three men pull towards us. The Mersey Pilot is
ready for the road and there looks to be little to
detain us, but the boatmen have their little axe to
grind, and one boards us to see what can be done.
He goes on the bridge with cap in hand.
"Marnin', Captin'," says he. "It's early ye are
from Liverpool. Sure, ye must hev a foine ship
an' a fast, bedad!" He looks about, admiring.
After such a compliment the Captain can do no
less than offer him some creature comfort. "That's
th' stuff now," smacking his lips; "devil a better!
Captin' ! Yez haven't a few faddoms ov two-inch
t' make a pake halliards for th' ould boat. Sure
it's ould worn-out junk they are wid sarvin' thim
Liverpool pilots?" Two-inch is an out-size on a
modern steamer, and none is forthcoming. "Well,
thin. Could yez giv' us a lick o' paint, now? Jest
a lick, d'ye moind, an' a brush an' a pat. Sure, it's
ages since she had a touch av it, an' her ould sames
gapin' an' all!" In this he is more successful, and
some paint is put into the boat. His further
74 'BROKEN STOWAGE'
requests meet with some return, and at last, reluc-
tantly, he goes aboard his boat, saying something
about "an empty barrel av' potatoes!"
The old cutter wears round and goes off to meet
the following steamers, now bearing in, and with a
decisive clang of the engine-room telegraph, and
an answering tremor of the engines, we lay off a
course and proceed on our lawful occasions.
/~\LD Paoli, the cobbler, is as much a part of
^-^ the Qtiai de Lazaret as the mooring posts
and the hydraulic cranes and the little hut where
the Maitres de Port sit and talk politics and high
finance. No sooner have we passed the swing-
bridge inward bound, and the little dock tugs are
smoking up furiously to swing us round, than we
see old Paoli sitting on his work-box at the breast
of the Quai at the exact spot where presently our
gangway will be pushed ashore.
He will be one of the first on board after the
Port Doctor has satisfied himself that we are iri
good health and has ordered the yellow flag to be
hauled down. One of the first; Paoli is growing
old and is not now so well able to jostle with the
crowd of hotel touts and baggage agents and post-
card vendors as once he was.
The old fellow is always courteous, in his
broken-English, ship-slang sort of way. He would
never dream of commencing business until he has
assured himself, by polite enquiry, that all his po-
tential patrons are in a good state of health and
76 'BROKEN STOWAGE '
have had a passable voyage. He will come along
the starboard alleyway, hat in hand, saying : "How
you wass, Mister? Goot no?" which is his way
of putting it. This concluded, he will seat himself
in plain view and set out all the implements of his
trade around him. Paoli is an old campaigner. If
it is winter and the mistral blowing, he will seek a
warm corner out of the wind where the pipes that
lead steam to the winches pass: in summer, he
looks for a cool place under the shade of the deck-
houses. A cut piece of finely-tanned leather will
be hung up in a prominent place, so that all who
favour him with their repairs can be in no doubt
as to the quality of his materials.
As I say, he will seat himself in plain view. It
is not Paoli's way to pester one with requests for
work; not unless his subtler mode of canvassing
fails: this happens sometimes when the shipfolk
are exceeding busy. Being comfortably seated, he
will don an extra large pair of spectacles vener-
able old Paoli and, as each of us passes to and
fro on our affairs, he will bend forward and ex-
amine our footwear with the very closest attention.
At the least sign of an irregularity at ;even the
'toes in' tread that shows a listed heel he will
bend still further forward until his work-box seat
is perilously tilted. If one is too busy to heed,
there is nothing said: "Shoes mend it, Mister
no?" is all he will say should he catch your eye.
OLD PAOLI 77
It is a terrible ordeal to pass Paoli without looking
to where his keen old eyes are so closely rivetted !
It is not easy to get a quotation from old Paoli.
