The Strength of the Strong
Part 2 out of 3
his persecutors had read the book; the twisted newspaper version of
only three lines of it was enough for them. Here began Emil
Gluck's hatred for newspaper men. By them his serious and
intrinsically valuable work of six years had been made a laughing-
stock and a notoriety. To his dying day, and to their everlasting
regret, he never forgave them.
It was the newspapers that were responsible for the next disaster
that befell him. For the five years following the publication of
his book he had remained silent, and silence for a lonely man is
not good. One can conjecture sympathetically the awful solitude of
Emil Gluck in that populous University; for he was without friends
and without sympathy. His only recourse was books, and he went on
reading and studying enormously. But in 1927 he accepted an
invitation to appear before the Human Interest Society of
Emeryville. He did not trust himself to speak, and as we write we
have before us a copy of his learned paper. It is sober,
scholarly, and scientific, and, it must also be added,
conservative. But in one place he dealt with, and I quote his
words, "the industrial and social revolution that is taking place
in society." A reporter present seized upon the word "revolution,"
divorced it from the text, and wrote a garbled account that made
Emil Gluck appear an anarchist. At once, "Professor Gluck,
anarchist," flamed over the wires and was appropriately "featured"
in all the newspapers in the land.
He had attempted to reply to the previous newspaper attack, but now
he remained silent. Bitterness had already corroded his soul. The
University faculty appealed to him to defend himself, but he
sullenly declined, even refusing to enter in defence a copy of his
paper to save himself from expulsion. He refused to resign, and
was discharged from the University faculty. It must be added that
political pressure had been put upon the University Regents and the
Persecuted, maligned, and misunderstood, the forlorn and lonely man
made no attempt at retaliation. All his life he had been sinned
against, and all his life he had sinned against no one. But his
cup of bitterness was not yet full to overflowing. Having lost his
position, and being without any income, he had to find work. His
first place was at the Union Iron Works, in San Francisco, where he
proved a most able draughtsman. It was here that he obtained his
firsthand knowledge of battleships and their construction. But the
reporters discovered him and featured him in his new vocation. He
immediately resigned and found another place; but after the
reporters had driven him away from half-a-dozen positions, he
steeled himself to brazen out the newspaper persecution. This
occurred when he started his electroplating establishment--in
Oakland, on Telegraph Avenue. It was a small shop, employing three
men and two boys. Gluck himself worked long hours. Night after
night, as Policeman Carew testified on the stand, he did not leave
the shop till one and two in the morning. It was during this
period that he perfected the improved ignition device for gas-
engines, the royalties from which ultimately made him wealthy.
He started his electroplating establishment early in the spring of
1928, and it was in the same year that he formed the disastrous
love attachment for Irene Tackley. Now it is not to be imagined
that an extraordinary creature such as Emil Gluck could be any
other than an extraordinary lover. In addition to his genius, his
loneliness, and his morbidness, it must be taken into consideration
that he knew nothing about women. Whatever tides of desire flooded
his being, he was unschooled in the conventional expression of
them; while his excessive timidity was bound to make his love-
making unusual. Irene Tackley was a rather pretty young woman, but
shallow and light-headed. At the time she worked in a small candy
store across the street from Gluck's shop. He used to come in and
drink ice-cream sodas and lemon-squashes, and stare at her. It
seems the girl did not care for him, and merely played with him.
He was "queer," she said; and at another time she called him a
crank when describing how he sat at the counter and peered at her
through his spectacles, blushing and stammering when she took
notice of him, and often leaving the shop in precipitate confusion.
Gluck made her the most amazing presents--a silver tea-service, a
diamond ring, a set of furs, opera-glasses, a ponderous History of
the World in many volumes, and a motor-cycle all silver-plated in
his own shop. Enters now the girl's lover, putting his foot down,
showing great anger, compelling her to return Gluck's strange
assortment of presents. This man, William Sherbourne, was a gross
and stolid creature, a heavy-jawed man of the working class who had
become a successful building-contractor in a small way. Gluck did
not understand. He tried to get an explanation, attempting to
speak with the girl when she went home from work in the evening.
She complained to Sherbourne, and one night he gave Gluck a
beating. It was a very severe beating, for it is on the records of
the Red Cross Emergency Hospital that Gluck was treated there that
night and was unable to leave the hospital for a week.
Still Gluck did not understand. He continued to seek an
explanation from the girl. In fear of Sherbourne, he applied to
the Chief of Police for permission to carry a revolver, which
permission was refused, the newspapers as usual playing it up
sensationally. Then came the murder of Irene Tackley, six days
before her contemplated marriage with Sherbourne. It was on a
Saturday night. She had worked late in the candy store, departing
after eleven o'clock with her week's wages in her purse. She rode
on a San Pablo Avenue surface car to Thirty-fourth Street, where
she alighted and started to walk the three blocks to her home.
That was the last seen of her alive. Next morning she was found,
strangled, in a vacant lot.
Emil Gluck was immediately arrested. Nothing that he could do
could save him. He was convicted, not merely on circumstantial
evidence, but on evidence "cooked up" by the Oakland police. There
is no discussion but that a large portion of the evidence was
manufactured. The testimony of Captain Shehan was the sheerest
perjury, it being proved long afterward that on the night in
question he had not only not been in the vicinity of the murder,
but that he had been out of the city in a resort on the San Leandro
Road. The unfortunate Gluck received life imprisonment in San
Quentin, while the newspapers and the public held that it was a
miscarriage of justice--that the death penalty should have been
visited upon him.
Gluck entered San Quentin prison on April 17, 1929. He was then
thirty-four years of age. And for three years and a half, much of
the time in solitary confinement, he was left to meditate upon the
injustice of man. It was during that period that his bitterness
corroded home and he became a hater of all his kind. Three other
things he did during the same period: he wrote his famous
treatise, Human Morals, his remarkable brochure, The Criminal Sane,
and he worked out his awful and monstrous scheme of revenge. It
was an episode that had occurred in his electroplating
establishment that suggested to him his unique weapon of revenge.
As stated in his confession, he worked every detail out
theoretically during his imprisonment, and was able, on his
release, immediately to embark on his career of vengeance.
His release was sensational. Also it was miserably and criminally
delayed by the soulless legal red tape then in vogue. On the night
of February 1, 1932, Tim Haswell, a hold-up man, was shot during an
attempted robbery by a citizen of Piedmont Heights. Tim Haswell
lingered three days, during which time he not only confessed to the
murder of Irene Tackley, but furnished conclusive proofs of the
same. Bert Danniker, a convict dying of consumption in Folsom
Prison, was implicated as accessory, and his confession followed.
It is inconceivable to us of to-day--the bungling, dilatory
processes of justice a generation ago. Emil Gluck was proved in
February to be an innocent man, yet he was not released until the
following October. For eight months, a greatly wronged man, he was
compelled to undergo his unmerited punishment. This was not
conducive to sweetness and light, and we can well imagine how he
ate his soul with bitterness during those dreary eight months.
He came back to the world in the fall of 1932, as usual a "feature"
topic in all the newspapers. The papers, instead of expressing
heartfelt regret, continued their old sensational persecution. One
paper did more--the San Francisco Intelligencer. John Hartwell,
its editor, elaborated an ingenious theory that got around the
confessions of the two criminals and went to show that Gluck was
responsible, after all, for the murder of Irene Tackley. Hartwell
died. And Sherbourne died too, while Policeman Phillipps was shot
in the leg and discharged from the Oakland police force.
The murder of Hartwell was long a mystery. He was alone in his
editorial office at the time. The reports of the revolver were
heard by the office boy, who rushed in to find Hartwell expiring in
his chair. What puzzled the police was the fact, not merely that
he had been shot with his own revolver, but that the revolver had
been exploded in the drawer of his desk. The bullets had torn
through the front of the drawer and entered his body. The police
scouted the theory of suicide, murder was dismissed as absurd, and
the blame was thrown upon the Eureka Smokeless Cartridge Company.
Spontaneous explosion was the police explanation, and the chemists
of the cartridge company were well bullied at the inquest. But
what the police did not know was that across the street, in the
Mercer Building, Room 633, rented by Emil Gluck, had been occupied
by Emil Gluck at the very moment Hartwell's revolver so
At the time, no connection was made between Hartwell's death and
the death of William Sherbourne. Sherbourne had continued to live
in the home he had built for Irene Tackley, and one morning in
January, 1933, he was found dead. Suicide was the verdict of the
coroner's inquest, for he had been shot by his own revolver. The
curious thing that happened that night was the shooting of
Policeman Phillipps on the sidewalk in front of Sherbourne's house.
The policeman crawled to a police telephone on the corner and rang
up for an ambulance. He claimed that some one had shot him from
behind in the leg. The leg in question was so badly shattered by
three '38 calibre bullets that amputation was necessary. But when
the police discovered that the damage had been done by his own
revolver, a great laugh went up, and he was charged with having
been drunk. In spite of his denial of having touched a drop, and
of his persistent assertion that the revolver had been in his hip
pocket and that he had not laid a finger to it, he was discharged
from the force. Emil Gluck's confession, six years later, cleared
the unfortunate policeman of disgrace, and he is alive to-day and
in good health, the recipient of a handsome pension from the city.
Emil Gluck, having disposed of his immediate enemies, now sought a
wider field, though his enmity for newspaper men and for the police
remained always active. The royalties on his ignition device for
gasolene-engines had mounted up while he lay in prison, and year by
year the earning power of his invention increased. He was
independent, able to travel wherever he willed over the earth and
to glut his monstrous appetite for revenge. He had become a
monomaniac and an anarchist--not a philosophic anarchist, merely,
but a violent anarchist. Perhaps the word is misused, and he is
better described as a nihilist, or an annihilist. It is known that
he affiliated with none of the groups of terrorists. He operated
wholly alone, but he created a thousandfold more terror and
achieved a thousandfold more destruction than all the terrorist
groups added together.
He signalized his departure from California by blowing up Fort
Mason. In his confession he spoke of it as a little experiment--he
was merely trying his hand. For eight years he wandered over the
earth, a mysterious terror, destroying property to the tune of
hundreds of millions of dollars, and destroying countless lives.
One good result of his awful deeds was the destruction he wrought
among the terrorists themselves. Every time he did anything the
terrorists in the vicinity were gathered in by the police dragnet,
and many of them were executed. Seventeen were executed at Rome
alone, following the assassination of the Italian King.
Perhaps the most world-amazing achievement of his was the
assassination of the King and Queen of Portugal. It was their
wedding day. All possible precautions had been taken against the
terrorists, and the way from the cathedral, through Lisbon's
streets, was double-banked with troops, while a squad of two
hundred mounted troopers surrounded the carriage. Suddenly the
amazing thing happened. The automatic rifles of the troopers began
to go off, as well as the rifles, in the immediate vicinity, of the
double-banked infantry. In the excitement the muzzles of the
exploding rifles were turned in all directions. The slaughter was
terrible--horses, troops, spectators, and the King and Queen, were
riddled with bullets. To complicate the affair, in different parts
of the crowd behind the foot-soldiers, two terrorists had bombs
explode on their persons. These bombs they had intended to throw
if they got the opportunity. But who was to know this? The
frightful havoc wrought by the bursting bombs but added to the
confusion; it was considered part of the general attack.
