ways when I stopped at the 'stand' to pass a word
with the old man it would be "D'ye min' yon
time we wis 'shanghaied,' younp; f 'la-ma-lad?"
"Fine that," the answer; and old Wully, with
an "Ecod! YON wis a voyage!" will turn to his
"That wis in th' Florence that me an' him wis
shipmets . . . yin o' Broon's auld ships. They're
a' by wi' noo. Broon's wis aye guid tae th' Clyde
chaps. If they had a ship at th' ootports comin*
here tae load, they gi'en the 'rinnin' ' tae aul'
Annan, him that did th' riggin' wark up by. I
use' tae wark wi' Annan me an' big Bob Gem-
mell an' Maguire an' th' lang Dutchman an' a
wheen ithers an' when a 'run' wis gaun, we aye
got a sicht. Fine joabs, tae! The ships aye
towed frae port tae port, an' made quick wark o't.
... Ye wid be three days or fower at the maist
on th' passage, an' efter peyin' yer railway fare,
THE ' SHANGHAIED' RUNNERS 171
ye hud twa-three poun's in yer pooch when ye cam'
back tae th' tred!"
"Ecod! ye' re richt, Wully! Then wis times!"
someone fingering the empty bowl of a 'cutty.'
"That time we wis speaking aboot . . ,.. the
time we wis 'shanghaied,' we went tae Middlesbro'
tae bring th' Florence roun' tae th' Clyde. We
sign't on here, an' thocht it wis the usual towin'
joab, but when we got ootside th' Hartlepools an'
th' tops'ls on her 'Le-go th' hawser,' says th'
Auld Man Capt'n Leish ... ye ken 'm?
"'Whit?' says we.
' 'Let go th' hawser,' he sings oot frae th'
poop. 'Come on there, man,' says young Annan
(that wis daein' the second mate's joab). 'Come
on! Smert wi' it! Let go th' hawser,' ses he.
' 'Oh, Criffens,' ses we, 'are you no' gaun tae
tow roun' ?'
'Tow roun' be dam!' ses he. 'Whit? Tow
roun' wi' a fine fair win' like this?'
"Weel! There wis naethin' fur't orders wis
orders an' we flung aff the tow-rope an' begood
th' voyage. Criffens! It wis a voyage, tae!
"She wis in ballast trum; aboot five hunner ton
o' pig-airn i' th' hold, an' th' Auld Man widna
trust her wi' much sail.
"Cranky ships, anyway them o' Broon's.
"Aye! Weel, lauds, we hud a fair win' as faur
up th' coast's St. Abb's Heid, an' then th' win'
easterly, an' th' Auld Man hauls aff an' oot
172 'BROKEN STOWAGE'
o' sicht o' th' Ian'. Days went by, an' weeks, an'
us yins beatin' aboot i' th' North Sea. We had
nae claes fur th' voyages us ;ettlin' tae be hame
behin' a guid-gaun tug-boat afore th' week wis oot.
Me, I hud only whit I stood up in ! But that wisna
the warst o' it! Bein' a coastin' trup th' Auld
Man couldna break th' Customs seal an' gie's a bit
o' tabacca! When wur twa unce o' thick black
that we stertit wi' dune ... ye min' that, young
f'la ... us smokin' tawrry rope yarns an' tea
leaves an' coffee groun's ! Criffens I
"Aff Fair Isle in th' Orkneys, when we wis aboot
a fortnicht oot, a boat cam' aff wi' th' Islesmen
wantin' tae swap fush fur a bit tabacca. Losh!
They cam' tae the richt ship ! We bummed a' the
tabacca they had on them! I got twa inches o'
black twist fur ma best knife !
"Man, it's a'fu' weather they hae up yonder!
We jist hud gales an' gales it wis October month
an' Auld Leish wis that feart tae pit sail on her!
We jist daunert aboot under taps'ls got a sicht
o' Cape Wrath an' oot we goes intul th' At-
lantic! Dod! We thocht we'd never see Stob-
"Three weeks by, him that wis mate o' her cam'
furrit an' tried th' bounce. 'Turn to, you men,'
ses he. 'Turn to an' wash paint, an' hiv her de-
cent-like fur gaun up tae Glesca,' ses he.