To all enquiries as to a probable cost, he will re-
ply: "What you laike, Mister? I makem goot
job." He has a scale, certainly, but it is largely
based on the rank or rating on board held by his
customer. When payment has been tendered, he
has a way of looking interestedly at one's brass
binding at the distinctive badges that denote
authority on board ship.
Work comes, and the old man polishes his big
spectacles and examines the job at every possible
angle. He passes his hard old hands over points
of separation, turns the soles up and taps the
leather with a touch that might be a Doctor sound-
ing then sighs, as though he finds the job will be
a difficult one.
Having thus fully and fairly considered the job,
Paoli next turns to his famous piece of tanned
leather. He slaps it with the flat of his hand,
making a great noise (to attract attention, maybe)
and slowly and carefully he cuts a piece. In
this, he sets his teeth hard and grunts furiously, to
show that his leather is not so easily severed. Be-
tween the slicings with his big cobbler's knife, he
will peer over the top of his specs; he nods ap-
provingly at the toughness of his piece.
It is duly cut to a rough size and placed aside.
78 * BROKEN STOWAGE'
Now comes the moment of precise an'd 'disHainful
removal of the damaged sole. Nothing can ex-
ceed the scornful emphasis that Paoli applies to all
his dealings with it. It is ripped contemptuously
from the welt, is held a moment to view between
index finger and thumb the while Paoli's old
grey head goes nod, nod, nodding and is placed
carefully where it cannot contaminate the awls and
wax-ends and cuttings of new leather that lie at
the cobbler's feet. This is if one is watching the
progress of the work. But, ah! Paoli, Paoli! If
no one is about, the discarded sole goes into your
box; after all there is a cutting in it to make up
some humble sole.
Then come the hammering and softening of
the hard new piece, and Paoli rises to straighten
his back before commencing the long sewing job.
He will roll himself a cigarette and look about for
a light. I know positively that there is a paper of
sulphur matches in his starboard waistcoat pocket,
but apparently these constitute his reserve. He
comes forward, fingering the brim of his battered
felt hat. "You give-a de light, pleas', mister." I
know what is coming; it has happened quarterly
for many years now !
"Dese goot-a matches, mister," says old Paoli,
as he fingers my box. "No laik-a de Franchai
matches." (Paoli is 'Italia-man,' as he will tell
you.) "Franchai matches no goot! Franchai
OLD PAOLI 79
tabak no goot! Wouf!" He spits contemptu-
ously and holds his rough black cigarette out to
view. "Franchai tabak no goot! India cigar
goot!" smacking his lips relishingly. Here is a
moment's pause. "You got-a one India cigar for
ol' Paoli, mister?"
/ TpHE last time I ha'd seen Jeems he had been
careering wildly all over the lower end of
Kelvinhaugh Street in company of a 'crood,' fitters
and 'prentices, and they were passing out the last
five minutes of the 'meal 'oor' in pursuit of a mis-
shapen mass of paper and string: they called it a
ba'. With a whoop (I am afraid a good deal of
strong words went with the whoop) they chased it
over road and sidewalk, jostled passers-by with
quite unnecessary vigour, and finally lifted the ba'
with an ill-judged kick into the coal-waggons at the
siding. I noticed Jeems because, even after the
ba' had been put over the wall and the 'crood'
were making for Houston's, he did some steps on
the sidewalk, showing his mates a tricky turn of
I hardly knew him now. The fierce Indian sun
had browned and hardened the once 'peekit' com-
plexion that Jeems's good mother had been so
concerned about. In his dingy working overalls
he looked all of a man in marked contrast to the
smug Bengalis and weedy Eurasians who, with
him, made up the skilled complement of the
Googhly Engineering Works.
JEEMS SAHIB 81
'A battere'd pith topee surmounted his curly
head, his chest was bared to the cooler airs of the
deck alleyway, and the grime and sweat of a hot
job in our engine-room had seared his face in
greasy furrows. I noticed that none of his assist-
ants showed such signs of being 'hard wrocht.'
