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Title: In Highland Harbours with Para Handy
Author: Neil Munro (1864-1930) (Pen Name of Hugh Foulis)
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eBook No.: 0700601.txt
Language:  English
Date first posted: April 2007
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Title: In Highland Harbours with Para Handy
Author: Neil Munro (Pen Name of Hugh Foulis - 1864-1930)


The s.s. Texa made a triumphal entry to the harbour by steaming in
between two square-rigged schooners, the Volant and Jehu, of Wick, and
slid silently, with the exactitude of long experience, against the piles
of Rothesay quay, where Para Handy sat on a log of wood. The throb of her
engine, the wash of her propeller, gave place to the strains of a
melodeon, which was playing "Stop yer ticklin, Jock," and Para Handy felt
some sense of gaiety suffuse him, but business was business, and it was
only for a moment he permitted himself to be carried away on the divine
wings of music.

"Have you anything for me, M'Kay?" he hailed the Texa's clerk.

The purser cast a rapid glance over the deck, encumbered with planks,
crates, casks of paraffin oil, and herring-boxes, and seeing nothing
there that looked like a consignment for the questioner, leaned across
the rail, and made a rapid survey of the open hold. It held nothing
maritime--only hay-bales, flour-bags, soap-boxes, shrouded mutton
carcases,  rolls of plumbers' lead, two head-stones for Ardrishaig, and
the dismantled slates, cushions, and legs of a billiard-table for

"Naething the day for you, Peter," said the clerk; "unless it's yin o'
the heid-stanes," and he ran his eye down the manifest which he held in
his hand.

"Ye're aawful smert, M'Kay," said Para Handy. "If ye wass a rale purser
wi' brass buttons and a yellow-and-black strippit tie on your neck, there
would be no haadin' ye in! It's no' luggage I'm lookin' for; it's a kind
o' a man I'm expectin'. Maybe he's no' in your department; he'll be
traivellin' saloon. Look behind wan o' them herring-boxes, Lachie, and
see if ye canna see a sailor."

His intuition was right; the Texa's only passenger that afternoon was
discovered sitting behind the herring-boxes playing a melodeon, and
smiling beatifically to himself, with blissful unconsciousness that he
had arrived at his destination. He came to himself with a start when the
purser asked him if he was going off here; terminated the melody of his
instrument in a melancholy squawk, picked up a carelessly tied canvas bag
that lay at his feet, and hurried over the plank to the quay, shedding
from the bag as he went a trail of socks, shoes, collars, penny ballads,
and seamen's biscuits, whose exposure in this awkward fashion seemed to
cause him no distress of mind, for he only laughed when Para Handy called
them to his attention, and left to one of the Texa's hands the trouble of
collecting them, though he obligingly held the mouth of the sack open
himself while the other restored the dunnage. He was a round, short,
red-faced, cleanshaven fellow of five-and-twenty, with a thin serge suit,
well polished at all the bulgy parts, and a laugh that sprang from a
merry heart.

"Are you The Tar's kizzen? Are you Davie Green?" asked Para Handy.

"Right-oh! The very chap," said the stranger. "And you'll be Peter? Haud
my melodeon, will ye, till I draw my breath. Right-oh!"

"Are ye sure there's no mistake?" asked Para Handy as they moved along to
the other end of the quay where the Vital Spark was lying. "You're the
new hand I wass expectin', and you name's Davie?"

"My name's Davie, richt enough," said the stranger, "but I seldom got it;
when I was on the Cluthas they always ca'd me Sunny Jim."

"Sunny Jum!" said the Captain. "Man! I've often heard aboot ye; you were
namely for chumpin' fences?"

"Not me!" said Davie. "Catch me jumpin' onything if there was a hole to
get through. Is that your vessel? She's a tipper! You and me'll get on
Al. Wait you till ye see the fun I'll gie ye! That was the worst o' the
Cluthas--awfu' short trips, and every noo and then a quay; ye hadn't a
meenute to yerself for a baur at all. Whit sort o' chaps hae ye for a

"The very pick!" said Para Handy, as they came alongside the Vital Spark,
whose crew, as a matter of fact, were all on deck to see the new hand.
"That's Macphail, the chief enchineer, wan of Brutain's hardy sons, wi'
the wan gallows; and the other chap's Dougie, the first mate, a Cowal
laad; you'll see him plainer efter his face iss washed for the tea. Then
there's me, mysel', the Captain. Laads, this iss Colin's kizzen, Sunny

Sunny Jim stood on the edge of the quay, and smiled like a sunset on his
future shipmates. "Hoo are yez, chaps?" he cried genially, waving his

"We canna compleen," said Dougie solemnly. "Are ye in good trum yersel'?
See's a grup o' your hold-aal, and excuse the gangway."

Sunny Jim jumped on board, throwing his dunnage-bag before him, and his
feet had no sooner touched the deck than he indulged in a step or two of
the sailor's hornpipe with that proficiency which only years of practice
in a close-mouth in Crown Street, S.S., could confer. The Captain looked
a little embarrassed; such conduct was hardly business-like, but it was a
relief to find that The Tar's nominee and successor was a cheery chap at
any rate. Dougie looked on with no disapproval, but Macphail grunted and
turned his gaze to sea, disgusted at such free-and-easy informality.

"I hope ye can cook as weel's ye can dance," he remarked coldly.

Sunny Jim stopped immediately. "Am I supposed to cook?" he asked,
concealing his surprise as he best could.

"Ye are that!" said Macphail. "Did ye think ye were to be the German band
on board, and go roon' liftin' pennies? Cookin's the main thing wi' the
second mate o' the Vital Spark, and I can tell ye we're gey particular;
are we no', Dougie?"

"Aawful!" said Dougie sadly. "Macphail here hass been cookin' since The
Tar left; he'll gie ye his receipt for baddies made wi' enchine-oil."

The Vital Spark cast off from Rothesay quay on her way for Bowling, and
Sunny Jim was introduced to several pounds of sausages to be fried for
dinner, a bag of potatoes, and a jar of salt, with which he was left to
juggle as he could, while the others, with expectant appetites, performed
their respective duties. Life on the open sea, he found, was likely to be
as humdrum as it used to be on the Cluthas, and he determined to initiate
a little harmless gaiety. With some difficulty he extracted all the meat
from the uncooked sausages, and substituted salt. Then he put them on the
frying-pan. They had no sooner heated than they began to dance in the pan
with curious little crackling explosions. He started playing his
melodeon, and cried on the crew, who hurried to see this unusual

"Well, I'm jeegered," said the Captain; "what in aal the world iss the
matter wi' them?"

"It's a waarnin'," said Dougie lugubriously, with wide-staring eyes.

"Warnin', my auntie!" said Sunny Jim, playing a jig-tune. "They started
jumpin' like that whenever I begood to play my bonnie wee melodeon."

"I daarsay that," said Para Handy; "for you're a fine, fine player, Jum,
but--but it wassna any invitation to a baal I gave them when I paid for
them in Ro'sa'."

"I aye said sausages werena meat for sailors," remarked the engineer,
with bitterness, for he was very hungry. "Ye'll notice it's an Irish jig
they're dancin' to," he added with dark significance.

"I don't see mysel'," said the Captain, "that it maitters whether it iss
an Irish jeeg or the Gourock Waltz and Circassian Circle."

"Does it no'?" retorted Macphail. "I suppose ye'll never hae heard o'
Irish terrier dugs? I've ett my last sausage onywye! Sling us ower that
pan-loaf," and seizing the bread for himself he proceeded to make a
spartan meal.

Sunny Jim laughed till the tears ran down his jovial countenance.
"Chaps," he exclaimed, with firm conviction, "this is the cheeriest ship
ever I was on; I'm awful gled I brung my music."

Dougie took a fork and gingerly investigated. "As hard ass whun-stanes!"
he proclaimed; "they'll no' be ready by the time we're at the Tail o' the
Bank. Did you ever in your mortal life see the like of it?" and he jabbed
ferociously with the fork at the bewitched sausages.

"That's richt!" said Macphail. "Put them oot o' pain."

"Stop you!" said Para Handy. "Let us pause and consuder. It iss the first
time ever I saw sassages with such a desperate fine ear for music. If
they'll no' fry, they'll maybe boil. Put them in a pot, Jum."

"Right-oh!" said Sunny Jim, delighted at the prospect of a second scene
to his farce, and the terpsichorean sausages were consigned to the pot of
water which had boiled the potatoes. The crew sat round, staving off the
acuter pangs of hunger with potatoes and bread.

"You never told us what for they called you Sunny Jum, Davie," remarked
the Captain. "Do you think it would be for your complexion?"

"I couldna say," replied the new hand, "but I think mysel' it was because
I was aye such a cheery wee chap. The favourite Clutha on the Clyde, when
the Cluthas was rinnin', was the yin I was on; hunners o' trips used to
come wi' her on the Setturdays on the aff-chance that I wad maybe gie
them a baur. Mony a pant we had! I could hae got a job at the Finnieston
Ferry richt enough, chaps, but they wouldna alloo the melodeon, and I wad
sooner want my wages."

"A fine, fine unstrument!" said Para Handy agreeably. "Wi' it and
Dougie's trump we'll no' be slack in passin' the time."

"Be happy!--that's my motto," said Sunny Jim, beaming upon his auditors
like one who brings a new and glorious evangel. "Whatever happens, be
happy, and then ye can defy onything. It's a' in the wye ye look at
things. See?"

"That's what I aalways say mysel' to the wife," said Dougie in
heart-broken tones, and his eye on the pot, which was beginning to boil

"As shair as daith, chaps, I canna stand the Jock o' Hazeldean kind o'
thing at a'--folk gaun aboot lettin' the tear doon-fa a' the time. Gie me
a hearty laugh and it's right-oh! BE HAPPY!--that's the Golden Text for
the day, as we used to say in the Sunday School."

"I could be happy easy enough if it wassna that I wass so desperate
hungry," said Dougie in melancholy accents, lifting the lid to look into
the pot. He could see no sign of sausages, and with new forebodings he
began to feel for them with a stick. They had disappeared! "I said from
the very first it wass a waamin'!" he exclaimed, resigning the stick to
the incredulous engineer.

"This boat's haunted," said Macphail, who also failed to find anything in
the pot. "I saw ye puttin' them in wi' my ain eyes, and noo they're no'

Para Handy grabbed the spirtle, and feverishly explored on his own
account, with the same extraordinary results.

"My Chove!" he exclaimed, "did you ever see the like of that, and I
havena tasted wan drop of stimulants since last Monday. Laads! I don't
know what you think aboot it, but it's the church twice for me

Sunny Jim quite justified his nickname by giving a pleasant surprise to
his shipmates in the shape of a meat-tea later in the afternoon.


The Vital Spark was making for Lochgoilhead, Dougie at the wheel, and the
Captain straddled on a water-breaker, humming Gaelic songs, because he
felt magnificent after his weekly shave. The chug-chug-chug of the
engines was the only other sound that broke the silence of the afternoon,
and Sunny Jim deplored the fact that in the hurry of embarking early in
the morning he had quite forgotten his melodeon--those peaceful days at
sea hung heavy on his urban spirit.

"That's Ardgoil," remarked Macphail, pointing with the stroup of an
oil-can at the Glasgow promontory, and Para Handy gazed at the land with
affected interest.

"So it iss, Macphail," he said ironically. "That wass it the last time we
were here, and the time before, and the time before that again. You would
think it would be shifted. It's wan of them guides for towerists you
should be, Macphail, you're such a splendid hand for information. What
way do you spell it?"

"Oh, shut up!" said the engineer with petulance; "ye think ye're awfu'
clever. I mind when that wee hoose at the p'int was a hen farm, and
there's no' a road to't. Ye could only get near the place wi' a boat."

"If that wass the way of it," said Dougie, "ducks would suit them better;
they could swim. It's a fine thing a duck."

"But a goose is more extraordinar'," said Macphail with meaning. "Anyway
it was hens, and mony a time I wished I had a ferm for hens."

"You're better where you are," said the Captain, "oilin' engines like a
chentleman. A hen ferm iss an aawful speculation, and you need your wuts
aboot you if you start wan. All your relations expect their eggs for
nothing, and the very time o' the year when eggs iss dearest, hens takes
a tirrievee and stop the layin'. Am I no' tellin' the truth, Dougie?"

"You are that!" said the mate agreeably; "I have noticed it mysel'."

"If ye didna get eggs ye could live aff the chickens," suggested Sunny
Jim. "I think a hen ferm would be top, richt enough!"

"It's not the kind o' ferm I would have mysel' whatever o't," said Para
Handy; "there's far more chance o' a dacent livin' oot o' rearin'

"Rearin' pensioners?" remarked Macphail; "ye would lie oot o' your money
a lang while rearin' pensioners; ye micht as weel start growin' trees."

"Not at aal! not at aal!" said Para Handy; "there's quick returns in
pensioners if you put your mind to the thing and use a little caation. Up
in the Islands, now, the folks iss givin' up their crofts and makin' a
kind o' ferm o' their aged relations. I have a cousin yonder oot in Gigha
wi' a stock o' five fine healthy uncles--no' a man o' them under seventy.
There's another frien' o' my own in Mull wi' thirteen heid o' chenuine
old Macleans. He gaitbered them aboot the islands wi' a boat whenever the
rumours o' the pensions started. Their frien's had no idea what he wanted
wi' them, and were glad to get them off their hands. 'It's chust a notion
that I took,' he said, 'for company; they're great amusement on a winter
night,' and he got his pick o' the best o' them. It wassna every wan he
would take; they must be aal Macleans, for the Mull Macleans never die
till they're centurions, and he wouldna take a man that wass over five
and seventy. They're yonder, noo, in Loch Scridain, kept like fightin'
cocks; he puts them oot on the hill each day for exercise, and if wan o'
them takes a cough they dry his clothes and give him something from a

"Holy smoke!" said Dougie; "where's the profits comin' from?"

"From the Government," said Para Handy. "Nothing simpler! He gets five
shillings a heid in the week for them, and that's 169 in the year for
the whole thirteen--enough to feed a regiment! Wan pensioner maybe wadna
pay you, but if you have a herd like my frien' in Mull, there's money in
it. He buys their meal in bulk from Oban, and they'll grow their own
potatoes; the only thing he's vexed for iss that they havena wool, and he
canna clip them. If he keeps his health himsel', and doesna lose his heid
for a year or twa, he'll have the lergest pension ferm in Scotland, and
be able to keep a gig. I'm no' a bit feared for Donald, though; he's a
man o' business chust ass good ass you'll get on the streets o' Gleska."

"Thirteen auld chaps like that aboot a noose wad be an awfu' handful,"
suggested Sunny Jim.

"Not if it's at Loch Scridain," answered Para Handy; "half the time
they're on the gress, and there's any amount o' fanks. They're quite
delighted swappin' baurs wi' wan another aboot the way they could throw
the hammer fifty years ago, and they feel they're more important noo than
ever they were in a' their lives afore. When my frien' collected them,
they hadna what you would caal an object for to live for except it wass
their own funerals; noo they're daft for almanacs, and makin' plans for
living to a hundred, when the former tells them that he'll gie them each
a medal and a uniform. Oh! a smert, smert laad, Donal'. Wan o'Brutain's
hardy sons! Nobody could be kinder!"

"It's a fine way o' makin' a livin'," said Macphail. "I hope they'll no'
go wrang wi' him."

"Fine enough," said Para Handy, "but the chob iss not withoot
responsibilities. Yonder's my cousin in Gigha wi' his stock o' five, and
a nice bit ground for them, and you wouldna believe what it needs in
management. He got two of them pretty cheap in Salen, wan o' them over
ninety, and the other eighty-six; you wouldna believe it, but they're
worse to manage than the other three that's ten years younger. The wan
over ninety's very cocky of his age, and thinks the other wans iss chust
a lot o' boys. He says it's a scandal givin' them a pension; pensions
should be kept for men that's up in years, and then it should be
something sensible--something like a pound. The wan that iss eighty-six
iss desperate dour, and if my cousin doesna please him, stays in his bed
and says he'll die for spite."

"That's gey mean, richt enough!" said Sunny Jim; "efter your kizzen
takin' a' that trouble!"

"But the worst o' the lot's an uncle that he got in Eigg; he's
seventy-six, and talkin' aboot a wife!"

"Holy smoke!" said Dougie; "isn't that chust desperate!"

"Ay; he hass a terrible conceity notion o' his five shillin's a-week; you
would think he wass a millionaire. 'I could keep a wife on it if she wass
young and strong,' he tells my cousin, and it takes my cousin and the
mustress aal their time to keep him oot o' the way o' likely girls. They
don't ken the day they'll lose him."

"Could they no' put a brand on him?" asked Dougie.

"Ye daurna brand them," said the Captain, "nor keel them either. The
law'll not allo' it. So you see yersel's there's aye a risk, and it needs
a little capital. My cousin had a bit of a shop, and he gave it up to
start the pension term; he'll be sayin' sometimes it wass a happier man
he wass when he wass a merchant, but he's awfu' prood that noo he hass a
chob, as you might say, wi' the Brutish Government."


One night when the Vital Spark lay at Port Ellen quay, and all the crew
were up the village at a shinty concert, some one got on board the vessel
and stole her best chronometer. It was the property of Macphail, had
cost-exactly 1s. 11d., and kept approximate time for hours on end if laid
upon its side. Macphail at frequent intervals repaired it with pieces of
lemonade wire, the selvedges of postage stamps, and a tube of seccotine.

"Holy smoke!" said the Captain, when the loss was discovered; "we'll be
sleepin' in in the efternoons as sure as anything. Isn't this the

"The champion wee nock!" said Macphail, on the verge of tears. "Set it to
the time fornenst yon nock o' Singerses at Kilbowie, and it would tick as
nate as onything to the Cloch."

"Right enough!" said Sunny Jim impressively;

"I've biled eggs wi't. There's the very nail it hung on!"

"It's the first time I ever knew that nock to go without Macphail doin'
something to it wi' the stroup o' an oil-can," said Dougie.

It was decided that no more risks of quay-head burglary were to be run,
and that when evening entertainments called the rest of the crew ashore,
the charge of the ship should depend on Sunny Jim.

"I couldna tak' it in haund, chaps!" he protested feelingly. "Ye've nae
idea hoo silly I am at nicht when I'm my lane; I cod mysel' I'm seein'
ghosts till every hair on my heid's on end."

"I'm like that mysel'!" confessed Para Handy. "I can gie mysel' a duvvle
o' a fright, but it's only nonsense, chust fair nonsense! there's no' a
ghost this side o' the Sound o' Sleat; nothing but imagination."

"Ye shouldna be tumid!" counselled Dougie, who never could stay in the
fo'c'sle alone at night himself for fear of spirits.

"Ye'll can play your melodeon," said Macphail; "if there's onything to
scare the life oot o' ghosts it's that."

But Sunny Jim was not to be induced to run the risk, and the Captain
wasn't the sort of man to compel a body to do a thing he didn't like to
do, against his will. Evening entertainments at the ports of call were on
the point of being regretfully foresworn, when Sunny Jim proposed the
purchase of a watch-dog. "A watch-dug's the very ticket," he exclaimed.
"It's an awfu' cheery thing on a boat. We can gie't the rin o' the deck
when we're ashore at nicht, and naebody'll come near't. I ken the very
dug--it belangs to a chap in Fairfield, a rale Pompanion, and he ca's it
Biler. It has a pedigree and a brass-mounted collar, and a' its P's and

"Faith! there's worse things than a good dog; there's some o' them chust
sublime!" said Para Handy, quite enamoured of the notion. "Iss it well
trained, your frien's Pompanion?"

"Top!" Sunny Jim assured him. "If ye jist seen it! It would face a
regiment o' sodgers, and has a bark ye could hear from here to
Campbeltown. It's no awfu' fancy-lookin', mind; it's no' the kind ye'll
see the women carryin' doon Buchanan Street in their oxters; but if ye
want sagaciosity----!" and Sunny Jim held up his hands in speechless
admiration of the animal's intelligence. "It belangs to a riveter ca'd
Willie Stevenson, and it's jist a pup. There's only the wan fau't wi't,
or Willie could live aff the prizes it wad lift at shows--it's deaf."

"That's the very sort o' dug we wad need for a boat like this," said
Macphail, with his usual cynicism. "Could ye no' get yin that was blin'
too?" But nobody paid any attention to him; there were moments when
silent contempt was the obvious attitude to the engineer.

"The worst about a fine, fine dog like that," said Para Handy
reflectively, "iss that it would cost a lot o' money, and aal we want iss
a dog to watch the boat and bark daily or hourly ass required."

"Cost!" retorted Sunny Jim; "it wad cost nae-thing! I wad ask Willie
Stevenson for the len' o't, and then say we lost it ower the side. It has
far mair sense than Willie himsel'. It goes aboot Govan wi' him on pay
Setturdays, and sleeps between his feet when he's sittin' in the
public-hooses backin' up the Celts. Sometimes Willie forget's it's wi'
him, and gangs awa' without waukenin' 't, but when Biler waukens up and
sees its maister's no there, it stands on its hind legs and looks at the
gless that Willie was drinkin' frae. If there's ony drink left in't it
kens he'll be back, and it waits for him."

"Capital!" said Para Handy. "There's dogs like that. It's born in them.
It's chust a gift!"

The dog Biler was duly borrowed by Sunny Jim on the next run to Glasgow,
and formally installed as watch of the Vital Spark. It was distinctly not
the sort of dog to make a lady's pet; its lines were generously large,
but crude and erratic; its coat was hopelessly unkempt and ragged, its
head incredibly massive, and its face undeniably villainous. Even Sunny
Jim was apologetic when he produced it on a chain. "Mind, I never said he
was onything awfu' fancy," he pleaded. "But he's a dug that grows on ye."

"He's no' like what I thocht he would be like at aal, at aal," admitted
the Captain, somewhat disappointed. "Iss he a rale Pompanion?"

"Pure bred!" said Sunny Jim; "never lets go the grip. Examine his jaw."

"Look you at his jaw, Dougie, and see if he's the rale Pompanion," said
the Captain; but Dougie declined. "I'll wait till we're better acquent,"
he said. "Man! doesn't he look desperate dour?"

"Oor new nock's a' right wi' a dug like that to watch it," said Macphail;
"he's as guid as a guardship."

Biler surveyed them curiously, not very favourably impressed, and deaf,
of course, to all blandishments. For a day or two the slightest hasty
movement on the part of any of his new companions made him growl
ferociously and display an appalling arsenal of teeth. As a watch-dog he
was perfect; nobody dared come down a quay within a hundred yards of the
Vital Spark without his loud, alarming bay. Biler spoiled the quay-head
angling all along Loch Fyne.

In a week or two Para Handy got to love him, and bragged incessantly of
his remarkable intelligence. "Chust a pup!" he would say, "but as long in
the heid as a weedow woman. If he had aal his faculties he would not be
canny, and indeed he doesna seem to want his hearin' much; he's ass sharp
in the eye ass a polisman. A dog like that should have a Board of Tred

Dougie, however, was always dubious of the pet. "Take my word, Peter," he
would say solemnly, "there's muschief in him; he's no a dog you can take
to your he'rt at aal, at aal, and he barks himsel' black in the face wi'
animosity at Macphail."

"Didn't I tell you?" would the Captain cry, exultant. "Ass deaf ass a
door, and still he can take the measure o' Macphail! I hope, Jum, your
frien' in Fairfield's no' in a hurry to get him back."

"Not him," said Sunny Jim. "He's no expectin' him back at a'. I tell't
him Biler was drooned at Colintraive, and a' he said was 'ye micht hae
tried to save his collar.'"

And Dougie's doubts were fully justified in course of time. The Vital
Spark was up with coals at Skipness, at a pier a mile away from the
village, and Para Handy had an invitation to a party. He dressed himself
in his Sunday clothes, and, redolent of scented soap, was confessed the
lion of the evening, though Biler unaccountably refused to accompany him.
At midnight he came back along the shore, to the ship, walking airily on
his heels, with his hat at a dashing angle. The crew of the Vital Spark
were all asleep, but the faithful Biler held the deck, and the Captain
heard his bark.

"Pure Pompanion bred!" he said to himself. "As wise as a weedow woman!
For the rale sagacity give me a dog!"

He made to step from the quay to the vessel's gunnel, but a rush and a
growl from the dog restrained him; Biler's celebrated grip was almost on
his leg.

"Tuts, man," said the Captain, "I'm sure you can see it's me; it's Peter.
Good old Biler; stop you and I'll give you a buscuit!"

He ventured a foot on the gunnel again, and this time Biler sampled the
tweed of his trousers. Nothing else was stirring in the Vital Spark. The
Captain hailed his shipmates for assistance; if they heard, they never
heeded, and the situation was sufficiently unpleasant to annoy a man of
better temper even than Para Handy. No matter how he tried to get on
board, the trusty watch-dog kept him back. In one attempt his hat fell
off, and Biler tore it into the most impressive fragments.

"My Cot," said the Captain, "issn't this the happy evenin'? Stop you till
I'll be pickin' a dog again, and it'll be wan wi' aal his faculties."

He had to walk back to the village and take shelter ashore for the night;
in the morning Biler received him with the friendliest overtures, and was
apparently astonished at the way they were received.

"Jum," said the Captain firmly, "you'll take back that dog to your frien'
in Fairfield, and tell him there's no' a bit o' the rale Pompanion in
him. He's chust a common Gleska dog, and he doesna know a skipper when he
sees him, if he's in his Sunday clothes."


Sunny Jim proved a most valuable acquisition to the Vital Spark. He was a
person of humour and resource, and though they were sometimes the victims
of his practical jokes, the others of the crew forgave him readily
because of the fun he made. It is true that when they were getting the
greatest entertainment from him they were, without thinking it, generally
doing his work for him--for indeed he was no sailor, only a Clutha
mariner--but at least he was better value for his wages than The Tar, who
could neither take his fair share of the work nor tell a baur. Sunny
Jim's finest gift was imagination; the most wonderful things in the world
had happened to him when he was on the Cluthas--all intensely
interesting, if incredible: and Para Handy, looking at him with
admiration and even envy, after a narrative more extraordinary than
usual, would remark, "Man! it's a peety listenin' to such d--d lies iss a
sin, for there iss no doobt it iss a most pleasant amuusement!"

