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The Devil's Admiral   By: (1877-)

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An Adventure Story





I. Missionary and Red Headed Beggar II. Red Headed Beggar and Missionary III. The Spy and the Dead Boatswain IV. I Go Aboard the Kut Sang V. The Dead Man in the Passage VI. The Red Headed Man Makes an Accusation VII. I Turn Spy Myself VIII. Mr. Harris Has a Few Ideas IX. A Fight in the Dark X. The Devil's Admiral XI. A Council of War XII. The Battle on the Bridge XIII. We Plan an Expedition XIV. The Pursuit Ashore XV. Two Thieves and a Fight XVI. The Gold and the Pirates XVII. The Art of Thirkle XVIII. Big Stakes in a Big Game XIX. "One Man Less in the Forecastle Mess" XX. The Last



Captain Riggs had a trunk full of old logbooks, and he said any of them would make a better story than the Kut Sang . The truth of it was, he didn't want me to write this story. There were things he didn't wish to see in type, perhaps because he feared to read about himself and what had happened in the old steamer in the China Sea.

"Folks don't care nothing about cargo boats," he would say, taking his pipe out of his mouth and shaking his head gravely, whenever I hinted that I would like to tell of our adventure of the Kut Sang . "They want yarns of them floating hotels called liners, with palm gardens in 'em and bands playing at their meals and games and so on going from eight bells to the bos'n's watch.

"It was mostly fighting in the Kut Sang , and the mess you and me and poor Harris and the black boy there got into wouldn't be just the quiet sort of reading folks want these days. It was all over in a night and a day, anyway look at them Northern Spy apples, Mr. Trenholm!"

He wanted to forget the Kut Sang and the awful night we had in her. He imagined he didn't figure to advantage in the story, and he winced when I mentioned certain events, although I always insisted that he was the bravest man among us, having a better realization of the odds against us. Those who have faced danger know it takes a brave man to admit that he is beaten, and still keep up the fight.

We all have better memories for our brave moments than for the fear which threatened for a time to prove us cowards. The man who has faced death and says he was not afraid is either a fool or a liar; and, if only a liar, still a fool for telling himself that which he knows to be a lie. The bravery of the seaman is that he fears the sea and knows its ruthlessness and its ultimate victory, and accepts it as a part of his day's work. This is a sea story.

Captain Riggs had log book stories that were good, and they might have served him for a volume of marine memoirs. But I was with him when we freighted the Kut Sang with adventure and sailed out of Manila, so his musty records of rescues and wrecks lacked life for me. In the old logbooks I found no men to compare with the Rev. Luther Meeker; or Petrak, the little red headed beggar; or Long Jim or Buckrow or Thirkle. I never found in their pages a cabin boy like Rajah the Malay, strutting about with a long kris stuck in the folds of his scarlet sarong , or a mate whose truculence equalled the chronic ill humour of Harris, who learned his seamanship as a fisherman on the Newfoundland Banks. And in all his log books I never found another Devil's Admiral!

Riggs is dead, and I can tell the story in my own way; for tell it I must, and the manuscript will be a comfort to me when I am old and my memory and imagination begin to fail. Not that I ever expect to forget, because that would be a calamity; but I want to put down the events of the day and night in the Kut Sang while they are fresh in my mind.

How well I can see in a mental vision the whole murderous plot worked out! Certain parts of it flash on me at off moments, while I am reading a book or watching a play or talking with a friend, and every trivial detail comes out as clearly as if it were all being done over again in a motion picture... Continue reading book >>

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