One puzzling thing that could not be explained away was the conduct
of the troopers with their exploding rifles. It seemed impossible
that they should be in the plot, yet there were the hundreds their
flying bullets had slain, including the King and Queen. On the
other hand, more baffling than ever was the fact that seventy per
cent. of the troopers themselves had been killed or wounded. Some
explained this on the ground that the loyal foot-soldiers,
witnessing the attack on the royal carriage, had opened fire on the
traitors. Yet not one bit of evidence to verify this could be
drawn from the survivors, though many were put to the torture.
They contended stubbornly that they had not discharged their rifles
at all, but that their rifles had discharged themselves. They were
laughed at by the chemists, who held that, while it was just barely
probable that a single cartridge, charged with the new smokeless
powder, might spontaneously explode, it was beyond all probability
and possibility for all the cartridges in a given area, so charged,
spontaneously to explode. And so, in the end, no explanation of
the amazing occurrence was reached. The general opinion of the
rest of the world was that the whole affair was a blind panic of
the feverish Latins, precipitated, it was true, by the bursting of
two terrorist bombs; and in this connection was recalled the
laughable encounter of long years before between the Russian fleet
and the English fishing boats.
And Emil Gluck chuckled and went his way. He knew. But how was
the world to know? He had stumbled upon the secret in his old
electroplating shop on Telegraph Avenue in the city of Oakland. It
happened, at that time, that a wireless telegraph station was
established by the Thurston Power Company close to his shop. In a
short time his electroplating vat was put out of order. The vat-
wiring had many bad joints, and, on investigation, Gluck discovered
minute welds at the joints in the wiring. These, by lowering the
resistance, had caused an excessive current to pass through the
solution, "boiling" it and spoiling the work. But what had caused
the welds? was the question in Gluck's mind. His reasoning was
simple. Before the establishment of the wireless station, the vat
had worked well. Not until after the establishment of the wireless
station had the vat been ruined. Therefore the wireless station
had been the cause. But how? He quickly answered the question.
If an electric discharge was capable of operating a coherer across
three thousand miles of ocean, then, certainly, the electric
discharges from the wireless station four hundred feet away could
produce coherer effects on the bad joints in the vat-wiring.
Gluck thought no more about it at the time. He merely re-wired his
vat and went on electroplating. But afterwards, in prison, he
remembered the incident, and like a flash there came into his mind
the full significance of it. He saw in it the silent, secret
weapon with which to revenge himself on the world. His great
discovery, which died with him, was control over the direction and
scope of the electric discharge. At the time, this was the
unsolved problem of wireless telegraphy--as it still is to-day--but
Emil Gluck, in his prison cell, mastered it. And, when he was
released, he applied it. It was fairly simple, given the directing
power that was his, to introduce a spark into the powder-magazines
of a fort, a battleship, or a revolver. And not alone could he
thus explode powder at a distance, but he could ignite
conflagrations. The great Boston fire was started by him--quite by
accident, however, as he stated in his confession, adding that it
was a pleasing accident and that he had never had any reason to
It was Emil Gluck that caused the terrible German-American War,
with the loss of 800,000 lives and the consumption of almost
incalculable treasure. It will be remembered that in 1939, because
of the Pickard incident, strained relations existed between the two
countries. Germany, though aggrieved, was not anxious for war,
and, as a peace token, sent the Crown Prince and seven battleships
on a friendly visit to the United States. On the night of February
15, the seven warships lay at anchor in the Hudson opposite New
York City. And on that night Emil Gluck, alone, with all his
apparatus on board, was out in a launch. This launch, it was
afterwards proved, was bought by him from the Ross Turner Company,
while much of the apparatus he used that night had been purchased
from the Columbia Electric Works. But this was not known at the
time. All that was known was that the seven battleships blew up,
one after another, at regular four-minute intervals. Ninety per
cent. of the crews and officers, along with the Crown Prince,
perished. Many years before, the American battleship Maine had
been blown up in the harbour of Havana, and war with Spain had
immediately followed--though there has always existed a reasonable
doubt as to whether the explosion was due to conspiracy or
accident. But accident could not explain the blowing up of the
seven battleships on the Hudson at four-minute intervals. Germany
believed that it had been done by a submarine, and immediately
declared war. It was six months after Gluck's confession that she
returned the Philippines and Hawaii to the United States.
In the meanwhile Emil Gluck, the malevolent wizard and arch-hater,
travelled his whirlwind path of destruction. He left no traces.
Scientifically thorough, he always cleaned up after himself. His
method was to rent a room or a house, and secretly to install his
apparatus--which apparatus, by the way, he so perfected and
simplified that it occupied little space. After he had
accomplished his purpose he carefully removed the apparatus. He
bade fair to live out a long life of horrible crime.
The epidemic of shooting of New York City policemen was a
remarkable affair. It became one of the horror mysteries of the
time. In two short weeks over a hundred policemen were shot in the
legs by their own revolvers. Inspector Jones did not solve the
mystery, but it was his idea that finally outwitted Gluck. On his
recommendation the policemen ceased carrying revolvers, and no more
accidental shootings occurred.
It was in the early spring of 1940 that Gluck destroyed the Mare
Island navy-yard. From a room in Vallejo he sent his electric
discharges across the Vallejo Straits to Mare Island. He first
played his flashes on the battleship Maryland. She lay at the dock
of one of the mine-magazines. On her forward deck, on a huge
temporary platform of timbers, were disposed over a hundred mines.
These mines were for the defence of the Golden Gate. Any one of
these mines was capable of destroying a dozen battleships, and
there were over a hundred mines. The destruction was terrific, but
it was only Gluck's overture. He played his flashes down the Mare
Island shore, blowing up five torpedo boats, the torpedo station,
and the great magazine at the eastern end of the island. Returning
westward again, and scooping in occasional isolated magazines on
the high ground back from the shore, he blew up three cruisers and
the battleships Oregon, Delaware, New Hampshire, and Florida--the
latter had just gone into dry-dock, and the magnificent dry-dock
was destroyed along with her.
It was a frightful catastrophe, and a shiver of horror passed
through the land. But it was nothing to what was to follow. In
the late fall of that year Emil Gluck made a clean sweep of the
Atlantic seaboard from Maine to Florida. Nothing escaped. Forts,
mines, coast defences of all sorts, torpedo stations, magazines--
everything went up. Three months afterward, in midwinter, he smote
the north shore of the Mediterranean from Gibraltar to Greece in
the same stupefying manner. A wail went up from the nations. It
was clear that human agency was behind all this destruction, and it
was equally clear, through Emil Gluck's impartiality, that the
destruction was not the work of any particular nation. One thing
was patent, namely, that whoever was the human behind it all, that
human was a menace to the world. No nation was safe. There was no
defence against this unknown and all-powerful foe. Warfare was
futile--nay, not merely futile but itself the very essence of the
peril. For a twelve-month the manufacture of powder ceased, and
all soldiers and sailors were withdrawn from all fortifications and
war vessels. And even a world-disarmament was seriously considered
at the Convention of the Powers, held at The Hague at that time.
And then Silas Bannerman, a secret service agent of the United
States, leaped into world-fame by arresting Emil Gluck. At first
Bannerman was laughed at, but he had prepared his case well, and in
a few weeks the most sceptical were convinced of Emil Gluck's
guilt. The one thing, however, that Silas Bannerman never
succeeded in explaining, even to his own satisfaction, was how
first he came to connect Gluck with the atrocious crimes. It is
true, Bannerman was in Vallejo, on secret government business, at
the time of the destruction of Mare Island; and it is true that on
the streets of Vallejo Emil Gluck was pointed out to him as a queer
crank; but no impression was made at the time. It was not until
afterward, when on a vacation in the Rocky Mountains and when
reading the first published reports of the destruction along the
Atlantic Coast, that suddenly Bannerman thought of Emil Gluck. And
on the instant there flashed into his mind the connection between
Gluck and the destruction. It was only an hypothesis, but it was
sufficient. The great thing was the conception of the hypothesis,
in itself an act of unconscious cerebration--a thing as
unaccountable as the flashing, for instance, into Newton's mind of
the principle of gravitation.
The rest was easy. Where was Gluck at the time of the destruction
along the Atlantic sea-board? was the question that formed in
Bannerman's mind. By his own request he was put upon the case. In
no time he ascertained that Gluck had himself been up and down the
Atlantic Coast in the late fall of 1940. Also he ascertained that
Gluck had been in New York City during the epidemic of the shooting
of police officers. Where was Gluck now? was Bannerman's next
query. And, as if in answer, came the wholesale destruction along
the Mediterranean. Gluck had sailed for Europe a month before--
Bannerman knew that. It was not necessary for Bannerman to go to
Europe. By means of cable messages and the co-operation of the
European secret services, he traced Gluck's course along the
Mediterranean and found that in every instance it coincided with
the blowing up of coast defences and ships. Also, he learned that
Gluck had just sailed on the Green Star liner Plutonic for the
The case was complete in Bannerman's mind, though in the interval
of waiting he worked up the details. In this he was ably assisted
by George Brown, an operator employed by the Wood's System of
Wireless Telegraphy. When the Plutonic arrived off Sandy Hook she
was boarded by Bannerman from a Government tug, and Emil Gluck was
made a prisoner. The trial and the confession followed. In the
confession Gluck professed regret only for one thing, namely, that
he had taken his time. As he said, had he dreamed that he was ever
to be discovered he would have worked more rapidly and accomplished
a thousand times the destruction he did. His secret died with him,
though it is now known that the French Government managed to get
access to him and offered him a billion francs for his invention
wherewith he was able to direct and closely to confine electric
discharges. "What!" was Gluck's reply--"to sell to you that which
would enable you to enslave and maltreat suffering Humanity?" And
though the war departments of the nations have continued to
experiment in their secret laboratories, they have so far failed to
light upon the slightest trace of the secret. Emil Gluck was
executed on December 4, 1941, and so died, at the age of forty-six,
one of the world's most unfortunate geniuses, a man of tremendous
intellect, but whose mighty powers, instead of making toward good,
were so twisted and warped that he became the most amazing of
--Culled from Mr. A. G. Burnside's "Eccentricitics of Crime," by
kind permission of the publishers, Messrs. Holiday and Whitsund.
THE DREAM OF DEBS
I awoke fully an hour before my customary time. This in itself was
remarkable, and I lay very wide awake, pondering over it.
Something was the matter, something was wrong--I knew not what. I
was oppressed by a premonition of something terrible that had
happened or was about to happen. But what was it? I strove to
orient myself. I remembered that at the time of the Great
Earthquake of 1906 many claimed they awakened some moments before
the first shock and that during these moments they experienced
strange feelings of dread. Was San Francisco again to be visited
I lay for a full minute, numbly expectant, but there occurred no
reeling of walls nor shock and grind of falling masonry. All was
quiet. That was it! The silence! No wonder I had been perturbed.
The hum of the great live city was strangely absent. The surface
cars passed along my street, at that time of day, on an average of
one every three minutes; but in the ten succeeding minutes not a
car passed. Perhaps it was a street-railway strike, was my
thought; or perhaps there had been an accident and the power was
shut off. But no, the silence was too profound. I heard no jar
and rattle of waggon wheels, nor stamp of iron-shod hoofs straining
up the steep cobble-stones.
Pressing the push-button beside my bed, I strove to hear the sound
of the bell, though I well knew it was impossible for the sound to
rise three stories to me even if the bell did ring. It rang all
right, for a few minutes later Brown entered with the tray and
morning paper. Though his features were impassive as ever, I noted
a startled, apprehensive light in his eyes. I noted, also, that
there was no cream on the tray.