"Hullo, Jeems," I said. "I never thought of
meeting you out here."
His wink said plainly, as only a Clyde 'shop*
wink may say it, * 'Cod. Ye're therr.'
"I've been oot here this six months," he told
me. "I cam' oot second o' a tramp, yin o' Aik-
mans, the Borstal. We hid a bit o' an accident
comin' up th' coast, an' I hid tae go intae hospital
wi' a bashed airm when we arrived."
"Oh, it's a' richt, noo," he said, in answer to my
enquiry. "Hit's a' richt, but th' ship sail't afore I
got oot o' th' hospital. The agent wis tae hae sent
me hame, but I got th' offer o' this joab, an' jist
"I hope it's a good one, Jeems," I said.
"Oh, it's no' that bad, man. The pey's guid,
but ach! ye're awfu' hard wrocht. Oot here
it's different tae whit it is at hame. If ye want a
joab dune aff wi' yer jaiket an' d'it yersel'. . . .
That's th' wey oot here aff comes yer jaiket an'
ye be tae be dae'n 't yerself. . . . An' me th'
gaffer, tae ... Huh! . . . Them" (indicating
his assistants with a pitying wave of his hand),
82 'BROKEN STOWAGE'
"them 'nyaffs.' Huh! Thae yins couldnae mak'
saut tae thur purridge at tappin' five-eicht holes."
"But surely you've plenty of men for the rough
work," I said. "Your job will be to supervise,
"Ou aye tae supervise. . . . Therr's plenty
o' men a' richt. A' them therr," he indicated a
group of Bengalis and up-country natives who were
hoisting some parts of machinery to the upper
platform. "I could hae yin tae cairry ma pipe, an'
anither tae haud ma boax o' matches; but, man,
they're awfu' useless critters. It's no' like workin'
in a shoap \vi' wiselike men that kens therr wark.
Thaase yins is frae th' jungle at ten annas th'
day. It's a guid joab I've learnt therr langwidge.
'Cod, I don't know hoo we'd get oan if I wisnae
able tae tell them whit I want."
One of the Eurasians sidled up and asked Jeems
a question about the lifting of the shop tools.
"Af coorse. Af coorse," said Jeems. "Hey
you" beckoning to a swart Punjabi "Hey
you. Awa' doon nichee. Nichee, savvy? Awa'
doon nichee, an' puckerow that three an' an eicht
Jeems leaned over the handrail and watched
the man go below.
"Hey you. Puckerow wi' yer baith hauns, ye
sooar ye. ... 'Cod " turning to me again
"They'd tak' a fair len' o' us if we didnae ken hoo
tae speak thur langwidge."
OFF ST. MICHAEL'S ISLE
CT. MICHAEL'S ISLE, pearl of the Portu-
*^ guese Crown, stands bold among the lesser
Azores in mid-Atlantic. Though full in the track
of ships making the southern passage, its only
harbour, at Ponta Delgada a short indent of
coast line, fortified by a colossal breakwater has
not, in a trading sense, an important position
among seaports. The island, fertile and fruitful
as it is, produces no commodity that calls for
tonnage to transport; and for most of the year
the moorings lie empty, except for fruit vessels in
season, and the colliers who bring fuel from the
Welsh fields to be stacked and stored. On the
rim of a far horizon ships pass on their way to
East and West, and at times haul in sufficiently
near to engage the signal station with a string of
flags. That is in the fine weather in the long
stretch from March to October; but in the winter
months, when the great west wind sets out to fur-
row the breadth of the Atlantic, and huge seas
sweep unchecked from Baltimore to the Bay, then
St. Michael's becomes a harbour indeed, a haven
of high importance, a port that ships may run to
84 'BROKEN STOWAGE 1
'for fresh supplies of fuel to continue trie; struggle
against wind and sea.