Macphail the engineer, the misanthrope, could not stand the new hand.
"He's no' a sailor at a'!" he protested; "he's a clown; I've see'd better
men jumpin' through girrs at a penny show."

"Weel, he's maybe no' aawful steady at the wheel, but he hass a kyind,
kyind he'rt!" Dougie said.

"He's chust sublime!" said Para Handy. "If he wass managed right there
would be money in him!"

Para Handy's conviction that there was money to be made out of Sunny Jim
was confirmed by an episode at Tobermory, of which the memory will be
redolent in Mull for years to come.

The Vital Spark, having discharged a cargo of coal at Oban, went up the
Sound to load with timber, and on Calve Island, which forms a natural
breakwater for Tobermory harbour, Dougie spied a stranded whale. He was
not very much of a whale as whales go in Greenland, being merely a tiny
fellow of about five-and-twenty tons, but as dead whales here are as
rarely  to be seen as dead donkeys, the Vital Spark was steered close in
to afford a better view, and even stopped for a while that Para Handy and
his mate might land with the punt on the islet and examine the
unfortunate cetacean.

"My Chove! he's a whupper!" was Dougie's comment, as he reached up and
clapped the huge mountain of sea-flesh on its ponderous side. "It wass
right enough, I can see, Peter, aboot yon fellow Jonah; chust look at the

"Chust waste, pure waste," said the skipper; "you can make a meal off a
herein', but whales iss only lumber, goin' aboot ass big as a land o'
hooses, blowin' aal the time, and puttin' the fear o' daith on aal the
other fushes. I never had mich respect for them."

"If they had a whale like that aground on Clyde," said Dougie, as they
returned to the vessel, "they would stick bills on't; it's chust thrown
away on the Tobermory folk."

Sunny Jim was enchanted when he heard the whale's dimensions. "Chaps," he
said with enthusiasm, "there's a fortune in't; right-oh! I've see'd them
chargin' tuppence to get into a tent at Vinegar Hill, whaur they had
naethin' fancier nor a sea-lion or a seal."

"But they wouldna be deid," said Para Handy; "and there's no' mich fun
aboot a whale's remains. Even if there was, we couldna tow him up to
Gleska, and if we could, he wouldna keep."

"Jim'll be goin' to embalm him, rig up a mast on him, and sail him up the
river; are ye no', Jim?" said Macphail with irony.

"I've a faur better idea than that," said Sunny Jim.  "Whit's to hinder
us clappin' them tarpaulins roon' the whale whaur it's lyin', and showin'
't at a sixpence a heid to the Tobermory folk? Man! ye'll see them rowin'
across in hunners, for I'll bate ye there's no much fun in Tobermory in
the summer time unless it's a Band o' Hope soiree. Give it a fancy
name--the 'Tobermory Treasure'; send the bellman roond the toon, sayin'
it's on view to-morrow from ten till five, and then goin' on to Oban;
Dougie'll lift the money, and the skipper and me'll tell the audience a'
aboot the customs o' the whale when he's in life. Macphail can stand by
the ship at Tobermory quay."

"Jist what I said a' alang," remarked Macphail darkly. "Jumpin' through
girrs! Ye'll need a big drum and a naphtha lamp."

"Let us first paause and consider," remarked Para Handy, with his usual
caution; "iss the whale oors?"

"Wha's else wad it be?" retorted Sunny Jim. "It was us that fun' it, and
naebody seen it afore us, for it's no' mony oors ashore."

"Everything cast up on the shore belangs to the Crown; it's the King's
whale," said Macphail.

"Weel, let him come for't," said Sunny Jim; "by the time he's here we'll
be done wi't."

The presumption that Tobermory could be interested in a dead whale proved
quite right; it was the Glasgow Fair week, and the local boat-hirers did
good business taking parties over to the island where an improvised
enclosure of oars, spars, and tarpaulin and dry sails concealed the
"Tobermory Treasure" from all but those who were prepared to pay for
admission. Para Handy, with his hands in his pockets and a studied air of
indifference, as if the enterprise was none of his,  chimed in at
intervals with facts in the natural history of the whale, which Sunny Jim
might overlook in the course of his introductory lecture.

"The biggest whale by three feet that's ever been seen in Scotland,"
Sunny Jim announced. "Lots o' folk thinks a whale's a fish, but it's
naething o' the kind; it's a hot-blooded mammoth, and couldna live in the
waiter mair nor a wee while at a time withoot comin' up to draw its
breath. This is no' yin of thae common whales that chases herrin', and
goes pechin' up and doon Kilbrannan Sound; it's the kind that's catched
wi' the harpoons and lives on naething but roary borealises and

"They used to make umbrella-rubs wi' this parteecular kind," chimed in
the skipper diffidently; "forbye, they're full o' blubber. It's an aawful
useful thing a whale, chentlemen." He had apparently changed his mind
about the animal, for which the previous day he had said he had no

"Be shair and tell a' your friends when ye get ashore that it's maybe
gaun on to Oban to-morrow," requested Sunny Jim. "We'll hae it up on the
Esplanade there and chairge a shillin' a heid; if we get it the length o'
Gleska, the price'll be up to hauf-a-croon."

"Is it a 'right' whale?" asked one of the audience in the interests of
exact science.

"Right enough, as shair's onything; isn't it. Captain?" said Sunny Jim.

"What else would it be?" said Para Handy indignantly. "Does the
chentleman think there iss onything wrong with it? Perhaps he would like
to take a look through it; eh, Jum? Or maybe he would want a doctor's
certeeficate that it's no a dromedary."

The exhibition of the "Tobermory Treasure" proved so popular that its
discoverers determined to run their entertainment for about a week. On
the third day passengers coming into Tobermory with the steamer Claymore
sniffed with appreciation, and talked about the beneficial influence of
ozone; the English tourists debated whether it was due to peat or
heather. In the afternoon several yachts in the bay hurriedly got up
their anchors and went up Loch Sunart, where the air seemed fresher. On
the fourth day the residents of Tobermory overwhelmed the local chemist
with demands for camphor, carbolic powder, permanganate of potash, and
other deodorants and disinfectants; and several plumbers were telegraphed
for to Oban. The public patronage of the exhibition on Calve Island fell

"If there's ony mair o' them wantin' to see this whale," said Sunny Jim,
"they'll hae to look slippy."

"It's no' that bad to windward," said Para Handy. "What would you say to
coverin' it up wi' more tarpaulins?"

"You might as weel cover't up wi' crape or muslin," was Dougie's verdict.
"What you would need iss armour-plate, the same ass they have roond the
cannons in the man-o'-wars. If this wind doesn't change to the west, half
the folk in Tobermory 'll be goin' to live in the cellar o' the Mishnish

Suspicion fell on the "Tobermory Treasure" on the following day, and an
influential deputation waited on the police sergeant, while the crew of
the Vital Spark, with much discretion, abandoned their whale, and kept to
their vessel's fo'c'sle. The sergeant informed the deputation that he had
a valuable clue to the source of these extraordinary odours, but that
unfortunately he could take no steps without a warrant from the Sheriff,
and the Sheriff was in Oban. The deputation pointed out that the
circumstances were too serious to permit of any protracted legal forms
and ceremonies; the whale must be removed from Calve Island by its owners
immediately, otherwise there would be a plague. With regret the police
sergeant repeated that he could do nothing without authority, but he
added casually that if the deputation visited the owners of the whale and
scared the life out of them, he would be the last man to interfere.

"Hullo, chaps! pull the hatch efter yez, and keep oot the cold air!" said
Sunny Jim, as the spokesman of the deputation came seeking for the crew
in the fo'o'sle. "Ye'd be the better o' some odecolong on your hankies."

"We thought you were going to remove your whale to Oban before this,"
said the deputation sadly.

"I'm afraid," said Para Handy, "that whale hass seen its best days, and
wouldna be at aal popular in Oban."

"Well, you'll have to take it out of here immediately anyway," said the
deputation. "It appears to be your property."

"Not at aal, not at aal!" Para Handy assured him; "it belongs by right to
His Majesty, and we were chust takin' care of it for him till he would
turn up, chairgin' a trifle for the use o' the tarpaulins and the
management. It iss too great a responsibility now, and we've given up the
job; aren't we, Jum?"

"Right-oh!" said Sunny Jim, reaching for his melodeon; "and it's time you
Tobermory folk were shiftin' that whale."

"It's impossible," said the deputation, "a carcase weighing nearly thirty
tons--and in such a condition!"

"Indeed it is pretty bad," said Para Handy; "perhaps it would be easier
to shift the toon o' Tobermory."

But that was, luckily, not necessary, as a high tide restored the
"Tobermory Treasure" to its natural element that very afternoon.


Para Handy, gossiping with his crew, and speaking generally of "luck" and
the rewards of industry and intelligence, always counted luck the
strongest agent in the destiny of man. "Since ever I wass a skipper," he
said, "I had nobody in my crew that was not lucky; I would sooner have
lucky chaps on board wi' me than tip-top sailors that had a great
experience o' wrecks. If the Fital Spark hass the reputation o' bein' the
smertest vessel in the coastin' tred, it's no' aal-thegither wi'
navigation; it's chust because I had luck mysel', and aalways had a lot
o' lucky laads aboot me. Dougie himsel' 'll tell you that."

"We have plenty o' luck," admitted Dougie, nursing a wounded head he had
got that day by carelessly using it as a fender to keep the side of the
ship from the piles of Tarbert quay. "We have plenty of luck, but there
must be a lot o' cluver people never mindin' mich aboot their luck, and
gettin' aal the money."

"Money!" said the Captain with contempt; "there's other things to think
aboot than money. If I had as mich money ass I needed, I wouldna ask for
a penny more. There's nothing bates contentment and a pleesant way o'
speakin' to the owners. You needna empty aal the jar o' jam, Macphail;
give him a rap on the knuckles, Jum, and tak' it from him."

Macphail relinquished the jam-jar readily, because he had finished all
that was in it. "If ye had mair luck and less jaw aboot it," said he
snappishly, "ye wadna hae to wait so lang on the money ye're expectin'
frae your cousin Cherlie in Dunmore. Is he no deid yet?"

"No," said Para Handy dolefully; "he's still hangin' on; I never heard o'
a man o' ninety-three so desperate deleeberate aboot dyin', and it the
wintertime. Last Friday week wass the fifth time they sent to Tarbert for
the munister, and he wasna needed."

"That was your cousin Cherlie's luck," said the engineer, who was not
without logic.

"I don't caal that luck at aal," retorted Para Handy; "I call it just
manoeuvrin'. Forbye, it wasna very lucky for the munister."

Cousin Cherlie's deliberation terminated a week later, when the Vital
Spark was in Loch Pyne, and the Captain borrowed a hat and went to the
funeral. "My own roond hat iss a good enough hat and quite respectable,"
he said, "but someway it doesna fit for funerals since I canna wear it on
my heid except it's cocked a little to the side. You see, I have been at
so many Tarbert Fairs with it, and highjeenks chenerally."

The crew helped to make his toilet. Macphail, with a piece of oily
engine-room waste, imparted a resplendent polish to the borrowed hat,
which belonged to a Tarbert citizen, and had lost a good deal of its
original lustre. Dougie contributed a waistcoat, and Sunny Jim cheerfully
sacrificed his thumb-nails in fastening the essential, but unaccustomed,
collar on his Captain's neck. "There ye are, skipper," he said; "ye look
Al if ye only had a clean hanky."

"I'm no feelin' in very good trum, though," said the Captain, who seemed
to be almost throttled by the collar; "there's no' mich fun for us sailor
chaps in bein' chentlemen. But of course it's no' every day we're buryin'
Cherlie, and I'm his only cousin, no' coontin' them MacNeills."

"Hoo much did ye say he had?" asked Macphail. "Was it a hunder pounds and
a free hoose? or a hunder free hooses and a pound?"

"Do you know, laads," said the Captain, "his money wasna in my mind!"

"That's wi' the ticht collar," said the engineer unfeelingly; "lowse yer
collar and mak' up yer mind whit yer gaun to dae wi' the hunder pounds.
That's to say, if the MacNeills don't get it."

The Captain's heart, at the very thought of such disaster, came to his
throat, and burst the fastenings of his collar, which had to be rigged up
anew by Sunny Jim.

"The MacNeills," he said, "'ll no' touch a penny. Cherlie couldna stand
them, and I wass aye his favourite, me bein' a captain. Money would be
wasted on the MacNeills; they wouldna know what to do wi't."

"I ken whit I wad dae wi' a hunder pound if I had it," said Macphail

"You would likely gie up the sea and retire to the free hoose wi' a ton
or two o' your penny novelles," suggested the Captain.

"I wad trevel," said the engineer, heedless of the unpleasant innuendo.
"There's naething like trevel for widenin' the mind. When I was sailin'
foreign I saw a lot o' life, but I didna see near sae much as I wad hae
seen if I had the money."

"Fancy a sailor traivellin'!" remarked Sunny Jim. "There's no much fun in

"I don't mean traivellin' in boats," explained Macphail. "Ye never see
onything trevellin' in boats; I mean trains. The only places abroad worth
seein' 's no' to be seen at the heid o' a quay; ye must tak' a train to
them. Rome, and Paris, and the Eyetalian Lakes--that sort o' thing. Ye
live in hotels and any amount o' men's ready to carry yer bag. Wi' a
hunder pound a man could trevel the world."

"Never heed him, Peter," said Dougie; "trevellin's an anxious business;
you're aye losin' your tickets, and the tips you have to give folk's a
fair ruination. If I had a hunder pound and a free hoose, I would let the
hoose and tak' a ferm."

"A ferm's no' bad," admitted Para Handy, "but there's a desperate lot o'
work aboot a ferm."

"There's a desperate lot o' work aboot anything ye can put your hand to,
except enchineerin'," said Dougie sadly, "but you can do wonders if you
have a good horse and a fine strong wife. You wouldna need to be a rale
former, but chust wan o' them chentleman termers that wears
knickerbockers and yellow leggin's."

"There's a good dale in what you say," Dougie, admitted the Captain, who
saw a pleasing vision of himself in yellow leggings. "It's no' a bad
tred, chentleman fermin'."

"Tred!" said Dougie; "it's no a tred--it's a recreation, like sailin' a
yat. Plooin'-matches and 'ool-markets every other day; your own eggs and
all the mutton and milk you need for nothing. Buy you a ferm, Peter, I'm
tellin' you!"

"Chust that!" said the Captain cunningly. "And then maybe you would be
skipper of the Fital Spark, Dougie."

"I wasna thinkin' aboot that at aal!" protested the mate.

"I wasna sayin' you were," said the Captain, "but the mustress would give
you the notion."

"If I was you I wad tak' a shop in Gleska," said Sunny Jim. "No' an awfu'
big shop, but a handy wee wan ye could shut when there was any sport on
withoot mony people noticin'."

Para Handy buttoned his coat, and prepared to set out for the funeral.
"Whether it wass trevellin', or a ferm, or a shop, I would get on
sublime, for I'm a lucky, lucky man, laads; but I'm no lettin' my mind
dwell on Cherlie's money, oot o' respect for my relative. I'll see you
aal when I come back, and maybe it might be an Occasion."

Dougie cried after him when he was a little up the quay, "Captain, your
hat's chust a little to the side."

Para Handy was back from the funeral much sooner than was expected, his
collar in his pocket, and the borrowed hat in his hand. He went below to
resume his ordinary habiliments without a word to the crew, who concluded
that he was discreetly concealing the legacy. When he came up, they asked
no questions, from a sense of proper decorum, but the Captain seemed
surcharged with great emotion.

"Dougie," he said to the mate, "what would be the cost o' a pair o'
yellow leggin's?"

"Aboot a pound," said the mate, with some exultation. "Have you made up
your mind for fermin'?"

"No," said the Captain bitterly; "but I might afford the leggin's off my
cousin Cherlie's legacy, but it wouldna go the length o' knickerbockers."


The vessel was rounding Ardlamont in a sou'wester that set her all awash
like an empty herring-box. Over her snub nose combed appalling sprays;
green seas swept her fore and aft; she was glucking with internal waters,
and her squat red funnel whooped dolorously with wind. "Holy smoke!"
gasped Para Handy, "isn't this the hammerin'!"

"A sailor's life!" said Dougie bitterly, drawing a soaking sleeve across
his nose; "I would sooner be a linen-draper."

In flaws of the wind they could hear Macphail break coals in the
engine-room, and the wheezy tones of Sunny Jim's melodeon as he lay on
his bunk in the fo'c'sle quelling his apprehensions to the air of "The
Good Old Summer-Time." Together at the wheel the Captain and his mate
were dismal objects, drenched to the hide, even below their oil-skins,
which gave them the glistening look of walruses or seals. They had rigged
a piece of jib up for a dodger; it poorly served its purpose, and seemed
as inefficient as a handkerchief as they raised their blinking eyes above
it and longingly looked for the sheltering arms of the Kyles.

"I wish to the Lord it wass Bowlin' quay and me sound sleepin'," said the
mate. "Yonder's the mustress in Plantation snug and cosy on't, and I'll
wager she's no' a bit put aboot for her man on the heavin' bullow. It
makes me quite angry to think of it. Eggs for her tea and all her orders,
and me with not a bite since breakfast-time but biscuits."

"Holy smoke! you surely wouldna like her to be wi' you here," said Para
Handy, shocked.

"No," said Dougie, "but I wish she could see me noo, and I wish I could
get her and her high tea at the fireside oot on' my heid; it's bad enough
to be standing here like a flag-pole thinkin' every meenute'll be my

"Toot! man, Dougie, you're tumid, tumid," said the Captain. "Draw your
braith as deep's you can, throw oot your chest, and be a hero. Look at
me! my name's Macfarlane and I'm wan of Brutain's hardy sons!"

The Vital Spurk got round the Point, and met a wave that smashed across
her counter and struck full in the face the mariners at the wheel.
Dougie, with his mouth inelegantly open, swallowed a pint or two, and
spluttered. Para Handy shook the water from his beard like a spaniel, and
looking more anxiously than before through smarting eyes, saw a gabbart
labouring awkwardly close on the shore of Ettrick Bay.

"Dougie," said he, "stop giggling a bit, and throw your eye to
starboard--is yon no' the Katherine Anne?"

"It wassna giggling I wass," said Dougie irritably, coughing brine, "but
I nearly spoiled the Kyles o' Bute. It's the Katherine-Anne right enough,
and they've lost command o' her; stop you a meenute and you'll hear an
awfu' dunt."

"She'll be ashore in a juffy," said the Captain tragically. "Man! iss it
no' chust desperate! I'm no' makin' a proposeetion, mind, but what would
you say to givin' a slant across and throwin' a bit o' a rope to her?"

Dougie looked wistfully at Tighnabruaich ahead of them, and now to be
reached in comfort, and another at the welter of waves between them and
the struggling gabbart. "Whatever you say yoursel', Peter," he replied,
and for twenty minutes more they risked disaster. At one wild moment Para
Handy made his way to the fo'c'sle hatch and bellowed down to Sunny Jim,
"You there wi' your melodeon--it would fit you better if you tried to
mind your Psalms."

When they reached the Katherine-Anne, and found she had been abandoned.
Para Handy cursed at first his own soft heart that had been moved to the
distress of a crew who were comfortably on their way to Rothesay. He was
for leaving the gabbart to her fate, but Macphail, the engineer, and
Sunny Jim remarked that a quite good gabbart lacking any obvious owners
wasn't to be picked up every day. If they towed her up to Tighnabruaich
they would have a very pretty claim for salvage.

"Fifty pounds at least for ship and cargo," said Macphail; "my share 'll
pay for my flittin' at the term, jist nate."

"Fifty pounds!" said Para Handy. "It's a tidy sum, and there might be
more than fifty in't when it came to the bit, for fifty pounds iss not an
aawful lot when the owner gets his wheck of it. What do you think
yoursel', Dougie?"

"I wass chust thinkin'," said Dougie, "that fifty pounds would be a
terrible lot for poor MacCallum, him that owns the Katherine-Anne; he
hasna been very lucky wi' her."

"If we're no' gaun to get the fifty pound then, we can just tow her up to
Tighnabruaich for a baur," said Sunny Jim. "It doesna dae to be stickin'.
If there's naething else in't, we'll get a' oor names in the papers for a
darin' deed at sea. Come on, chaps, be game!"

"I wish to peace the Katherine-Anne belonged to any other man than John
MacCallum," said the skipper. "You're an aawful cluver laad, Macphail;
what iss the law aboot salvage?"

"Under the Merchant Shippin' Act," said Macphail glibly, "ye're bound to
get your salvage; if ye divna claim't, it goes to the King the same as
whales or onything that's cast up by the sea."

"Ach! it disna maitter a docken aboot the salvage," said Sunny Jim. "Look
at the fun we'll hae comin' into Tighnabruaich wi' a boat we fun' the
same as it was a kitlin. See's a rope, and I'll go on board and mak' her

When they had towed the Katherine-Anne to Tighnabruaich, Dougie was sent
ashore with a telegram for the owner of the Vital Spark, suggesting his
immediate appearance on the scene. Later in the afternoon the crew of the
Katherine-Anne came by steamer to Tighnabruaich, to which port she and
they belonged, and the captain and owner ruefully surveyed the vessel he
had abandoned, now lying safe and sound at his native quay. He sat on a
barrel of paraffin-oil and looked at Para Handy in possession.

"Where did you pick her up?" said MacCallum sadly.

"Oh, chust doon the road a bit," said Para Handy. "It's clearin' up a
nice day."

"It's a terrible business this," said MacCallum, nervously wiping his
forehead with his handkerchief.

"Bless me! what is't?" exclaimed Para Handy. "I havena seen the paper
this week yet."

"I mean about havin' to leave the Katie-Anne almost at our own door, and
you finding her."

"Chust that; it wass Providence," remarked Para Handy piously, "chust

"I'll hae to gie you something for your bother," said MacCallum.

"I wouldna say but you would," replied the skipper. "It's a mercy your
lifes wass saved. Hoo are they keepin', aal, in Ro'sa'?"

"Are ye no' comin' ashore for a dram?" remarked MacCallum, and Para
cocked at him a cunning eye.

"No, John," he said; "I'm no' carin' mich aboot a dram the day; I had wan

But he succumbed to the genial impulse an hour later, and leaving his
mate in possession of the Katherine-Anne, went up the village with the
owner of that unhappy craft. MacCallum took him to his home, where Para
Handy found himself in the uncomfortable presence of a wife and three
daughters dressmaking. The four women sewed so assiduously, and were so
moist about the eyes with weeping, that he was sorry he came.

"This is the gentleman that found the Katie-Anne,"  remarked MacCallum by
way of introduction, and the eldest daughter sobbed.

"Ye're aal busy!" said Para Handy, with a desperate air of cheerfulness.

"Indeed, aye! we're busy enough," said the mother bitterly. "We're
workin' oor fingers to the bane, but we're no' makin' much o't; it's come
wi' the wind and gang wi' the water," and the second daughter sobbed in
unison with her sister as they furiously plied their needles.

"By Chove!" thought Para Handy, "a man would need to have the he'rt o' a
hoose-factor on a chob like this; it puts me aal oot o' trum," and he
drank his glass uncomfortably.

"I think ye mentioned aboot fifty pounds?" said MacCallum mournfully, and
at these words all the four women laid their sewing on their knees and
wept without restraint. "Fi-fi-fifty p-p-pounds!" exclaimed the mother,
"where in the wide world is John MacCallum to get fifty pounds?"

Para Handy came hurriedly down the quay and called Dougie ashore from the

"Somebody must stay on board of her, or we'll have trouble wi' the
salvage," said the mate.

"Come ashore this meenute," commanded the Captain, "for I'm needin' some
refreshment. There's four women yonder greetin' their eyes oot at the
loss o' fifty pounds."

"Chust that!" said Dougie sympathetically. "Poor things!"

"I would see the salvage to the duvvle," said the Captain warmly, "if we
hadna sent that telegram to oor owner. Four o' them sew-sew-sewing
yonder and dreepin', like the fountain oot in Kelvingrove!"

"Man, it wass lucky, too, aboot the telegram," said Dougie, "for I didna
like to send it and it's no' away."

Para Handy slapped him on the shoulder. "Man!" he said, "that's capital!
To the muschief with their fifty pounds! Believe you me, I'm feelin'
quite sublime!"


It was a lovely day, and the Vital Spark, without a cargo, lay at the
pier of Ormidale, her newly painted under-strakes reflected in a loch
like a mirror, making a crimson blotch in a scene that was otherwise
winter-brown. For a day and a half more there was nothing to be done.
"It's the life of a Perfect Chentleman," said Dougie. The engineer, with
a novelette he had bought in Glasgow, was lost in the love affairs of a
girl called Gladys, who was excessively poor, but looked, at Chapter
Five, like marrying a Colonel of Hussars who seemed to have no suspicion
of the fate in store for him; and Sunny Jim, with the back of his head
showing at the fo'c'sle scuttle, was making with his melodeon what
sounded like a dastardly attack on "The Merry Widow."

"I wass thinkin', seein' we're here and nothing else doin', we might be
givin' her the least wee bit touch o' the tar-brush," remarked Para
Handy, who never cared to lose a chance of beautifying his vessel.

"There it is again!" exclaimed Macphail, laying down his novelette in
exasperation. "A chap canna get sittin' doon five meenutes in this boat
for a read to himsel' withoot somebody breakin' their legs to find him a
job. Ye micht as weel be in a man-o'-war." Even Dougie looked
reproachfully at the Captain; he had just been about to pull his cap down
over his eyes and have a little sleep before his tea.

"It wass only a proposeetion," said the Captain soothingly. "No offence!
Maybe it'll do fine when we get to Tarbert. It's an awfu' peety they're
no' buildin' boats o' this size wi' a kind of a study in them for the use
o' the enchineers," and he turned for sympathy to the mate, who was
usually in the mood to rag Macphail. But this time Dougie was on
Macphail's side.

"There's some o' your jokes like the Carradale funerals--there's no' much
fun in them," he remarked. "Ye think it's great sport to be
tar-tar-tarring away at the ship; ye never consult either oor healths or
oor inclinations. Am I right, Macphail?"

"Slave-drivin'! that's whit I ca't," said Macphail emphatically. "If
Lloyd George kent aboot it, he would bring it before the Board o' Tred."