"The Creamery did not deliver this morning," he explained; "nor did
I glanced again at the tray. There were no fresh French rolls--
only slices of stale graham bread from yesterday, the most
detestable of bread so far as I was concerned.
"Nothing was delivered this morning, sir," Brown started to explain
apologetically; but I interrupted him.
"Yes, sir, it was delivered, but it was the only thing, and it is
the last time, too. There won't be any paper to-morrow. The paper
says so. Can I send out and get you some condensed milk?"
I shook my head, accepted the coffee black, and spread open the
paper. The headlines explained everything--explained too much, in
fact, for the lengths of pessimism to which the journal went were
ridiculous. A general strike, it said, had been called all over
the United States; and most foreboding anxieties were expressed
concerning the provisioning of the great cities.
I read on hastily, skimming much and remembering much of labour
troubles in the past. For a generation the general strike had been
the dream of organized labour, which dream had arisen originally in
the mind of Debs, one of the great labour leaders of thirty years
before. I recollected that in my young college-settlement days I
had even written an article on the subject for one of the magazines
and that I had entitled it "The Dream of Debs." And I must confess
that I had treated the idea very cavalierly and academically as a
dream and nothing more. Time and the world had rolled on, Gompers
was gone, the American Federation of Labour was gone, and gone was
Debs with all his wild revolutionary ideas; but the dream had
persisted, and here it was at last realized in fact. But I
laughed, as I read, at the journal's gloomy outlook. I knew
better. I had seen organized labour worsted in too many conflicts.
It would be a matter only of days when the thing would be settled.
This was a national strike, and it wouldn't take the Government
long to break it.
I threw the paper down and proceeded to dress. It would certainly
be interesting to be out in the streets of San Francisco when not a
wheel was turning and the whole city was taking an enforced
"I beg your pardon, sir," Brown said, as he handed me my cigar-
case, "but Mr. Harmmed has asked to see you before you go out."
"Send him in right away," I answered.
Harmmed was the butler. When he entered I could see he was
labouring under controlled excitement. He came at once to the
"What shall I do, sir? There will be needed provisions, and the
delivery drivers are on strike. And the electricity is shut off--I
guess they're on strike, too."
"Are the shops open?" I asked.
"Only the small ones, sir. The retail clerks are out, and the big
ones can't open; but the owners and their families are running the
little ones themselves."
"Then take the machine," I said, "and go the rounds and make your
purchases. Buy plenty of everything you need or may need. Get a
box of candles--no, get half-a-dozen boxes. And, when you're done,
tell Harrison to bring the machine around to the club for me--not
later than eleven."
Harmmed shook his head gravely. "Mr. Harrison has struck along
with the Chauffeurs' Union, and I don't know how to run the machine
"Oh, ho, he has, has he?" said. "Well, when next Mister Harrison
happens around you tell him that he can look elsewhere for a
"You don't happen to belong to a Butlers' Union, do you, Harmmed?"
"No, sir," was the answer. "And even if I did I'd not desert my
employer in a crisis like this. No, sir, I would--"
"All right, thank you," I said. "Now you get ready to accompany
me. I'll run the machine myself, and we'll lay in a stock of
provisions to stand a siege."
It was a beautiful first of May, even as May days go. The sky was
cloudless, there was no wind, and the air was warm--almost balmy.
Many autos were out, but the owners were driving them themselves.
The streets were crowded but quiet. The working class, dressed in
its Sunday best, was out taking the air and observing the effects
of the strike. It was all so unusual, and withal so peaceful, that
I found myself enjoying it. My nerves were tingling with mild
excitement. It was a sort of placid adventure. I passed Miss
Chickering. She was at the helm of her little runabout. She swung
around and came after me, catching me at the corner.
"Oh, Mr. Corf!"' she hailed. "Do you know where I can buy candles?
I've been to a dozen shops, and they're all sold out. It's
dreadfully awful, isn't it?"
But her sparkling eyes gave the lie to her words. Like the rest of
us, she was enjoying it hugely. Quite an adventure it was, getting
those candles. It was not until we went across the city and down
into the working-class quarter south of Market Street that we found
small corner groceries that had not yet sold out. Miss Chickering
thought one box was sufficient, but I persuaded her into taking
four. My car was large, and I laid in a dozen boxes. There was no
telling what delays might arise in the settlement of the strike.
Also, I filled the car with sacks of flour, baking-powder, tinned
goods, and all the ordinary necessaries of life suggested by
Harmmed, who fussed around and clucked over the purchases like an
anxious old hen.
The remarkable thing, that first day of the strike, was that no one
really apprehended anything serious. The announcement of organized
labour in the morning papers that it was prepared to stay out a
month or three months was laughed at. And yet that very first day
we might have guessed as much from the fact that the working class
took practically no part in the great rush to buy provisions. Of
course not. For weeks and months, craftily and secretly, the whole
working class had been laying in private stocks of provisions.
That was why we were permitted to go down and buy out the little
groceries in the working-class neighbourhoods.
It was not until I arrived at the club that afternoon that I began
to feel the first alarm. Everything was in confusion. There were
no olives for the cocktails, and the service was by hitches and
jerks. Most of the men were angry, and all were worried. A babel
of voices greeted me as I entered. General Folsom, nursing his
capacious paunch in a window-seat in the smoking-room was defending
himself against half-a-dozen excited gentlemen who were demanding
that he should do something.
"What can I do more than I have done?" he was saying. "There are
no orders from Washington. If you gentlemen will get a wire
through I'll do anything I am commanded to do. But I don't see
what can be done. The first thing I did this morning, as soon as I
learned of the strike, was to order in the troops from the
Presidio--three thousand of them. They're guarding the banks, the
Mint, the post office, and all the public buildings. There is no
disorder whatever. The strikers are keeping the peace perfectly.
You can't expect me to shoot them down as they walk along the
streets with wives and children all in their best bib and tucker."
"I'd like to know what's happening on Wall Street," I heard Jimmy
Wombold say as I passed along. I could imagine his anxiety, for I
knew that he was deep in the big Consolidated-Western deal.
"Say, Corf," Atkinson bustled up to me, "is your machine running?"
"Yes," I answered, "but what's the matter with your own?"
"Broken down, and the garages are all closed. And my wife's
somewhere around Truckee, I think, stalled on the overland. Can't
get a wire to her for love or money. She should have arrived this
evening. She may be starving. Lend me your machine."
"Can't get it across the bay," Halstead spoke up. "The ferries
aren't running. But I tell you what you can do. There's
Rollinson--oh, Rollinson, come here a moment. Atkinson wants to
get a machine across the bay. His wife is stuck on the overland at
Truckee. Can't you bring the Lurlette across from Tiburon and
carry the machine over for him?"
The Lurlette was a two-hundred-ton, ocean-going schooner-yacht.
Rollinson shook his head. "You couldn't get a longshoreman to land
the machine on board, even if I could get the Lurlette over, which
I can't, for the crew are members of the Coast Seamen's Union, and
they're on strike along with the rest."
"But my wife may be starving," I could hear Atkinson wailing as I
At the other end of the smoking-room I ran into a group of men
bunched excitedly and angrily around Bertie Messener. And Bertie
was stirring them up and prodding them in his cool, cynical way.
Bertie didn't care about the strike. He didn't care much about
anything. He was blase--at least in all the clean things of life;
the nasty things had no attraction for him. He was worth twenty
millions, all of it in safe investments, and he had never done a
tap of productive work in his life--inherited it all from his
father and two uncles. He had been everywhere, seen everything,
and done everything but get married, and this last in the face of
the grim and determined attack of a few hundred ambitious mammas.
For years he had been the greatest catch, and as yet he had avoided
being caught. He was disgracefully eligible. On top of his wealth
he was young, handsome, and, as I said before, clean. He was a
great athlete, a young blond god that did everything perfectly and
admirably with the solitary exception of matrimony. And he didn't
care about anything, had no ambitions, no passions, no desire to do
the very things he did so much better than other men.
"This is sedition!" one man in the group was crying. Another
called it revolt and revolution, and another called it anarchy.
"I can't see it," Bertie said. "I have been out in the streets all
morning. Perfect order reigns. I never saw a more law-abiding
populace. There's no use calling it names. It's not any of those
things. It's just what it claims to be, a general strike, and it's
your turn to play, gentlemen."
"And we'll play all right!" cried Garfield, one of the traction
millionaires. "We'll show this dirt where its place is--the
beasts! Wait till the Government takes a hand."
"But where is the Government?" Bertie interposed. "It might as
well be at the bottom of the sea so far as you're concerned. You
don't know what's happening at Washington. You don't know whether
you've got a Government or not."
"Don't you worry about that," Garfield blurted out.
"I assure you I'm not worrying," Bertie smiled languidly. "But it
seems to me it's what you fellows are doing. Look in the glass,
Garfield did not look, but had he looked he would have seen a very
excited gentleman with rumpled, iron-grey hair, a flushed face,
mouth sullen and vindictive, and eyes wildly gleaming.
"It's not right, I tell you," little Hanover said; and from his
tone I was sure that he had already said it a number of times.
"Now that's going too far, Hanover," Bertie replied. "You fellows
make me tired. You're all open-shop men. You've eroded my
eardrums with your endless gabble for the open shop and the right
of a man to work. You've harangued along those lines for years.
Labour is doing nothing wrong in going out on this general strike.
It is violating no law of God nor man. Don't you talk, Hanover.
You've been ringing the changes too long on the God-given right to
work . . . or not to work; you can't escape the corollary. It's a
dirty little sordid scrap, that's all the whole thing is. You've
got labour down and gouged it, and now labour's got you down and is
gouging you, that's all, and you're squealing."
Every man in the group broke out in indignant denials that labour
had ever been gouged.
"No, sir!" Garfield was shouting. "We've done the best for labour.
Instead of gouging it, we've given it a chance to live. We've made
work for it. Where would labour be if it hadn't been for us?"
"A whole lot better off," Bertie sneered. "You've got labour down
and gouged it every time you got a chance, and you went out of your
way to make chances."
"No! No!" were the cries.
"There was the teamsters' strike, right here in San Francisco,"
Bertie went on imperturbably. "The Employers' Association
precipitated that strike. You know that. And you know I know it,
too, for I've sat in these very rooms and heard the inside talk and
news of the fight. First you precipitated the strike, then you
bought the Mayor and the Chief of Police and broke the strike. A
pretty spectacle, you philanthropists getting the teamsters down
and gouging them.
"Hold on, I'm not through with you. It's only last year that the
labour ticket of Colorado elected a governor. He was never seated.
You know why. You know how your brother philanthropists and
capitalists of Colorado worked it. It was a case of getting labour
down and gouging it. You kept the president of the South-western
Amalgamated Association of Miners in jail for three years on
trumped-up murder charges, and with him out of the way you broke up
the association. That was gouging labour, you'll admit. The third
time the graduated income tax was declared unconstitutional was a
gouge. So was the eight-hour Bill you killed in the last Congress.
"And of all unmitigated immoral gouges, your destruction of the
closed-shop principle was the limit. You know how it was done. You
bought out Farburg, the last president of the old American
Federation of Labour. He was your creature--or the creature of all
the trusts and employers' associations, which is the same thing.