" 'Deil a wash,' says we. 'We sign't fur th'
THE 'SHANGHAIED' RUNNERS 173
run,' we says, 'an' ye're gettin' mair nor that oot
o' us! We'll wash deck, an' hand sail, an' steer
th' hooker but if ye want yer ship redd up,' says
we, 'that'll hae tae be a new contrack!'
"He did a bit swearin' an' that, tull big Gem-
mell said that he wid gi'e 'm a shoat on th' nose;
then he went aft, an' young Annan come furrit an'
tried his haun' at persuadin'.
"It wis nae use! We widna dae a haun's turn.
. . . Dod ! an' she wis durty ! . . . We jist sat on
th' spaur en's an' watched th 'young f'la there
him an' th' ither apprentices slingin' th' soogy-
moogy an' washin' aff, an' th' mate staunnin' by,
glowerin' at a' !
"We wunnert whit oor yins wis daein' at hame
wi' nae siller comin' in. Dod! Ther'll be a 'pant'
in Bothwell Street, we thocht. A trail o' wifes an'
weans up speirin' whit's cam' ower the man's boat!
"Syne, when we wis twinty-eicht days oot frae
Middlesbro', we got a bit o' a 'slant.' No much
o't. . . . Win' in th' west'ard, an' Auld Leish
feart tae run in an' there wis we dodgin' aboot
west o' Skerryvore. We hud a bit o' a 'confab'
in th' fo'c's'le, an' then goes aft tae see th' Auld
Man. 'Captin,' says big Bob, 'ye've a fair win'
noo, an' we're a' wantin' tae win hame! If ye'll
no' pit the to'gal'ns'ls on her,' ses he, 'we're a'
gaun tae hing wur shurts on' th' topmas' riggin','.
ses he 'an' see if that winna bring her in!'
i 7 4 /BROKEN STOWAGE*
" 'Whit's a' this?' says Auld Leish, 'whit's this?
Mutiny? b'Goad! Div ye daur tae come aft
here an' tell me hoo tae sail ma ship ?' ses he.
" 'Aye, that,' ses big Bob. 'We're a wheert
desp'rate men, Captin,' ses he. 'A' wur wires an'
weans is on th' Pairish by noo, an' there's no' a
smoke o' tabacca in th' bloody ship !'
"In a fine funk Auld Leish ordert us yins aff
th' poop, but it wisna lang afore he gi'en her th'
"Aff the 'Hull' th' win' whuppit intae th' nor'-
west, an' we cam' hame in fine style. Between
Sanna an' th' Pladda Lichts yin o' Steel's boats
cam' aff t' tow us in. I kent th' skipper o' her
wee Sanny Devlin . . . stops up by in th'
Weaver's Pen, on th' same stairheid's ma merrit
dochter. As shune's he sees sicht o' us he shouts
oot: 'Weelyum Shaw,' ses he. 'Weel-yum Shaw
an' Rubbert Gemmell, b'Goad! Man, we thocht
ye wis a droont!'
" 'Aye, that,' ses he. 'We thocht ye wis a' f
droont, an' th' Prudenshial's stopped callin' fur
yer weekly money,' ses he !"
'IpHE r day had been breathless. The sun,
* scarce veiled by thin, filmy clouds, had
worked his fiery will on us all day. All ironwork
about the decks stood painfully hot to the touch.
Blistering paint and spurting pitch from the deck
seams set up an almost unbearable stench. A
quivering vapour had stood, man high, over the
open hatchways and lower decks a dazzling,
luminous haze that tried our tired eyes and dis-
torted all objects to fevered images. Added to
this was the noise and steam of our working ship.