The Captain withdrew, moodily, from his crew, and ostentatiously scraped
old varnish off the mast. This business engaged him only for a little;
the weather was so plainly made for idleness that he speedily put the
scraper aside and entered into discourse with Sunny Jim. "Whatever you
do, don't you be a Captain, Jum," he advised him.

"I wisht I got the chance!" said Sunny Jim.

"There's nothing in't but the honour o' the thing, and a shilling or two
extra; no' enough to pay the  drinks to keep up the poseetion. Here am I,
and I'm anxious to be frien'ly wi' the chaps, trate them the same's I
wass their equal, and aalways ready to come-and-go a bit, and they go and
give me the name o' a slave-driver! Iss it no' chust desperate?"

"If I was a Captain," said Sunny Jim philosophically, "I wad dae the
comin' and mak' the ither chaps dae the goin', and d--d smert aboot it."

"That's aal right for a Gleska man, but it's no' the way we're brocht up
on Loch Long; us Arrochar folk, when we're Captains, believe in a bit o'
compromise wi' the crews. If they don't do a thing when we ask them
cuvilly, we do't oorsel's, and that's the way to vex them."

"Did ye never think ye wad like to change your job and try something
ashore?" asked Sunny Jim.

"Many a time!" confessed the Captain. "There's yonder jobs that would
suit me fine. I wass nearly, once, an innkeeper. It wass at a place
called Cladich; the man came into a puckle money wi' his wife, and
advertised the goodwull at a great reduction. I left the boat for a day
and walked across to see him. He wass a man they caalled MacDiarmid, and
he wass yonder wi' his sleeves up puttin' corks in bottles wi' a
wonderful machine. Did you ever see them corkin' bottles, Jum?"

"I never noticed if I did," said Sunny Jim; "but I've seen them takin'
them oot."

"Chust that! This innkeeper wass corkin' away like hey-my-nanny.

"'You're sellin' the business?' says I.

"'I am,' says he; and him throng corkin' away at the bottles.

"'What's your price?' says I. "'A hundred and fifty pounds for the
goodwull and the stock the way it stands,' says he.

"'What aboot the fixtures?' then says I.

"'Oh, they're aal right!" said the innkeeper, cork-cork-corkin' away at
the bottles; 'the fixtures goes along with the goodwull.'

"'What fixtures iss there?' says I.

"'There's three sheep termers, the shoemaker doon the road, and Macintyre
the mail-driver, and that's no' coontin' a lot o' my Sunday customers,'
said the innkeeper."

"You didna tak' the business, then?" said Sunny Jim.

"Not me!" said Para Handy. "To be corkin' away at bottles aal my lone
yonder would put me crazy. Forbye, I hadna the half o' the
hunder-and-fifty. There wass another time I went kind o' into a business
buyin' eggs----"

"Eggs!" exclaimed Sunny Jim with some astonishment--"whit kin' o' eggs?"

"Och! chust egg eggs," said the Captain. "It wass a man in Arran said
there wass a heap o' money in them if you had the talent and a wee bit
powney to go roond the countryside. To let you ken: it wass before the
Fital Spark changed owners; the chentleman that had her then wass a wee
bit foolish; nothing at aal against his moral and releegious reputaation,
mind, but apt to go over the score with it, and forget whereaboots the
vessel would be lying. This time we were for a week or more doin' nothin'
in Loch Ranza, and waitin' for his orders. He couldna mind for the life
o' him where he sent us, and wass telegraphin' aal the harbour-masters
aboot the coast to see if they kent the whereaboots o' the Fital Spark,
but it never came into his heid that we might be near Loch Ranza, and
there we were wi' the best o' times doin' nothing."

"Could ye no' hae sent him a telegraph tellin' him where ye wiz?" asked
Sunny Jim.

"That's what he said himsel', but we're no' that daft, us folk from
Arrochar; I can tell you we have aal oor faculties. Dougie did better
than that; he put a bit o' paper in a bottle efter writin' on't a message
from the sea--'s.s. Fital Spark stranded for a fortnight in a fit o'
absent-mind; aal hands quite joco, but the owner lost.'

"We might have been lyin' in Loch Ranza yet if it wassna that I tried
Peter Carmichael's business. 'When you're doin' nothing better here,' he
said to me, 'you micht be makin' your fortune buyin' and sellin' eggs,
for Arran's fair hotchin' wi' them.'

"'What way do you do it?' says I.

"'You need a wee cairt and a powney,' said Peter Carmichael, 'and I've
the very cairt and powney that would suit you. You go roond the island
gatherin' eggs from aal the hooses, and pay them sixpence a
dozen--champion eggs ass fresh ass the mornin' breeze. Then you pack them
in boxes and send them to Gleska and sell them at a profit.'

"'What profit do you chenerally allow yoursel'?' I asked Peter.

"'Oh! chust nate wan per cent,' said Peter; 'you chairge a shillin' in
Gleska for the eggs; rale Arran eggs, no' foreign rubbadge. Folk 'll tell
you to put your money in stone and lime; believe me, nothing bates the
Arran egg for quick returns. If the people in Gleska have a guarantee
that any parteecular egg wass made in Arran, they'll pay any money for
it; it's ass good ass a day at the coast for them, poor craturs!'

"Seein' there wass no prospeck o' the owner findin' where we were unless
he sent a bloodhound oot to look for us, I asked Carmichael hoo long it
would take to learn the business, and he said I could pick it up in a
week. I agreed to buy the cairt and powney and the goodwull o' the
business if the chob at the end o' the week wass like to bring in a
pleasin' wage, and Dougie himsel' looked efter the shup. You never went
roond the country buyin' eggs? It's a chob you need a lot o' skill for.
Yonder wass Peter Carmichael and me goin' roond by Pirnmill, Machrie, and
Blackwaterfoot, Sliddery, and Shiskine----"

"Ach! ye're coddin'!" exclaimed Sunny Jim; "there's no such places."

"It's easy seen you were a' your days on the Clutha steamers," said the
Captain patiently; "I'll assure you that there's Slidderys and Shiskines
oot in Arran. Full o' eggs! The hens oot yonder's no' puttin' bye their

"Three days runnin' Peter and me and the powney scoured the country and
gaithered so many eggs that I begun to get rud in the face whenever I
passed the least wee hen. We couldna get boxes enough to hold them in
Loch Ranza, so we got some bales o' hay and packed them in the hold of
the Fital Spark, and then consudered. 'There's nothing to do noo but to
take them to the Broomielaw and sell them quick at a shillin',' said
Carmichael. 'The great thing iss to keep them on the move, and off your
hands before they change their minds and start for to be chuekens. Up
steam, smert, and off wi' ye! And here's the cairt and powney--fifteen

"'Not at aal, Carmichael!' I said to him; 'I'll wait till I'll see if you
wass right aboot the wan per cent of profits. Stop you here till I'll
come back.'

"I telegraphed that day to the owner o' the vessel, sayin' I was comin'
into the Clyde wi' a cargo, and when we got to Gleska he wass standin' on
the quay, and not in the best o' trum.

"'Where in a' the world were you?' says he; 'and me lookin' high and low
for you! What's your cargo?'

"'Eggs from Arran, Mr Smuth,' says I, 'and a bonny job I had gettin' them
at sixpence the dozen.'

"'Who are they from?' he asked, glowerin' under the hatches.

"'Chust the cheneral population, Mr Smuth,' says I.

"'Who are they consigned to? 'he asked then--and man he wassna in trum at
aal, at aal!

"'Anybody that'll buy them, sir," said I; 'it's a bit of a speculation.'

"He scratched his heid and looked at me. 'I mind o' orderin' eggs,' says
he, 'but I never dreamt I wass daft enough to send for a boat-load o'
them. But noo they're here I suppose we'll have to make the best o'
them.' So he sold the eggs, and kept the wan per cent for freight and
responsibeelity, and I made nothin' off it except that I shifted my mind
aboot takin' a chob ashore, and didn't buy Carmichael's cairt and


THE Vital Spark had been lying for some time in the Clyde getting in a
new boiler, and her crew, who had been dispersed about the city in their
respective homes, returned to the wharf on a Monday morning to make ready
for a trip to Tobermory.

"She's a better boat than ever she was," said Macphail with satisfaction,
having made a casual survey. "Built like a lever watch! We'll can get the
speed oot o' her noo. There's boats gaun up and doon the river wi' red
funnels, saloon caibins, and German bands in them, that havena finer
engines. When I get that crank and crossheid tightened, thae glands
packed and nuts slacked, she'll be the gem o' the sea."

"She's chust sublime!" said Para Handy, patting the tarred old hull as if
he were caressing a kitten; "it's no' coals and timber she should be
carryin' at aal, but towrist passengers. Man! if we chust had the

"Ye should hae seen the engines we had on the Cluthas!" remarked Sunny
Jim, who had no illusions about the Vital Spark in that respect. "They
were that shiney I could see my face in them."

"Could ye, 'faith?" said Macphail; "a sicht like that must have put ye
aff yer work. We're no' that fond o' polish in the coastin' tred that we
mak' oor engines shine like an Eyetalian ice-cream shop; it's only
vanity. Wi' us it's speed----"

"Eight knots," murmured Sunny Jim, who was in a nasty Monday-moming
humour. "Eight knots, and the chance o' nine wi' wind and tide."

"You're a liar!" said the Captain irritably, "and that's my advice to
you. Ten knots many a time between the Cloch and the Holy Isle," and an
argument ensued which it took Dougie all his tact to put an end to short
of bloodshed.

"It's me that's gled to be back on board of her anyway," remarked Para
Handy later; "I suppose you'll soon be gettin' the dinner ready, Jum? See
and have something nice, for I'm tired o' sago puddin'."

"Capital stuff for pastin' up bills," said Dougie; "I've seen it often in
the cookin'-depots. Wass the wife plyin' ye wi' sago?"

"Sago, and apples, potatoes, cabbage, cheese, and a new kind o' patent
coffee that agrees wi' the indigestion; I havena put my two eyes on a bit
of Christian beef since I went ashore; the wife's in wan of her
tirravees, and she's turned to be a vegetarian."

"My Chove!" said Dougie incredulously; "are you sure, Peter?"

"Sure enough! I told her this mornin' when I left I would bring her home
a bale of hay from Mull, and it would keep her goin' for a month or two.
Women's a curious article!"

"You should get the munister to speak to her," said Dougie
sympathetically. "When a wife goes wrong like that, there's nothing bates
the munister. She'll no' be goin' to the church; it's aalways the way wi'
them fancy new releegions. Put you her at wance in the hands o' a dacent

"I canna be harsh wi' her, or she'll greet," said Para Handy sadly.

"It's no harshness that's wanted," counselled the mate, speaking from
years of personal experience; "what you need iss to be firm. What way did
this calamity come on her? Don't be standin' there, Jum, like a
soda-water bottle, but hurry and make a bit of steak for the Captain;
man! I noticed you werena in trum whenever I saw you come on board. I saw
at wance you hadn't the agility. What way did the trouble come on her?"

"She took it off a neighbour woman," explained the Captain. "She wass aal
right on the Sunday, and on the Monday mornin' she couldna bear to look
at ham and eggs. It might happen to anybody. The thing was at its heid
when I got home, and the only thing on the table wass a plate of

"Eyetalian!" chimed in the engineer. "I've seen them makin' it in Genoa
and hingin' it up to bleach on the washin'-greens. It's no' meat for men;
it's only for passin' the time o' organ-grinders and ship-riggers."

"'Mery,' I said to her, 'I never saw nicer decorations, but hurry up like
a darlin' wi' the meat.' 'There'll be no more meat in this hoose, Peter,'
she said, aal trumblin'; 'if you saw them busy in a slaughter-hoose you
wadna eat a chop. Forbye, there's uric acid in butcher meat, and there's
more nourishment in half a pound o' beans than there iss in half a
bullock.' 'That's three beans for a sailor's dinner; it's no' for
nourishment a man eats always; half the time it's only for amusement,
Mery,' said I to her, but it wass not the time for argyment. 'You'll be a
better man in every way if you're a vegetarian,' she said to me. 'If it
iss a better man you are wantin',' I says to her,  wonderful caalm in my
temper, 'you are on the right tack, sure enough; you have only to go on
with them expuriments wi' my meat and you'll soon be a weedow woman.'

"But she wouldna listen to reason, Mery, and for a fortnight back I have
been feedin' like the Scribes and Sadducees in the Scruptures."

"Man! iss it no chust desperate?" said Dougie compassionately, and he
admiringly watched his Captain a little later make the first hearty meal
for a fortnight. "You're lookin' a dufferent man already," he told him;
"what's for the tea, Jum?"

"I kent a vegetarian yince," said Sunny Jim, "and he lived maist o' the
time on chuckle soup."

"Chucken soup?" repeated Dougie interrogatively.

"No; chuckie soup. There was nae meat o' ony kind in't. A' ye needed was
some vegetables, a pot o' hot water, and a parteecular kind o'
chuckie-stane. It was fine and strengthenin'."

"You would need good teeth for't, I'm thinkin'," remarked the Captain

"Of course ye didna eat the chuckie-stane," Sunny Jim explained; "it made
the stock; it was instead o' a bane, and it did ower and ower again."

"It would be a great savin'," said Dougie, fascinated with the idea.
"Where do you get them parteecular kinds ofchuckies?"

"Onywhere under high water," replied Sunny Jim, who saw prospects of a
little innocent entertainment.

"We'll get them the first time we're ashore, then," said the mate, "and
if they're ass good ass what you say, the Captain could take home a lot
of them for his vegetarian mustress."

At the first opportunity, when he got ashore. Sunny Jim perambulated the
beach and selected a couple of substantial pieces of quartz, and
elsewhere bought a pound of margarine which he put in his pocket. "Here
yez are, chaps--the very chuckie! I'll soon show ye soup," he said,
coming aboard with the stones, in which the crew showed no little
interest. "A' ye have to do is to scrub them weel, and put them in wi'
the vegetables when the pot's boilin'."

They watched his culinary preparations closely. He prepared the water and
vegetables, cleaned the stones, and solemnly popped them in the pot when
the water boiled. At a moment when their eyes were off him he dexterously
added the unsuspected pound of margarine. By and by the soup was ready,
and when dished, had all the aspect of the ordinary article. Sunny Jim
himself was the first to taste it pour encourager les autres. "Fair
champion!" he exclaimed. The engineer could not be prevailed to try the
soup on any consideration, but the Captain and the mate had a plate
apiece, and voted it extraordinary.

"It's a genius you are, Jum!" said the delighted Captain; "if the folk in
Gleska knew that soup like this was to be made from chuckie-stanes they
wouldna waste their time at the Fair wi' gaitherin' cockles."

And the next time Para Handy reached the Clyde he had on board in all
good faith a basket-load of stones culled from the beach at Tobermory for
his vegetarian mistress.


"THE finest chentleman I ever knew was Hurricane Jeck," said Para Handy.
"His manners wass complete. Dougie himsel' will tell you."

"A nice laad," said the mate agreeably; "he had a great, great faculty."

-"Whaur did he mak' his money?" asked Sunny Jim, and they looked at him
with compassion.

"There iss men that iss chentlemen, and there iss men that hass a puckle
money," said the Captain impressively; "Hurricane Jeck wass seldom very
rife with money, but he came from Kinlochaline, and that iss ass good ass
a Board of Tred certuficate. Stop you till you're long enough on the
Fital Spark, and you'll get your educaation. Hurricane Jeck was a
chentleman. What money he had he would spend like the wave of the sea."

"It didna maitter wha's money it was, either," chimed in Macphail
unsympathetically. "I kent him! Fine!"

"Like the wave of the sea," repeated the Captain, meeting the engineer's
qualification with the silence of contempt. "Men like Jeck should never
be oot of money, they distribute it with such a taste."

"I've seen chaps like that," remarked Sunny Jim, who was sympathetic to
that kind of character. "When I was on the Cluthas--"

"When you was on the Cluthas, Jum, you were handlin' nothing but
ha'pennies; Hurricane Jeck was a chentleman in pound notes, and that's
the dufference."

"My Jove!" said Sunny Jim, "he must hae been weel an'!"

"There wass wan time yonder," proceeded the Captain, "when Jeck came into
a lot o' money from a relative that died--fifty pounds if it wass a
penny, and he spent it in a manner that was chust sublime. The very day
he got it, he came down to the Fital Spark at Bowlin' for a consultation.
'You'll no' guess what's the trouble, Peter,' said he; 'I'm a chentleman
of fortune,' and he spread the fifty notes fornent him, with a bit of
stone on each of them to keep them doon, the same as it wass a
bleachin'-green. 'Fifty pounds and a fortnight to spend it in, before we
sail for China. Put bye your boat, put on your Sunday clothes, and you
and me'll have a little recreaation.'

"'I canna, Jeck,' says I--and Dougie himsel' 'll tell you--'I canna,
Jeck; the cargo's in, and we're sailin' in the mornin'.'

"'That's the worst o' money," said Hurricane Jeck; 'there's never enough
o't. If Uncle Willy had left me plenty I would buy your boat and no' let
a cargo o' coals interfere wi' oor diversion.'

"'Put it in the bank,' I said to him.

"'I'm no' that daft,' he said. 'There's no' a worst place in the world
for money than the banks; you never get the good o't."

"'Oh, there's plenty of other ways of gettin' rid of it,' I told him.

"'Not of fifty pounds,' said Jeck. 'It's easy spendin' a pound or two,
but you canna get rid o' a legacy withoot assistance.' Wassn't that the
very words of him, Dougie?"

"Chust his own words!" said the mate; "your memory iss capital."

"'There's a lot o' fun I used to think I would indulge in if I had the
money,' said Hurricane Jeck, 'and now I have the opportunity if I only
had a friend like yoursel' to see me doin' it. I'm goin' to spend it aal
in trevellin'.'"

"And him a sailor!" commented the astonished Sunny Jim.

"He wass meanin' trevellin' on shore," said Para Handy. "Trains, and
tramway cars, and things like that, and he had a brulliant notion. It
wass aye a glief to Jeck that there wass so many things ashore you darena
do withoot a prosecution. 'The land o' the Free!' he would say,' and ye
canna take a tack on a train the length o' Paisley withoot a bit of a
pasteboard ticket!' He put in the rest of that day that I speak of
trevellin' the Underground till he wass dizzy, and every other hour he
had an altercaation wi' the railway folk aboot his ticket. 'Take it oot
o' that,' he would tell them, handin' them a pound or two, and he quite
upset the traffic. On the next day he got a Gladstone bag, filled it with
empty bottles, and took the train to Greenock. 'Don't throw bottles oot
at the windows,' it says in the railway cairrages; Jeck opened the
windows and slipped oot a bottle or two at every quarter mile, till the
Caledonian system looked like the mornin' efter a Good Templars' trip.
They catched him doin' it at Pollokshields.

"'What's the damage? 'he asked them, hangin' his arm on the inside strap
o' a first-cless cairrage and smokin' a fine cigar. You never saw a
fellow that could be more genteel.

"'It might be a pound a bottle,' said the railway people; 'we have the
law for it.'

"'Any reduction on takin' a quantity?' said Jeck; 'I'm havin' the time o'
my life; it's most refreshin'.'

"That day he took the train to Edinburgh--didn't he, Dougie?"

"He did that!" said Dougie. "You have the story exactly."

"He took the train to Edinburgh. It was an express, and every noo and
then he would pull the chain communication wi' the guard. The train would
stop, and the guard would come and talk with Jeck. The first time he came
along Jeck shook him by the hand, and said he only wanted to congratulate

"'What aboot?' said the guard, no' lookin' very well pleased.

"'On your cheneral agility,' said Hurricane Jeck. 'Your cairrages iss
first-rate; your speed iss astonishin' quick; your telegraph
communication iss workin' Al; and you stopped her in two lengths. I
thocht I would chust like you to take my compliments to the owners.'

"'It's five pounds o' a fine for pullin' the cord,' said the guard.

"'That's only for the wan cord; I pulled the two o' them,' said Jeck,
quite nice to him; 'first the port and then the starboard. You canna be
too parteecular. There's the money and a shillin' extra for a dram.'

"The guard refused the money, and said he would see aboot it at
Edinburgh, and the train went on. Jeck pulled the cords till he had them
all in the cairrage wi' him, but the train never stopped till it came to
Edinburgh, and then a score o' the offeecials came to the cairrage.

"'What are you doin' with them cords?' they asked him.

"Here they are, all coiled up and flemished-down,' said Jeck, lightin'
another cigar. 'When does this train go back?' and he hands them over a
bunch o' notes, and told them never to mind the change."

"Man! he was the comic!" exclaimed Sunny Jim. "Fair champion!"

"In Edinburgh," proceeded Pary Handy, "he waalked aboot till he came on a
fire alarm where it said it would cost a heavy fine to work it unless
there wass a fire. Jeck rung the bell, and waited whustlin' till the Fire
Brigade came clatterin' up the street.

"'Two meenutes and fifty seconds,' he says to them, holdin' his watch;
'they couldna do better in Gleska. I like your helmets. Noo that we're
aal here, what iss it goin' to be, boys?'

"'Are you drunk, or daft?' said the Captain o' the Fire Brigade, grippin'
him by the collar.

"'Not a drop since yesterday!' said Jeck. 'And I'm no' daft, but chust
an honest Brutish sailor, puttin' bye the time and spreadin' aboot my
money. There's me and there's Mr Carnegie. His hobby is libraries; on the
other hand I'm for Liberty. The Land of the Free and the Brave; it says
on the fire alarm that I mustna break it, and I proved I could. Take your
money oot o' that,'--and he hands the Captain the bundle of notes. 'If
there iss any change left when you pay yoursel's for your bother, send
home the enchines and we'll aal adjourn to a place.'"

"Capital!" exclaimed Dougie.

"It took three days for Jeck to get rid of his fortune in cheneral
amusement of that kind, and then he came to see me before he joined his
shup for China.

"'I had a fine time, Peter,' he said; 'couldna have better. You would
wonder the way the week slipped by. But it's the Land of the Free, right
enough; there's no' half enough o' laws a chentleman can break for his
diversion; I hadna very mich of a selection.'"


IT was a lovely afternoon at the end of May, and the Vital Spark was
puffing down Kilbrannan Sound with a farmer's flitting. Macphail, the
engineer, sat "with his feet among the enchines and his heid in the
clouds," as Dougie put it--in other words, on the ladder of his
engine-room, with his perspiring brow catching the cool breeze made by
the vessel's progress, and his emotions rioting through the adventures of
a governess in the 'Family Herald Supplement.' Peace breathed like an
exhalation from the starboard hills; the sea was like a mirror, broken
only by the wheel of a stray porpoise, and Sunny Jim indulged the Captain
and the mate with a medley on his melodeon.

"You're a capital player, Jum," said the Captain in a pause of the
entertainment. "Oh, yes, there's no doot you are cluver on it; it's a
gift, but you havena the selection; no, you havena the selection, and if
you havena the selection where are you?"

"He's doin' his best," said Dougie sympathetically, and then, in one of
those flashes of philosophy that come to the most thoughtless of us at
times--"A man can do no more."

"Whit selections was ye wantin'?" asked the musician, with a little
irritation; "if it's Gaelic sangs ye're meanin' I wad need a drum and the
nicht aff."

"No, I wassna thinkin' aboot Gaalic sangs," explained Para Handy; "when
we're consuderin' them we're consuderin' music; I wass taalkin' of the
bits of things you put on the melodeon; did you ever hear 'Napoleon'?"
and clearing his throat he warbled--

"Wa-a-an night sad and dree-ary
Ass I lay on my bed,
And my head scarce reclined on the pillow;
A vision surprisin' came into my head,
And I dreamt I wass crossin' the billow.
And ass my proud vessel she dashed o'er the deep--"

"It wasna the Vital Spark, onywye," remarked Macphail cynically; "afore I
got her biler sorted she couldna dash doon a waterfall--"

"I beheld a rude rock, it was craggy and steep,"

(proceeded the vocalist, paying no attention),

"'Twas the rock where the willow iss now seen to weep,
O'er the grave of the once-famed Napo-o-o-ole-on!"

"I never heard better, Peter," said the mate approvingly. "Take your
breath and give us another touch of it. There's nothing bates the old

"Let me see, noo, what wass the second verse?" asked the Captain, with
his vanity as an artist fully roused; "it was something like this--

"And ass my proud vessel she near-ed the land,
I beheld clad in green, his bold figure;
The trumpet of fame clasped firm in his hand,
On his brow there wass valour and vigour."

"Balloons! balloons!" cried Macphail, mutating some Glasgow street
barrow-vendor. "Fine balloons for rags and banes."

"Fair do! gie the Captain a chance," expostulated Sunny Jim. "Ye're
daein' fine. Captain; Macphail's jist chawed because he canna get

"'Oh, stranger,' he cried,' dost thou come unto me,
From the land of thy fathers who boast they are free;
Then, if so, a true story I'll tell unto thee
Concerning myself--I'm Napo-o-o-ole-on,'"

proceeded the Captain, no way discouraged, and he had no sooner concluded
the final doleful note than a raucous voice from the uncovered hold cried

Even Dougie sniggered; Macphail fell into convulsions of laughter, and
Sunny Jim showed symptoms of choking.

"I can stand Macphail's umpudence, but I'll no' stand that nonsense from
a hoolit on my own shup," exclaimed the outraged vocalist, and,
stretching over the coamings, he grabbed from the top of a chest of
drawers in the hold a cage with a cockatoo. "Come oot like a man," said
he, "and say't again."

"Toots! Peter, it's only a stupid animal; I wouldna put myself a bit
aboot," remarked Dougie soothingly. "It's weel enough known them
cockatoos have no ear for music. Forbye, he wassna meanin' anything when
he cried 'Coals!' he was chust in fun."

"Fun or no," said Macphail, "a bird wi' sense like that's no' canny. Try
him wi' another verse. Captain, and see if he cries on the polls."

"If he says another word I'll throw him over the side," said Para Handy.
"It's nothing else but mutiny," and with a wary eye on the unsuspecting
cockatoo he sang another verse--

"'You remember that year so immortal,' he cried,
'When I crossed the rude Alps famed in story,
With the legions of France, for her sons were my pride,
And I led them to honour and glory----'"

"Oh, crickey! Chase me, girls!" exclaimed the cockatoo, and the next
moment was swinging over the side of the Vital Spark to a watery grave.