You precipitated the big closed-shop strike. Farburg betrayed that
strike. You won, and the old American Federation of Labour
crumbled to pieces. You follows destroyed it, and by so doing
undid yourselves; for right on top of it began the organization of
the I.L.W.--the biggest and solidest organization of labour the
United States has ever seen, and you are responsible for its
existence and for the present general strike. You smashed all the
old federations and drove labour into the I.L.W., and the I.L.W.
called the general strike--still fighting for the closed shop. And
then you have the effrontery to stand here face to face and tell me
that you never got labour down and gouged it. Bah!"
This time there were no denials. Garfield broke out in self-
"We've done nothing we were not compelled to do, if we were to
"I'm not saying anything about that," Bertie answered. "What I am
complaining about is your squealing now that you're getting a taste
of your own medicine. How many strikes have you won by starving
labour into submission? Well, labour's worked out a scheme whereby
to starve you into submission. It wants the closed shop, and, if
it can get it by starving you, why, starve you shall."
"I notice that you have profited in the past by those very labour
gouges you mention," insinuated Brentwood, one of the wiliest and
most astute of our corporation lawyers. "The receiver is as bad as
the thief," he sneered. "You had no hand in the gouging, but you
took your whack out of the gouge."
"That is quite beside the question, Brentwood," Bertie drawled.
"You're as bad as Hanover, intruding the moral element. I haven't
said that anything is right or wrong. It's all a rotten game, I
know; and my sole kick is that you fellows are squealing now that
you're down and labour's taking a gouge out of you. Of course I've
taken the profits from the gouging and, thanks to you, gentlemen,
without having personally to do the dirty work. You did that for
me--oh, believe me, not because I am more virtuous than you, but
because my good father and his various brothers left me a lot of
money with which to pay for the dirty work."
"If you mean to insinuate--" Brentwood began hotly.
"Hold on, don't get all-ruffled up," Bertie interposed insolently.
"There's no use in playing hypocrites in this thieves' den. The
high and lofty is all right for the newspapers, boys' clubs, and
Sunday schools--that's part of the game; but for heaven's sake
don't let's play it on one another. You know, and you know that I
know just what jobbery was done in the building trades' strike last
fall, who put up the money, who did the work, and who profited by
it." (Brentwood flushed darkly.) "But we are all tarred with the
same brush, and the best thing for us to do is to leave morality
out of it. Again I repeat, play the game, play it to the last
finish, but for goodness' sake don't squeal when you get hurt."
When I left the group Bertie was off on a new tack tormenting them
with the more serious aspects of the situation, pointing out the
shortage of supplies that was already making itself felt, and
asking them what they were going to do about it. A little later I
met him in the cloak-room, leaving, and gave him a lift home in my
"It's a great stroke, this general strike," he said, as we bowled
along through the crowded but orderly streets. "It's a smashing
body-blow. Labour caught us napping and struck at our weakest
place, the stomach. I'm going to get out of San Francisco, Corf.
Take my advice and get out, too. Head for the country, anywhere.
You'll have more chance. Buy up a stock of supplies and get into a
tent or a cabin somewhere. Soon there'll be nothing but starvation
in this city for such as we."
How correct Bertie Messener was I never dreamed. I decided that he
was an alarmist. As for myself, I was content to remain and watch
the fun. After I dropped him, instead of going directly home, I
went on in a hunt for more food. To my surprise, I learned that
the small groceries where I had bought in the morning were sold
out. I extended my search to the Potrero, and by good luck managed
to pick up another box of candles, two sacks of wheat flour, ten
pounds of graham flour (which would do for the servants), a case of
tinned corn, and two cases of tinned tomatoes. It did look as
though there was going to be at least a temporary food shortage,
and I hugged myself over the goodly stock of provisions I had laid
The next morning I had my coffee in bed as usual, and, more than
the cream, I missed the daily paper. It was this absence of
knowledge of what was going on in the world that I found the chief
hardship. Down at the club there was little news. Rider had
crossed from Oakland in his launch, and Halstead had been down to
San Jose and back in his machine. They reported the same
conditions in those places as in San Francisco. Everything was
tied up by the strike. All grocery stocks had been bought out by
the upper classes. And perfect order reigned. But what was
happening over the rest of the country--in Chicago? New York?
Washington? Most probably the same things that were happening with
us, we concluded; but the fact that we did not know with absolute
surety was irritating.
General Folsom had a bit of news. An attempt had been made to
place army telegraphers in the telegraph offices, but the wires had
been cut in every direction. This was, so far, the one unlawful
act committed by labour, and that it was a concerted act he was
fully convinced. He had communicated by wireless with the army
post at Benicia, the telegraph lines were even then being patrolled
by soldiers all the way to Sacramento. Once, for one short
instant, they had got the Sacramento call, then the wires,
somewhere, were cut again. General Folsom reasoned that similar
attempts to open communication were being made by the authorities
all the way across the continent, but he was non-committal as to
whether or not he thought the attempt would succeed. What worried
him was the wire-cutting; he could not but believe that it was an
important part of the deep-laid labour conspiracy. Also, he
regretted that the Government had not long since established its
projected chain of wireless stations.
The days came and went, and for a while it was a humdrum time.
Nothing happened. The edge of excitement had become blunted. The
streets were not so crowded. The working class did not come uptown
any more to see how we were taking the strike. And there were not
so many automobiles running around. The repair-shops and garages
were closed, and whenever a machine broke down it went out of
commission. The clutch on mine broke, and neither love nor money
could get it repaired. Like the rest, I was now walking. San
Francisco lay dead, and we did not know what was happening over the
rest of the country. But from the very fact that we did not know
we could conclude only that the rest of the country lay as dead as
San Francisco. From time to time the city was placarded with the
proclamations of organized labour--these had been printed months
before, and evidenced how thoroughly the I.L.W. had prepared for
the strike. Every detail had been worked out long in advance. No
violence had occurred as yet, with the exception of the shooting of
a few wire-cutters by the soldiers, but the people of the slums
were starving and growing ominously restless.
The business men, the millionaires, and the professional class held
meetings and passed resolutions, but there was no way of making the
proclamations public. They could not even get them printed. One
result of these meetings, however, was that General Folsom was
persuaded into taking military possession of the wholesale houses
and of all the flour, grain, and food warehouses. It was high
time, for suffering was becoming acute in the homes of the rich,
and bread-lines were necessary. I knew that my servants were
beginning to draw long faces, and it was amazing--the hole they
made in my stock of provisions. In fact, as I afterward surmised,
each servant was stealing from me and secreting a private stock of
provisions for himself.
But with the formation of the bread-lines came new troubles. There
was only so much of a food reserve in San Francisco, and at the
best it could not last long. Organized labour, we knew, had its
private supplies; nevertheless, the whole working class joined the
bread-lines. As a result, the provisions General Folsom had taken
possession of diminished with perilous rapidity. How were the
soldiers to distinguish between a shabby middle-class man, a member
of the I.L.W., or a slum dweller? The first and the last had to be
fed, but the soldiers did not know all the I.L.W. men in the city,
much less the wives and sons and daughters of the I.L.W. men. The
employers helping, a few of the known union men were flung out of
the bread-lines; but that amounted to nothing. To make matters
worse, the Government tugs that had been hauling food from the army
depots on Mare Island to Angel Island found no more food to haul.
The soldiers now received their rations from the confiscated
provisions, and they received them first.
The beginning of the end was in sight. Violence was beginning to
show its face. Law and order were passing away, and passing away,
I must confess, among the slum people and the upper classes.
Organized labour still maintained perfect order. It could well
afford to--it had plenty to eat. I remember the afternoon at the
club when I caught Halstead and Brentwood whispering in a corner.
They took me in on the venture. Brentwood's machine was still in
running order, and they were going out cow-stealing. Halstead had
a long butcher knife and a cleaver. We went out to the outskirts
of the city. Here and there were cows grazing, but always they
were guarded by their owners. We pursued our quest, following
along the fringe of the city to the east, and on the hills near
Hunter's Point we came upon a cow guarded by a little girl. There
was also a young calf with the cow. We wasted no time on
preliminaries. The little girl ran away screaming, while we
slaughtered the cow. I omit the details, for they are not nice--we
were unaccustomed to such work, and we bungled it.
But in the midst of it, working with the haste of fear, we heard
cries, and we saw a number of men running toward us. We abandoned
the spoils and took to our heels. To our surprise we were not
pursued. Looking back, we saw the men hurriedly cutting up the
cow. They had been on the same lay as ourselves. We argued that
there was plenty for all, and ran back. The scene that followed
beggars description. We fought and squabbled over the division
like savages. Brentwood, I remember, was a perfect brute, snarling
and snapping and threatening that murder would be done if we did
not get our proper share.
And we were getting our share when there occurred a new irruption
on the scene. This time it was the dreaded peace officers of the
I.L.W. The little girl had brought them. They were armed with
whips and clubs, and there were a score of them. The little girl
danced up and down in anger, the tears streaming down her cheeks,
crying: "Give it to 'em! Give it to 'em! That guy with the
specs--he did it! Mash his face for him! Mash his face!" That
guy with the specs was I, and I got my face mashed, too, though I
had the presence of mind to take off my glasses at the first. My!
but we did receive a trouncing as we scattered in all directions.
Brentwood, Halstead, and I fled away for the machine. Brentwood's
nose was bleeding, while Halstead's cheek was cut across with the
scarlet slash of a black-snake whip.
And, lo, when the pursuit ceased and we had gained the machine,
there, hiding behind it, was the frightened calf. Brentwood warned
us to be cautious, and crept up on it like a wolf or tiger. Knife
and cleaver had been left behind, but Brentwood still had his
hands, and over and over on the ground he rolled with the poor
little calf as he throttled it. We threw the carcass into the
machine, covered it over with a robe, and started for home. But
our misfortunes had only begun. We blew out a tyre. There was no
way of fixing it, and twilight was coming on. We abandoned the
machine, Brentwood pulling and staggering along in advance, the
calf, covered by the robe, slung across his shoulders. We took
turn about carrying that calf, and it nearly killed us. Also, we
lost our way. And then, after hours of wandering and toil, we
encountered a gang of hoodlums. They were not I.L.W. men, and I
guess they were as hungry as we. At any rate, they got the calf
and we got the thrashing. Brentwood raged like a madman the rest
of the way home, and he looked like one, with his torn clothes,
swollen nose, and blackened eyes.
There wasn't any more cow-stealing after that. General Folsom sent
his troopers out and confiscated all the cows, and his troopers,
aided by the militia, ate most of the meat. General Folsom was not
to be blamed; it was his duty to maintain law and order, and he
maintained it by means of the soldiers, wherefore he was compelled
to feed them first of all.
It was about this time that the great panic occurred. The wealthy
classes precipitated the flight, and then the slum people caught
the contagion and stampeded wildly out of the city. General Folsom
was pleased. It was estimated that at least 200,000 had deserted
San Francisco, and by that much was his food problem solved. Well
do I remember that day. In the morning I had eaten a crust of
bread. Half of the afternoon I had stood in the bread-line; and
after dark I returned home, tired and miserable, carrying a quart
of rice and a slice of bacon. Brown met me at the door. His face
was worn and terrified. All the servants had fled, he informed me.
He alone remained. I was touched by his faithfulness and, when I
learned that he had eaten nothing all day, I divided my food with
him. We cooked half the rice and half the bacon, sharing it
equally and reserving the other half for morning. I went to bed
with my hunger, and tossed restlessly all night. In the morning I
found Brown had deserted me, and, greater misfortune still, he had
stolen what remained of the rice and bacon.