A ceaseless throb of the winches the round and
rattling of falls hoarse, raucous cries and orders
of hatchmen the hiss and screaming of over-
worked valves. Oh, we are sick of it all and
glad when six comes and the Bombay Dock syren
sounds out for stoppage I
A grateful quiet falls over the ship when the
last of the gangs goes ashore, and we seek out a
passably cool spot on the upper deck to set out our
chairs and watch the tyrant sun go down. Count-
less evening fires have made a soft haze over the
176 ' BROKEN STOWAGE '
roofs of the native town, and the sun shows blood-
red through it as he goes from sight. Clouds, that
before were invisible, come up when the sun has
gone and stand in serried banks in the west pil-
ing up and piling up, but never rising beyond a
The usual evening sky for the time of year a
little red, perhaps, but certainly nothing ominous
Darkness comes swiftly on the heels of sunset.
Lights spring up on the roofs and balconies, show-
ing that even the natives are feeling the heat in
their ill-ventilated flats. As the glow in the west
dies out of the evening sky, a reflected glare from
the city's lighted streets takes its place: now the
clouds look dun and sullen, with their lower edges
tinted; small portions are detached and breaking
away and sail up into the starlit zenith.
The ebbing stream of dock labour still wanders
homeward. A large gang of coal coolies come in
from their clay's work at a steamer in the harbour.
Many are women and small children, and their
shrill voices, wrangling and protesting as is their
way when work is over, carry far in the still night
air. Gharries go wheeling swiftly up the dock
roadway bearing those of us whom the breathless
r day has not daunted to an evening's mild distrac-
tion. A long train from up country comes slowly
into the dock lines. The ;engine snorts in sudden
alarming spasms as it 'drives the la'den waggons
CHOTA BURSAT 177
across the points. A white-robed peon walks be-
fore the advancing waggons, ringing a hand-bell
to warn all the stern fatalists who have laid down
to sleep on the railway lines. The train draws up
at the sidings and I notice that the open waggons
are securely covered by tarpaulin sheets.
"Railway people are taking no risks," said the
second. "I shouldn't wonder if it does rain to-
night. Hear thunder across the harbour. We
haven't had that before, though there's been light-
ning a plenty. These clouds, too. Banking up for
something, I sh'd say."
"Oh, the usual," says I. "We may count on
this every night now till the rains break. The
cautionary signal was up to-day again. They say
the monsoon burst at Colombo yesterday: it will
take ten days at least to work up the coast."
"Bhundoo, the colree wallah, told me it would
rain to-night. He had it from his astrologer one
of the pandits at his temple and he's laying his
grain under cover."
"Wise man. Not that I put any faith in his
pandit, though. You'll remember the rumours
and prophecies that were flying about the bazaar
when the King was on his way out. The pandits
foretold no end of dire happenings that never
came off. Bhundoo's man is working on the 'off
chance.' There is always uncertainty in the
weather just now, chota bur sat is about due. If
it rains well and good. If it doesn't? Well
178. 'BROKEN STOWAGE'
the gods are displeased because Bhundoo hasn't
given enough rupees to the temple funds."
4 'And yet, with all the uncertainty in the
weather, plenty of Bhundoo caste are willing to
stand the risk. Look at that big stack of linseed
over by the customs godown. Must be three or
four thousand bags there, and not as much as a
rag of canvas over the lot. There'll be terrible
mess of it if the rain comes."
"That's so. I suppose the long spell of dry
weather, eight months or more, has led to a lot of
forgetting. The merchants will be hoping to get
that lot shipped before the rains break. Tar-
paulins are few and dear just now with the pros-
pect of the monsoon so close."
Now, silence. Six to six leaves an aching of the
bones long chairs have but one use when the
day's work is done.
I have no idea of how time has gone, but stir
suddenly to find the night air grown chill. The
decks below stand glistening against the glow of
the gangway lamps. The rain has come. A soft
shower, cooling and welcome, has passed over
whilst we slept. It is the forerunner of a heavy
'downpour, for the banked clouds in the west are
rising swiftly, and the once sharp black outline of
the sheds and warehouses is grey an'd misty.
