priests, she sailed out from
Boca Gara to a noise of singing that mingled with
the bells of St. Mary's Church. She reached Aya-
monte after three weeks' sailing along the coast,
anchoring one sunny afternoon beneath the blos-
somed orange groves which scent the houses of
the port. He was married the next day at the


cathedral, while all the bells in the town rang- as
they ring- at Easter, in exultation. After a solemn
leave-taking he set sail again (his bride with him)
for his home at St. Mary of the Bells.

There are nine rocks, submerged at high water,
about a league to the south-east of Ayamonte
Harbour. They go by the name of the Nine
Drowned Maidens. They are a menace to shipping,
but latterly they have been marked by a lighthouse.
It is thought that the Lord Alva's pilot had been
made merry with Greek u^ine (though some say
the ill-steering was done by a knight of the bride's
company, who loved the lady too well to suffer her
to belong to another). At any rate the Spanish
Rose struck upon the rocks during the noontime,
when her gay complement, so like a bed of tulips
for brilliant colour, were drinking to the lady's
health. She sank in less than a minute, in deep,
calm blue water, with all her company on board.
All that was saved of her was an Italian lute,
strung with gay, silk ribbons, which floated ashore
the next day.

Less than ten years ago, when the Ayamonte
folk were laying the foundations for their light-


house, a diver came upon some weeded wreck of
her, fairly well preserved, lying on the sand, with a
sort of g"rey silt spreading- over her like a cloak.
He recovered a few relics from her, such as bits of
timber, brass nails, or rusty ironwork, which may
be seen at the town museum to this day. The
scheme for raising her fell through for lack of
funds, but it may be that some American million-
aire, greedy of dollars, will form a company to
strip the wreck. Perhaps some poor Spanish diver,
thrusting through into her central-cabin, will then
come across the bones of those great lovers, in the
perished magnificence of their bridal banquet, their
bony hands still clutching the cups, their whitened
angers still splendid with the wedding rings.



*'The seals is pretty when they do be playing,"
said the old woman. "Ah, I seen them frisking-
their tails till you'd think it was rocks with the
seas beating on them, the time the storm 's on. I
seen the merrows of the sea sitting yonder on the
dark stone, and they had crowns on them, and
they were laughing. The merrows is not good;
it 's not good to see too many of them. They are
beautiful like young men in their shirts playing
hurley. They're as beautiful as anything you
would be seeing in Amerikey or Australeyey, or
any place. The seals is beautiful too, going through
the water in the young of the day ; but they're not
so beautiful as them. The seals is no good either.
It 's a great curse keeps them the way they are,
not able to live either in the sea or on the land.

" One time there was a man of the O'Donnells
came here, and he was a bad man. A saint in


Heaven would have been bothered to find g^ood m
him. He died of the fever that came before the
Famine. I was a girl then; and if you'd seen the
people in them times; there wasn't enough to bury
them. The pigs used to eat them in the loanings.
And their mouths would be all green where they'd
eaten grass from want of food. If you'd seen the
houses there was then, indeed, you'd think the
place bewitched. But the cabins is all fell in, like
yonder, and there 's no dancing or fiddling, or any-
thing at all, and all of my friends is gone to
Amerikey or Australeyey ; I've no one at all to bury
me, unless it 's that humpy one who comes here,
and she 's as proud as a Jew. She 's no cause to
be proud, with a hump on her; her father was just
a poor man, the same as any.

**This O'Donnell I was telling you. My father
was at his wake. And they'd the candles lit, and
they were drinking putcheen. My father was
nearest the door, and a fear took him, and he got
up, with his glass in his hand, and he cried out :
* There 's something here is not good. ' And another
of them said : * There 's something wants to get
out.' And another said : ' It 's himself wants to go


out into the dark nig-ht.' And another said: * For
the love of God, open the door.' So my father
flung- the door open; and, outside, the moon shone
down to the sea. And the corpse of the O'Donnell
was all blue, and it got up with the sheet knotted
on it, and walked out without leaving a track. So

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Online LibraryJohn MasefieldA mainsail haul → online text (page 2 of 9)