It was a gloomy handful of men that came together at the club that
morning. There was no service at all. The last servant was gone.
I noticed, too, that the silver was gone, and I learned where it
had gone. The servants had not taken it, for the reason, I
presume, that the club members got to it first. Their method of
disposing of it was simple. Down south of Market Street, in the
dwellings of the I.L.W., the housewives had given square meals in
exchange for it. I went back to my house. Yes, my silver was
gone--all but a massive pitcher. This I wrapped up and carried
down south of Market Street.
I felt better after the meal, and returned to the club to learn if
there was anything new in the situation. Hanover, Collins, and
Dakon were just leaving. There was no one inside, they told me,
and they invited me to come along with them. They were leaving the
city, they said, on Dakon's horses, and there was a spare one for
me. Dakon had four magnificent carriage horses that he wanted to
save, and General Folsom had given him the tip that next morning
all the horses that remained in the city were to be confiscated for
food. There were not many horses left, for tens of thousands of
them had been turned loose into the country when the hay and grain
gave out during the first days. Birdall, I remember, who had great
draying interests, had turned loose three hundred dray horses. At
an average value of five hundred dollars, this had amounted to
$150,000. He had hoped, at first, to recover most of the horses
after the strike was over, but in the end he never recovered one of
them. They were all eaten by the people that fled from San
Francisco. For that matter, the killing of the army mules and
horses for food had already begun.
Fortunately for Dakon, he had had a plentiful supply of hay and
grain stored in his stable. We managed to raise four saddles, and
we found the animals in good condition and spirited, withal unused
to being ridden. I remembered the San Francisco of the great
earthquake as we rode through the streets, but this San Francisco
was vastly more pitiable. No cataclysm of nature had caused this,
but, rather, the tyranny of the labour unions. We rode down past
Union Square and through the theatre, hotel, and shopping
districts. The streets were deserted. Here and there stood
automobiles, abandoned where they had broken down or when the
gasolene had given out. There was no sign of life, save for the
occasional policemen and the soldiers guarding the banks and public
buildings. Once we came upon an I.L.W. man pasting up the latest
proclamation. We stopped to read. "We have maintained an orderly
strike," it ran; "and we shall maintain order to the end. The end
will come when our demands are satisfied, and our demands will be
satisfied when we have starved our employers into submission, as we
ourselves in the past have often been starved into submission."
"Messener's very words," Collins said. "And I, for one, am ready
to submit, only they won't give me a chance to submit. I haven't
had a full meal in an age. I wonder what horse-meat tastes like?"
We stopped to read another proclamation: "When we think our
employers are ready to submit we shall open up the telegraphs and
place the employers' associations of the United States in
communication. But only messages relating to peace terms shall be
permitted over the wires."
We rode on, crossed Market Street, and a little later were passing
through the working-class district. Here the streets were not
deserted. Leaning over the gates or standing in groups were the
I.L.W. men. Happy, well-fed children were playing games, and stout
housewives sat on the front steps gossiping. One and all cast
amused glances at us. Little children ran after us, crying: "Hey,
mister, ain't you hungry?" And one woman, nursing a child at her
breast, called to Dakon: "Say, Fatty, I'll give you a meal for
your skate--ham and potatoes, currant jelly, white bread, canned
butter, and two cups of coffee."
"Have you noticed, the last few days," Hanover remarked to me,
"that there's not been a stray dog in the streets?"
I had noticed, but I had not thought about it before. It was high
time to leave the unfortunate city. We at last managed to connect
with the San Bruno Road, along which we headed south. I had a
country place near Menlo, and it was our objective. But soon we
began to discover that the country was worse off and far more
dangerous than the city. There the soldiers and the I.L.W. kept
order; but the country had been turned over to anarchy. Two
hundred thousand people had fled from San Francisco, and we had
countless evidences that their flight had been like that of an army
They had swept everything clean. There had been robbery and
fighting. Here and there we passed bodies by the roadside and saw
the blackened ruins of farm-houses. The fences were down, and the
crops had been trampled by the feet of a multitude. All the
vegetable patches had been rooted up by the famished hordes. All
the chickens and farm animals had been slaughtered. This was true
of all the main roads that led out of San Francisco. Here and
there, away from the roads, farmers had held their own with
shotguns and revolvers, and were still holding their own. They
warned us away and refused to parley with us. And all the
destruction and violence had been done by the slum-dwellers and the
upper classes. The I.L.W. men, with plentiful food supplies,
remained quietly in their homes in the cities.
Early in the ride we received concrete proof of how desperate was
the situation. To the right of us we heard cries and rifle-shots.
Bullets whistled dangerously near. There was a crashing in the
underbrush; then a magnificent black truck-horse broke across the
road in front of us and was gone. We had barely time to notice
that he was bleeding and lame. He was followed by three soldiers.
The chase went on among the trees on the left. We could hear the
soldiers calling to one another. A fourth soldier limped out upon
the road from the right, sat down on a boulder, and mopped the
sweat from his face.
"Militia," Dakon whispered. "Deserters."
The man grinned up at us and asked for a match. In reply to
Dakon's "What's the word?" he informed us that the militiamen were
deserting. "No grub," he explained. "They're feedin' it all to
the regulars." We also learned from him that the military
prisoners had been released from Alcatraz Island because they could
no longer be fed.
I shall never forget the next sight we encountered. We came upon
it abruptly around a turn of the road. Overhead arched the trees.
The sunshine was filtering down through the branches. Butterflies
were fluttering by, and from the fields came the song of larks.
And there it stood, a powerful touring car. About it and in it lay
a number of corpses. It told its own tale. Its occupants, fleeing
from the city, had been attacked and dragged down by a gang of slum
dwellers--hoodlums. The thing had occurred within twenty-four
hours. Freshly opened meat and fruit tins explained the reason for
the attack. Dakon examined the bodies.
"I thought so," he reported. "I've ridden in that car. It was
Perriton--the whole family. We've got to watch out for ourselves
from now on."
"But we have no food with which to invite attack," I objected.
Dakon pointed to the horse I rode, and I understood.
Early in the day Dakon's horse had cast a shoe. The delicate hoof
had split, and by noon the animal was limping. Dakon refused to
ride it farther, and refused to desert it. So, on his
solicitation, we went on. He would lead the horse and join us at
my place. That was the last we saw of him; nor did we ever learn
By one o'clock we arrived at the town of Menlo, or, rather, at the
site of Menlo, for it was in ruins. Corpses lay everywhere. The
business part of the town, as well as part of the residences, had
been gutted by fire. Here and there a residence still held out;
but there was no getting near them. When we approached too closely
we were fired upon. We met a woman who was poking about in the
smoking ruins of her cottage. The first attack, she told us had
been on the stores, and as she talked we could picture that raging,
roaring, hungry mob flinging itself on the handful of townspeople.
Millionaires and paupers had fought side by side for the food, and
then fought with one another after they got it. The town of Palo
Alto and Stanford University had been sacked in similar fashion, we
learned. Ahead of us lay a desolate, wasted land; and we thought
we were wise in turning off to my place. It lay three miles to the
west, snuggling among the first rolling swells of the foothills.
But as we rode along we saw that the devastation was not confined
to the main roads. The van of the flight had kept to the roads,
sacking the small towns as it went; while those that followed had
scattered out and swept the whole countryside like a great broom.
My place was built of concrete, masonry, and tiles, and so had
escaped being burned, but it was gutted clean. We found the
gardener's body in the windmill, littered around with empty shot-
gun shells. He had put up a good fight. But no trace could we
find of the two Italian labourers, nor of the house-keeper and her
husband. Not a live thing remained. The calves, the colts, all
the fancy poultry and thoroughbred stock, everything, was gone.
The kitchen and the fireplaces, where the mob had cooked, were a
mess, while many camp-fires outside bore witness to the large
number that had fed and spent the night. What they had not eaten
they had carried away. There was not a bite for us.
We spent the rest of the night vainly waiting for Dakon, and in the
morning, with our revolvers, fought off half-a-dozen marauders.
Then we killed one of Dakon's horses, hiding for the future what
meat we did not immediately eat. In the afternoon Collins went out
for a walk, but failed to return. This was the last straw to
Hanover. He was for flight there and then, and I had great
difficulty in persuading him to wait for daylight. As for myself,
I was convinced that the end of the general strike was near, and I
was resolved to return to San Francisco. So, in the morning, we
parted company, Hanover heading south, fifty pounds of horse-meat
strapped to his saddle, while I, similarly loaded, headed north.
Little Hanover pulled through all right, and to the end of his life
he will persist, I know, in boring everybody with the narrative of
his subsequent adventures.
I got as far as Belmont, on the main road back, when I was robbed
of my horse-meat by three militiamen. There was no change in the
situation, they said, except that it was going from bad to worse.
The I.L.W. had plenty of provisions hidden away and could last out
for months. I managed to get as far as Baden, when my horse was
taken away from me by a dozen men. Two of them were San Francisco
policemen, and the remainder were regular soldiers. This was
ominous. The situation was certainly extreme when the regulars
were beginning to desert. When I continued my way on foot, they
already had the fire started, and the last of Dakon's horses lay
slaughtered on the ground.
As luck would have it, I sprained my ankle, and succeeded in
getting no farther than South San Francisco. I lay there that
night in an out-house, shivering with the cold and at the same time
burning with fever. Two days I lay there, too sick to move, and on
the third, reeling and giddy, supporting myself on an extemporized
crutch, I tottered on toward San Francisco. I was weak as well,
for it was the third day since food had passed my lips. It was a
day of nightmare and torment. As in a dream I passed hundreds of
regular soldiers drifting along in the opposite direction, and many
policemen, with their families, organized in large groups for
As I entered the city I remembered the workman's house at which I
had traded the silver pitcher, and in that direction my hunger
drove me. Twilight was falling when I came to the place. I passed
around by the alleyway and crawled up the black steps, on which I
collapsed. I managed to reach out with the crutch and knock on the
door. Then I must have fainted, for I came to in the kitchen, my
face wet with water, and whisky being poured down my throat. I
choked and spluttered and tried to talk. I began saying something
about not having any more silver pitchers, but that I would make it
up to them afterward if they would only give me something to eat.
But the housewife interrupted me.
"Why, you poor man," she said, "haven't you heard? The strike was
called off this afternoon. Of course we'll give you something to
She bustled around, opening a tin of breakfast bacon and preparing
to fry it.
"Let me have some now, please," I begged; and I ate the raw bacon
on a slice of bread, while her husband explained that the demands
of the I.L.W. had been granted. The wires had been opened up in
the early afternoon, and everywhere the employers' associations had
given in. There hadn't been any employers left in San Francisco,
but General Folsom had spoken for them. The trains and steamers
would start running in the morning, and so would everything else
just as soon as system could be established.
And that was the end of the general strike. I never want to see
another one. It was worse than a war. A general strike is a cruel
and immoral thing, and the brain of man should be capable of
running industry in a more rational way. Harrison is still my
chauffeur. It was part of the conditions of the I.L.W. that all of
its members should be reinstated in their old positions. Brown
never came back, but the rest of the servants are with me. I
hadn't the heart to discharge them--poor creatures, they were
pretty hard-pressed when they deserted with the food and silver.
And now I can't discharge them. They have all been unionized by
the I.L.W. The tyranny of organized labour is getting beyond human
endurance. Something must be done.
"That wull be the doctor's launch," said Captain MacElrath.