Across the roadway, men are hurrying with tar-
paulins to cover the big stack of linseed bags: al-
ready the wind has risen and their covers are
CHOTA BURSAT 179
blown about here and there before they can fasten
'down securely. A stout headman stands by under
an umbrella, and he curses and praises alternately
and impartially as the men go about the work.
Now it is, 'Sabass, maribab' and then 'Hutt,
Sooar. Bhun karao ghildi* He will be the mer-
chant's man, now come to carry out his master's
order of a week ago.
But he might as well save his breath. Before
the tarpaulins are quite unrolled, the squall is
upon us. It begins with a low hissing that swells
quickly to a treble shriek as the wind comes over
the housetops. And rain! Phew w. A solid
sheet slanting furiously I Away goes the head-
man's umbrella. Away the covers. A man on the
top of the stack bends to the blast, staggers,
clutches at the topmost bag, and comes toppling to
the ground. The others let rip everything and run
to him. He rises spluttering and feeling his bones,
looks about for his turban, and makes off, binding
his long wet headgear as he runs. Shouting to-
gether, the others follow him and make for shelter.
The merchant's man stands under the lee of the
bags. For a time he shouts to the men. He makes
promises! He implores! He curses! Then,
standing out in the wind and rain, he holds his
hands up to high heaven and weeps !
Quickly as it came up, the squall passes over.
The stars shine out, showing what chota bursat has
left to remind us that the great rains are almost
i8o 'BROKEN STOWAGE*
Hue. The hard-baked earth of the day is not easily
permeated, and the dock roadway is a solid sheet
a lake and the water is foaming in cascade
over the quay wall into the dock.
Over by the Customs godovon the men are busy
at the big stack of bags. It is light enough to see.
The merchant's man has recovered his umbrella
and is pointing, pointing. I know what they are
doing. They are turning the wet and damaged
outer bags to show a dry skin to the casual glance.
Come to-morrow, and the merchant is anxious, he
will find his linseed securely covered and battened
down. Should he lift a corner to satisfy himself,
the bags will be dry to the touch.
He will congratulate himself on having come so
well out of chota bursat.
A SAILOR'S VIEW
CAILORMEN often talk of the beauty of the
^ Firth of Clyde, the grandeur of the estuaries of
Thames and Mersey, but as yet the Ship Canal as
an approach to a port is scarcely mentioned by
them except as a big job in engineering, a theme
of countless arguments (and sometimes broken
heads) in dog-watch parliaments. And this is
without reason, for the Canal has beauties that
sailors should most appreciate rich rural scenery
and broad stretches of country that could never be
seen from the sea. The narrow (sometimes too
narrow) channel gives one a near-hand view of the
surrounding country, and the doings of farmer
folk in the fields are no longer speculative mys-
teries to the seaman. There is a place at Barton
where one could almost throw a handful of ship's
biscuit among the hens, and near Eastham (if we
were not always in a hurry) we could go bird-nest-
ing with boat-hooks from the height of the main-
True, there is not here the stateliness of High-
land hills, the breadth and movement of a windy
seascape, but the flat plains with the misty, distant
182 * BROKEN STOWAGE'
hills have a beauty of their own, an'd one cart al-
ways keep a purely business eye for bucket
(dredgers and mud flats, and perhaps find some-
thing important to do when Widnes, with its belch-
ing chimneys, heaves in sight. Entering at East-
ham, the. woods and leafy lanes, the gorse-covered
banks, the fields and the cattle are a direct call to
sailormen to 'swallow the anchor' and come
a-f arming; and when the rock-cutting is reached,
it is with reluctance that you turn to give advice to
the tugman, towing a long line of sheering barges,
that always meets you at the very narrowest part.