The fury of the outraged Captain lasted but a moment; he had the vessel
stopped and the punt out instantly for a rescue; but the unhappy bird was
irrecoverably gone, and the tea-hour on the Vital Spark that afternoon
was very melancholy. Macphail, particularly, was inexpressibly galling in
the way he over and over again brought up the painful topic.

"I canna get it oot o' my heid," he said; "the look it gied when ye were
gaun to swing it roon' your heid and gie't the heave! I'll cairry that
cockatoo's last look to my grave."

"Whit kin' o' look was it?" asked Sunny Jim, eager for details; "I missed

"It was a look that showed ye the puir bird kent his last oor was come,"
explained the engineer. "It wasna anger, and it wasna exactly fricht; it
was--man! I canna picture it to ye, but efter this ye needna tell me
beasts have nae sowls; it's a' my aunty. Yon bird--"

"I wish I hadna put a finger on him," said the Captain, sore stricken
with remorse. "Change the subject."

"The puir bird didna mean ony hairm," remarked Sunny Jim, winking at the
engineer. "'Coals!' or 'Chase me, girls!' is jist a thing onybody would
say if they heard a chap singin' a sang like yon; it's oot o' date. Fair
do! ye shouldna hae murdered the beast; the man it belangs to 'll no' be
awfu' weel pleased."

"Murdered the beast!" repeated the conscience-stricken Captain; "it's no'
a human body you're talkin' aboot," and the engineer snorted his

"Michty! Captain, is that a' ye ken?" he exclaimed. "If it's no' murder,
it's manslaughter; monkeys, cockatoos, and parrots a' come under the Act
o' Parliament. A cockatoo's no' like a canary; it's able to speak the
language and give an opeenion, and the man that wad kill a cockatoo wad
kill a wean."

"That's right enough, Peter," said Dougie pathetically; "everybody kens
it's manslaughter. I never saw a nicer cockatoo either; no' a better
behaved bird; it's an awful peety. Perhaps the polis at Carradale will
let the affair blow bye."

"I wassna meanin' to henn the bird," pleaded Para Handy. "It aggravated
me. Here wass I standin' here singin' 'Napoleon,' and the cockatoo wass
yonder, and he hurt my feelin's twice; you would be angry yoursel' if it
wass you. My nerves got the better o' me."

"If the polls cross-examine me," said the engineer emphatically, "I'll
conceal naething, I'll no' turn King's evidence or onything like that,
mind, but if I'm asked I'll tell the truth, for I don't want to be mixed
up wi' a case o' manslaughter and risk my neck."

Thus were the feelings of the penitent Para Handy lacerated afresh every
hour of the day, till he would have given everything he possessed in the
world to restore the cockatoo to life. The owner's anger at the
destruction of his bird was a trifle to be anticipated calmly; the
thought that made Para Handy's heart like lead was that cockatoos DID
speak, that this one even seemed to have the gift of irony, and that he
had drowned a fellow-being; it was, in fact, he admitted to himself, a
kind of manslaughter. His shipmates found a hundred ways of presenting
his terrible deed to him in fresh aspects.

"Cockatoos iss mentioned in the Scruptures," said Dougie; "I don't
exactly mind the place, but I've seen it."

"They live mair nor a hundred years if they're weel trated," was Sunny
Jim's contribution to the natural history of the bird.

"Naebody ever saw a deid cockatoo," added the engineer.

"I wish you would talk aboot something else," said the Captain piteously;
"I'm troubled enough in mind withoot you bringin' that accursed bird up
over and over again," and they apologised, but always came back to the
topic again.

"I wid plead guilty and throw mysel' on the mercy o' the coort," was
Macphail's suggestion. "At the maist it'll no' be mair nor a sentence for

"Ye could say ye did it in self-defence," recommended Sunny Jim. "Thae
cockatoos bites hke onything."

"A great calamity!" moaned Dougie, shaking his head.

When the cargo of furniture was discharged and delivered, the farmer
discovered the absence of his cockatoo, and came down to make inquiries.

"He fell over the side," was the Captain's explanation. "We had his cage
hanging on the shrouds, and a gale struck us and blew it off. His last
words wass, 'There's nobody to blame but mysel'.'"

"There was no gale aboot here," said the farmer, suspecting nothing. "I'm
gey sorry to lose that cage. It was a kind o' a pity, too, the cockatoo
bein' drooned."

"Say nothing aboot that," pleaded the Captain. "I have been moumin' about
that cockatoo all week; you wouldna believe the worry it haas been for
me, and when all iss said and done I consider the cockatoo had the best
of it."


A YACHTSMAN with "R.Y.S. Dolphin" blazoned on his guernsey came down
Campbeltown quay and sentimentally regarded the Vital Spark, which had
just completed the discharge of a cargo of coals under circumstances
pleasing to her crew, since there had been a scarcity of carts, two days
of idleness, and two days' demurrage. Para Handy saw him looking--"The
smertest shup in the tred," he remarked to Sunny Jim; "you see the way
she catches their eye! It's her lines, and cheneral appearance; stop you
till I give her a touch of paint next month!"

"He'll ken us again when he sees us," said Sunny Jim, unpleasantly
conscious of his own grimy aspect, due to eight hours of coal dust. "Hey,
you wi' the sign-board, is't a job you're wantin'?" he cried to the
yachtsman; and started to souse himself in a bucket of water.

The stranger pensively gazed at the Captain, and said, "Does your eyes
deceive me or am I no' Colin?"

"Beg pardon!" replied the Captain cautiously.

"Colin," repeated the stranger. "Surely you must mind The Tar?"

"Holy smoke!" exclaimed Para Handy, "you're no' my old shupmate, surely;
if you are, there's a desperate change on you. Pass me up my spy-gless,

The yachtsman jumped on board, and barely escaped crashing into the
tea-dishes with which Sunny Jim proposed to deal when his toilet was
completed. "And there's Dougie himsel'," he genially remarked; "--and
Macphail, too; it's chust like comin' home. Are ye aal in good

"We canna complain," said Dougie, shaking the proffered hand with some
dubiety. "If you were The Tar we used to have you wouldna miss them
plates so handy wi' your feet." They stood around and eyed him shrewdly;
he certainly looked a little like The Tar if The Tar could be imagined
wideawake, trim, cleanshaven, and devoid of diffidence. The engineer,
with a fancy nourished on twenty years' study of novelettes, where
fraudulent claimants to fortunes and estates were continually turning up,
concluded at once that this was really not The Tar at all, but a clever
impersonator, and wondered what the game was. The Captain took up a
position more non-committal; he believed he could easily test the
bona-fides of the stranger.

"And how's your brother Charles?" he inquired innocently.

"Cherles," said the yachtsman, puzzled. "I never had a brother Cherles."

"Neither you had, when I mind, now; my mistake!" said the Captain; "I
wass thinkin' on another hand we used to have that joined the yats. Wass
I not at your mairrage over in Colintraive?"

"I wasna mairried in Colintraive at all!" exclaimed the puzzled visitor.
"Man, Captain! but your memory's failin'."

"Neither you were," agreed the Captain, thinking for a moment. "It wass
such a cheery weddin', I forgot."

"If you're the oreeginal Tar," broke in the engineer, "you'll maybe gie
me back my knife: ye mind I gied ye a len' o't the day ye left, and I
didna get it back frae ye," but this was an accusation the visitor
emphatically denied.

"You'll maybe no' hae an anchor tattooed aboot you anywhere?" asked the
mate. "It runs in my mind there wass an anchor."

"Two of them," said the visitor, promptly baring an arm, and revealing
these interesting decorations.

"That's anchors right enough," said the Captain, closely examining them,
and almost convinced. "I canna say mysel' I mind o' them, but there they
are, Dougie."

"It's easy tattooin' anchors," said the engineer; "whaur's your
strawberry mark?"

"What's a strawberry mark?" asked the baffled stranger.

"There!" exclaimed Macphail triumphantly. "Everybody kens ye need to hae
a strawberry mark. Hoo are we to ken ye're the man ye say ye are if ye
canna produce a strawberry mark?" And again the confidence of the Captain
was obviously shaken.

"Pass me along that pail," said the mate suddenly to the stranger, who,
with his hands in his pockets, slid the pail along the deck to the
petitioner with a lazy thrust of his foot that was unmistakably familiar.

The Captain slapped him on the shoulder. "It's you yoursel', Colin!" he
exclaimed. "There wass never another man at sea had the same agility wi'
his feet; it's me that's gled to see you. Many a day we missed you. It's
chust them fancy togs that makes the difference. That and your hair cut,
and your face washed so parteecular."

"A chentleman's life," said The Tar, later, sitting on a hatch with his
bona-fides now established to the satisfaction of all but the engineer,
who couldn't so readily forget the teachings of romance. "A chentleman's
life. That's oor yat oot there; she comes from Cowes, and I'm doin' fine
on her. I knew the tarry old hooker here ass soon ass I saw her at the

"You're maybe doin' fine on the yats," said the Captain coldly, "but it
doesna improve the mainners. She wassna a tarry old hooker when you were
earnin' your pound a-week on her."

"No offence!" said The Tar remorsefully. "I wass only in fun. I've seen a
wheen o' vessels since I left her, but none that had her style nor nicer

"That's the truth!" agreed the Captain, mollified immediately. "Come doon
and I'll show you the same old bunk you did a lot o' sleepin' in," and
The Tar agreeably followed him with this sentimental purpose. They were
below ten minutes, during which time the engineer summed up the whole
evidence for and against the identity of the claimant, and proclaimed his
belief to Dougie that the visitor had come to the Vital Spark after no
good. He was so righteously indignant at what he considered a deception
that he even refused to join the party when it adjourned into the town to
celebrate the occasion fittingly at the Captain's invitation.

The Tar retired to his yacht in due course; Para Handy, Dougie, and Sunny
Jim returned, on their part, to the Vital Spark, exhilarated to the value
of half-a-crown handsomely disbursed by the Captain, who had never before
been seen with a shilling of his own so far on in the week. They were met
on board by Macphail in a singularly sarcastic frame of mind, mingled
with a certain degree of restrained indignation.

"I hope your frien' trated ye well," he said.

"Fine!" said the Captain. "Colin was aye the chentleman. He's doin'
capital on the yats."

"He'll be daein' time oot o' the yats afore he's done," said the
engineer. "I kent he was efter nae guid comin' here, and when ye had him
doon below showin' him whaur The Tar bunked, he picked my Sunday pocket
o' hauf-a-croon. The man's a fraud, ye're blin' no' to see't; he hadna
even a strawberry mark."

"Whatever you say yoursel'," replied the Captain, with an expansive wink
at the mate and Sunny Jim. "If he's not The Tar, and took your money, it
wass lucky you saw through him."


TARBERT FAIR was in full swing; the crew of the Vital Spark had exhausted
the delirious delights of the hobby-horses, the shooting-gallery, Aunt
Sally, Archer's Lilliputian Circus, and the booth where, after ten, they
got pink fizzing drinks that had "a fine, fine appearance, but not mich
fun in them," as Para Handy put it, and Dougie stumbled upon a gipsy's
cart on the outskirts of the Fair, where a woman was telling fortunes.
Looking around to assure himself that he was unobserved by the others, he
went behind the cart tilt and consulted the oracle, a proceeding which
took ten minutes, at the end of which time he rejoined the Captain,
betraying a curious mood of alternate elation and depression.

"Them high-art fizzy drinks iss not agreeing with you, Dougie," said the
Captain sympathetically; "you're losing all your joviality, and it not
near the mornin'. Could you not get your eye on Macphail? I'll wudger
he'll have something sensible in a bottle!"

"Macphail!" exclaimed the mate emphatically; "I wouldna go for a drink to
him if I wass dyin'; I wouldna be in his reverence."

"Holy smoke! but you're gettin' desperate independent," said the Captain;
"you had more than wan refreshment with him the day already," and the
mate, admitting it remorsefully, relapsed into gloomy silence as they
loitered about the Fair-ground.

"Peter," he said in a little, "did you ever try your fortune?"

"I never tried anything else," said the Captain; "but it's like the
herrin' in Loch Fyne the noo--it's no' in't."

"That's no' what I mean," said Dougie; "there's a cluver woman roond in a
cairt yonder, workin' wi' cairds and tea-leaves and studyin' the palm o'
the hand, and she'll tell you everything that happened past and future. I
gave her a caal mysel' the noo, and she told me things that wass most

"What did it cost you?" asked Para Handy, with his interest immediately


"Holy smoke! she would need to be most extraordinar' astonishin' for
ninepence; look at the chap in Archer's circus tying himself in knots for
front sates threepence! Forbye, I don't believe in them spae-wifes; half
the time they're only tellin' lies."

"This wan's right enough, I'll warrant you," said the mate; "she told me
at once I wass a sailor and came through a lot of trouble."

"What did she predict?--that's the point, Dougie; they're no' mich use
unless they can predict; I could tell myself by the look o' you that you
had a lot o' trouble, the thing's quite common."

"No, no," said the mate cautiously; "pay ninepence for yoursel' if you
want her to predict. She told me some eye-openers."

The Captain, with a passion for eye-openers, demanded to be led to the
fortune-teller, and submitted himself to ninepence worth of divination,
while Dougie waited outside on him. He, too, came forth, half elated,
half depressed.

"What did she say to you?" asked the mate.

"She said I wass a sailor and seen a lot o' trouble," replied the

"Yes, but what did she predict?"

"Whatever it wass it cost me ninepence," said the Captain, "and I'm no'
givin' away any birthday presents any more than yoursel'; it's time we
were back noo on the vessel."

Getting on board the Vital Spark at the quay they found that Para Handy's
guess at the engineer's possession of something sensible in a bottle was
correct. He hospitably passed it round, and was astonished to find the
Captain and mate, for the first time in his experience, refuse a drink.
They not only refused but were nasty about it.

"A' richt," he said; "there'll be a' the mair in the morn for me an' Jim.
I daursay ye ken best yersel's when ye've gane ower faur wi't. I aye
believe, mysel', in moderation."

The manner of Para Handy and his mate for a week after this was so
peculiar as to be the subject of unending speculation on the part of the
engineer and Sunny Jim. The most obvious feature of it was that they both
regarded the engineer with suspicion and animosity.

"I'm shair I never did them ony hairm," he protested to Sunny Jim, almost
in tears; "I never get a ceevil word frae either o' them. Dougie's that
doon on me, he wad raither gang withoot a smoke than ask a match affme."

"It's cruel, that's whit it is!" said Sunny Jim, who had a feeling heart;
"but they're aff the dot ever since the nicht we were at Tarbert. Neither
o' them'll eat fish, nor gang ashore efter it's dark. They baith took to
their beds on Monday and wouldna steer oot o' their bunks a' day,
pretendin' to be ill, but wonderfu' sherp in the appetite."

"I'll give them wan chance, and if they refuse it I'll wash my hands o'
them," said Macphail decisively, and that evening after tea he produced a
half-crown and extended a general invitation to the nearest tavern.

"Much obleeged, but I'm not in the need of anything," said the Captain.
"Maybe Dougie--"

"No thanky," said the mate with equal emphasis; "I had a dram this week
already "--a remark so ridiculous that it left the engineer speechless.
He tapped his head significantly with a look at Sunny Jim, and the two of
them went ashore to dispose of the half-crown without the desired

Next day there was an auction sale in the village, and Para Handy and his
mate, without consulting each other, found themselves among the bidders.

"Were you fancyin' anything parteecular?" asked the Captain, who plainly
had an interest in a battered old eight-day clock.

"No, nothing to mention," said the mate, with an eye likewise on the
clock. "There's capital bargains here, I see, in crockery."

But the Captain seemed to have no need for crockery; he hung about an
hour or two till the clock was put to the hammer, and offered fifteen
shillings, thus completely discouraging a few of the natives who had
concealed the hands and weights of the clock, and hoped to secure the
article at the reasonable figure of about a crown. To the Captain's
surprise and annoyance, he found his mate his only competitor, and
between them they raised the price to thirty shillings, at which figure
it was knocked down to the Captain, who had it promptly placed on a
barrow and wheeled down to the quay.

"Were you desperate needin' a clock?" asked the mate, coming after him.

"I wass on the look-out for a clock like that for years," said the
Captain, apparently charmed with his possession.

"I'll give you five-and-thirty shillings for't," said the mate, but Para
Handy wasn't selling. He had the clock on board, and spent at least an
hour investigating its interior, with results that from his aspect seemed
thoroughly disappointing. He approached Dougie and informed him that he
had changed his mind, and was willing to hand over the clock for
five-and-thirty shillings. The bargain was eagerly seized by Dougie, who
paid the money and submitted his purchase to an examination even more
exhaustive than the Captain.

Half an hour later the engineer and Sunny Jim had to separate the Captain
and the mate, who were at each other's throats, the latter frantically
demanding back his money or a share of whatever the former had found
inside the clock.

"The man's daft," protested Para Handy; "the only thing that was in the
clock wass the works and an empty bottle."

"The Tarbert spae-wife said I would find a fortune in a clock like that,"
spluttered Dougie.

"Holy smoke! She said the same to me," confessed the Captain. "And did
she say that eatin' fish wass dangerous?"

"She did that," said the mate. "Did she tell you to keep your bed on the
first o' the month in case o' accidents?"

"Her very words!" said the Captain. "Did she tell you to beware o' a man
wi' black whiskers that came from Australia?" and he looked at the

"She told me he was my bitterest enemy," said the mate.

"And that's the way ye had the pick at me!" exclaimed the engineer.
"Ye're a couple o' Hielan' cuddies; man, I never wass nearer Australia
than the River Plate."

On the following day a clock went cheap at the head of the quay for
fifteen shillings, and the loss was amicably shared by Para Handy and his
mate, but any allusion to Tarbert Fair and fortune-telling has ever since
been bitterly resented by them both.


DOUGIE, the mate, had so long referred to his family album as a proof of
the real existence of old friends regarding whom he had marvellous
stories to tell, that the crew finally demanded its production. He
protested that it would be difficult to get it out of the house, as his
wife had it fair in the middle of the parlour table, on top of the Family

"Ye can ask her for the len' o't, surely," said the Captain. "There's
nobody goin' to pawn it on her. Tell her it's to show your shupmates what
a tipper she wass hersel' when she wass in her prime."

"She's in her prime yet," said the mate, with some annoyance.

"Chust that!" said Para Handy. "A handsome gyurl, I'm sure of it; but
every woman thinks she wass at her best before her husband mairried her.
Let you on that you were bouncin' aboot her beauty, and tell her the
enchineer wass dubious--"

"Don't drag me into't," said the engineer. "You micht hae married Lily
Langtry for a' I care; put the blame on the Captain; he's what they ca' a
connysure among the girls," a statement on which the Captain darkly
brooded for several days after.

The mate ultimately rose to the occasion, and taking advantage of a visit
by his wife to her good-sister, came on board one day with the album
wrapped in his oilskin trousers. It created the greatest interest on the
Vital Spark, and an admiration only marred by the discovery that the
owner was attempting to pass off a lithograph portrait of the late John
Bright as that of his Uncle Sandy.

"My mistake!" he said politely, when the engineer corrected him; "I
thocht it wass Uncle Sandy by the whuskers; when I look again I see he
hasna the breadth across the shouthers."

"Wha's this chap like a body-snatcher?" asked the engineer, turning over
another page of the album. "If I had a face like that I wad try and no'
keep mind o't."

"You're a body-snatcher yoursel'," said the mate warmly, "and that's my
advice to you. Buy specs, Macphail; you're spoilin' your eyes wi' readin'
them novelles."

"Holy smoke!" cried the Captain; "it's a picture o'yoursel', Dougie. Man!
what a heid o'hair!"

"I had a fair quantity," said the mate, passing his hand sadly over a
skull which was now as bare as a bollard. "I'm sure I don't ken what way
I lost it."

"Short bunks for sleepin' in," suggested the Captain kindly; "that's the
worst o' bein' a sailor."

"I tried everything, from paraffin oil to pumice-stone, but nothing did a
bit of good; it came oot in handfuls."

"I wad hae left her," said the engineer. "When a wife tak's her hands to
ye the law says ye can leave her and tak' the weans wi' ye."

"I see ye hae been consultin' the lawyers," retorted the mate readily;
"what way's your ear keepin' efter your last argument wi' the flet-iron?"
and Macphail retired in dudgeon to his engines.

Sunny Jim regarded Dougie's portrait thoughtfully. "Man!" he said, "if
the Petroloid Lotion had been invented in them days ye could hae had your
hair yet. That's the stuff! Fair champion! Rub it on the doorstep and ye
didna need to keep a bass. The hair mak's a difference, richt enough;
your face is jist the same's it used to be, but the hair in the photo
mak's ye twenty years younger. It's as nice a photo as ever I seed;
there's money in't."

"None o' your dydoes noo!" said the mate, remembering how Sunny Jim had
found money in the exploitation of the Tobermory whale. "If you think I
would make an exhibeetion o' my photygraph--"

"Exhibeetion my aunty!" exclaimed Sunny Jim. "Ye're no' an Edna May. But
I'll tell ye whit we could dae. Thae Petroloid Lotion folks is keen on
testimonials. A' ye hae to dae is to get Macphail to write a line for ye
saying ye lost yer hair in a biler explosion, and tried Petroloid, and it
brocht it back in a couple o' weeks. Get a photograph o' yersel' the way
ye are the noo and send it, and this yin wi' the testimonial, lettin' on
the new yin's the way ye looked immediately efter the explosion, and this
yin's the way ye look since ye took to usin' the lotion."

"Capital!" cried the Captain, slapping his knees. "For ingenuity you're
chust sublime, Jum."

"Sublime enough," said Dougie cautiously, "but I thocht you said there
wass money in it."

"So there is," said Sunny Jim. "The Petroloid Lotion folk'll gie ye a
pound or twa for the testimonial; I kent a chap that made his livin' oot
o' curin' himsel' o' diseases he never had, wi' pills he never saw except
in pictures. He was a fair don at desoribin' a buzzin' in the ear, a
dizzy heid, or a pain alang the spine o' his back, and was dragged back
frae the brink o' the grave a thoosand times, by his way o't, under a
different name every time. Macphail couldna touch him at a testimonial
for anything internal, but there's naething to hinder Macphail puttin' a
bit thegither aboot the loss and restoration o' Dougie's hair. Are ye
game, Dougie?"

The mate consented dubiously, and the engineer was called upon to indite
the requisite document, which took him a couple of evenings, on one of
which the mate was taken ashore at Rothesay and photographed in the
Captain's best blue pilot pea-jacket. The portraits and the testimonial
were duly sent to the address which was found in the advertisement of
Petroloid's Lotion for the Hair, a gentle hint being included that some
"recognition" would be looked for, the phrase being Sunny Jim's. Then the
crew of the Vital Spark resigned themselves to a patient wait of several
days for an acknowledgment.

Three weeks passed, and Sunny Jim's scheme was sadly confessed a failure,
for nothing happened, and the cost of the Rothesay photograph, which had
been jointly borne by the crew on the understanding that they were to
share alike in the products of it, was a subject of frequent and
unfeeling remarks from the engineer, who suggested that the mate had got
a remittance and said nothing about it. But one afternoon the Captain
picked up a newspaper, and turning, as was his wont, to the pictorial
part of it, gave an exclamation on beholding the two portraits of his
mate side by side in the midst of a Petroloid advertisement.

"Holy smoke! Dougie," he cried, "here you are ass large ass life like a
futbaal player or a man on his trial for manslaughter."

"Michty! iss that me?" said the mate incredulously. "I had no notion they
would put me in the papers. If I kent that I would never have gone in for
the ploy."

"Ye look guilty," said the engineer, scrutinising the blurred lineaments
of his shipmate in the newspaper. "Which is the explosion yin? The
testimonial's a' richt onyway; it's fine," and he read his own
composition with complete approval--

I unfortunately lost all my hair in a boiler explosion, and tried all the
doctors, but none of them could bring it back. Then I heard of your
wonderful Petroloid Lotion, and got a small bottle, which I rubbed in
night and morning as described. In a week there was a distinct
improvement. In a fortnight I had to have my head shorn twice, and now it
is as thick as ever it was. I will recommend your Lotion to all my
friends, and you are at liberty to make any use of this you
like.--(Signed) Dougald Campbell, Captain, Vital Spark,

"What's that?" cried Para Handy, jumping up. "Captain! who said he was

"The advertisement," said the engineer guiltily. "I never wrote 'captain
'; they've gone and shifted a lot o' things I wrote, and spiled the
grammar and spellin'. Fancy the way they spell distinck!"

A few days later a box was delivered on the Vital Spark which at first
was fondly supposed to be a case of whisky lost by somebody's mistake,
but was found on examination to be directed to the mate. It was opened
eagerly, and revealed a couple of dozen of the Petroloid specific, with a
letter containing the grateful acknowledgments of the manufacturers, and
expressing a generous hope that as the lotion had done so much to restore
their correspondent's hair, he would distribute the accompanying
consignments among all his bald-headed friends.

"Jum," said the Captain sadly, "when you're in the trum for makin' money
efter this, I'll advise you to tak' the thing in hand yoursel' and leave
us oot of it."


MACPHAIL the engineer sat on an upturned bucket reading the weekly paper,
and full of patriotic alarm at the state of the British Navy.

"What are you groanin' and sniffin' at?" asked the Captain querulously.
"I should think mysel' that by this time you would be tired o' Mrs
Atherton. Whatna prank iss she up to this time?"

"It's no' Mrs Atherton," said the reader; "it's something mair important;
it's the Germans."

"Holy smoke!" said Para Handy, "are they findin' them oot, noo? Wass I
not convinced there wass something far, far wrong wi' them? Break the
full parteeculars to me chently, Mac, and you, Jim, go and get the dinner
ready; you're far too young to hear the truth aboot the Chermans. Which
o' the Chermans iss it, Mac? Some wan in a good poseetion, I'll be bound!
It's a mercy that we're sailors; you'll no' find mich aboot the
wickedness o' sailors in the papers."

"The British Navy's a' to bleezes!" said Macphail emphatically. "Here's
Germany buildin' Dreadnought men-o'-war as hard's she can, and us
palaverin' awa' oor time."