The pilot grunted, while the skipper swept on with his glass from
the launch to the strip of beach and to Kingston beyond, and then
slowly across the entrance to Howth Head on the northern side.
"The tide's right, and we'll have you docked in two hours," the
pilot vouchsafed, with an effort at cheeriness. "Ring's End Basin,
This time the skipper grunted.
"A dirty Dublin day."
Again the skipper grunted. He was weary with the night of wind in
the Irish Channel behind him, the unbroken hours of which he had
spent on the bridge. And he was weary with all the voyage behind
him--two years and four months between home port and home port,
eight hundred and fifty days by his log.
"Proper wunter weather," he answered, after a silence. "The town
is undistinct. Ut wull be rainun' guid an' hearty for the day."
Captain MacElrath was a small man, just comfortably able to peep
over the canvas dodger of the bridge. The pilot and third officer
loomed above him, as did the man at the wheel, a bulky German,
deserted from a warship, whom he had signed on in Rangoon. But his
lack of inches made Captain MacElrath a no less able man. At least
so the Company reckoned, and so would he have reckoned could he
have had access to the carefully and minutely compiled record of
him filed away in the office archives. But the Company had never
given him a hint of its faith in him. It was not the way of the
Company, for the Company went on the principle of never allowing an
employee to think himself indispensable or even exceedingly useful;
wherefore, while quick to censure, it never praised. What was
Captain MacElrath, anyway, save a skipper, one skipper of the
eighty-odd skippers that commanded the Company's eighty-odd
freighters on all the highways and byways of the sea?
Beneath them, on the main deck, two Chinese stokers were carrying
breakfast for'ard across the rusty iron plates that told their own
grim story of weight and wash of sea. A sailor was taking down the
life-line that stretched from the forecastle, past the hatches and
cargo-winches, to the bridge-deck ladder.
"A rough voyage," suggested the pilot.
"Aye, she was fair smokin' ot times, but not thot I minded thot so
much as the lossin' of time. I hate like onythun' tull loss time."
So saying, Captain MacElrath turned and glanced aft, aloft and
alow, and the pilot, following his gaze, saw the mute but
convincing explanation of that loss of time. The smoke-stack,
buff-coloured underneath, was white with salt, while the whistle-
pipe glittered crystalline in the random sunlight that broke for
the instant through a cloud-rift. The port lifeboat was missing,
its iron davits, twisted and wrenched, testifying to the mightiness
of the blow that had been struck the old Tryapsic. The starboard
davits were also empty. The shattered wreck of the lifeboat they
had held lay on the fiddley beside the smashed engine-room
skylight, which was covered by a tarpaulin. Below, to star-board,
on the bridge deck, the pilot saw the crushed mess-room door,
roughly bulkheaded against the pounding seas. Abreast of it, on
the smokestack guys, and being taken down by the bos'n and a
sailor, hung the huge square of rope netting which had failed to
break those seas of their force.
"Twice afore I mentioned thot door tull the owners," said Captain
MacElrath. "But they said ut would do. There was bug seas thot
time. They was uncreditable bug. And thot buggest one dud the
domage. Ut fair carried away the door an' laid ut flat on the mess
table an' smashed out the chief's room. He was a but sore about
"It must 'a' been a big un," the pilot remarked sympathetically.
"Aye, ut was thot. Thungs was lively for a but. Ut finished the
mate. He was on the brudge wuth me, an' I told hum tull take a
look tull the wedges o' number one hatch. She was takin' watter
freely an' I was no sure o' number one. I dudna like the look o'
ut, an' I was fuggerin' maybe tull heave to tull the marn, when she
took ut over abaft the brudge. My word, she was a bug one. We got
a but of ut ourselves on the brudge. I dudna miss the mate ot the
first, what o' routin' out Chips an' bulkheadun' thot door an'
stretchun' the tarpaulin over the sky-light. Then he was nowhere
to be found. The men ot the wheel said as he seen hum goin' down
the lodder just afore she hut us. We looked for'ard, we looked
tull hus room, aye looked tull the engine-room, an' we looked along
aft on the lower deck, and there he was, on both sides the cover to
the steam-pipe runnun' tull the after-wunches."
The pilot ejaculated an oath of amazement and horror.
"Aye," the skipper went on wearily, "an' on both sides the steam-
pipe uz well. I tell ye he was in two pieces, splut clean uz a
herrin'. The sea must a-caught hum on the upper brudge deck,
carried hum clean across the fiddley, an' banged hum head-on tull
the pipe cover. It sheered through hum like so much butter, down
atween the eyes, an' along the middle of hum, so that one leg an'
arm was fast tull the one piece of hum, an' one leg an' arm fast
tull the other piece of hum. I tull ye ut was fair grewsome. We
putt hum together an' rolled hum in canvas uz we pulled hum out."
The pilot swore again.
"Oh, ut wasna onythun' tull greet about," Captain MacElrath assured
him. "'Twas a guid ruddance. He was no a sailor, thot mate-
fellow. He was only fut for a pugsty, an' a dom puir apology for
It is said that there are three kinds of Irish--Catholic,
Protestant, and North-of-Ireland--and that the North-of-Ireland
Irishman is a transplanted Scotchman. Captain MacElrath was a
North-of-Ireland man, and, talking for much of the world like a
Scotchman, nothing aroused his ire quicker than being mistaken for
a Scotchman. Irish he stoutly was, and Irish he stoutly abided,
though it was with a faint lip-lift of scorn that he mentioned mere
South-of-Ireland men, or even Orange-men. Himself he was
Presbyterian, while in his own community five men were all that
ever mustered at a meeting in the Orange Men's Hall. His community
was the Island McGill, where seven thousand of his kind lived in
such amity and sobriety that in the whole island there was but one
policeman and never a public-house at all.
Captain MacElrath did not like the sea, and had never liked it. He
wrung his livelihood from it, and that was all the sea was, the
place where he worked, as the mill, the shop, and the counting-
house were the places where other men worked. Romance never sang
to him her siren song, and Adventure had never shouted in his
sluggish blood. He lacked imagination. The wonders of the deep
were without significance to him. Tornadoes, hurricanes,
waterspouts, and tidal waves were so many obstacles to the way of a
ship on the sea and of a master on the bridge--they were that to
him, and nothing more. He had seen, and yet not seen, the many
marvels and wonders of far lands. Under his eyelids burned the
brazen glories of the tropic seas, or ached the bitter gales of the
North Atlantic or far South Pacific; but his memory of them was of
mess-room doors stove in, of decks awash and hatches threatened, of
undue coal consumption, of long passages, and of fresh paint-work
spoiled by unexpected squalls of rain.
"I know my buzz'ness," was the way he often put it, and beyond his
business was all that he did not know, all that he had seen with
the mortal eyes of him and yet that he never dreamed existed. That
he knew his business his owners were convinced, or at forty he
would not have held command of the Tryapsic, three thousand tons
net register, with a cargo capacity of nine thousand tons and
valued at fifty-thousand pounds.
He had taken up seafaring through no love of it, but because it had
been his destiny, because he had been the second son of his father
instead of the first. Island McGill was only so large, and the
land could support but a certain definite proportion of those that
dwelt upon it. The balance, and a large balance it was, was driven
to the sea to seek its bread. It had been so for generations. The
eldest sons took the farms from their fathers; to the other sons
remained the sea and its salt-ploughing. So it was that Donald
MacElrath, farmer's son and farm-boy himself, had shifted from the
soil he loved to the sea he hated and which it was his destiny to
farm. And farmed it he had, for twenty years, shrewd, cool-headed,
sober, industrious, and thrifty, rising from ship's boy and
forecastle hand to mate and master of sailing-ships and thence into
steam, second officer, first, and master, from small command to
larger, and at last to the bridge of the old Tryapsic--old, to be
sure, but worth her fifty thousand pounds and still able to bear up
in all seas, and weather her nine thousand tons of freight.
From the bridge of the Tryapsic, the high place he had gained in
the competition of men, he stared at Dublin harbour opening out, at
the town obscured by the dark sky of the dreary wind-driven day,
and at the tangled tracery of spars and rigging of the harbour
shipping. Back from twice around the world he was, and from
interminable junketings up and down on far stretches, home-coming
to the wife he had not seen in eight-and-twenty months, and to the
child he had never seen and that was already walking and talking.
He saw the watch below of stokers and trimmers bobbing out of the
forecastle doors like rabbits from a warren and making their way
aft over the rusty deck to the mustering of the port doctor. They
were Chinese, with expressionless, Sphinx-like faces, and they
walked in peculiar shambling fashion, dragging their feet as if the
clumsy brogans were too heavy for their lean shanks.
He saw them and he did not see them, as he passed his hand beneath
his visored cap and scratched reflectively his mop of sandy hair.
For the scene before him was but the background in his brain for
the vision of peace that was his--a vision that was his often
during long nights on the bridge when the old Tryapsic wallowed on
the vexed ocean floor, her decks awash, her rigging thrumming in
the gale gusts or snow squalls or driving tropic rain. And the
vision he saw was of farm and farm-house and straw-thatched
outbuildings, of children playing in the sun, and the good wife at
the door, of lowing kine, and clucking fowls, and the stamp of
horses in the stable, of his father's farm next to him, with,
beyond, the woodless, rolling land and the hedged fields, neat and
orderly, extending to the crest of the smooth, soft hills. It was
his vision and his dream, his Romance and Adventure, the goal of
all his effort, the high reward for the salt-ploughing and the
long, long furrows he ran up and down the whole world around in his
farming of the sea.
In simple taste and homely inclination this much-travelled map was
more simple and homely than the veriest yokel. Seventy-one years
his father was, and had never slept a night out of his own bed in
his own house on Island McGill. That was the life ideal, so
Captain MacElrath considered, and he was prone to marvel that any
man, not under compulsion, should leave a farm to go to sea. To
this much-travelled man the whole world was as familiar as the
village to the cobbler sitting in his shop. To Captain MacElrath
the world was a village. In his mind's eye he saw its streets a
thousand leagues long, aye, and longer; turnings that doubled
earth's stormiest headlands or were the way to quiet inland ponds;
cross-roads, taken one way, that led to flower-lands and summer
seas, and that led the other way to bitter, ceaseless gales and the
perilous bergs of the great west wind drift. And the cities,
bright with lights, were as shops on these long streets--shops
where business was transacted, where bunkers were replenished,
cargoes taken or shifted, and orders received from the owners in
London town to go elsewhere and beyond, ever along the long sea-
lanes, seeking new cargoes here, carrying new cargoes there,
running freights wherever shillings and pence beckoned and
underwriters did not forbid. But it was all a weariness to
contemplate, and, save that he wrung from it his bread, it was
without profit under the sun.