After the cutting there are. broad fields with cattle
in them fat, red cattle that we talk about when
seeing the lean, starved-looking bullocks that draw
the carts at Bombay. Trees fade away to the
horizon where blue church towers and spires mark
the villages beyond. At Ellesmere the huge grain
warehouse gives an awkward touch to the land-
scape, but if the contrast is too much for you, you
can always find an interest in the tall sailing-ships
lying berthed there, where blue-eyed Scandinavian
seamen hook logs out of yawning bow-ports and
form them into rafts for their passage through the
canals. Here is a network of smaller waterways;
locks and steps* and bridges are everywhere, and,
away up the hill, the masts of a barge will show
you where inland ships go a-sailing, where the
chief engineer says 'Gee up, you. 1 Near the locks
is a ship-chandler's shop, with life-buoys and tar-
A SAILOR'S VIEW 183
paulins and cans of paint in the little chequered
windows : on fine days they hang out oilskins to dry
among the fruit trees. There is a fine stretch of
country from here to the sluice-gate. In some
places, the fields are lower than the level of the
Canal, and long-beaked dredger cranes are set up
at the sides to pour mud and soil from the canal
bottom, and serve a twofold purpose by deepen-
ing the fairway and strengthening the banks.
Strangely, the dredging plant that would be a blot
on a seascape seems here to be quite in keeping
with ploughing and sowing and reaping that go on
in their seasons in the fields around. The men on
the stagings have their trousers tied below the
knee, perhaps with wisps of straw: theyMook like
country labourers come strangely to work on salt
Now a shadow on the northern sky; grim In-
dustry in sorriest guise. Widnes ! Can anywhere
surpass Widnes, as you round the bend? A bleak
array of smouldering v. aste-heaps, with a hundred
and more huge chimneys belching forth foul fumes
to an ever darkling sky. What a monument to
man's power of disfigurement what a cancer on
the fair breast of Mother Earth ! Widnes !
Runcorn has a tract of bare ground beside the
bridges, and there the children gather to greet us
as we pass. Once they used to ask us of our voy-
age and cargo, but with the spread of education the
cry is now 'Chook oos a banan ah.'
1 84 ' BROKEN STORAGE '
Beyon'd Latchford there are farms, and on quiet
spring nights you can hear the cuckoo. Rabbits
run about the banks,. and they pay more attention
to their nibbling than to the East Indiaman surging
past. Old roads, over which stage-coaches once
rattled, begin and end at the Canal banks: over-
grown with weeds and verdure, they look to be no
man's land, and the plough turns at their bordering
hedgerows. Houses that once flanked important
highways now stand in the midst of fields, for the
roadways have been diverted to lead up to the
giant bridges. As we pass under them, express
trains go thundering over our mastheads, and pas-
sengers crane their necks out of carriage windows
to peer down our funnels and speculate as to our
trim and tonnage. Now Partington, the coaling
place, with gaunt grimy staithes, rumbling wag-
gons, and squat, ugly vessels moored to the
wharves. Even" a king's yacht would look mon-
strous with her top-masts housed and funnels tele-
scoped to fractions. There is no beauty here no
fields, no trees but a pointing hand on a notice-
board shows promise 'To THE VILLAGE/
Between Irlam and Barton meadows stretch out
on both banks, and the kindly weather often throws
a wet, blue pall over the factories and their ghostly
chimneys beyond. Here is a narrow part of the
Canal, and awkward for big ships meeting, and
there is a famous churning of foam when the tugs
fire up and strain in their efforts to keep their
A SAILOR'S VIEW 185
charges apart. The salt water has entirely gone
now, and the colour of the wash suggests that the
Canal Company have reason when they estimate
their water space in acres.
Near Barton Bridge the houses have strips of
garden sloping down to the Canal banks. Each
has an erection at the low end, where men sit on
Saturday afternoons with their jackets off and
pipes alight, and criticise the ships. Farther on the
scene is that of the outskirts of any great city, with
Trafford Park and the golfers to show that even
great commercial schools must have their play-
ground. Then on to the docks, where ships carry
their anchors over the winning-post and loud-
voiced men stow sweet tobacco on the site of a
judge's box, for here was the old racecourse that
saw many a stirring spurt for the Manchester Cup.
That was in the old days, in the early days of the
Canal, when the men at the Locks cracked their
heaving lines and shouted 'Whoa' as their first
big steamers came to the berths. Now all that is
changed. No longer the population crowd to the
Docks to see that the ships are really there, a
brass-buttoned uniform calls for no passing glance.
