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A Tall Ship On Other Naval Occasions   By: (1886-1967)

Book cover

First Page:

E text prepared by Al Haines

Transcriber's note:

"Bartimeus" is the pseudonym of Captain Lewis Ritchie, R.N.

A TALL SHIP

On Other Naval Occasions

by

"BARTIMEUS"

Author of "Naval Occasions"

. . . "All I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by, And a laughing yarn from a merry fellow rover, And a quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over." JOHN MASEFIELD

Cassell and Company, Ltd London, New York, Toronto and Melbourne

First published September 1915. Reprinted September and October 1915.

To

H. M. S.

PREFACE

It is almost superfluous to observe that the following sketches contain no attempt at the portrait of an individual. The majority are etched in with the ink of pure imagination. A few are "composite" sketches of a large number of originals with whom the Author has been shipmates in the past and whose friendship he is grateful to remember.

Of these, some, alas! have finished "the long trick." To them, at no risk of breaking their quiet sleep Ave atque vale .

"Crab Pots," "The Day," and "Chummy Ships" appeared originally in Blackwood's Magazine , and are reproduced here by kind permission of the Editor.

CONTENTS

1. CRAB POTS 2. THE DRUM 3. A CAPTAIN'S FORENOON 4. THE SEVEN BELL BOAT 5. THE KING'S PARDON 6. AN OFF SHORE WIND 7. THE DAY 8. THE MUMMERS 9. CHUMMY SHIPS 10. THE HIGHER CLAIM

A TALL SHIP

I

CRAB POTS

1

In moments of crisis the disciplined human mind works as a thing detached, refusing to be hurried or flustered by outward circumstance. Time and its artificial divisions it does not acknowledge. It is concerned with preposterous details and with the ludicrous, and it is acutely solicitous of other people's welfare, whilst working at a speed mere electricity could never attain.

Thus with James Thorogood, Lieutenant, Royal Navy, when he together with his bath, bedding, clothes, and scanty cabin furniture, revolver, first aid outfit, and all the things that were his was precipitated through his cabin door across the aft deck. The ship heeled violently, and the stunning sound of the explosion died away amid the uproar of men's voices along the mess deck and the tinkle and clatter of broken crockery in the wardroom pantry.

"Torpedoed!" said James, and was in his conjecture entirely correct. He emerged from beneath the debris of his possessions, shaken and bruised, and was aware that the aft deck (that spacious vestibule giving admittance on either side to officers' cabins, and normally occupied by a solitary Marine sentry) was filled with figures rushing past him towards the hatchway.

It was half past seven in the morning. The Morning watch had been relieved and were dressing. The Middle watch, of which James had been one, were turning out after a brief three hours' spell of sleep. Officers from the bathroom, girt in towels, wardroom servants who had been laying the table for breakfast, one or two Warrant officers in sea boots and monkey jackets the Watch below, in short appeared and vanished from his field of vision like figures on a screen. In no sense of the word, however, did the rush resemble a panic. The aft deck had seen greater haste on all sides in a scramble on deck to cheer a troopship passing the cruiser's escort. But the variety of dress and undress, the expressions of grim anticipation in each man's face as he stumbled over the uneven deck, set Thorogood's reeling mind, as it were, upon its feet.

The Surgeon, pyjama clad, a crimson streak running diagonally across the lather on his cheek, suddenly appeared crawling on all fours through the doorway of his shattered cabin. "I always said those safety razors were rotten things," he observed ruefully. "I've just carved my initials on my face. And my ankle's broken. Have we been torpedoed, or what, at all? An' what game is it you're playing under that bath, James? Are you pretending to be an oyster?"

Thorogood pulled himself together and stood up... Continue reading book >>




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