The last good-bye to the wife had been at Cardiff, twenty-eight
months before, when he sailed for Valparaiso with coals--nine
thousand tons and down to his marks. From Valparaiso he had gone
to Australia, light, a matter of six thousand miles on end with a
stormy passage and running short of bunker coal. Coals again to
Oregon, seven thousand miles, and nigh as many more with general
cargo for Japan and China. Thence to Java, loading sugar for
Marseilles, and back along the Mediterranean to the Black Sea, and
on to Baltimore, down to her marks with crome ore, buffeted by
hurricanes, short again of bunker coal and calling at Bermuda to
replenish. Then a time charter, Norfolk, Virginia, loading
mysterious contraband coal and sailing for South Africa under
orders of the mysterious German supercargo put on board by the
charterers. On to Madagascar, steaming four knots by the
supercargo's orders, and the suspicion forming that the Russian
fleet might want the coal. Confusion and delays, long waits at
sea, international complications, the whole world excited over the
old Tryapsic and her cargo of contraband, and then on to Japan and
the naval port of Sassebo. Back to Australia, another time charter
and general merchandise picked up at Sydney, Melbourne, and
Adelaide, and carried on to Mauritius, Lourenco Marques, Durban,
Algoa Bay, and Cape Town. To Ceylon for orders, and from Ceylon to
Rangoon to load rice for Rio Janeiro. Thence to Buenos Aires and
loading maize for the United Kingdom or the Continent, stopping at
St. Vincent, to receive orders to proceed to Dublin. Two years and
four months, eight hundred and fifty days by the log, steaming up
and down the thousand-league-long sea-lanes and back again to
Dublin town. And he was well aweary.
A little tug had laid hold of the Tryapsic, and with clang and
clatter and shouted command, with engines half-ahead, slow-speed,
or half-astern, the battered old sea-tramp was nudged and nosed and
shouldered through the dock-gates into Ring's End Basin. Lines
were flung ashore, fore and aft, and a 'midship spring got out.
Already a small group of the happy shore-staying folk had clustered
on the dock.
"Ring off," Captain MacElrath commanded in his slow thick voice;
and the third officer worked the lever of the engine-room
"Gangway out!" called the second officer; and when this was
accomplished, "That will do."
It was the last task of all, gangway out. "That will do" was the
dismissal. The voyage was ended, and the crew shambled eagerly
forward across the rusty decks to where their sea-bags were packed
and ready for the shore. The taste of the land was strong in the
men's mouths, and strong it was in the skipper's mouth as he
muttered a gruff good day to the departing pilot, and himself went
down to his cabin. Up the gangway were trooping the customs
officers, the surveyor, the agent's clerk, and the stevedores.
Quick work disposed of these and cleared his cabin, the agent
waiting to take him to the office.
"Dud ye send word tull the wife?" had been his greeting to the
"Yes, a telegram, as soon as you were reported."
"She'll likely be comin' down on the marnin' train," the skipper
had soliloquized, and gone inside to change his clothes and wash.
He took a last glance about the room and at two photographs on the
wall, one of the wife the other of an infant--the child he had
never seen. He stepped out into the cabin, with its panelled walls
of cedar and maple, and with its long table that seated ten, and at
which he had eaten by himself through all the weary time. No
laughter and clatter and wordy argument of the mess-room had been
his. He had eaten silently, almost morosely, his silence emulated
by the noiseless Asiatic who had served him. It came to him
suddenly, the overwhelming realization of the loneliness of those
two years and more. All his vexations and anxieties had been his
own. He had shared them with no one. His two young officers were
too young and flighty, the mate too stupid. There was no
consulting with them. One tenant had shared the cabin with him,
that tenant his responsibility. They had dined and supped
together, walked the bridge together, and together they had bedded.
"Och!" he muttered to that grim companion, "I'm quit of you, an'
wull quit . . . for a wee."
Ashore he passed the last of the seamen with their bags, and, at
the agent's, with the usual delays, put through his ship business.
When asked out by them to drink he took milk and soda.
"I am no teetotaler," he explained; "but for the life o' me I canna
bide beer or whusky."
In the early afternoon, when he finished paying off his crew, he
hurried to the private office where he had been told his wife was
His eyes were for her first, though the temptation was great to
have more than a hurried glimpse of the child in the chair beside
her. He held her off from him after the long embrace, and looked
into her face long and steadily, drinking in every feature of it
and wondering that he could mark no changes of time. A warm man,
his wife thought him, though had the opinion of his officers been
asked it would have been: a harsh man and a bitter one.
"Wull, Annie, how is ut wi' ye?" he queried, and drew her to him
And again he held her away from him, this wife of ten years and of
whom he knew so little. She was almost a stranger--more a stranger
than his Chinese steward, and certainly far more a stranger than
his own officers whom he had seen every day, day and day, for eight
hundred and fifty days. Married ten years, and in that time he had
been with her nine weeks--scarcely a honeymoon. Each time home had
been a getting acquainted again with her. It was the fate of the
men who went out to the salt-ploughing. Little they knew of their
wives and less of their children. There was his chief engineer--
old, near-sighted MacPherson--who told the story of returning home
to be locked out of his house by his four-year kiddie that never
had laid eyes on him before.
"An' thus 'ull be the loddie," the skipper said, reaching out a
hesitant hand to the child's cheek.
But the boy drew away from him, sheltering against the mother's
"Och!" she cried, "and he doesna know his own father."
"Nor I hum. Heaven knows I could no a-picked hum out of a crowd,
though he'll be havin' your nose I'm thunkun'."
"An' your own eyes, Donald. Look ut them. He's your own father,
laddie. Kiss hum like the little mon ye are."
But the child drew closer to her, his expression of fear and
distrust growing stronger, and when the father attempted to take
him in his arms he threatened to cry.
The skipper straightened up, and to conceal the pang at his heart
he drew out his watch and looked at it.
"Ut's time to go, Annie," he said. "Thot train 'ull be startun'."
He was silent on the train at first, divided between watching the
wife with the child going to sleep in her arms and looking out of
the window at the tilled fields and green unforested hills vague
and indistinct in the driving drizzle that had set in. They had
the compartment to themselves. When the boy slept she laid him out
on the seat and wrapped him warmly. And when the health of
relatives and friends had been inquired after, and the gossip of
Island McGill narrated, along with the weather and the price of
land and crops, there was little left to talk about save
themselves, and Captain MacElrath took up the tale brought home for
the good wife from all his world's-end wandering. But it was not a
tale of marvels he told, nor of beautiful flower-lands nor
mysterious Eastern cities.
"What like is Java?" she asked once.
"Full o' fever. Half the crew down wuth ut an' luttle work. Ut
was quinine an' quinine the whole blessed time. Each marnun' 'twas
quinine an' gin for all hands on an empty stomach. An' they who
was no sick made ut out to be hovun' ut bad uz the rest."
Another time she asked about Newcastle.
"Coals an' coal-dust--thot's all. No a nice sutty. I lost two
Chinks there, stokers the both of them. An' the owners paid a fine
tull the Government of a hundred pounds each for them. 'We regret
tull note,' they wrut me--I got the letter tull Oregon--'We regret
tull note the loss o' two Chinese members o' yer crew ot Newcastle,
an' we recommend greater carefulness un the future.' Greater
carefulness! And I could no a-been more careful. The Chinks hod
forty-five pounds each comun' tull them in wages, an' I was no a-
thunkun' they 'ud run.
"But thot's their way--'we regret tull note,' 'we beg tull advise,'
'we recommend,' 'we canna understand'--an' the like o' thot.
Domned cargo tank! An' they would thunk I could drive her like a
Lucania, an' wi'out burnun' coals. There was thot propeller. I
was after them a guid while for ut. The old one was iron, thuck on
the edges, an' we couldna make our speed. An' the new one was
bronze--nine hundred pounds ut cost, an' then wantun' their returns
out o' ut, an' me wuth a bod passage an' lossin' time every day.
'We regret tull note your long passage from Voloparaiso tull Sydney
wuth an average daily run o' only one hundred an' suxty-seven. We
hod expected better results wuth the new propeller. You should a-
made an average daily run o' two hundred and suxteen.'
"An' me on a wunter passage, blowin' a luvin' gale half the time,
wuth hurricane force in atweenwhiles, an' hove to sux days, wuth
engines stopped an' bunker coal runnun' short, an' me wuth a mate
thot stupid he could no pass a shup's light ot night wi'out callun'
me tull the brudge. I wrut an' told 'em so. An' then: 'Our
nautical adviser suggests you kept too far south,' an' 'We are
lookun' for better results from thot propeller.' Nautical
adviser!--shore pilot! Ut was the regular latitude for a wunter
passage from Voloparaiso tull Sydney.
"An' when I come un tull Auckland short o' coal, after lettun' her
druft sux days wuth the fires out tull save the coal, an' wuth only
twenty tons in my bunkers, I was thunkun' o' the lossin' o' time
an' the expense, an' tull save the owners I took her un an' out
wi'out pilotage. Pilotage was no compulsory. An' un Yokohama, who
should I meet but Captun Robinson o' the Dyapsic. We got a-talkun'
about ports an' places down Australia-way, an' first thing he says:
'Speakun' o' Auckland--of course, Captun, you was never un
Auckland?' 'Yus,' I says, 'I was un there very recent.' 'Oh, ho,'
he says, very angry-like, 'so you was the smart Aleck thot fetched
me thot letter from the owners: "We note item of fufteen pounds
for pilotage ot Auckland. A shup o' ours was un tull Auckland
recently an' uncurred no such charge. We beg tull advise you thot
we conseeder thus pilotage an onnecessary expense which should no
be uncurred un the future.'"
"But dud they say a word tull me for the fufteen pounds I saved
tull them? No a word. They send a letter tull Captun Robinson for
no savun' them the fufteen pounds, an' tull me: 'We note item of
two guineas doctor's fee at Auckland for crew. Please explain thus
onusual expunditure.' Ut was two o' the Chinks. I was thunkun'
they hod beri-beri, an' thot was the why o' sendun' for the doctor.
I buried the two of them ot sea not a week after. But ut was:
'Please explain thus onusual expunditure,' an' tull Captun
Robinson, 'We beg tull advise you thot we conseeder thus pilotage
an onnecessary expense.'
"Dudna I cable them from Newcastle, tellun' them the old tank was
thot foul she needed dry-dock? Seven months out o' drydock, an'
the West Coast the quickest place for foulun' un the world. But
freights was up, an' they hod a charter o' coals for Portland. The
Arrata, one o' the Woor Line, left port the same day uz us, bound
for Portland, an' the old Tryapsic makun' sux knots, seven ot the
best. An' ut was ot Comox, takun' un bunker coal, I got the letter
from the owners. The boss humself hod signed ut, an' ot the bottom
he wrut un hus own bond: 'The Arrata beat you by four an' a half
days. Am dusappointed.' Dusappointed! When I had cabled them
from Newcastle. When she drydocked ot Portland, there was whuskers
on her a foot long, barnacles the size o' me fust, oysters like
young sauce plates. Ut took them two days afterward tull clean the
dock o' shells an' muck.
"An' there was the motter o' them fire-bars ot Newcastle. The firm
ashore made them heavier than the engineer's speecifications, an'
then forgot tull charge for the dufference. Ot the last moment,
wuth me ashore gettun' me clearance, they come wuth the bill:
'Tull error on fire-bars, sux pounds.' They'd been tull the shup
an' MacPherson hod O.K.'d ut. I said ut was strange an' would no
pay. 'Then you are dootun' the chief engineer,' says they. 'I'm
no dootun',' says I, 'but I canna see my way tull sign. Come wuth
me tull the shup. The launch wull cost ye naught an' ut 'ull brung
ye back. An' we wull see what MacPherson says.'
"But they would no come. Ot Portland I got the bill un a letter.
I took no notice. Ot Hong-Kong I got a letter from the owners.