Para Handy looked a little disappointed. "It's politics you're on," said
he; "and I wass thinkin' it wass maybe another aawful scandal in Society.
That's the worst o' the newspapers--you never know where you are wi'
them; a week ago it wass nothing but the high jeenks of the beauteous Mrs
Atherton. Do you tell me the Brutish Navy's railly done?"

"Complete!" said the engineer,

"Weel, that's a peety!" said Para Handy sympathetically; "it'll put a lot
o' smert young fellows oot o' jobs; I know a Tarbert man called Colin
Kerr that had a good poseetion on the Formidable. I'm aawful sorry aboot

The engineer resumed his paper, and the Vital Spark chug-chugged her
sluggish way between the Gantocks and the Cloch, with Dougie at the
wheel, his nether garments hung precariously on the half of a pair of
braces. "There's nothing but dull tred everywhere," said he. "They're
stoppin' a lot o' the railway steamers, too."

"The state o' the British Navy's mair important than the stoppage o' a
wheen passenger steamers," explained the engineer. "If you chaps read the
papers ye would see this country's in a bad poseetion. We used to rule
the sea----"

"We did that!" said the Captain heartily; "I've seen us doin' it!
Brutain's hardy sons!"

"And noo the Germans is gettin' the upper hand o' us; they'll soon hae
faur mair Dreadnoughts than we hae. We're only buildin' four. Fancy that!
Four Dreadnoughts at a time like this, wi' nae work on the Clyde, and us
wi' that few Territorials we hae to go to the fitba' matches and haul
them oot to jine by the hair o' the heid. We've lost the two-Power

"Man, it's chust desperate!" said the Captain. "We'll likely advertise
for't. What's the--what's the specialty aboot the Dreadnoughts?"

"It's the only cless o' man-o'-war that's coonted noo," said the
engineer; "a tip-top battle-winner.  If ye havena Dreadnoughts ye micht
as weel hae dredgers."

"Holy smoke! what a lot o' lumber aal the other men-o'-war must be!"
remarked the Captain. "That'll be the way they're givin' them up and
payin' off the hands."

"Wha said they were givin' them up?" asked the engineer snappishly.

"Beg pardon! beg pardon! I thocht I heard you mention it yon time I
remarked on Colin Kerr. I thocht that maybe aal the other boats wass
absolute, and we would see them next week lyin' in the Kyles o' Bute wi'
washin's hung oot on them."

"There's gaun to be nae obsolete boats in the British Navy efter this,"
said the engineer; "we're needin' every man-o'-war that'll baud
thegither. The Germans has their eye on us."

"Dougie," said the Captain firmly, with a glance at the deshabille of his
mate, "go doon this instant and put on your jecket! The way you are,
you're not a credit to the boat."

A terrific bang broke upon the silence of the Firth; the crew of the
Vital Spark turned their gaze with one accord towards the neighbourhood
of Kilcreggan, whence the report seemed to have proceeded, and were
frightfully alarmed a second or two afterwards when a shell burst on the
surface of the sea a few hundred yards or so from them, throwing an
enormous column of water into the air.

"What did I tell ye!" cried Macphail, as he dived below to his

"Holy smoke!" exclaimed Para Handy; "did ye notice anything, Dougie?"

"I think I did!" said the mate, considerably perturbed; "there must be
some wan blastin'."

"Yon wassna a blast," said the Captain; "they're firin' cannons at us
from Portkill."

"There's a pant for ye!" exclaimed Sunny Jim, dodging behind the funnel.

"What for would they be firin' cannons at us?" asked the mate, with a
ludicrous feeling that even the jacket advised a minute or two ago by the
Captain would now be a most desirable protection.

Another explosion from the fort at Portkill postponed the Captain's
answer, and this time the bursting shell seemed a little closer.

"Jim," said the mate appealingly, "would ye mind takin' baud o' this
wheel till I go down below and get my jacket? If I'm to be shot, I'll be
shot like a Hielan' chentleman and no' in my shirt-sleeves."

"You'll stay where you are!" exclaimed the Captain, greatly excited;
"you'll stay where you are, and die at your post like a Brutish sailor.
This iss WAR. Port her heid in for Macinroy's Point, Dougald, and you,
Macphail, put on to her every pound of steam she'll cairry. I wish to
Providence I had chust the wan wee Union Jeck."

"Whit would ye dae wi' a Union Jeck?" asked the engineer, putting up his
head and ducking nervously as another shot boomed over the Firth.

"I would nail it to the mast!" said Para Handy, buttoning his coat. "It
would show them Cherman chentlemen we're the reg'lar he'rts of oak."

"Ye don't think it's Germans that's firin', dae ye?" asked the engineer,
cautiously putting out his head again. "It's the Garrison Arteelery
that's firin' frae Portkill."

"Whit are the silly duvvles firin' at us for, then?" asked Para Handy;
"I'm sure we never did them any herm."

"I ken whit for they're firin'," said the engineer maliciously; "they're
takin' the Vital Spark for yin o' them German Dreadnoughts. Ye have nae
idea o' the fear o' daith that's on the country since it lost the
two-Power standard."

This notion greatly charmed the Captain, being distinctly complimentary
to his vessel; but his vanity was soon dispelled, for Sunny Jim pointed
out that the last shot had fallen far behind them, in proximity to a
floating target now for the first time seen. "They're jist at big-gun
practice," he remarked with some relief, "and we're oot o' the line o'

"Of course we are!" said Para Handy. "I kent that aal along. Man,
Macphail, but you were tumid, tumid! You're losin' aal your nerve wi'
readin' aboot the Chermans."


"I'M goin' doon below to put on my shippers," said the Captain, as the
vessel puffed her leisured way round Buttock Point; "keep your eye on the
Collingwood, an' no' run into her; it would terribly vex the Admirality."

The mate, with a spoke of the wheel in the small of his back, and his
hands in his trousers pockets, looked along the Kyles towards
Colintraive, and remarked that he wasn't altogether blind.

"I didna say you were," said the Captain; "I wass chust advisin'
caaution. You canna be too caautious,  and if anything would happen it's
mysel' would be the man responsible. Keep her heid a point away, an' no'
be fallin' asleep till I get my sluppers on; you'll mind you were up last
night pretty late in Tarbert."

Macphail, the engineer, projected a perspiring head from his engine-room,
and wiped his brow with a wad of oily waste. "Whit's the argyment?" he
asked. "Is this a coal-boat or a Convention o' Royal Burghs? I'm in the
middle o' a fine story in the 'People's Frien',' and I canna hear mysel'
readin' for you chaps barkin' at each other. I wish ye would talk wee."

Para Handy looked at him with a contemptuous eye, turned his back on him,
and confined his address to Dougie. "I'll never feel safe in the Kyles of
Bute," he said, "till them men-o'-war iss oot o' here. I'm feared for a

"There's no' much chance of a collusion wi' a boat like that," said the
mate, with a glance at the great sheer hulk of the discarded man-o'-war.

"You would wonder!" said Para Handy. "I haf seen a smert enough sailor
before now come into a collusion wi' the whole o' Cowal. And he wassna
tryin't either! Keep her off yet, Dougald."

With his slippers substituted for his sea-boots, the Captain returned on
deck, when the Collingwood was safely left astern; and, looking back,
watched a couple of fishermen culling mussels off the lower plates of the
obsolete ship of war. "They're a different cless of men aboot the Kyles
from what there used to be," said he, "or it wouldn't be only bait they
would be liftin' off a boat like that. If she wass there when Hurricane
Jeck wass in his prime, he would have the very cannons off her, sellin'
them for junk in Greenock.

"There's no' that hardy Brutish spirit in the boys that wass in't when
Hurricane Jeck and me wags on the Aggie."

"Tell us the baur," pleaded Sunny Jim, seated on an upturned bucket,
peeling the day's potatoes.

"It's not the only baur I could tell you about the same chentleman," said
the Captain, "but it's wan that shows you his remarkable agility. Gie me
a baud o' that wheel, Dougie; I may ass well be restin' my back ass you,
and me the skipper. To let you ken, Jum, Hurricane Jeck wass a perfect
chentleman, six feet two, ass broad in the back ass a shippin'-box, and
the very duvvle for contrivance. He wass a man that wass namely in the
clipper tred to China, and the Board o' Tred had never a hand on him; his
navigation wass complete. You know that, Dougie, don't you?"

"Whatever you say yoursel'," replied the mate agreeably, cutting himself
a generous plug of navy-blue tobacco. "I have nothing to say against the
chap--except that he came from Campbeltown."

"He sailed wi' me for three or four years on the Aggie," said the
Captain, "and a nicer man on a boat you wouldna meet, if you didna
contradict him-There wass nothing at aal against his moral character,
except that he always shaved himsel' on Sunday, whether he wass needin'
it or no'. And a duvvle for recreation! Six feet three, if he wass an
inch, and a back like a shippin'-box!"

"Where does the British spirit come in?" inquired the engineer, who was
forced to relinquish his story and join his mates.

"Hold you on, and I'll tell you that," said Para Handy. "We were lyin'
wan winter night at Tighnabruaich wi' a cargo o' stones for a place they
call Glen Caladh, that wass buildin' at the time, and we wanted a bit o'
rope for something in parteecular--I think it wass a bit of a net. There
wass lyin' at Tighnabruaich at the time a nice wee steamer yat belonging
to a chentleman in Gleska that was busy at his business, and nobody wass
near her. 'We'll borrow a rope for the night from that nice wee yat,'
said Hurricane Jeck, as smert as anything, and when it wass dark he took
the punt and went off and came back wi' a rope that did the business.
'They havena much sense o' ropes that moored that boat in the Kyles,'
said he; 'they had it flemished down and nate for liftin'. They must be
naval architects.' The very next night did Jeck no' take the punt again
and go oot to the wee steam-yat, and come back wi' a couple o'
india-rubber basses and a weather-gless?"

"Holy smoke!" said Dougie. "Wasn't that chust desperate?"

"We were back at Tighnabruaich a week efter that," continued Para Handy,
"and Jeck made some inquiries. Nobody had been near the wee steam-yat,
though the name o' her in the Gaalic was the Eagle, and Jeck made oot it
wass a special dispensation. 'The man that owned her must be deid,' said
he, 'or he hasna his wuts aboot him; I'll take a turn aboard the night
wi' a screw-driver, and see that all's in order.' He came back that night
wi' a bag o' cleats, a binnacle, half a dozen handy blocks, two dozen o'
empty bottles, and a quite good water-breaker.

"'They may call her the Eagle if they like,' says he, 'but I call her the
Silver Mine. I wish they would put lights on her; I nearly broke my neck
on the cabin stairs.'

"'Mind you, Jeck,' I says to him,' I don't ken anything aboot it. If
you're no' comin' by aal them things honest, it'll give the Aggie a bad

"'It's aal right, Peter,' says he, quite kind. 'Flotsam and jetsam; if
you left them there, you don't ken who might lift them!' Oh, a smert,
smert sailor, Jeck! Six feet four in his stockin's soles, and a back like
a couple o' shippin'-boxes."

"He's gettin' on!" remarked the engineer sarcastically. "I'm gled I wasna
his tailor."

"The Glen Caladh job kept us comin' and goin' aal winter," pursued the
Captain, paying no attention. "Next week we were back again, and Jeck had
a talk with the polisman at Tighnabruaich aboot the lower clesses. Jeck
said the lower clesses up in Gleska were the worst you ever saw; they
would rob the wheels off a railway train. The polisman said he could weel
believe it, judgin' from the papers, but, thank the Lord! there wass only
honest folk in the Kyles of Bute. 'It's aal right yet,' said Jeck to me
that night; 'the man that owns the Silver Mine's in the Necropolis, and
never said a word aboot the wee yat in his will.' In the mornin' I saw a
clock, a couple o' North Sea charts, a trysail, a galley-stove, two
kettles, and a nice decanter lyin' in the hold.

"'Jeck,' I says, 'is this a flittin'?"

"'I'll not deceive you, Peter,' he says, quite honest, 'it's a gift'; and
he sold the lot on Setturday in Greenock."

"A man like that deserves thejyie," said the engineer indignantly.

"I wouldna caal it aalthegither fair horny," admitted the Captain,
"parteeculariy as the rest of us never got more than a schooner o' beer
or the like o't oot of it; but, man! you must admit the chap's agility!
He cairried the business oot single-handed, and there wass few wass
better able; he wass six feet six, and had a back on him like a
Broomielaw shed. The next time we were in the Kyles, and he went off wi'
the punt at night, he came back from the Silver Mine wi' her bowsprit,
twenty faddom o' chain, two doors, and half a dozen port-holes."

"Oh, to bleezes!" exclaimed Sunny Jim incredulously, "noo you're coddin'!
What wye could he steal her port-holes?"

"Quite easy!" said Para Handy. "I didna say he took the holes themsel's,
but he twisted off the windows and the brass aboot them. You must mind
the chap's agility! And that wassna the end of it, for next time the
Aggie left the Kyles she had on board a beautiful vernished dinghy, a
couple o' masts, no' bad, and a fine brass steam-yat funnel."

"Holy smoke!" said Dougie; "it's a wonder he didna strip the lead off

"He had it in his mind," exclaimed the Captain; "but, mind, he never
consulted me aboot anything, and I only kent, as you might say, by
accident, when he would be standin' me another schooner. It wass aalways
a grief to Jeck that he didna take the boat the way she wass, and sail
her where she would be properly appreciated. 'My mistake, chaps!' he
would say; 'I might have kent they would miss the masts and funnel!'"


MACPHAIL was stoking carefully and often, like a mother feeding her first
baby; keeping his steam at the highest pressure short of blowing off the
safety valve, on which he had tied a pig-iron bar; and driving the Vital
Spark for all she was worth past Cowal. The lighter's bluff bows were
high out of water, for she was empty, and she left a wake astern of her
like a liner.

"She hass a capital turn of speed when you put her to it," said the
Captain, quite delighted; "it's easy seen it's Setturday, and you're in a
hurry to be home, Macphail. You're passin' roond that oil-can there the
same ass if it wass a tea-pairty you were at, and nobody there but women.
It's easy seen it wass a cargo of coals we had the last trip, and there's
more in your bunkers than the owner paid for. But it's none o' my
business; please yoursel'!"

"We'll easy be at Bowlin' before ten," said Dougie, consulting his watch.
"You needna be so desperate anxious."

The engineer mopped himself fretfully with a fistful of oily waste and
shrugged his shoulders. "If you chaps like to palaver awa' your time,"
said he, "it's all the same to me, but I was wantin' to see the end o'
the racin'."

"Whatna racin'?" asked the Captain.

"Yat-racin'," said the engineer, with irony. "Ye'll maybe hae heard o't.
If ye havena, ye should read the papers. There's a club they ca' the
Royal Clyde at Hunter's Quay, and a couple o' boats they ca' the Shamrock
and the White Heather are sailin' among a wheen o' ithers for a cup. I
wouldna care if I saw the feenish; you chaps ncedna bother; just pull
doon the slaps o' your keps on your e'en when ye pass them, and ye'll no'
see onything."

"I don't see much in aal their yat-racin'," said Para Handy.

"If I was you, then, I would try the Eye Infirmary," retorted the
engineer, "or wan o' them double-breisted spy-glesses. Yonder the boats;
we're in lots o' time----" and he dived again among his engines, and they
heard the hurried clatter of his shovel.

"Anything wi' Macphail for sport!" remarked the Captain sadly. "You would
think at his time o' life, and the morn Sunday, that his meditaations
would be different.... Give her a point to starboard, Dougie, and we'll
tee them better. Vender's the Ma'oona; if the duvvle wass wise he would
put aboot at wance or he'll hit that patch o' calm."

"There's an aawful money in them yats!" said the mate, who was at the

"I never could see the sense o't," remarked the Captain.... "There's the
Hero tacking; man, she's smert! smert! Wan o'them Coats's boats; I wish
she would win; I ken a chap that plays the pipes on her."

Dougie steered as close as he could on the racing cutters with a
sportsman's scrupulous regard for wind and water. "What wan's that?" he
asked, as they passed a thirty-rater which had struck the calm.

"That's the Pallas," said the Captain, who had a curiously copious
knowledge of the craft he couldn't see the sense of. "Another wan o' the
Coats's; every other wan you see belongs to Paisley. They buy them by the
gross, the same ass they were pims, and distribute them every noo and
then among the faimely. If you're a Coats you lose a lot o' time makin'
up your mind what boat you'll sail to-morrow; the whole o' the Clyde
below the Tail o' the Bank is chock-a-block wi' steamboat-yats and
cutters the Coats's canna hail a boat ashore from to get a sail, for they
canna mind their names. Still-and-on, there's nothing wrong wi'
them--tip-top aportin' chentlcmen!"

"I sometimes wish, mysel', I had taken to the yats," said Dougie; "it's a
suit or two o' clothes in the year, and a pleasant occupaation. Most o'
the time in canvas shippers."

"You're better the way you are," said Para Handy; "there's nothing bates
the mercantile marine for makin' sailors. Brutain's hardy sons! We could
do withoot yats, but where would we be withoot oor coal-boats? Look at
them chaps sprauchlin' on the deck; if they saw themsel's they would see
they want another fut on that main-sheet. I wass a season or two in the
yats mysel'--the good old Marjory. No' a bad job at aal, but aawful
hurried. Holy smoke! the way they kept you jumpin' here and there the
time she would be racin'! I would chust as soon be in a lawyer's office.
If you stopped to draw your breath a minute you got yon across the ear
from a swingin' boom. It's a special breed o' sailor-men you need for
racin'-yats, and the worst you'll get iss off the Islands."

"It's a cleaner job at any rate than carryin' coals," remarked the mate,
with an envious eye on the spotless decks of a heeling twenty-tonner.

"Clean enough, I'll alloo, and that's the worst of it," said Para Handy.
"You might ass wcel be a chamber-maid--up in the momin' scourin' brass
and scrubbin' floors, and goin' ashore wi' a fancy can for sixpenceworth
o' milk and a dozen o' syphon soda. Not much navigation there, my
lad!...If I wass that fellow I would gybe her there and set my spinnaker
to starboard; what do you think yoursel', Macphail?"

"I thocht you werena interested," said the engineer, who had now reduced
his speed.

"I'm not much interested, but I'm duvellish keen," said Para Handy. "Keep
her goin' chust like that, Macphail; we'll soon be up wi' the Shamrock
and the Heather; they're yonder off Loch Long."

A motor-boat regatta was going on at Dunoon; the Vital Spark seemed
hardly to be moving as some of the competitors flashed past her,
breathing petrol fumes.

"You canna do anything like that," said Dougie to the engineer, who

"No," said Macphail contemptuously, "I'm an engineer; I never was much o'
a hand at the sewin'-machine. I couldna lower mysel' to handle engines ye
could put in your waistcoat pocket."

"Whether you could or no'," said Para Handy, "the times iss changin', and
the motor-launch iss coming for to stop."

"That's whit she's aye daein'," retorted the engineer; "stoppin's her
strong p'int; gie me a good substantial compound engine; nane o' your
hurdy-gurdies! I wish the wind would fresh a bit, for there's the
Shamrock, and her mainsail shakin'." He dived below, and the Vital Spark
in a little had her speed reduced to a crawl that kept her just abreast
of the drifting racers.

"Paddy's hurricane--up and doon the mast," said Dougie in a tone of
disappointment. "I would like,  mysel', to see Sir Thomas Lipton winnin',
for it's there I get my tea."

Para Handy extracted a gully-knife from the depths of his trousers
pockets, opened it, spat on the blade for luck, and, walking forward,
stuck it in the mast, where he left it. "That's the way to get wind,"
said he; "many a time I tried it, and it never fails. Stop you, and
you'll see a breeze immediately. Them English skippers, Sycamore and
Bevis, havena the heid to think o't."

"Whit's the use o' hangin' on here?" said the engineer, with a wink at
Dougie; "it's time we were up the river; I'll better get her under weigh

The Captain turned on him with a flashing eye. "You'll do nothing o' the
kind, Macphail," said he; "we'll stand by here and watch the feenish, if
it's any time before the Gleska Fair."

Shamrock, having split tacks off Kilcreggan, laid away to the west, while
White Heather stood in for the Holy Loch, seeking the evening breeze that
is apt to blow from the setting sun. It was the crisis of the day, and
the crew of the Vital Spark watched speechlessly for a while the yachts
manoeuvring. For an hour the cutter drifted on this starboard leg, and
Sunny Jim, for reasons of his own, postponed the tea.

"It wants more knifes," said Para Handy; "have you wan, Dougie?" but
Dougie had lost his pocket-knife a week ago, and the engineer had none

"If stickin' knifes in the mast would raise the wind," said Sunny Jim,
"there would be gales by this time, for I stuck the tea-knife in an oor

"Never kent it to fail afore!" said Para Handy.... "By George! it's
comin'. Yonder's Bevis staying!"

White Heather, catching the wind, reached for the closing lap of the race
with a bone in her mouth, and Para Handy watched her, fascinated,
twisting the buttons off his waistcoat in his intense excitement. With a
turn or two of the wheel the mate put the Vital Spark about and headed
for the mark; Macphail deserted his engine and ran forward to the bow.

"The Heather hass it, Dougald," said the Captain thankfully; "I'm vexed
for you, considerin' the place you get your tea."

"Hold you on, Peter," said the mate; "there's the Shamrock fetchin'; a
race is no' done till it's feenished." His hopes were justified.
Shamrock, only a few lengths behind, got the same light puff of wind in
her sails, and rattled home a winner by half a minute.

"Macphail!" bawled the Captain, "I'll be much obleeged if you take your
place again at your bits of engines, and get under weigh; it's any excuse
wi' you for a diversion, and it's time we werena here."


IN a silver-grey fog that was not unpleasant, the Vital Spark lay at
Tarbert quay, and Dougie read a belated evening paper.

"Desperate fog on the Clyde!" he said to his shipmates; "we're the lucky
chaps that's here and oot o't! It hasna lifted in Gleska for two days,
and there's any amount o' boats amissin' between the Broomielaw and

"Tck! tck! issn't that deplorable?" said the Captain. "Efter you wi' the
paper, Dougald. It must be full o' accidents."

"The Campbeltown boat iss lost since Setturday, and they're lookin' for
her wi' lanterns up and doon the river. I hope she hassna many
passengers; the poor sowls'll be stervin'."

"Duvvle the fear!" said Para Handy; "not on the Campbeltown boat ass long
ass she has her usual cargo. I would sooner be lost wi' a cargo o'
Campbeltown for a week than spend a month in wan o' them hydropathics."

"Two sailors went ashore at Bowlin' from the Benmore, and they havena
been heard of since," proceeded the mate; "they couldna find their way
back to the ship."

"And what happened then?" asked Para Handy.

"Nothing," replied the mate. "That's all; they couldna find their way

"Holy smoke!" reflected Para Handy, with genuine surprise; "they're
surely ill off for news in the papers nooadays; or they must have a poor
opeenion o' sailor-mep. They'll be thinkin' they should aalways be

The Captain got the paper to read for himself a little later, and
discovered that the missing Benmore men had not lost themselves in the
orthodox sailor way, but were really victims of the fog, and his heart
went out to them. "I've seen the same thing happen to mysel'," he
remarked. "It wass the time that Hurricane Jeck and me wass on the Julia.
There wass a fog come on us wan time there so thick you could almost cut
it up and sell it for briquettes."

"Help!" exclaimed Macphail.

"Away, you, Macphail, and study your novelles; what way's Lady Fitzgerald
gettin' on in the chapter you're at the noo? It's a wonder to me you're
no' greetin'," retorted the Captain; and this allusion to the sentimental
tears of the engineer sent him down, annoyed, among his engines.

"It wass a fog that lasted near a week, and we got into it on a Monday
mornin' chust below the Cloch. We were makin' home for Gleska. We
fastened up to the quay at Gourock, waitin' for a change, and the thing
that vexed us most wass that Hurricane Jeck and me wass both invited for
that very night to a smaal tea-perty oot in Kelvinside."

"It's yoursel' wass stylish!" said the mate. "It must have been before
you lost your money in the City Bank."

"It wassna style at aal, but a Cowal gyurl we knew that wass cook to a
chentleman in Kelvinside, and him away on business in Liverpool,"
explained the Captain. "Hurricane Jeck wass in love wi' the gyurl at the
time, and her name wass Bella. 'This fog'll last for a day or two,' said
Jeck in the efternoon; 'it's apeety to lose the ploy at Bella's party.'

"'What would you propose, yoursel'?' I asked him, though I wass the
skipper. I had aye a great opeenion o' Hurricane Jeck's agility.

"'What's to hinder us takin' the train to Gleska, and leavin' the Julia
here?' said Jeck, ass smert ass anything. 'There's nobody goin' to run
away wi' her.'

"Jeck and me took the train for Gleska, and left the enchineer--a chap
Macnair--in full command o' the vessel. I never could trust a man o' the
name o' Macnair from that day on.

"It wass a splendid perty, and Jeck wass chust sublime. I never partook
in a finer perty--two or three hens, a pie the size o' a binnacle, and
wine!--the wine was chust miraculous. Bella kept it comin' in in
quantities. The coalman wass there, and the letter-carrier, and the man
that came for the grocer's orders, and there wassna a gas in the hoose
that wassna bleezin'. You could see that Hurricane Jeck had his he'rt on
makin' everybody happy. It wass him that danced the hornpipe on the
table, and mostly him that carried the piano doon the stair to the
dinin'-room. He fastened a clothes-line aft on the legs o' her, laid doon
a couple o' planks, and slided her. 'Tail on to the rope, my laads!' says
he, 'and I'll go in front and steady her.' But the clothes-rope broke,
and the piano landed on his back. He never had the least suspeecion, but
cairried her doon the rest o' the stair himsel', and put her in
poseetion. And efter a' oor bother there wass nobody could play. 'That's
the worst o' them fore-and-aft pianos!' said Jeck, ass vexed ass
anything; 'they're that much complicated!'

"We were chust in the middle o' the second supper, and Bella wass
bringin' in cigars, when her maister opened the door wi' his chubb, and
dandered in! There wassna a train for Liverpool on account o' the fog!"

"'What's this?' says he, and Bella nearly fainted.