At Algiers we had coaled for the westward, but
after passing through the Straits of Gibraltar we
met with bad weather, worsening daily, and so had
to bear up for St. Michael's to replace the coal that
we had expended in our effort to make westing.
"Pound-notes going up the funnel," said our
canny captain, as he ruefully measured the hard-
won inches on the chart. "There'll be a reckon-
ing for this, I'm thinking; for owners aye count
the wind on the credit side of their ledgers!"
Twelve 'days from Gibraltar we arrived off St.
Michael's and signalled for a pilot, but our flags
were answered by 'urgent hoists' from three points
of eminence: 'Do not attempt to make the har-
bour!' Steaming close inshore we saw reason for
the bolted door. The harbour was full, chock full,
of shipping. Behind the massive breakwater there
was not clear water enough to turn a ferry. There
was nothing left for it but to keep the sea ; and as
night fell we found ourselves, in company with
many other vessels in similar strait, marking time
off the harbour. Ail night the glare of working
lights showed us that they were working 'double
tides' inside to clear the port. Before daybreak
a large vessel came out and turned away west, and
we felt sure of one clear berth when day came.
Dawn broke, grey and lurid at the zenith, on a
high gale and heavy sea. Eager for the vacant
OFF ST. MICHAEL'S ISLE 85
bertH the vessels lay crowded at the harbour
mouth; there was no sign of a pilot awaiting, and
'Do not attempt' still fluttered at the Port Cap-
tain's flag-staff. On many ships signals were
hoisted showing stress of circumstance: 'Short of
coal,' 'Am unable to keep at sea,' 'Have sustained
serious damage,' among others. At last, when
nearly noon, the flags at the harbour staff were
lowered, a further order hoisted 'Vessel bearing
S.S.E. to enter!' In the smooth water at the end
of the breakwater a pilot-boat appeared showing
a flag. The compasses of the entire fleet of us
must have experienced a remarkable magnetic
wave during the night, for immediately the signal
was hoisted every captain considered his vessel to
bear south-south-east, and a combined rush was
made for the flag-boat, at sight of which the pilot
turned short round and put back under a lash of
oars. The rush continued; there were needy men
and desperate among us. On every flagstaff
ashore the now familiar 'Do not attempt' went
madly to the peak, but the captains put a Nelson
eye to their glasses, each trying, by trick of sea-
manship, to steam into the best position. Whistles
sounded out, indicating a confusion of steering
orders; propellers churned and threshed in furious
foam as big ships came violently astern to back
out of the press. A shapely French liner worked
cleverly into the inshore berth, but before her
Captain could turn his advantage to account a
86 'BROKEN STOWAGE'
North-country tramp backed close across his bows
and, shooting ahead, was soon inside the break-
water, bellowing loudly for a pilot. Then only
'did the over-eager captains recover sanity, to drop
warily out of the close engagement and, mopping
a heated brow, to wonder "what the devil the
other fellows meant!" Then to sea again, to
mark time until another berth fell vacant. Lifting
uneasily to the long Atlantic seas, to drive head-
long to the trough the screw racing horribly in
mid-air as her stern cast high, we spent our day
in dire discomfort. Hourly new arrivals joined
us. Liners driven from their proper courses, col-
liers with the fuel that we so sorely needed, high
traders in crazy ballasted trim, a Cardiff tramp
with a dismasted barque in tow. A great gale!
Through the night the ships came out of port,
their coal aboard. Four five six six we
counted, as, showing steaming lights, they rounded
the breakwater and drove anew to the westward.
We had to await daylight to enter with such a
press of shipping the pilots would take no risks.
At first grey break, the movement began, the same
struggle for place at the crowded harbour mouth ;
but the Port Captain had taken counsel through
the night, and, as the light grew, we saw signals
at the harbour staff that set order out of the chaos
of moving ships. 'Vessel whose number follows to
enter' a signal there could be no mistaking.