The bill hod been sent tull them. I wrut them from Java
explainun'. At Marseilles the owners wrut me: 'Tull extra work un
engine-room, sux pounds. The engineer has O.K.'d ut, an' you have
no O.K.'d ut. Are you dootun' the engineer's honesty?' I wrut an'
told them I was no dootun' his honesty; thot the bill was for extra
weight o' fire-bars; an' thot ut was O.K. Dud they pay ut? They
no dud. They must unvestigate. An' some clerk un the office took
sick, an' the bill was lost. An' there was more letters. I got
letters from the owners an' the firm--'Tull error on fire-bars, sux
pounds'--ot Baltimore, ot Delagoa Bay, ot Moji, ot Rangoon, ot Rio,
an' ot Montevuddio. Ut uz no settled yut. I tell ye, Annie, the
owners are hard tull please."
He communed with himself for a moment, and then muttered
indignantly: "Tull error on fire-bars, sux pounds."
"Hov ye heard of Jamie?" his wife asked in the pause.
Captain MacElrath shook his head.
"He was washed off the poop wuth three seamen."
"Off the Horn. 'Twas on the Thornsby."
"They would be runnun' homeward bound?"
"Aye," she nodded. "We only got the word three days gone. His
wife is greetin' like tull die."
"A good lod, Jamie," he commented, "but a stiff one ot carryun' on.
I mind me when we was mates together un the Abion. An' so Jamie's
Again a pause fell, to be broken by the wife.
"An' ye will no a-heard o' the Bankshire? MacDougall lost her in
Magellan Straits. 'Twas only yesterday ut was in the paper."
"A cruel place, them Magellan Straits," he said. "Dudna thot
domned mate-fellow nigh putt me ashore twice on the one passage
through? He was a eediot, a lunatuc. I wouldna have hum on the
brudge a munut. Comun' tull Narrow Reach, thuck weather, wuth snow
squalls, me un the chart-room, dudna I guv hum the changed course?
'South-east-by-east,' I told hum. 'South-east-by-east, sir,' says
he. Fufteen munuts after I comes on tull the brudge. 'Funny,'
says thot mate-fellow, 'I'm no rememberun' ony islands un the mouth
o' Narrow Reach. I took one look ot the islands an' yells, 'Putt
your wheel hard a-starboard,' tull the mon ot the wheel. An' ye
should a-seen the old Tryapsic turnun' the sharpest circle she ever
turned. I waited for the snow tull clear, an' there was Narrow
Reach, nice uz ye please, tull the east'ard an' the islands un the
mouth o' False Bay tull the south'ard. 'What course was ye
steerun'?' I says tull the mon ot the wheel. 'South-by-east, sir,'
says he. I looked tull the mate-fellow. What could I say? I was
thot wroth I could a-kult hum. Four points dufference. Five
munuts more an' the old Tryapsic would a-been funushed.
"An' was ut no the same when we cleared the Straits tull the
east'ard? Four hours would a-seen us guid an' clear. I was forty
hours then on the brudge. I guv the mate his course, an' the
bearun' o' the Askthar Light astern. 'Don't let her bear more tull
the north'ard than west-by-north,' I said tull hum, 'an' ye wull be
all right.' An' I went below an' turned un. But I couldna sleep
for worryun'. After forty hours on the brudge, what was four hours
more? I thought. An' for them four hours wull ye be lettun' the
mate loss her on ye? 'No,' I says to myself. An' wuth thot I got
up, hod a wash an' a cup o' coffee, an' went tull the brudge. I
took one look ot the bearun' o' Askthar Light. 'Twas nor'west-by-
west, and the old Tryapsic down on the shoals. He was a eediot,
thot mate-fellow. Ye could look overside an' see the duscoloration
of the watter. 'Twas a close call for the old Tryapsic I'm tellun'
ye. Twice un thirty hours he'd a-hod her ashore uf ut hod no been
Captain MacElrath fell to gazing at the sleeping child with mild
wonder in his small blue eyes, and his wife sought to divert him
from his woes.
"Ye remember Jummy MacCaul?" she asked. "Ye went tull school wuth
hus two boys. Old Jummy MacCaul thot hoz the farm beyond Doctor
"Oh, aye, an' what o' hum? Uz he dead?"
"No, but he was after askun' your father, when he sailed last time
for Voloparaiso, uf ye'd been there afore. An' when your father
says no, then Jummy says, 'An' how wull he be knowun a' tull find
hus way?' An' with thot your father says: 'Verry sumple ut uz,
Jummy. Supposun' you was goin' tull the mainland tull a mon who
luved un Belfast. Belfast uz a bug sutty, Jummy, an' how would ye
be findun' your way?' 'By way o' me tongue,' says Jummy; 'I'd be
askun' the folk I met.' 'I told ye ut was sumple,' says your
father. 'Ut's the very same way my Donald finds the road tull
Voloparaiso. He asks every shup he meets upon the sea tull ot last
he meets wuth a shup thot's been tull Voloparaiso, an' the captun
o' thot shup tells hum the way.' An' Jummy scratches hus head an'
says he understands an' thot ut's a very sumple motter after all."
The skipper chuckled at the joke, and his tired blue eyes were
merry for the moment.
"He was a thun chap, thot mate-fellow, oz thun oz you an' me putt
together," he remarked after a time, a slight twinkle in his eye of
appreciation of the bull. But the twinkle quickly disappeared and
the blue eyes took on a bleak and wintry look. "What dud he do ot
Voloparaiso but land sux hundred fathom o' chain cable an' take
never a receipt from the lighter-mon. I was gettun' my clearance
ot the time. When we got tull sea, I found he hod no receipt for
"'An' ye no took a receipt for ut?' says I.
"'No,' says he. 'Wasna ut goin' direct tull the agents?'
"'How long ha' ye been goin' tull sea,' says I, 'not tull be
knowin' the mate's duty uz tull deluver no cargo wuthout receipt
for same? An' on the West Coast ot thot. What's tull stop the
lighter-mon from stealun' a few lengths o' ut?'
"An' ut come out uz I said. Sux hundred hundred went over the
side, but four hundred an' ninety-five was all the agents received.
The lighter-mon swore ut was all he received from the mate--four
hundred an' ninety-five fathom. I got a letter from the owners ot
Portland. They no blamed the mate for ut, but me, an' me ashore ot
the time on shup's buzz'ness. I could no be in the two places ot
the one time. An' the letters from the owners an' the agents uz
still comun' tull me.
"Thot mate-fellow was no a proper sailor, an' no a mon tull work
for owners. Dudna he want tull break me wuth the Board of Trade
for bein' below my marks? He said as much tull the bos'n. An' he
told me tull my face homeward bound thot I'd been half an inch
under my marks. 'Twas at Portland, loadun' cargo un fresh watter
an' goin' tull Comox tull load bunker coal un salt watter. I tell
ye, Annie, ut takes close fuggerin', an' I WAS half an inch under
the load-line when the bunker coal was un. But I'm no tellun' any
other body but you. An' thot mate-fellow untendun' tull report me
tull the Board o' Trade, only for thot he saw fut tull be sliced un
two pieces on the steam-pipe cover.
"He was a fool. After loadun' ot Portland I hod tull take on suxty
tons o' coal tull last me tull Comox. The charges for lighterun'
was heavy, an' no room ot the coal dock. A French barque was lyin'
alongside the dock an' I spoke tull the captun, askun' hum what he
would charge when work for the day was done, tull haul clear for a
couple o' hours an' let me un. 'Twenty dollars,' said he. Ut was
savun' money on lighters tull the owner, an' I gave ut tull hum.
An' thot night, after dark, I hauled un an' took on the coal. Then
I started tull go out un the stream an' drop anchor--under me own
steam, of course.
"We hod tull go out stern first, an' somethun' went wrong wuth the
reversun' gear. Old MacPherson said he could work ut by hond, but
very slow ot thot. An' I said 'All right.' We started. The pilot
was on board. The tide was ebbun' stuffly, an' right abreast an' a
but below was a shup lyin' wuth a lighter on each side. I saw the
shup's ridun' lights, but never a light on the lighters. Ut was
close quarters to shuft a bug vessel onder steam, wuth MacPherson
workun' the reversun' gear by hond. We hod to come close down upon
the shup afore I could go ahead an' clear o' the shups on the dock-
ends. An' we struck the lighter stern-on, just uz I rung tull
MacPherson half ahead.
"'What was thot?' says the pilot, when we struck the lighter.
"'I dunna know,' says I, 'an' I'm wonderun'.'
"The pilot was no keen, ye see, tull hus job. I went on tull a
guid place an' dropped anchor, an' ut would all a-been well but for
thot domned eediot mate.
"'We smashed thot lighter,' says he, comun' up the lodder tull the
brudge--an' the pilot stondun' there wuth his ears cocked tull
"'What lighter?' says I.
"'Thot lighter alongside the shup,' says the mate.
"'I dudna see no lighter,' says I, and wuth thot I steps on hus fut
guid an' hard.
"After the pilot was gone I says tull the mate: 'Uf you dunna know
onythun', old mon, for Heaven's sake keep your mouth shut.'
"'But ye dud smash thot lighter, dudn't ye?' says he.
"'Uf we dud,' says I, 'ut's no your buzz'ness tull be tellun' the
pilot--though, mind ye, I'm no admuttun' there was ony lighter.'
"An' next marnun', just uz I'm after dressun', the steward says, 'A
mon tull see ye, sir.' 'Fetch hum un,' says I. An' un he come.
'Sut down,' says I. An' he sot down.
"He was the owner of the lighter, an' when he hod told hus story, I
says, 'I dudna see ony lighter.'
"'What, mon?' says he. 'No see a two-hundred-ton lighter, bug oz a
house, alongside thot shup?'
"'I was goin' by the shup's lights,' says I, 'an' I dudna touch the
shup, thot I know.'
"'But ye dud touch the lighter,' says he. 'Ye smashed her.
There's a thousand dollars' domage done, an' I'll see ye pay for
'Look here, muster,' says I, 'when I'm shuftun' a shup ot night I
follow the law, an' the law dustunctly says I must regulate me
actions by the lights o' the shuppun'. Your lighter never hod no
ridun' light, nor dud I look for ony lighter wuthout lights tull
"'The mate says--' he beguns.
"'Domn the mate,' says I. 'Dud your lighter hov a ridun' light?'
"'No, ut dud not,' says he, 'but ut was a clear night wuth the moon
"'Ye seem tull know your buzz'ness,' says I. 'But let me tell ye
thot I know my buzz'ness uz well, an' thot I'm no a-lookun' for
lighters wuthout lights. Uf ye thunk ye hov a case, go ahead. The
steward will show ye out. Guid day.'
"An' thot was the end o' ut. But ut wull show ye what a puir
fellow thot mate was. I call ut a blessun' for all masters thot he
was sliced un two on thot steam-pipe cover. He had a pull un the
office an' thot was the why he was kept on."
"The Wekley farm wull soon be for sale, so the agents be tellun'
me," his wife remarked, slyly watching what effect her announcement
would have upon him.
His eyes flashed eagerly on the instant, and he straightened up as
might a man about to engage in some agreeable task. It was the
farm of his vision, adjoining his father's, and her own people
farmed not a mile away.
"We wull be buyun' ut," he said, "though we wull be no tellun' a
soul of ut ontul ut's bought an' the money paid down. I've savun'
consuderable these days, though pickun's uz no what they used to
be, an' we hov a tidy nest-egg laid by. I wull see the father an'
hove the money ready tull hus hond, so uf I'm ot sea he can buy
whenever the land offers."
He rubbed the frosted moisture from the inside of the window and
peered out at the pouring rain, through which he could discern
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