"'It's Miss Maclachlan's birthday'--meanin' Bella--answered Jeck, ass
nice ass possible. 'You're chust in the nick o' time,' and he wass goin'
to introduce the chentleman, for Jeck wass a man that never forgot his

"'What's that piano doin' there? 'the chentleman asked, quite furious.

"'You may weel ask that,' said Jeck, 'for aal the use it iss, we would be
better wi' a concertina,' and Bella had to laugh.

"'I've a good mind to send for the polls,' said her maister.

"'You needna bother,' said Bella; 'he's comin' anyway, ass soon ass he's
off his bate and shifted oot o' his uniform,' and that wass the only
intimation and invitation Hurricane Jeck ever got that Bella wass goin'
to mairry Macrae the polisman.

"We spent three days in the fog in Gleska, and aal oor money," proceeded
Para Handy, "and then, 'It's time we were back on the hooker,' said
Hurricane Jeck; 'I can mind her name; it's the Julia.'

"'It's no' so much her name that bothers me,' says I; 'it's her latitude
and longitude; where in aal the world did we leave her?'

"'Them pink wines!' said Jeck. 'That's the rock we split on, Peter! The
fog would never have lasted aal this time if we had taken Brutish

"It wass chust luck we found the half o' a railway ticket in Jeck's
pocket, and it put us in mind that we left the boat at Gourock. We took
the last train doon, and landed there wi' the fog ass bad ass ever; ay,
worse! it wass that thick noo, it wassna briquettes you would make wi't,
but marble nocks and mantelpieces.

"'We left the Julia chust fornenst this shippin'-box,' said Jeck, on
Gourock quay, and, sure enough, there wass the boat below, and a handy
ladder. Him and me went doon the ladder to the deck, and whustled on
Macnair. He never paid the least attention.

"'He'll be in his bed,' said Jeck; 'gie me a ha'ad o' a bit o' marlin'.'

"We went doon below and found him sleepin' in the dark; Jeck took a bit'
o' the marlin', and tied him hands and feet, and the two o' us went to
bed, ass tired ass anything, wi' oor boots on. You never, never, never
saw such fog!

"Jeck wass the first to waken in the mornin', and he struck a match.

"'Peter,' said he, quite solemn, when it went oot, 'have we a stove wi'
the name Eureka printed on the door?

"'No, nor Myreeka,' says I; 'there's no' a door at aal on oor stove, and
fine ye ken it!'

"He lay a while in the dark, sayin' nothing, and then he struck another
match. 'Is Macnair red-heided, do you mind?' says he when the match went

"'Ass black ass the ace o' spades!' says I.

"'That wass what wass runnin' in my own mind,' said Jeck; 'but I thocht I
maybe wass mistaken. WE'RE IN OOR BED IN THE WRONG BOAT!'

"And we were! We lowsed the chap and told him right enough it wass oor
mistake, and gave him two or three o' Bella's best cigars, and then we
went ashore to look for the Julia. You never saw such fog! And it wass
Friday momin'.

"'Where's the Julia?' we asked the harbour-maister. 'Her!' says he; 'the
enchineer got tired waitin' on ye, and got a couple o' quayheid chaps and
went crawlin' up the river wi' the tide on We'nesday!'

"So Hurricane Jeck and me lost more than oorsel's in the fog; we lost oor
jobs," concluded Para Handy. "Never put your trust in a man Macnair!"


There was something, plainly, weighing on Dougie's mind; he let his tea
get cold, and merely toyed with his kippered herring; at intervals he
sighed--an unsailor-like proceeding which considerably annoyed the
engineer, Macphail.

"Whit's the maitter wi' ye?" he querulously inquired. "Ye would think it
was the Fast, to hear ye. Are ye ruein' your misspent life?"

"Never you mind Macphail," advised the Captain; "a chentleman should
aalways hev respect for another chentleman in tribulation. What way's the
mustress, Dougald?" He held a large tablespoonful of marmalade suspended
in his hand, while he put the question with genuine solicitude; Dougie's
wife was the very woman, he knew, to have something or other seriously
wrong with her just when other folk were getting into a nice and jovial
spirit for New Year.

"Oh, she's fine, thanky, Peter," said the mate; "there's nothing spashial
wrong wi' her except, noo and then, the rheumatism."

"She should aalways keep a raw potato in her pocket," said Para Handy;
"it's the only cure."

"She micht as weel keep a nutmeg-grater in her coal-bunker," remarked the
engineer. "Whit wye can a raw potato cure the rheumatism?"

"It's the--it's the influence," explained Para Handy vaguely. "Look at
them Vibrators! But you'll believe in nothing, Macphail, unless you read
aboot it in wan o' them novelles; you're chust an unfidel!" Dougie sighed
again, and the engineer, protesting that his meal had been spoiled for
him by his shipmate's melancholy, hurriedly finished his fifth cup of tea
and went on deck. There were no indications that it was Christmas Eve;
two men standing on the quay were strictly sober. Crarae is still a place
where they thoroughly celebrate the Old New Year after a first rehearsal
with the statutory one.

"If you're not feelin' very brusk you should go to your bed, Dougie,"
remarked the Captain sympathetically. "The time to stop trouble iss
before it starts."

"There's nothing wrong wi' me," the mate assured him sadly; "we're weel
off, livin' on the fat o' the land, and some folk stervin'."

"We are that!" agreed Para Handy, helping himself to Dougie's second
kipper. "Were you thinkin' of any wan parteecular?"

"Did you know a quarryman here by the name o' Col Maclachlan?" asked the
mate, and Para Handy, having carefully reflected, confessed he didn't.

"Neither did I," said Dougie; "but he died a year ago and left a weedow
yonder, and the only thing that's for her iss the poorshouse at

"Holy smoke!" exclaimed the Captain; "isn't that chust desperate! If it
wass a cargo of coals we had this trip, we might be givin' her a pickle,
but she couldna make mich wi' a bag o' whinstones."

"They tell me she's goin' to start and walk tomorrow momin' to
Lochgilpheid, and she's an old done woman. She says she would be
affronted for to go in the Cygnet or the Minard, for every one on board
would ken she was goin' to the poorshouse."

"Oh, to the muschief!" said Para Handy; "Macphail wass right--a body
might ass weel be at a funeral ass in your company, and it conu'n' on to
the New Year!" He fled on deck from this doleful atmosphere in the
fo'c'sle, but came down again in a minute or two. "I wass thinkin' to
mysel'," he remarked with diffidence to the mate, "that if the poor old
body would come wi' us, we could give her a lift to Ardrishaig; what do
you say?"

"Whatever you say yoursel'," said the mate; "but we would need to be
aawfu' careful o' her feelin's, and she wouldna like to come doon the
quay unless it wass in the dark."

"We'll start at six o'clock, then," said the Captain, "if you'll go
ashore the now and make arrangements, and you needna bother aboot her
feelin's; we'll handle them like gless."

As an alternative to walking to the poorhouse, the sail to Loohgilphead
by the Vital Spark was quite agreeable to the widow, who turned up at the
quay in the morning quite alone, too proud even to take her neighbours
into her confidence. Para Handy helped her on board and made her

"You're goin' to get a splendid day!" he assured her cheerfully. "Dougie,
iss it nearly time for oor cup o' tea?"

"It'll be ready in a meenute," said Dougie, with delightful promptness,
and went down to rouse Sunny Jim.

"We aalways have a cup o' tea at six o'clock on the Fital Spark," the
Captain informed the widow, with a fluency that astonished even the
engineer. "And an egg; sometimes two. Jum'll boil you an egg."

"I'm sure I'm an aawful bother to you!" protested the poor old widow

"Bother!" said Para Handy; "not the slightest! The tea's there anyway.
And the eggs. Efter that we'll have oor breakfast."

"I'll be a terrible expense to you," said the unhappy widow; and Para
Handy chuckled jovially.

"Expense! Nonsense, Mrs Maclachlan! Everything's paid for here by the
owners; we're allooed more tea and eggs and things than we can eat. I'll
be thinkin' mysel' it's a sin the way we hev to throw them sometimes over
the side "--at which astounding effort of the imagination Macphail
retired among his engines and relieved his feelings by a noisy
application of the coaling shovel.

"I have the money for my ticket," said the widow, fumbling nervously for
her purse.

"Ticket!" said Para Handy, with magnificent alarm. "If the Board o' Tred
heard o' us chergin' money for a passage in the Fital Spark, we would
never hear the end o't; it would cost us oor certuficate."

The widow enjoyed her tea immensely, and Para Handy talked incessantly
about everything and every place but Lochgilphead, while the Vital Spark
chug-chugged on her fateful way down Loch Fyne to the poorhouse.

"Did you know my man?" the woman suddenly asked, in an interval which
even Para Handy's wonderful eloquence couldn't fill up.

"Iss it Col Maclachlan?" he exclaimed. "Fine! me'm; fine! Col and me wass
weel acquent; it wass that that made me take the liberty to ask you.
There wass never a finer man in Argyllshire than poor Col--a regular
chentleman! I mind o' him in the--in the quarry. So do you, Dougie,
didn't you?"

"I mind o' him caapital!" said Dougie, without a moment's hesitation.
"The last time I saw him he lent me half-a-croon, and I never had the
chance to pay him't back."

"I think mysel', if I mind right, it wass five shullin's," suggested Para
Handy, putting his hand in his trousers pocket, with a wink to his mate,
and Dougie quickly corrected himself; it WAS five shillings, now that he
thought of it. But having gone aside for a little and consulted the
engineer and Sunny Jim, he came back and said it was really

"There wass other three-and-six I got the lend o' from him another time,"
he said; "I could show you the very place it happened, and I wass nearly
forgettin' aal aboot it."

"My! ye're an awfu' leear!" said the engineer in a whisper as they stood

"Maybe I am," agreed the mate; "but did you ever, ever, ever hear such a
caapital one ass the Captain?"

Sunny Jim had no sooner got the dishes cleaned from this informal meal
than Para Handy went to him and commanded a speedy preparation of the

"Right-oh!" said Sunny Jim; "I'll be able to tak' a job as a chef in yin
o' thae Cunarders efter this. But I've naething else than tea and eggs."

"Weel, boil them!" said the Captain. "Keep on boilin' them! Things never
look so black to a woman when she can get a cup o' tea, and an egg or
two'll no' go wrong wi' her. Efter that you'll maybe give us a tune on
your melodeon--something nice and cheery, mind; none o' your laments;
they're no' the thing at aal for a weedow woman goin' to the poorshouse."

It was a charming day; the sea was calm; the extraordinary high spirits
of the crew of the Vital Spark appeared to be contagious, and the widow
confessed she had never enjoyed a sail so much since the year she had
gone with Col on a trip to Rothesay.

"It's five-and-thirty years ago, and I never wass there again," she
added, just a little sadly.

"Faith, you should come wi' us to Ro'say," said the Captain genially, and
then regretted it.

"I canna," said the poor old body; "I'll never see Ro'say again, for I'm
goin' to Lochgilphead."

"And you couldna be goin' to a nicer place!" declared Para Handy.
"Lochgilpheid's chust sublime! Dougie himsel''ll tell you!"

"Salubrious!" said the mate. "And forbye, it's that healthy!"

"There wass nothing wrong wi' Crarae," said the widow pathetically, and
Sunny Jim came to the rescue with another pot of tea.

"Many a time I'll be thinking to mysel' yonder that if I had a little
money bye me, I would spend the rest o' my days in Lochgilpheid," said
Para Handy. "You never saw a cheerier place--"

"Crarae wass very cheery, too--in the summer time--when Col wass livin',"
said the widow.

"Oh, but there's an aawful lot to see aboot Lochgilpheid; that's the
place for Life!" said Para Handy. "And such nice walks; there's--there's
the road to Kilmartin, and Argyll Street, full o' splendid shops; and the
steamers comin' to Ardrishaig, and every night the mail goes bye to
Crarae and Inveraray "--here his knowledge of Lochgilphead's charms began
to fail him.

"I didna think it would be so nice ass that," said the widow, less
dispiritedly. "I forgot aboot the mail; I'll aye be seem' it passin' to

"Of course you will!" said Para Handy gaily; "that's a thing I wouldna
miss, mysel'. And any time you take the notion, you'll can take a drive
in the mail to Crarae if the weather's suitable."

"I would like it fine!" said the widow; "but--but maybe they'll no' let
me. You would hear--you would hear where I wass goin' in Lochgilpheid?"

"I never heard a word!" protested Para Handy. "That minds me--will you
have another egg? Jum, boil another egg for Mrs Maclachlan!"

"You hev been very kind," said the widow gratefully, as the Vital Spark
came into Ardrishaig pier; "you couldna hev been kinder."

"I'm sorry you have to waalk to Lochgilpheid," said the Captain.

"Oh, I'm no' that old but I can manage the waalk," she answered; "I'm
only seventy."

"Seventy!" said Para Handy, with genuine surprise; "I didna think you
would be anything like seventy."

"I'll be seventy next Thursday," said the widow, and Para Handy whistled.

"And what in the world are you goin' to Lochgilpheid for?--the last place
on God's earth, next to London. Efter Thursday next you'll can get your
five shillin's a week in Crarae."

"Five shillin's a week in Crarae!" said the widow mournfully; "I hope
I'll be ass weel off ass that when I get to heaven!"

"Then never mind aboot heaven the noo," said Para Handy, clapping her on
the back; "go back to Crarae wi' the Minard, and you'll get your pension
regular every week--five shillin's."

"My pension!" said the widow, with surprise. "Fancy me wi' a pension; I
never wass in the Airmy."

"Did nobody ever tell you that you wass entitled to a pension when they
knew you were needin't?" asked the Captain, and the widow bridled.

"Nobody knew that I wass needin' anything," she exclaimed; "I took good
care o' that."

Late that evening Mrs Maclachlan arrived at Crarae in the Minard Castle
with a full knowledge for the first time of her glorious rights as an
aged British citizen, and the balance of 8s. 6d. forced upon her by the
mate, who had so opportunely remembered that he was due that sum to the
lamented Col.


Even the captain of a steam lighter may feel the cheerful, exhilarating
influence of spring, and Para Handy, sitting on an upturned pail, with
his feet on a coil of rope, beiked himself in the sun and sang like a
Untie--a rather croupy Untie. The song he sang was:

"Blow ye winds aye-oh!
For it's roving I will go,
I'll stay no more on England's shore,
So let the music play.
I'm off by the morning train,
Across the raging main,
I have booked a trup wi' a Government shup,
Ten thousand miles away."

"Who's that greetin'?" asked the engineer maliciously, sticking his head
out of the engine-room.

The Captain looked at him with contempt. "Nobody's greetin'," he said.
"It's a thing you don't know anything at aal about; it's music. Away and
read your novelles. What way's Lady Fitzgerald gettin' on wi' her new

The engineer hastily withdrew.

"That's the way to settle him," said the Captain to Dougie and Sunny Jim.
"Short and sweet! I could sing him blin'. Do ye know the way it iss that
steamboat enchineers is aalways doon in the mooth like that? It's the
want o' nature. They never let themselves go. Poor duvvils, workin' away
among their bits o' enchines, they never get the wind and the sun aboot
them right the same ass us seamen. If I wass always doon in a hole like
that place o' Macphail's dabbin' my face wi' an oily rag aal day, I would
maybe be ass ugly ass himsel'. Man, I'm feelin'fine! There's nothing like
the spring o' the year, when you can get it like this. It's chust
sublime! I'm feelin' ass strong ass a lion. I could pull the mast oot o'
the boat and bate Brussels carpets wi' it."

"We'll pay for this yet," said Sunny Jim. "Ye'll see it'll rain or snow
before night. What do ye say, Dougie?"

"Whatever ye think yoursel'," said Dougie.

"At this time o' the year," said the Captain, "I wish I wass back in
MacBrayne's boats. The Fital Spark iss a splendid shup, the best in the
tred, but there's no diversion. I wass the first man that ever pented the
Maids o' Bute."

"Ye don't tell me!" exclaimed Dougie incredulously.

"I wass that," said Para Handy, as modestly as possible. "I'm not sayin'
it for a bounce; the job might have come anybody's way, but I wass the
man that got it. I wass a hand on the Inveraray Castle at the time. The
Captain says to me wan day we were passin' the Maids--only they werena
the Maids then; they hadna their clothes on--'Peter, what do you think o'
them two stones on the hull-side?"

"'They'll be there a long while before they're small enough to pap at
birds wi,' says I.

"'But do they no' put ye desperate in mind o' a couple o' weemen?' said

"'Not them!' say I. 'I have been passin' here for fifteen years, and I
never heard them taalkin' yet. If they were like weemen what would they
be sittin' waitin' there for so long, and no' a man on the whole o' this
side o' Bute?'

"'Ay, but it's the look o' them,' said the Captain. 'If ye stand here and
shut wan eye, they'll put ye aawfu' in mind o' the two MacFadyen gyurls
up in Penny-more. I think we'll chust christen them the Maids o' Bute.'

"Well, we aalways caaled them the Maids o' Bute efter that, and pointed
them oot to aal the passengers on the steamers. Some o' them said they
were desperate like weemen, and others said they were chust like two big
stones. The Captain o' the Inveraray Castle got quite wild at some
passengers that said they werena a bit like weemen. 'That's the worst o'
them English towerists,' he would say. 'They have no imachination. I
could make myself believe them two stones wass a regiment o' sodgers if I
put my mind to't. I'm sure the towerists might streetch a point the same
ass other folk, and keep up the amusement.'

"Wan day the skipper came to me and says, 'Are ye on for a nice holiday,
Peter?' It wass chust this time o' the year and weather like this, and I
wass feelin' fine.

"'No objections,' says I.

"'Well,' he says, 'I wish you would go off at Tighnabruaich and take some
pent wi' ye in a small boat over to the Maids, and give them a touch o'
rud and white that'll make them more like weemen than ever.'

"'I don't like,' said I.

"'What way do ye no' like?' said the skipper. 'It's no' even what you
would caal work; it's chust amusement!'

"'But will it no' look droll for a sailor to be pentin' clothes on a
couple o' stones, aal his lone by himsel' in the north end o' Bute, and
no' a sowl to see him? Chust give it a think yersel', skipper; would it
no' look awfu' daft?'

"'I don't care if it looks daft enough for the Lochgilphead Asylum, ye'll
have to do it,' said the skipper. Til put ye off at Tighnabruaich this
efternoon; ye can go over and do the chob, and take a night's ludgin's in
the toon, and we'll pick you up to-morrow when we're comin' doon. See you
and make the Maids as smert as ye can, and, by Chove, they'll give the
towerists a start!'

"Weel, I wass put off at Tighnabruaich, and the rud and white pent wi'
me. I got ludgin's, took my tea and a herrin' to't, and rowed mysel' over
in a boat to Bute. Some of the boys aboot the quay wass askin' what I
wass efter, but it wassna likely I would tell them I wass goin' to pent
clothes on the Maids o'Bute; they would be sure to caal me the
manta-maker efter it. So I chust said I wass going over to mark oot the
place for a new quay MacBrayne wass buildin'. There's nothing like

"It wass a day that wass chust sublime! The watter wass that calm you
could see your face in it, the birds were singing like hey-my-nanny, and
the Kyles wass lovely. Two meenutes efter I started pentin' the Maids I
wass singin' to mysel' like anything. Now I must let you ken I never had
no education at drawin', and it's wonderful how fine I pented them. When
you got close to them they were no more like rale maids than I am; ye
wouldna take them for maids even in the dark, but before I wass done with
them, ye would ask them up to dance. The only thing that vexed me wass
that I had only the rud and white; if I had magenta and blue and yellow,
and the like o' that, I could have made them far more stylish. I gave
them white faces and rud frocks and bonnets, and man, man, it wass a
splendid day!

"I took the notion in my heid that maybe the skipper o' the Inveraray
wass right, and that they were maids at wan time, that looked back the
same as Lot's wife in the Scruptures and got turned into stone. When I
wassna singin', I would be speakin' away to them, and I'll assure ye it
wass the first time maids never gave me any back chat. Wan o' them I
called Mery efter--efter a gyurl I knew, and the other I called
'Lizabeth, for she chust looked like it. And it wass a majestic day.
'There ye are, gyurls,' I says to them,' and you never had clothes that
fitted better. Stop you, and if I'm spared till next year, you'll have
the magenta too.' The north end o' Bute iss a bleak, wild, lonely place,
but when I wass done pentin' the Maids it looked like a lerge population.
They looked that nate and cheery among the heather! Mery had a waist ye
could get your arm roond, but 'Lizabeth wass a broad, broad gyurl. And I
wassna a bad-lookin' chap mysel'."

Here Para Handy stopped and sighed.

"Go on wi' your baur," said Dougie.

"Old times! old times!" said the Captain. "By Chove! I wass in trum that
day! I never saw finer weather, nor nicer gyurls. Och! but it wass chust
imachination; when we pass the Maids o' Bute now, I know they're only
stones, with rud and white pent on them. They're good enough for


"OF aal the fish there iss in the sea," said Para Handy, "nothing bates
the herrin'; it's a providence they're plentiful and them so cheap!"

"They're no' in Loch Fyne, wherever they are," said Dougie sadly; "the
only herrin' that they're gettin' there iss rud ones comin' up in barrels
wi' the Cygnet or the Minard Castle. For five years back the trade wass

"I wouldna say but you're right," agreeably remarked the Captain. "The
herrin' iss a great, great mystery. The more you will be catchin' of them
the more there iss; and when they're no' in't at aal they're no' there
"--a great philosophic truth which the crew smoked over in silence for a
few minutes.

"When I wass a hand on the gabberts," continued the Captain, "the herrin'
fishin' of Loch Fyne wass in its prime. You ken yoursel' what I mean; if
you don't believe me, Jum, there's Dougie himsel''ll tell you. Fortunes!
chust simply fortunes! You couldna show your face in Tarbert then but a
lot of the laads would gaither round at wance and make a jovial day of
it. Wi' a barrel of nets in a skiff and a handy wife at the guttin', a
man of the least agility could make enough in a month to build a land o'
nooses, and the rale Loch Fyne was terrible namely over aal the world."

"I mind o't mysel'," said Sunny Jim; "they never sold onything else but
the rale Loch Fyne in Gleska."

"They did that whether or no'," explained Para Handy, "for it wass the
herrin's of Loch Fyne that had the reputation."

"I've seen the Rooshians eatin' them raw in the Baltic," said Macphail,
the engineer, and Dougie shuddered. "Eating them raw!" said he; "the
dirty duvvles!"

"The herrin' wass that thick in Loch Fyne in them days," recalled the
Captain, "that you sometimes couldna get your anchor to the ground, and
the quality was chust sublime. It wassna a tred at aal so much as an
amusement; you went oot at night when the weans wass in their beds, and
you had a couple o' cran on the road to Clyde in time for Gleska's
breakfast. The quays wass covered wi' John O'Brian's boxes, and man
alive! but the wine and spirit tred wass busy. Loch Fyne wass the place
for Life in them days--high jeenks and big hauls; you werena very smert
if you werena into both o' them. If you don't believe me, Dougie
himsel''ll tell you."

"You have it exact, Peter," guaranteed the mate, who was thus appealed
to; "I wass there mysel'."

"Of course I have it exact," said Para Handy; "I'll assure you it's no' a
thing I read in the papers. To-day there's no a herrin' in Loch Fyne or
I'm mistaken."

"If there's wan he'll be kind o' lonely," said the mate. "I wonder what
in the muschief's wrong wi' them?"

"You might shot miles o' nets for a month and there's no' a herrin' will
come near them."

"Man! aren't they the tumid, frightened idiots!" said Dougie, with

"If ye ask me, I think whit spoiled the herrin' fishing in Loch Fyne was
the way they gaed on writin' aboot it in the papers," said Macphail. "It
was enough to scunner ony self-respectin' fish. Wan day a chap would
write that it was the trawlers that were daein' a' the damage; next day
anither chap would say he was a liar, and that trawlin' was a thing the
herrin' thrived on. Then a chap would write that there should be a close
time so as to gie the herrin' time to draw their breaths for anither
breenge into the nets; and anither chap would write from Campbeltoon and
say a close time would be takin' the bread oot o' the mootht o' his wife
and weans. A scientific man said herrin' came on cycles--"

"He's a liar, anyway," said the Captain, with conviction. "They were in
Loch Fyne afore the cycle was invented. Are you sure, Macphail, it's no'
the cod he means?"

"He said the herrin' fishin' aye missed some years noo and then in a' the
herrin' places in Europe as weel's in Loch Fyne, and the Gulf Stream had
something to dae wi't."

"That's the worst o' science," said the Captain piously; "it takes aal
the credit away from the Creator. Don't you pay attention to an unfidel
like that; when the herrin' wass in Loch Fyne they stayed there aal the
time, and only maybe took a daunder oot noo and then the length o'

"If it's no' the Gulf Stream, then ye'll maybe tell us whit it is?" said
the engineer, with some annoyance.

"I'll soon do that," said Para Handy; "if you want to ken, it's what I
said--the herrin' iss a mystery, chust a mystery!"

"I'm awfu' gled ye told me," said the engineer ironically. "I aye
wondered. Whit's the partcecular mysteriousness aboot it?"

"It's a silly fish," replied the Captain; "it's fine for eatin', but it
hasna the sagacity. If it had the sagacity it wouldna come lower than
Otter Ferry, nor be gallivantin' roond the Kyles o' Bute in daylight.
It's them innovations that's the death o' herrin'. If the herrin' stayed
in Loch Fyne attendin' to its business and givin' the drift-net crews
encouragement, it would have a happier life and die respected.

"Whenever the herrin' of Loch Fyne puts his nose below Kilfinan, his
character is gone. First the Tarbert trawlers take him oot to company and
turn his heid; then there iss nothing for it for him but flying trips to
the Kyles o' Bute, the Tail o' the Bank, and Gareloch. In Loch Fyne we
never would touch the herrin' in the daytime, nor in winter; they need a
rest, forbye we're none the worse o' one oorsel's; but the folk below
Kilfinan have no regard for Chrustian principles, and they no sooner see
an eye o' fish than they're roond aboot it with trawls, even if it's the
middle o' the day or New-Year's mornin'. They never give the fish a
chance; they keep it on the run till its fins get hot. If it ventures ass
far ass the Tail o' the Bank, it gets that dizzy wi' the sight o' the
shippin' traffic that it loses the way and never comes back to Loch Fyne
again. A silly fish! If it only had sagacity! Amn't I right, Dougie?"