Manchester has become accustomed to her sea-
Still, it is interesting to note the change that has
come over the Docks district since the ships came
inland. What was a ward of working-class houses
has turned to be a shipping centre. In nothing is
186 'BROKEN STOWAGE'
this more clearly seen than in the change of char-
acter of the shops. A watchmaker who used to do
business in a small way working into the night
with his glass at the eye in the, clear window of a
dwelling-house has blossomed forth as a 'chro-
nometer-maker and adjuster': an ironmonger's
shop window gives pride of place to palms and
needles, marlinspikes and chest-lashings. A small
shop, where once a notice intimated a patent
mangle kept, now flourishes as an 'American Elec-
tric Shipping Laundry' (whatever that may be).
'Shipping supplied' is on every shop window, and
'Sailors' advance notes cashed' needs no looking
for among the sea clothes (bed and pillow . . .
15.) and oilskins of the outfitters. Sailcloth may
now be purchased in what was formerly a prosper-
ous baby-linen establishment.
Withal, the atmosphere of a sea-connection is
somehow unreal. What right has a public park at
the very dock gates, on the spot where other sea-
ports would have slums and stables? W T hy a cab-
stance with polished taxis in a row, when every
one knows that it is only when we steam into the
Salvage Court with the right end of the hawser
aboard that we can afford such luxuries? Other
ports have grown from small beginnings tide-
ways and anchorage to wharves and quays, and
these in turn to docks and warehouses. Here we
have a Port of Magnitude, dry docks and quays
and basins x cranes and warehouses and workshops,
A SAILOR'S VIEW 187
all full-grown and imbued with a spirit of life and
work, and all ready to the hand at a turn of the
tide cocks at Eastham. It is something great to
think of. It is magnificent. Surely the Man-
chester man has reason for a great pride when he
sees the ships coming to their berths, when he
hears the bellow of a liner canting on his High-
way to the World.
*" I A O be successful as a ship pedlar not merely
* the qualities of a keen trader are required.
The spirit of the business having a more peculiar
quality than that of a landward market, its con-
duct calls for judgment, patience, humour, and all
that may be summed in the excellencies of a super-
salesman. While it is true that the monetary re-
turns from dealing in small wares on the ships in
harbour would hardly attract a pushful and am-
bitious trader, it may be claimed that the practice
acquired does train and produce a salesman or
woman who, given other opportunities, could
make a prosperous way in almost any walk of life.
I am led to all this by recalling the 'Oddman'
who, for some time, did business aboard the ships
in Marseilles. Claiming to be English or Ameri-
can as suited his dealings, he worked under what
he called trade names during the five years or more
that he was a known figure about the dockside.
No one could quite fathom his past history. That
it was of interest, there could be no doubt. A man
of considerable education, speaking many lan-
guages, and of a habit and address that marked
THE ODDMAN 189
a measure of breeding, it was a constant source of
wonder to us that he should be content to fritter
away his energies in the small ways of ship
peddling. Knowing the 'Oddman' pretty well, I
am convinced that, did he but open his mouth on
the subject, he would speedily mould our opinions
to a conclusion that he was making the best of
everything. He could sell snow-shoes to a Hotten-
Metaphor is dangerous. I was going to write
that the caprice of some strange tide must have
stranded the 'Oddman' on the beach at Marseilles.
A strange tide, indeed ! It comes to me that there
is not any tide of note in the Mediterranean. I
must look about for a better simile. The Wheel
of Fortune! Good! He was a soldier of For-
tune, as ever was. Let us put it that, at Marseilles,
the tyres of his Fortuna (1904 model) were punc-
tured by the spikes of outrageous fate and there
was, for him, nothing to do but get off the driving
seat and set about the repair of his adventure.
This he did with skill plus an incomparable good
humour, for when I saw him first, he was engaged
in selling highly-polished Easter cards to a sober-
minded Third Engineer, and if that is not a feat