First the lame duck, the dismasted barque, was
OFF ST. MICHAEL'S ISLE 87
taken in, and we had no grievance as we watched
her sheer and falter in the wake of her gallant
salvor. Next the Frenchman, bowing gracefully
to the long swell, followed on. Then, in line and
order to the sixth ship, we sheered under the
breakwater, to be hurriedly turned and moored
anigh the coal stacks.
To our captain's demands the Port Authority
shrugged a gold-laced shoulder. "No posseeble,
Capitan," he said. "Ve are very sorrow, but de
order has come from Lisboa. Ve can onlee give
you coal to sufficient de nearest port, until dese
coal ships come in. You vill coal for de Ber-
mudas, Capitan." Thus was the law laid down,
and we had no course but to take our allowance,
and that as speedily as the over-worked, toil-worn
carriers could put it aboard. Nor were we al-
lowed to linger, for as soon as the last basket was
emptied and the weights checked the pilot was
shouting lustily "Heaf 'way, forrad, sare!"
Threading a careful course among the closely
moored vessels, we put to sea again.
The fleet of waiting ships in the offing seemed
searce diminished, and trails of smoke wrack to the
nor'ard marked others on the way.
The wind had veered to sou'-west, still blowing
strong. As we cleared the Islands a large barque
swept up from the south, with yards squared and
full tops'ls distent to the wind. She crossed our
bows, running swiftly for the Channel.
88 ' BROKEN STOWAGE'
"There she goes," said our Captain, enthusias-
tic. "Egad!" (thinking of our sixty hours' de-
tention and coal at 8 milreis the ton) "there's
something to be said for square sail yet!"
T HAD stopped for a moment at Irani's tobacco
shop in the Bazaar, only for a moment, no
more, while I laid an information against the last
box of Burma cheroots that he had supplied.
There was a question about the brand, and Irani
went into the shop to see about it. During the
short interval that he was away I was flanked and
surrounded by an army of hangers-on: hangers-on
indeed, for they swarmed on the wheels and steps
of my gharry one sat on the roadway in front of
the horse so that escape was difficult. The near
side was taken up by market touts; the off by a
horde of beggars. On the left I was offered tempt-
ing bargains in silks, brassware, bootlaces, walk-
ing-sticks; on the right, open sores were laid bare
to my eyes, a blind man was thrust forward, mut-
tering texts from the Koran, an armless creature
had his kumis raised to show that there was no
deception. An aged dame, whose long skinny
fingers touched my boots in reverence, and naked
toddling children joined pipingly in the call for
alms. On one point they were all agreed that I
was a Burra Sahib of the utmost description that
90 'BROKEN STOWAGE'
I was rich beyond the dreams of avarice. Doubt-
less, to them I was. The half-burned weed in my
hand (Mrs. Middleton's, at half an anna per
;each) represented a sum that would have given a
meal to one at least.
All had suggestions. This way I had to buy a
supply of bootlaces and walking-sticks; that way
I was to apportion a certain amount of backsheesh,
and all would be well.
Then the rival parties quarrelled. The 'mer-
chants' at my left asked the other beggars, "Could
they not go away and allow business to go on."
The afflicted ones laughed scornfully (God!
What laughter!) and renewed their clamour. A
buxom wench, with a puny baby hanging like a
leech to her, climbed up at the back of the gharry
and made hollow sounds at my ear to prove that
her statement about want of food was right. The
armless creature bumped its head on the step in
salutation. The old blind man most pathetic of
all swayed from side to side droning something
about Allah and the great virtue of charity.
I was in a bad position. The 'merchants' I
could deal with. On them I exhausted the 'flow-
ers' of my scanty knowledge of the vernacular,
with some success. After barking out a phrase or
two (that I had learned of a foreman stevedore)
I saw the walking-stick wallah wince and move off.