"Whatever you say yoursel'. Captain; there's wan thing sure, the herrin's

"The long and the short of it iss that they're a mystery," concluded Para


"Man, it's hot; most desperate hot!" said Para Handy, using his hand like
a squeegee to remove the perspiration from his brow. "Life in weather
like thiss iss a burden; a body might ass weel be burnin' lime or at the
bakin'. I wish I wass a fush."

The Vital Spark was lying at Skipness, the tar boiling between her seams
in unusually ardent weather, and Macphail on deck, with a horror of his
own engine-room.

"Bein' a fush wouldna be bad," said Dougie, "if it wass not for the
constant watter. The only thing you can say for waiter iss that it's wet
and fine for sailin' boats on. If you were a fush, Captain, you would die
of thirst."

"Walter, waiter everywhere, And not a single drop of drink," quoted the
engineer, who was literary.

The Captain looked at him with some annoyance. "It's bad enough,
Macphail," said he, "withoot you harpin', harpin' on the thing. You have
no consuderation! I never mentioned drink. I wass thinkin' of us
plowterin' doon in weather like this to Campbeltown, and wishin' I could

"Can you no' swim?" asked Sunny Jim with some surprise.

"I daresay I could, but I never tried," said Para Handy. "I had never the
time, havin' aye to attend to my business."

"Swimmin's aal the rage chust now," remarked Dougie, who occasionally
read a newspaper. "Look at the Thames in London--there's men and women
swimmin' it in droves; they'll do six or seven miles before their
breakfast. And the Straits o' Dover's busy wi' splendid swimmers makin'
their way to France."

"What are they wantin' to France for?" asked Para Handy. "Did they do

"I wouldna say," replied the mate; "it's like enough the polis iss efter
them, but the story they have themsel's iss that they're swimmin' for a
wudger. The best this season iss a Gleska man caaled Wolfie; he swam that
close to France the other day he could hear the natives taalkin'."

"What for did he no' land?" asked Sunny Jim.

"I canna tell," said Dougie, "but it's likely it would be wan o' the
places where they charge a penny at the quay. Him bein' a Gleska man, he
would see them d--d first, so he chust came back to Dover."

"I don't see the fun of it, mysel'," said Para Handy reflectively. "But
of course, if it's a wudger--"

"That's what I'm throng tellin' you," said the mate. "It looks a terrible
task, but it's simple enough for any man with the agility. First you put
off your clo'es and leave them in the shippin'-box at Dover if you have
the confidence. Then you oil yoursel' wi' oil, put on a pair o' goggles,
and get your photygraph. When the crood's big enough you kiss the wife
good-bye and start swimmin' like anything."

"Whit wife?" asked the engineer, whose profound knowledge of life as
depicted in penny novelettes had rendered him dubious of all adventures
designed to end in France.

"Your own wife, of course," said Para Handy impatiently. "What other wife
would a chap want to leave and go to France for? Go on wi' your story,

"Three steamers loaded wi' beef-tea, champagne, chocolate, and pipers
follows you aal the way----"

"Beef-tea and chocolate!" exclaimed the Captain, with astonishment.
"What's the sense o' that? Are you sure it's beef-tea, Dougie?"

"I read it mysel' in the papers," the mate assured him. "You strike out
aalways wi' a firm, powerful, over-hand stroke, and whenever you're past
the heid o' Dover quay you turn on your back, take your luncheon oot of a
bottle, and tell the folk on the steamers that you're feelin' fine."

"You might well be feelin' fine, wi' a luncheon oot o' a bottle," said
Para Handy. "It's the beef-tea that bothers me."

"Aal the time the pipers iss standin' on the paiddle-boxes o' the
steamers playin' 'Hielan' Laddie' and 'The Campbells iss Comin'.'"

"Aal the time!" repeated Para Handy. "I don't believe wan word of it! Not
aboot pipers; take my word for it, Dougie, they'll be doon below noo and
then; there's nothing in this world thirstier than music."

"Do they no' get ony prizes for soomin' a' that distance?" asked Sunny

"I'll warrant you there must be money in it some way," said the engineer.
"Whatever side they land on, they'll put roond the hat. There's naething
the public'll pay you quicker or better for, than for daein' wi' your
legs what an engine'll dae faur better."

"I could soom ony o' them blin'!" said Sunny Jim. "I was the natest wee
soomer ever Geordie Geddes dragged by the hair o' the heid frae the Clyde
at Jenny's Burn. Fair champion! Could we no' get up a soom frae here to
Campbeltown the morn, and mak' a trifle at the start and feenish?"

"Man! you couldna swim aal that distance," said the Captain. "It would
take you a week and a tug to tow you."

"I'm no' daft," explained Sunny Jim; "the hale thing's in the startin',
for seemin'ly naebody ever feenishes soomin' ower to France. A' I hae to
dae is to ile mysel' and dive, and the Vital Spark can keep me company
into Kilbrannan Sound."

"There's the photygraphs, and the beef-tea, and the pipers," said the
engineer; "unless ye hae them ye micht as well jist walk to Campbeltown."

"Dougie can play his trump, and that'll dae instead o' the pipers," said
Sunny Jim. "It's a' in the start. See? I'll jump in at the quay, and
you'll collect the money from the Skipness folk, and pick me up whenever
they're oot o' sicht. I'll dae the dive again afore we come into
Campbeltown, and Dougie'll baud the watch and gie a guarantee I swam the
hale length o' Kintyre in four oors and five-and-twenty minutes.
Then--bizz!--bang!--roon' the folk in Campbeltown wi' the bonny wee hat
again! See?"

"Man! your cluvemess is chust sublime!" said Para Handy; "we'll have the
demonstration in the mornin'."

The intelligence that the cook of the Vital Spark was to swim to
Campbeltown found Skipness curiously indifferent. "If he had been
swimming FROM Campbeltown it might be different," said the natives; so
the attempts to collect a subscription in recognition of the gallant feat
were poorly recognised and Sunny Jim, disgusted, quitted the water, and
resumed his clothes on the deck of the vessel less than a hundred yards
from the shore. The Vital Spark next day came into Campbeltown, and the
intrepid swimmer, having quietly dropped over the side at not too great a
distance, swam in the direction of the quay, at which he arrived with no
demonstration of excitement on the part of the population.

"Swam aal the way from Skipness," Para Handy informed the curious; "we're
raisin' a little money to encourage him; he's none of your Dover
Frenchmen, but wan of Brutain's hardy sons. Whatever you think yoursel's
in silver, chentlemen."

"Wass he in the waiter aal the time?" asked a native fisherman, copiously
perspiring under a couple of guernseys and an enormous woollen comforter.

"He wass that!" Para Handy assured him. "If you don't believe me, Dougie
himsel''ll tell you."

"Then he wass the lucky chap!" said the native enviously. "It must have
been fine and cool. What's he goin' to stand?"


It was shown in a former escapade of Para Handy's that he wasn't averse
from a little sea-trout poaching. He justified this sport in Gaelic,
always quoting a proverb that a switch from the forest, a bird from the
hill, or a fish from the river were the natural right of every Highland
gentleman. Sunny Jim approved the principle most heartily, and proposed
to insert a clause including dogs, of which he confessed he had been a
great admirer and collector in his Clutha days. Ostensibly the Captain
never fished for anything but flounders, and his astonishment when he
came on sea-trout or grilse in his net after an hour's assiduous plashing
with it at the mouth of a burn was charming to witness.

"Holy smoke!" he would exclaim, scratching his ears, "here's a wheen o'
the white fellows, and us chust desperate for cod. It's likely they're
the Duke's or Mr Younger's, and they lost their way to Bullingsgate. Stop
you! Dougie, a meenute and hand me up a fut-spar.... I'm sure and I
wassna wantin' them, but there they are, and what can you make of it?
They might be saithe; it's desperate dark the night; what a peety we
didna bring a lantern. Look and see if you divna think they're saithe,

"Whatever you say yoursel'," was the mate's unvarying decision, and it
could never be properly made out whether the fish were saithe or salmon
till the crew had eaten them.

There was one favourite fishing bank of the Captain's inconveniently
close to the county police station.

The constable was very apt to find a grilse on the inside handle of his
coal-cellar door on mornings when the Vital Spark was in the harbour, and
he, also, was much surprised, but never mentioned it, except in a
roundabout way, to Para Handy.

"You must be makin' less noise oot in the bay at night," he would say to
him. "By Chove! I could hear you mysel' last night quite plain; if you're
not more caatious I'll have to display my activity and find a clue."

It was most unfortunate that the men of the Vital Spark should have come
on a shoal of the "white fellows" one early morning when the
river-watchers were in straits to justify their job. The lighter's punt,
with an excellent net and its contents, had hurriedly to be abandoned,
and before breakfast the Captain had lodged a charge of larceny against
parties unknown at the police station. Someone had stolen his punt, he
said, cutting the painter of her during the calm and virtuous sleep of
self and mates. He identified the boat in the possession of the
river-bailiffs; he was horrified to leam of the nefarious purpose to
which it had been applied, but had to submit with curious equanimity to
its confiscation. Local sympathy was aroused--fostered unostentatiously
by the policeman; a subscription sheet was passed round the village
philanthropists--also on the discreet suggestion of the policeman; and
the sum of two pounds ten and ten-pence was collected--the tenpence being
in ha'pence ingeniously abstracted by means of a table-knife from a tin
bank in the possession of the policeman's only boy.

"You will go at wance to Tighnabruaich and buy yourself another boat,
Peter," said the policeman,  when informally handing over the money. "If
you are circumspect and caautious you'll pick up a smert one chape that
will serve for your requirements."

"I wouldna touch a penny," protested Para Handy, "if it wass not for my
vessel's reputation; she needs a punt to give her an appearance."

A few days later the Vital Spark came into Tighnabruaich, and the
Captain, by apparent accident, fell into converse with a hirer of

"Man, you must be coinin' money," he said innocently; "you have a lot of

"Coinin' money!" growled the boat-hirer; "no' wi' weather like this. I
micht be makin' mair at hirin' umbrellas."

"Dear me!" said the Captain sympathetically, "that's a peety. A tidy lot
o' boats, the most o' them; it's a wonder you would keep so many, and
tred so bad."

"You werena thinkin' maybe o' buyin', were ye?" asked the boat-hirer
suspiciously, with a look at the stern of the Vital Spark, where the
absence of a punt was manifest.

"No," said the Captain blandly, "boats iss a luxury them days; they're
lucky that doesna need them. Terrible weather! And it's goin' to be a
dirty summer; there's a man yonder in America that prophesies we'll have
rain even-on till Martinmas. Rowin'-boats iss goin' chape at Millport."

"If that's the look-out, they'll be goin' chape everywhere," incautiously
remarked the boat-hirer.

"Chust that," said Para Handy, and made as if to move away. Then he
stopped, and, with his hands in his pockets, pointed with a contemptuous
foot at a dinghy he had had an eye on from the start of the conversation.
"There's wan I aalways wondered at you keepin', Dan," said he; "she's a
prutty old stager, I'll be bound you."

"That!" exclaimed the boat-hirer. "That's the tidiest boat on the shore;
she's a genuine Erchie Smith."

"Iss she, iss she?" said the Captain. "I mind her the year o' the
Jubilee; it's wonderful the way they hold thegither. A bad crack in her
bottom strake; you wouldna be askin' much for her if a buyer wass here
wi' ready money?"

"Are ye wantin' a boat?" asked the boat-hirer curtly, coming to the

"Not what you would caal exactly," said the Captain, "but if she's in the
market I might maybe hear aboot a customer. What did you say wass the

"Three pound ten, and a thief's bargain," said the boat-hirer promptly,
and Para Handy dropped at his feet the pipe he was filling.

"Excuse me startin'!" he remarked sarcastically, "you gave me a fright.
It wass not about a schooner yat I was inquiring."

"She's worth every penny o't, and a guid deal mair," said the boat-hirer,
and Para Handy lit his pipe deliberately and changed the subject.

"There's a great run on them motors," he remarked, indicating one of the
launches in the bay. "My friend that iss wantin' a boat iss--"

"I thocht ye said ye werena wantin' ony kind o' boat at a'," interjected
the boat-hirer.

"Chust that; but there wass a chentleman that spoke to me aboot a notion
he had for a smaal boat; he will likely take a motor wan; they're aal the
go. That swuft! They're tellin' me they're doin' aal the hirin' tred in
Ro'sa' and Dunoon; there'll soon no' be a rowin'-boat left. If I wass you
I would clear oot aal the trash and start a wheen o' motors."

"A motor wad be nae use for the Vital Spark," said the boat-hirer, who
had no doubt now he had met a buyer. "Hoo much are ye prepared to offer?"

"What for?" said Para Handy innocently, spitting on the desirable dinghy,
and then apologetically wiping it with his hand.

"For this boat. Say three pounds. It's a bargain."

"Oh, for this wan! I wouldna hurt your feelings, but if I wass wantin' a
boat I wouldna take this wan in a gift. Still and on, a boat iss a handy
thing for them that needs it; I'm not denyin' it. I'll mention it to the
other chentleman."

"Wha is he?" asked the boat-hirer, and Para Handy screwed up his eyes,
and was rapt in admiration of the scenery of the Kyles.

"What you don't know you don't ken," he replied mysteriously.

"Ye couldna get a better punt for the money if ye searched the Clyde,"
said the boat-hirer.

"I'm no' in any hurry; I'll take a look aboot for something aboot two
pound ten," said Para Handy. "Ye canna get a first-class boat a penny
cheaper. I got the offer of a topper for the forty shillings, and I'm
consuderin' it." He had now thrown off all disguise, and come out in the
open frankly as a buyer.

"Ye shouldna consider ower lang, then," said the boat-hirer; "there's a
lot o' men in the market the noo for handy boats o' this cless; I have an
offer mysel' o' two pounds fifteen for this very boat no later gone than
yesterday, and I'm hangin' oot for the three pounds. I believe I'll get
it; he's comin' back this afternoon."

"Chust that!" said Para Handy, winking to himself. "I'm sure and I wish
him weel wi' his bargain. She looks as if she would be terrible cogly."

"Is Tighnabruaich quay cogly?" asked the boat-hirer indignantly. "Ye
couldna put her over if ye tried."

"And they tell me she has a rowth," continued Para Handy, meaning thereby
a bias under oars.

"They're bars, then," said the boat-hirer; "I'll sell ye her for two
pound twelve to prove it."

The Captain buttoned up his jacket, and said it was time he was back to

"A fine boat," pleaded the boat-hirer. "Two pairs o' oars, a pair o'
galvanised rowlocks, a bailin' dish, and a painter--dirt chape! take it
or leave it."

"Would you no' be chenerous and throw in the plug?" said the Captain,
with his finest irony.

"I'll dae better than that," said the boat-hirer. "I'll fling in a nice
bit hand-line."

"For two pound ten, I think you said."

"Twa pound twelve," corrected the boat-hirer. "Come now, don't be

"At two pounds twelve I'll have to consult my frien' the chentleman I
mentioned," said the Captain; "and I'll no' be able to let you know for a
week or two. At two pounds ten I would risk it, and it's chust the money
I have on me."

"Done, then!" said the boat-hirer. "The boat's yours," and they went to
the hotel to seal the bargain.

The boat-hirer was going home with his money when he heard the Captain
stumping hurriedly after. "Stop a meenute, Dan," he said; "I forgot to
ask if you haven't a bit of a net you might throw in, chust for the sake
o' frien'ship?"

The boat-hirer confessed to his wife that he had made ten shillings
profit on the sale of a boat he had bought for forty shillings and had
three seasons out of.

Para Handy swopped the dinghy a fortnight later in Tarbert for a punt
that suited the Vital Spark much better, and thirty shillings cash. With
part of the thirty shillings he has bought another net. For flounders.


"Did you ever, ever, in your born days, see such umpidence?" said the
mate of the smartest boat in the coasting trade, looking up from his
perusal of a scrap of newspaper in which the morning's kippers had been
brought aboard by Sunny Jim.

"What iss't, Dougald?" asked the Captain, sitting down on a keg to put on
his carpet slippers, a sign that the day of toil on deck officially was
over. "You'll hurt your eyes, there, studyin' in the dark. You're gettin'
chust ass bad ass the enchineer for readin'; we'll have to put in the
electric light for you."

"Chermans!" said Dougie. "The country's crooded wi' them. They're goin'
aboot disguised ass towerists, drawin' plans o' forts and brudges."

"Now, issn't that most desperate!" said Para Handy, poking up the
fo'c'sle stove, by whose light his mate had been reading this disquieting
intelligence. "That's the way that British tred iss ruined. First it wass
Cherman clocks, and then it wass jumpin'-jecks, and noo it's picture

"Criftens!" said Sunny Jim, who had come hurriedly down to put on a
second waistcoat, for the night was cold: "Whit dae ye think they're
makin' the drawin's for?"

"Iss't no' for post-cairds?" asked the Captain innocently, and the cook
uproariously laughed.

"Post-cairds my auntie!" he vulgarly exclaimed. "It's for the German
Airmy. As soon's they can get their bits o' things thegither, they're
comin' ower here to fight us afore the Boy Scouts gets ony bigger. They
hae spies a' ower Britain makin' maps; I'll lay ye there's no' a
beer-shop in the country that they havena dotted doon."

"Holy smoke!" said Para Handy.

He watched the very deliberate toilet of Sunny Jim with some impatience.
"Who's supposed to be at the wheel at this parteecular meenute?" he
asked, with apparent unconcern.

"Me," said Sunny Jim. "There's naething in sicht, and I left it a meenute
just to put on this waistcoat. Ye're gettin' awfu' pernicketty wi' your
wheel; it's no' the Lusitania."

"I'm no' findin' faault at aal, at aal, Jum, but I'm chust considerin',"
said the Captain meekly. "Take your time. Don't hurry, Jum. Would you no'
give your hands a wash and put on a collar? It's always nice to have a
collar on and be looking spruce if you're drooned in a collusion. Give a
kind of a roar when you get up on deck if you see we're runnin' into

"Collusion!" said Sunny Jim contemptuously. "Wi' a' the speed this boat
can dae, she couldna run into a pend close if it started rainin'," and he
swung himself on deck.

"He hasna the least respect for the vessel," said the Captain sadly. "She
might be a common gaabert for aal the pride that Jum hass in her."

The Vital Spark had left Loch Ranza an hour ago, and was puffing across
the Sound of Bute for the Garroch Head on her way to Glasgow. A
pitch-black night, not even a star to be seen, and Sunny Jim at the wheel
had occasionally a feeling that the Cumbrae Light for which he steered
was floating about in space, detached from everything like a fire-balloon
that winked every thirty seconds at the sheer delight of being free. He
whistled softly to himself, and still very cold, in spite of his second
waistcoat, envied Macphail the engineer, whom he could see in the
grateful warmth of the furnace-door reading a penny novelette. Except for
the wheeze and hammer of the engine, the propeller's churning, and the
wash of the calm sea at the snub nose of the vessel, the night was
absolutely still.

The silence was broken suddenly by sounds of vituperation from the
fo'c'sle: the angry voices of the Captain and the mate, and a moment
later they were on deck pushing a figure aft in front of them. "Sling us
up a lamp, Macphail, to see what iss't we have a haad o' here," said the
Captain hurriedly, with a grasp on the stranger's coat-collar, and the
engineer produced the light. It shone on a burly foreigner with
coal-black hair, a bronze complexion, and a sack of onions to which he
clung with desperate tenacity.

"Got him in Dougie's bunk, sound sleepin'," explained the Captain
breathlessly, with the tone of an entomologist who has found a surprising
moth. "I saw him dandering aboot Loch Ranza in the mornin'. A stowaway!
He wants to steal a trip to Gleska."

"I'll bate ye he's gaun to the Scottish Exhibeetion," said Sunny Jim.
"We'll be there in time, but his onions'll gang wrang on him afore we get
to Bowlin'. Whit dae they ca' ye for your Christian name, M'Callum?"

"Onions," replied the stranger. "Cheap onions. No Ingles."

"Oh, comeaffit! comeaffit! We're no'such neds as to think that ony man
could hae a Christian name like Onions," said Sunny Jim. "Try again, and
tell us it's Clarence."

"And what iss't your wantin' on my boat?" asked Para Handy sternly.

The foreigner looked from one to the other of them with large pathetic
eyes from under a broad Basque bonnet. "Onions. Cheap onions," he
repeated, extracting a bunch of them hastily from the bag. "Two bob.

"Gie the chap a chance," said Sunny Jim ironically. "Maybe he gie'd his
ticket up to the purser comin' in."

"He hasna a word o' English in his heid," said Dougie. "There's something
at the bottom o't; stop you, and you'll see! It's no' for his health he's
traivellin' aboot Arran wi' a bag o' onions, and hidin' himsel' on board
a Christian boat. I'll wudger that he's Cherman."

"It's no a German kep he's wearin' onyway," said Macphail, with the
confidence of a man who has travelled extensively and observed.

"That's a disguise," said Dougie, no less confidently. "You can see for
yoursel' he hass even washed himsel'. Try him wi' a bit of the Cherman
lingo, Macphail, and you'll see the start he'll get."

Macphail, whose boast had always been that he could converse with fluency
in any language used in any port in either hemisphere, cleared his throat
and hesitatingly said, "Parly voo Francis?"

"Onions. Cheap onions," agreeably replied the stranger.

"Francis! Francis! Parly voo?" repeated the engineer, testily and loudly,
as if the man were deaf.

"Maybe his name's no' Francis," suggested Sunny Jim. "Try him wi' Will
Helm, or Alphonso; there's lots o' them no' called Francis."

"He understands me fine, I can see by his eye," said the engineer,
determined to preserve his reputation as a linguist. "But, man! he's

"It's the wrong shup he hass come to if he thinks he iss cunnin' enough
for us!" said the Captain firmly. "It's the jyle in Greenock that we'll
clap him in for breakin' on board of a well-known steamboat and spoilin'
Dougald's bunk wi' onions."

The stowaway sat nonchalantly down on a bucket, produced a knife and a
hunk of bread, and proceeded to make a meal of it with onions.
Immediately the crew was constituted into a court-martial, and treated
the presence of their captive as if he were a deaf-mute or a harmless
species of gorilla.

"What wass I tellin' you. Captain, at the very meenute I saw his feet
stickin' oot o' my bunk?" inquired the mate. "The country's overrun wi'
Chermans. I wass readin' yonder that there's two hunder and fifty
thousand o' them in Brutain."

"What a lot!" said Para Handy. "I never set eyes on wan o' them to my
knowledge. What are they like, the silly duvvles?"

"They're chust like men that would be sellin' onions," said Dougie.
"Lerge, big, heavy fellows like oor frien' here; and they never say
nothing to nobody. You've seen hunders o' them though you maybe didna
ken. They're Chermans that plays the bands on the river steamers."

"Are they? are they?" said Para Handy with surprise; "I always thought
yon chaps wass riveters, or brassfeenishers, that chust made a chump on
board the boat wi' their instruments when she wass passin' Yoker and the
purser's back wass turned."

"Germans to a man!" said Sunny Jim. "There's no' a Scotchman among them;
ye never saw yin o' them yet the worse o' drink."

"Ye needna tell me yon chaps playin' awa' on the steamers iss makin'
maps," said Para Handy. "Their eyes iss aalways glued on their

"They're goin' aboot ports and forts and battleships drawin' plans," said
the engineer. "Whit did the Royal Horse Artillery find the ither day at
Portsmouth? Yin o' them crawlin' up a gun to mak' a drawin' o't, and they
had to drag him oot by the feet."

"Chust that!" said Para Handy, regarding their captive with greater
interest. "I can see mysel' noo; he looks desperate like a Cherman. Do
you think he wass makin' plans o' the Vital Spark?"

"That's whit I was askin' him in German!" said Macphail, "and ye saw
yersel's the suspicious way he never answered."

"Jum," said the Captain, taking the wheel himself, "away like a smert
laad and make up a cup o' tea for the chap; it's maybe the last he'll
ever get if we put him in the jyle in Greenock or in Gleska."

"Right-oh!" said Sunny Jim, gladly relinquishing the wheel. "Will I set
the table oot in the fore saloon? Ye'll excuse us bein' short o' floral
decorations, Francis? Is there onything special ye would like in the way
o' black breid or horse-flesh, and I'll order't frae the steward?"

"Onions," said the stranger. The foreigner spent the night imprisoned in
the hold with the hatches down, and wakened with an excellent appetite
for breakfast, while the vessel lay at a wharf on the upper river.

"There's money in't; it's like a salvage," Dougie said to Para Handy, as
they hurried ashore for a policeman.

"I canna see't," said the Captain dubiously. "What's the good o' a
Cherman? If he wass a neegur bleck, you could sell him to the shows for
swallowin' swords, but I doot that this chap hassna got the right

"Stop, you!" said the mate with confidence. "The Government iss desperate
keen to get a haad o' them, and here's Mackay the polisman."

"We have a kind o' a Cherman spy on board,"  he informed the constable,
who seemed quite uninterested.

"The Sanitary Department iss up in John Street," said the constable.
"It's not on my bate." But he consented to come to the Vita! Spark and
see her stowaway.

"Toots, man! he's no' a Cherman, and he's no' a spy," he informed them at
a glance.

"And what iss he then?" asked the Captain.

"I don't ken what he iss, but he's duvvelish like a man that would be
sellin' onions," said Mackay, and on his advice the suspect was released.

It was somewhat later in the day that Dougie missed his silver watch,
which had been hanging in the fo'c'sle.


The Captain of the Vital Spark and his mate were solemnly drinking beer
in a Greenock public-house, clad in their best shore-going togs, for it
was Saturday. Another customer came in--a bluff, high-coloured,
English-spoken individual with an enormous watch-chain made of what
appeared to be mainly golden nuggets in their natural state, and a ring
with a diamond bulging out so far in it that he could hardly get his hand
into his trousers pocket. He produced a wad of bank-notes, peeled one
off, put it down on the counter with a slap, and demanded gin and ginger.

"A perfect chentleman!" said Para Handy to his mate in a whisper; "you
can aalways tell them! He'll likely have a business somewhere."

The opulent gentleman took his glass of gin and ginger to a table and sat
down, lit a cigar, and proceeded to make notes in a pocket-book.