The silk man was dismissed by an allusion to his
immediate forebears. With the beggars it was
AT BAZAAR 91
(different. I knew that it was 'up to me,' as an
alleged Sahib, to issue largesse, but I had the feel-
ing that a move of my hand towards my pocket
would be telegraphed far and near, that the re-
serve forces of the beggar army would come up
at the double. Already their numbers were aug-
mented ; two boys having but three arms and a leg
between them were pushing forward, exalting me
I was now Ituzoor, no less! At this juncture
Irani's shopman came to my rescue. Stick in hand
he scattered the group of 'merchants.' I noticed
that (though menace there was) he never struck
out at the beggars. After waving his stick and
stamping feet to no effect he suggested that I
should apportion a small sum. This I did. Nine
annas and seven pice divided among the more sorry
cases. The stout wench got nothing. I had the
idea that her broken English was too cleverly
professional. Then Irani came, and, my business
settled, I drove off.
Clop . . . cloppety . . . clop we went down
the Hornby Road. The worn Arab between the
shafts had a shoe loose, and the gharry wallah was
for taking no risks. At a cross roads there was a
block of traffic, and, while waiting, I was conscious
of hurried breathing behind the hood. The buxom
wench I think it was the same one had left her
baby and was keenly in chase. We moved on.
She ran behind, grasping the back axle.
"O, werry good Captan. Sahib (Huh!, Huh/)]
92 'BROKEN STOWAGE'
Me werry poor beggar, Sahib (Huh!. Huh!) . . .
Me no mangee (Huh! Huh!}. . . . No rice
\Huh!}. . ." With her disengaged hand she
beat a tattoo on the place where rice 'does most
good. . . . "You give two anna, Sahib (Huh!
Huh! Huh!}. . . . Only two anna, Sa ! (Huh!}"
We were turning into the Fort. It was the time
of the evening drive. Gharries and motors went
by, and I was hotly conscious of amused regard.
"No mangee, Sahib (Huh! Huh!}. ... No
one pice, werry good (Huh! Huh!}, werry good
I stared stolidly ahead, found apparent interest
in the high buildings of the Fort, in the homeward
thronging crowds on the sidewalk. In a few min-
utes I would be at Greens, and the 'durwan there
would see to it that I was no further molested.
She was running easily behind. Then, suddenly,
the patter of her feet ceased. Ah! She had
given up. ... I was sure she was an impostor.
No starveling could run like that. The baby too I
That would be a stock property.
At Greens I paid my gharry off. There was
the usual post-settlement demanded, and, in the
midst of a firm refusal, I was interrupted "Me
poor beggar, Sahib. . . . No mangee, no "
Grinning candidly as an old acquaintance, the
beggar wench was there at my elbow. She must
have ridden on the back axle !
"Two anna. . . . You give two anna, werry
AT BAZAAR 93
goo'd Captain Sahib. . . . Me werry poor beg-
I gave in.
Two annas ! She said something about my be-
ing her father and her mother, salaamed, and
I wonder if Irani's shopman put her on to fol-
low me ?
Anyway, I shall go no more to Bazaar to com-
plain about his cheroots. I often wondered why
he has his shop there, when his business is all with
sailor-folk. Now I think I know.
THE HARVEST OF THE NORTH
EARLY in November the whalers come home.
The binding ice has then raised an impen-
etrable barrier in the North; so, 'clean' ship or
'full' ship, they must return to snug quarters, their
enterprise concluded for the season. Six months
have gone since Dundee saw them set out, 'braw
lads and hardy,' and news of their 'faring' has
been rumoured and scant. When autumn gives
place to winter, anxious eyes are cast on the ship-
ping columns for news of the adventurers. The
ships' owners are not the least eager, for there are
no market returns to quote the progress of their
investment, and even one whale may mean all the
difference between profit and loss. The relatives
of the crews, too, have their interest in the venture,
and 'clean' ships (ships, that is, that have made no
catch) mean a winter of poverty and hardship.