"That's the worst of wealth," said Dougie philosophically; "you have to
be aalways tottin' it up in case you forget you have it. Would you care
for chust another, Peter? I think I have a shullin'."

Another customer came in--apparently a seaman, with a badge of a
well-known shipping line on his cap. "Hello, bully boys!" he said
heartily. "Gather around; there's a letter from home! What are we going
to have? In with your pannikins, lively now; and give it a name," and he
ordered glasses round, excluding the auriferous gentleman who was taking
notes behind.

"Looks like a bloomin' Duke!" he remarked in an undertone to Para Handy.
"One of them shipowners, likely; cracker-hash and dandy-funk for Jack,
and chicken and champagne wine for Mister Bloomin' Owner! Ours is a dog's
life, sonnies, but I don't care now, I'm home from Callao!"

"Had you a good trup?" asked Para Handy, with polite anxiety.

"Rotten!" said the seaman tersely. "What's your line? Longshore, eh?" and
he scrutinised the crew of the Vital Spark.

"Chust that!" said Para Handy mildly. "Perusin' aboot the Clyde wi' coals
and doin' the best we can."

"Then I hope the hooker's your own, my boy, for there's not much bloomin'
money in it otherwise," said the seaman; and Para Handy, not for the
first time, fell a victim to his vanity.

"Exactly," he said, with a pressure on the toe of Dougie's boot; "I'm
captain and owner too; the smertest boat in the tred," and he jingled a
little change he had in his pocket.

"My name's Tom Wilson," volunteered the seaman. "First mate of the
Wallaby, with an extra master's papers, d--n your eyes! And I've got
five-and-twenty bloomin' quids in my pocket this very moment; look at
that!" He flourished a wad of notes that was almost as substantial as the
one displayed a little before by the gentleman with the nugget

"It's a handy thing to have aboot ye," said Para Handy sagely, jingling
his coppers eloquently. "But I aalways believe in gold mysel'; you're not
so ready to lose it."

"I've noticed that mysel'," said Dougie solemnly.

Tom Wilson ordered another round, and produced a watch which he
confidently assured them was the finest watch of its kind that money
could buy. It had an alarm bell, and luminous paint on the hands and dial
permitted you to see the time on the darkest night without a light.

"Well, well! issn't that cluver!" exclaimed Para Handy. "They'll be
makin' them next to boil a cup o' tea. It would cost a lot o' money? I'm
no' askin', mind you; I wass chust remarkin'."

"Look here!" cried Tom Wilson impulsively; "I'll give the bloomin' clock
to the very first man who can guess what I paid for it."

"Excuse me, gentlemen," said the man with the nugget watch-chain, putting
away his note-book and pencil. "I'd like to see that watch," and they
joined him at the table, where he generously ordered another round. He
gravely examined the watch, and guessed that it cost about twenty pounds.

"Yes, but you must mention the exact figure," said its owner.

"Well, I guess two-and-twenty sovereigns," said the other, and Tom Wilson
hastily proceeded to divest himself of the chain to which it had been
originally attached. "It's yours!" he said; "you've guessed it, and you
may as well have the bloomin' chain as well. That's the sort of sunny boy
I am!" and he beamed upon the company with the warmth of one whose chief
delight in life was to go round distributing costly watches.

"Wass I not chust goin' to say twenty-two pounds!" said Para Handy with
some chagrin.

"I knew it wass aboot that," said Dougie; "chenuine gold!"

The lucky winner of the watch laughed, put it into his pocket, and took
out the wad of notes, from which he carefully counted out twenty-two
pounds, which he thrust upon Tom Wilson.

"There you are!" he said; "I wouldn't take your watch for nothing, and it
happens to be the very kind of watch I've been looking for."

"But you have only got my word for it. Mister, that it's worth that
money," protested Mr Wilson.

The stranger smiled. "My name's Denovan," he remarked; "I'm up here from
Woolwich on behalf of the Admiralty to arrange for housin' the torpedo
workers in first-rate cottage homes with small back gardens. What does
the Lords o' the Admiralty say to me? The Lords o' the Admiralty says to
me, 'Mr Denovan, you go and fix up them cottage homes, and treat the
people of Greenock with confidence.' I'm a judge of men, I am, bein' what
I am, and the principle I go on is to trust my fellow-men. If you say
two-and-twenty pounds is the value of this watch, I say two-and-twenty it
is, and there's an end of it!"

Mr Wilson reluctantly put the notes in his pocket, with an expression of
the highest admiration for Mr Denovan's principles, and Para Handy
experienced the moral stimulation of being in an atmosphere of
exceptional integrity and unlimited wealth. "Any wan could see you were
the perfect chentleman," he confessed to Mr Denovan, ducking his head at
him. "What way are they aal keepin' in Woolwich?"

"I took you for a bloomin' ship-owner at first," said Mr Wilson. "I
didn't think you had anything to do with the Admiralty."

"I'm its right-hand man," replied Mr Denovan modestly. "If you're
thinkin' of a nice cottage home round here with front plot and small back
garden, I can put you in, as a friend, for one at less than half what
anybody else would pay."

"I haven't any use for a bloomin' house unless there was a licence to
it," said Mr Wilson cheerfully.

Mr Denovan looked at him critically. "I like the look of you," he
remarked impressively. "I'm a judge of men, and just to back my own
opinion of you, I'll put you down right off for the first of the
Admiralty houses. You needn't take it; you could sell it at a profit of a
hundred pounds to-morrow; I don't ask you to give me a single penny till
you have made your profit," and Mr Denovan, producing his pocket-book,
made a careful note of the transaction lest he might forget it. "'Treat
the people of Greenock with confidence,' says the Lords of the Admiralty
to me; now, just to show my confidence in you, I'll hand you back your
watch, and my own watch, and you can go away with them for twenty

"All right, then; just for a bloomin' lark," agreed Tom Wilson, and with
both watches and the colossal nugget-chain, he disappeared out of the

"That's a fine, smart, honest-lookin', manly fellow!" remarked Mr Denovan

"Do you think he'll come back wi' the watches?" said Dougie dubiously.

"Of course he will," replied Mr Denovan. "Trust men, and they'll trust
you. I'll lay you a dollar he would come back if he had twenty watches
and all my money as well."

This opinion was justified. Mr Wilson returned in less than five minutes,
and restored the watches to their owner.

"Well, I'm jeegered!" said Para Handy, and ordered another round out of
admiration for such astounding honesty.

"Would you trust me?" Mr Denovan now asked Tom Wilson. "I would," said
the seaman heartily. "Look here; I've five-and-twenty bloomin' quid, and
I'll let you go out and walk the length of the railway station with

"Done!" said Mr Denovan, and possessed of Wilson's roll of notes, went
out of the public-house.

"Peter," said Dougie to the Captain, "do you no' think one of us should
go efter him chust in case there's a train for Gleska at the railway

But Tom Wilson assured them he had the utmost confidence in Mr Denovan,
who was plainly a tip-top gentleman of unlimited financial resources, and
his confidence was justified, for Mr Denovan not only returned with the
money, but insisted on adding a couple of pounds to it as a recognition
of Mr Wilson's sporting spirit.

"I suppose you Scotch chaps don't have any confidence?" said Mr Denovan
to the Captain.

"Any amount!" said Para Handy.

"Well, just to prove it," said Mr Denovan, "would you be willin' to let
our friend Wilson here, or me, go out with a five-pound note of yours?"

"I havena the five pounds here, but I have it in the boat," said the
Captain. "If Dougie'll wait here, I'll go down for it. Stop you, Dougie,
with the chentlemen."

Some hours later Dougie turned up on the Vital Spark to find the Captain
in his bunk, and sound asleep.

"I thocht you were comin' wi' a five-pound note?" he remarked on wakening
him. "The chentlemen waited, and better waited, yonder on you, and they
werena pleased at aal, at aal. They said you surely hadna confidence."

"Dougie," said the Captain, "I have the greatest confidence, but I have
the five pounds, too. And if you had any money in your pocket it's no'
with Mr Denovan I would leave you."


Para Handy, having listened with amazement to the story of the Stepney
battle read by the engineer, remarked, "If it wassna in print, Macphail,
I wouldna believe it! They must be desperate powerful men, them Rooshian
burgulars. Give us yon bit again aboot Sir Wunston Churchill."

"'The Right Honourable gentleman, at the close of the engagement, went up
a close and shook 127 bullets out of his Astrakan coat,'" repeated
Macphail, who always added a few picturesque details of his own invention
to any newspaper narrative.

"It was 125 you said last time," Para Handy pointed out suspiciously.

"My mistake!" said Macphail frankly; "I thocht it was a five at first,
but I see noo it's a seven. A couple o' bullets more or less if it's
anyway over the hundred doesna make much odds on an Astrakan coat."

"Man, he must be a tough young fellow, Wunston!" said the Captain,
genuinely admiring. "Them bullets give you an awfu' bang. But I think the
London polisman iss greatly wantin' in agility; they would be none the
worse o' a lesson from Wully Crawford, him that wass the polisman in
Tarbert when I wass at the school. Wully wouldna throw chuckles at the
window to waken up the Rooshians; he wass far too caautious. He would
pause and consuder. Wully wass never frightened for a bad man in a hoose:
'It's when they're goin' lowse aboot the town they're dangerous,' he
would say; 'they're chust ass safe in there ass in my lock-up, and
they're no' so weel attended.'

"Wully wass the first polisman ever they had in Tarbert. He wassna like
the chob at aal, at aal, but they couldna get another man to take it. He
wass a wee small man wi' a heid like a butter-firkin, full to the eyes
wi' natural agility, and when he would put the snitchers on you, you
would think it wass a shillin' he wass slippin' in your hand. If you
were up to any muschief--poachin' a bit o' fish or makin' a
demonstration--Wully would come up wi' his heid to the side and rubbing
his hands thegither, and say a kindly word. I've seen great big massive
fellows walkin' doon the street wi' Wully, thinkin' they were goin' to a
Christmas pairty, and before they knew where they were they were lyin'
on a plank in his lock-up. You never saw a man wi' nicer mainners; he
wass the perfect chentleman!

"'Stop you there, lads, and I'll be back in a meenute wi' a cup o' tea,'
he would say when he wass lockin' the door of the cell on them. 'Iss
there anything you would like to't?' The silly idiots sometimes thocht
they were in a temperance hotel by Wully's mainners, and they got a
terrible start in the mornin' when they found they had to pay a fine. You
mind o' Wully Crawfbrd, Dougie?"

"Fine!" said Dougie. "He was the duvvle's own!"

"'Caaution and consuderation iss the chief planks in the armour of the
Brutish constable,' Wully used to say, rubbin' his hands. 'There iss no
need for anybody to be hurt.'

"It wass the time when Tarbert herrin'-trawlers wass at their best and
money goin'. It wass then, my laads, there wass Life in Tarbert! The
whole o' Scotland Yaird and a regiment o' arteelery couldna have kept the
Tarbert fishermen in order, but Wully Crawford held them in the hollow o'
his hand--"

"It's a' very weel," said Macphail, "but they didna go aboot wi'
automatic pistols."

"No, they didna have aromatic pistols," admitted Para Handy, "but they
had aawfully aromatic fists. And you never saw smerter chaps wi' a
foot-spar or a boat-hook. The wildest of the lot wass a lad M'Vicar, that
belonged to Tarbert and wass called The Goat for his sagacity. He could
punch his heid through a millstone and wear it round his neck the rest o'
the day instead o' a collar. When The Goat wass extra lucky at the
trawlin' the Tarbert merchants didna take the shutters off their shops
and the steamboat agents had to put a ton or two o' ballast in their
shippin'-boxes. Not a bad chap at aal. The Goat--only wicked, wicked! The
only wan that could stand up to him in Tarbert wass three Macdougall
brothers wi' a skiff from Minard; him and them wass at variance.

"The Goat would be going through the toun wi' his gallowses ootside his
guernsey and his bonnet on three hairs, spreading devastation, when the
Free Church munister would send for Wully Crawford.

"'You must do your duty, Wullium,' he would say, wi' his heid stickin'
oot at a garret window and the front door barred. 'There's M'Vicar lowse
again, and the whole o' Tarbert in commotion. Take care that ye divna
hurt him.'

"'There's nobody needs to be hurt at aal, wi' a little deliberation,'
Wully would say wi' his heid to the side, and it most dreadful like a
butter-firkin. 'I'll chust paause and consuder, Mr Cameron, and
M'Vicar'll be in the cell in twenty meenutes. Terrible stormy weather, Mr
Cameron. What way's the mustress keepin'?'

"Then Wully would put off his uniform coat and on wi' a wee pea-jecket,
and go up to where The Goat wass roarin' like a bull in the streets
of Tarbert, swingin' a top-boot full o' stones aboot his heid--clean daft
wi' fair defiance.

"'John,' Wully would say to him, rubbin' his hands and lookin' kindly at
him, 'it's a wonder to me you would be carryin' on here, and them
Macdougalls up on the quay swearin' they'll knock the heid off you.'

"The Goat would start for the quay, but Wully wass there before him, and
would say to the Macdougalls, 'In to your boat, my laads, and on wi' the
hatch; M'Vicar's vowing vengeance on you. Here he comes!' He knew very
well it wass the last thing they would do; five minutes later and the
three Macdougalls and The Goat would be in grips.

"'Pick oot whatever bits belong to yoursel's, and I'll collect what's
left of poor M'Vicar,' Wully would say to the Macdougalls when the fight
wass done, and then he would hurl The Goat to the lock-up in a barrow.

"But that wass only wan of Wully's schemes; his agility was sublime!
There wass wan time yonder when The Goat took a fancy for high jeenks,
and carried a smaal-boat up from the shore at night and threw it into the
banker's lobby. It wass a way they had in Tarbert at the time o'
celebratin' Hallowe'en, for they were gettin' splendid fishin's, and were
up to aal diversions.

"Wully went roond in the mornin' to M'Vicar's house, and ass sure ass
daith he hadna the weight or body o' a string o' fish, but a heid on him
like a firkin. If The Goat had kent what he came for, he would have
heaved him through the window.

"'You werena quarrelin' wi' Mackerracher last night and threw him ower
the quay?' asked Wully, rubbin' his hands.

"I never set eyes on Mackerracher in the last fortnight!' said The Goat,
puttin' doon a potato-beetle, as you might say disappointed.

"'Tuts! wassn't I sure of it!' said Wully, clappin' him on the back.
'Mackerracher's missin', and there's a man at the office yonder says he
thocht he saw you wi' him. It's chust a case of alibi; come awa' across
to the office for a meenute; he's waitin' there, and he'll see his
mistake at wance.'

"The Goat went over quite joco to the polis-office, knowin' himsel' he
wass innocent of any herm to poor Mackerracher, and wass fined in thirty
shullin's for puttin' a boat in the banker's lobby. Oh, a cluver fellow,
Wullium! A heid like a butter-firkin!

"You would think The Goat would never be got to the polis-office any more
wi' such contrivances o' Wully Crawford. 'If that wee duvvle wants me
again, he'll have to come for me wi' the Princess Louisa's Own Argyll and
Sutherland Highlanders and a timber-junker,' he swore, and Wully only
laughed when he heard it. 'Us constables would be havin' a sorry time wi'
the like of John M'Vicar if we hadna the Laaw o' the Land and oor wuts at
the back o' us,' he said, wi' his heid on the side, and his belt a couple
o' feet too big for him.

"Two or three weeks efter that, when the fishin' wass splendid, and The
Goat in finest trum, he wakened one morning in his boat and found that
some one had taken away a couple o' barrels o' nets, a pair o' oars, and
a good pump-handle on him.

"'I'll have the Laaw on them, whoever it wass!' he says. 'Tarbert will
soon be a place where a dacent man canna leave his boat withoot a
watch-dog; where's Wully Crawford, the polisman?"

"He went lookin' up and doon the toon for Wully, but Wully wasna to be
seen at aal, at aal, and some wan said he wass over at the polis-office.
The Goat went over to the polis-office and chapped like a chentlemen at
the door withoot a meenute's prevarication.

"'Some wan stole on me through the night, a couple o' barrel o' nets, a
pair o' oars, and a good pump-handle, and I want you to do your duty!'
says The Goat to the polis-constable, and the head of him chust desperate
like a butter-firkin!

"'Did you lose them, John?' said Wully, rubbin' his hands. 'Man! I think
I have a clue to the depridaation; I have some of the very articles
you're lookin' for in here,' and he opened the cell door, and sure enough
there was a couple o' barrels o' nets in a corner. What did the silly
idiot, John M'Vicar, no' do, but go into the cell to look at them, and
the next meenute the door was locked on him!

"'A couple o' barrel o' nets and a pair o' oars or the like o' that can
be taken in charge withoot assistance from the Princess Louisa's Own
Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders,' said bold Wully through the key-hole.
'Iss there anything I could get for your breakfast to-morrow, John?
You'll need to keep up your strength. You're to be tried for yon assault
last Saturday on the Rechabite Lodge.'

"The Goat lay in the cell aal day and roared like a bull, but it didna
make any odds to Wully Crawford; he went aboot the toon wi' his heid more
like a firkin than ever, and a kindly smile. But when The Goat begood at
night to kick the door o' his cell for oors on end and shake the
polis-office to its foundations, Wully couldna get his naitural sleep. He
rose at last and went to the door o' the cell, and says, says he, 'John,
ye didna leave oot your boots; if you'll hand them oot to me I'll gie
them a brush for the mornin'.'

"M'Vicar put oot the boots like a lamb.

"'There now,' said Wully, lockin' the door again, 'ye can kick away till
you're black in the face. Would you like them oiled or bleckened?' And
you never saw a man wi' a heid more like a firkin o' Irish butter!"


Para Handy had finished tea on Saturday night, and was ruefully
contemplating the urgent need for his weekly shave, when Mary, his wife,
was called to the outer door. She came back to the kitchen to inform her
husband that a gentleman wished to see him.

"A chentleman!" said Para Handy, with surprise and even incredulity.
"What in the world will he be wantin'?"

"He didna say," replied Mrs Macfariane. "He said he wanted to see you
most particular, and wouldna keep you a meenute. Whatever you do, don't
go and buy another o' thae Histories of the Scottish Clans."

"Could you not tell him I'm away on the boat, or that I'm busy?" asked
her husband, nervously putting on his jacket.

"I'm no' goin' to tell any lies aboot you," said Mrs Macfarlane. "It's
nobody for money anyway, for we're no' in anybody's reverence a single

"What the duvvle can the man be wantin'? What kind o' look did you get at
him? Do you think he's angry?"

"Not a bit of him; he spoke quite civil to mysel', and he has a book wi'
a 'lastic band on't, the same as if it was the meter he was comin' for."

"A book!" said Para Handy, alarmed. "Go you out, Mary, like a cluver
gyurl, and tell him that I slipped away to my bed when you werena
lookin'. Tell him to come back on Monday."

"But you'll be away wi' the boat on Monday."

"Chust that; but he'll be none the wiser. There's many a sailor caaled
away in a hurry. Don't be a frightened coward, Mary. Man, but you're
tumid, tumid! The chentleman's no' goin' to eat you."

"He's no' goin' to eat you either," said Mrs Macfarlane. "He's standin'
there at the door, and you'll just have to go and see him."

"I wish I wass back on the boat," said Para Handy in despair. "There's
no' much fun in a hoose o' your own if you'll no' get a meenute's peace
in't. What in the mischief iss he wantin' wi' his book and his 'lastic

He went to the door and found an exceedingly suave young gentleman there,
who said, "I'm delighted to find you at home. Captain Macfarlane; my
business won't take five minutes."

"If it's a History o' the Clans, we have it already,"  said Para Handy,
with his shoulder against the door. "I ken the clans by he'rt."

"You have a vote in the College Division," said the visitor briskly,
paying no attention to the suggestion that he was a book-canvasser. "I'm
canvassing for your old friend, tried and true, Harry Watt."

"Chust that!" said Para Handy. "What way iss he keepin', Harry? I hope
he's in good trum?"

"Never was better, or more confident, but he looks to you to do your best
for him on this occasion."

"That's nice," said Para Handy. "It's a blessin' the health; and there's
lots o' trouble goin' aboot. Watch your feet on the stair goin' down;
there's a nesty dark bit at the bottom landin'."

"Mr Watt will be delighted to know that he can depend on you," said the
canvasser, opening up his book and preparing to record one more adherent
to the glorious principles of Reform. "He'll be sure to come round and
give you a call himself."

"Any time on Monday," said Para Handy. "I'll be prood to see him. What
did you say again the chentleman's name wass?"

"Mr Harry Watt," said the canvasser, no way surprised to find that the
voter was in ignorance on this point, an absolute indifference to the
identity of its M.P.s being not unusual in the College Division.

"Yes, yes, of course; I mind now. Harry Watt. A fine chentleman. Tip-top!
He wass aalways for the workin' man. It's a fine open wunter we're havin'
this wunter, if it wassna for the fogs."

"What do you think of the House of Lords now?" asked the canvasser,
desirous to find exactly what his victim's colour was, and Para Handy
shifted his weight on another leg and scratched his ear.

"It's still to the fore," he answered cautiously. "There's a lot of fine
big chentlemen in it. Me bein' on the boat, I don't see much of them,
except noo and then their pictures in the papers. Iss there any Bills
goin' on the noo?"

"I think we're going to clip their wings this time," said the canvasser
with emphasis; and the Captain shifted hurriedly back to his former leg
and scratched his other ear.

"Capital!" he exclaimed, apparently with the utmost sympathy. "Ye canna
clup them quick enough. They're playin' the very muschief over yonder in
Ireland. There's wan thing, certain sure--I never could stand the Irish."

"Yes, yes; but you'll admit a safe measure of Home Rule----" began the
canvasser; and the Captain found the other leg was the better one after

"I'll admit that!" he agreed hurriedly. "Whatever you say yoursel'."

"See and be round at the poll early," said the canvasser. "It's on

"I'm making aal arrangements," said the Captain cordially. "Never mind
aboot a motor-car; I can walk the distance. Give my best respects to Mr
Harry; tell him I'll stand firm. A Macfarlane never flinched! He's no' in
the shippin' line, Mr Harry, iss he? No? chust that! I wass only
askin'for curiosity. A brulliant chentleman! He hass the wonderful
agility, they tell me. Us workin' men must stand thegither and aye be
bringin' in a bill."

"Of course the question before the electors is the Veto," said the

"You never said a truer word!" said the Captain heartily. "It's what I
said mysel' years ago; if my mate Dougie wass here he would tell you.
Everything's goin' up in price, even the very blecknin'."

"See and not be carried away by any of their Referendum arguments,"
counselled the canvasser, slipping the elastic band on his book. "It's
only a red herring dragged across the track."

"I never could stand red herring," said the Captain.

"And remember Thursday, early--the earlier the better!" was the visitor's
final word as he went downstairs.

"I'm chust goin' in this very meenute to make a note of it in case I
should forget," said Para Handy, ducking his head reassuringly at him.

"A smert young fellow!" he told his wife when he got back to the kitchen.
"He took my name doon yonder chust as nate's you like!" and he explained
the object of the caller's visit.

"It's the like o' me that should have the vote," said Mrs Macfarlane
humorously. "I have a better heid for politics than you."

"Mery," said her husband warmly, "you're taalkin' like wan of them
unfidel Suffragettes. If I see you goin' oot wi' a flag and standin' on a
lorry, there'll be trouble in the College Diveesion!"

The Captain had hardly started to his shaving when Mrs Macfarlane found
herself called to the door again, and returned with the annoying
intelligence that another gentleman desired a moment's interview.

"Holy smoke!" said Para Handy. "Do they think this hoose iss the Argyle
Arcade? It must be an aawful wet night outside when they're aal crowdin'
here for shelter. Could you no' tell him to leave his name and address
and say I would caal on him mysel' on Monday?"

On going to the door he found an even more insinuative canvasser than the
first one--a gentleman who shook him by the hand several times during the
interview, and even went the length of addressing him like an old friend
as Peter.

"I'm lucky to find you at home," he said.

"You are that!" said the Captain curtly, with his shoulder against the
door. "What iss't?"

"I'm canvassing for our friend----"

"It's no' ten meenutes since another wan wass here afore," broke in the
Captain. "You should take stair aboot, the way they lift the tickets in
the trains, and no' be comin' twice to the same door. I made aal
arrangements for the Thursday wi' the other chap."

"Think it over again," said the canvasser, no way crestfallen, with an
affectionate hand on the Captain's shoulder. "Don't be misled by
plausible stories. I have your name down here since last election as a
staunch upholder of the Constitution. You must support Carr-Glyn."

"There's not a man in Gleska stauncher than mysel'," said the Captain.
"What did you say the ohentleman's name wass?"

"Mr Carr-Glyn," said the canvasser. "One of the good old sort; one of
ourselves, as you might say; a nephew of the Duke of Argyll's."

"The very man for the job! I'll be there on Thursday; keep your mind easy
on that. My mother wass a Campbell. The Duke iss a splendid chentleman.
Tremendous agility!"

"The whole situation has changed in the last few days. You see, the
Referendum practically puts the final decision upon every new
constitutional change in the hands of the individual elector, and the
Lords are gone."

"Cot bless me! you don't say so?" said the Captain with genuine surprise.
"Where are they away to?"

The canvasser rapidly sketched the decline and fall of the hereditary
principle in the Upper House.

"Holy smoke! iss the Duke goin' to lose his job, then?" asked Para Handy
with sincere alarm; and the visitor hastened to reassure him.

"If you like, I'll send round a motor-car on Thursday," said the
canvasser, when he had satisfied himself that the vote of Para Handy was
likely to go to the side which had his ear last.

"Don't put yoursel' to any bother aboot a car; I would sooner walk: it's
the least a body could do for Mr Glyn," said the Captain. "Tell him that
I'll stand firm, and that I'm terrible weel acquainted wi' his uncle."

"Thank you," said the canvasser. "Mr Carr-Glyn will be highly pleased."

"You'll not answer the door the night again if a hundred chentlemen comes
to it," said Para Handy when he got back to his wife. "A man might ass
weel be livin' in a restaurant."

"What day's the pollin' on?" said Mary.

"On Thursday," said her husband. "Thank Cot! I'll no' be within a hundred
miles o't. I'll be on the Fital Spark in Tobermory."


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