Rough Scan
 

 

 

 



 
        
       
        AT THE CHANNEL FLEET
         
         
        OF coorse,
        BAILIE, 
          we had to see the Channel Fleet.  In 
          fac’, we made up a pic-nic for the journey, the pairty bein’ Betty, 
          an’ me, an’ the minister, an’ Mr Pinkerton.  
          As we leisuiely daunered in at the gangway o’ the “Minotaur,” 
          I says tae ane o’ the horse marines that wis walking back an’ forrit, 
          “Is the admiral aboard?”
        “What name, 
          sir?”
        “Oh, jist tell 
          him it’s ane o’ the owners gi’en’ him a ca’.”
        That rather 
          took the consait oot o’ the chap, so he says, “Would you give me your 
          card?”
        So I put my 
          haun in my waistcoat pocket, an’ took oot a card and handed it tae him.  When he read it,
        “Lieut-Col.  Sir James Kaye, K.O.B.,” man, BAILIE, it wis 
          like magic.  In an instant he 
          put his gun up to his nose an saluted me.  
          But I says, “Oh, I’m no’ the least angry, my man, you were only 
          daein’ your duty.”
        “This way Sir 
          James,” says he, an’ so we a’ followed him till we cam’ tae the admiral’s 
          cabin, at the hin’ en’ o’ the ship.  
          There we wwre ushered in, an’ the admiral, whenever he read the 
          card, rins forrit an’ shakes hauns wi’ us a’, an’ asks us tae tak’ a 
          gless o' wine.  A blue curtain 
          wis then drawn across the door, an' we made oorsel’s comfortable roon 
          a wee stove.
        “How proud I 
          am to meet you, Sir James,” says the Admiral.  
        “The Queen wrote me you would likely call, an’ I wis to show 
          you every attention.  I hope 
          you feel warm enough.”
        “Vera nice, 
          thank ye.”
        “An’ you’re 
          not in a draught?”
        “No, no; I’m 
          first-rate, if I don’t get sea—sick.”
        “And is
        K.O.B. 
          a new order?  I don’t mind of 
          ever seeing it before, Sir James.”
        “Oh, that wis 
          jist mair to fill up the card, an’ no hae it bare like.  There’s sae mony K.C.B.’s an’ L.S.D.’s an’ 
          G.O.M.’s an’ sich like noo-a-days, that I thocht I wid like an order 
          like the rest, an’ the minister picked that ane oot.  
          Ye widna guess what it is, noo?”
        “Really, I’ve 
          no idea.”
        “Guess.”
        “Oh, I couldn’t.”
        "Weel, 
          I’ll tell ye what it is, ‘Kurious old buffer,’ but that’s between oorsel’s.  
          Noo, I could tak’ anither gless o’ lemonade — it’s rale fine 
          — it’s the best lemonade ever I tasted."
        "That’s 
          Sparkling Moselle.”
        “D’ye really 
          tell me that, Admiral?  Sparkling
        Moselle, is't?  Ay, ay, I thocht 
          I kent the taste o’t.  Fill up 
          the minister’s gless.  I hear 
          ye get a’ your liquor free o’ duty.  
          Man, I wish I could get mine that way.  
          An’ noo we’ll tak’ a bit dauner roon’ an’ see the guns.”
        Then the Admiral 
          took Betty under his arm, an’ the minister an’ me followed, an’ Mr Pinkerton 
          brocht up the rear.  As he gaed 
          stumping aboot wi’ his wudden leg, the sailors wi’ the bare feet cleared 
          a guid broad road for him, till he cam’ on ane that wisna lookin’, an’ 
          if ye had heard the yowl.
        “Admiral,” says 
          I, “what way hae ye thae sailor buddies rinning aboot wi’ their bare 
          feet?  It’s no respectable like.  I'm sure the bad times disna affect you.  The Englisli newspapers mak’ a great wark aboot 
          seein’ the bairns in Scotland wi' their bare feet, but liere, in the 
          ‘Minotaur,’ under the flag that braved a thoosan’ years, I see nearly 
          every second man has neither shoes nor stockings.  
          Hooever, what ye want in shoes ye mak’ up in spy-glesses.  Ye maun ha’e an awfu’ lot o' them aboard.  
          I’m sure ye can see ower tae Greenock withoot a spy-gless.
        We noo gaed 
          doon a lot o’ stairs tae see the engines, an’ I whispers tae the Admiral,
        “Yon was my 
          private card, but here’s my business ane.  
          Ye’ll see I’m in the coal line— ’orders punctually executed.’  Could I no sen’ ye doon a waggon or twa before 
          ye go, an’ as Mr Pinkerton is purveyor to H.R.H. o’ Battenberg, maybe 
          ye could order a smoked ham or a Dunlop cheese frae him?”
        But the Admiral 
          said he got a’ his things frae England.  ‘Ay, ay,” says I, “Englan’ again, I’m sure ye micht gie us a bit 
          turn when ye come here.”
        But I needna 
          weary ye, BAILIE, wi’ a’ we saw.  The 
          band played a lot o’ Scotch tunes in oor honour, an’ we gaed in again 
          an’ had anither gless o’ wine, an’ then Mr Pinkerton fell asleep an’ 
          snored awfu’.  Betty an’ the minister looked ower an album, 
          an’ the Admiral an’ me drew oot a plan for the fortifications of the 
          Clyde.  The Admiral allooed I 
          wis a man wi’ extraor’nar’ perspicuity — it’s rael pleasant,
        BAILIE, 
          to meet wi’ a gentleman — indeed, we were maist agreeable.  
          A box o’ ceegaurs an’ a bottle o’ the Moselle wis pit doon between 
          us, an’ there we sat, drawing lines, and crosses, and parallelograms, 
          as he ca’d them, an’ dividing an’ sub-dividing, an’ at last we had a 
          perfect plan drawn oot.  He bound 
          me under secrecy no’ tae say where the fortifications were to be, till 
          he took oot a patent for it, but I don’t think I’m breaking ony confidence 
          — particularly when it wis me that tell’t him the hale thing — when 
          I say that they’ve tae be inside o’ Ailsa Craig.  
          Says the Admiral tae me, as he lichtit anither ceegaur—
        “You get the 
          battery built just where you put that dot, Sir James, an’ I’ll mount 
          a gun that’ll sweep the horizon from Campbeltown tae Cartsdyke Bay, 
          and then, Sir James, oor fame will be so great that we’ll be buried 
          in Westminster Abbey,” an’ he gies me a slap on the back jist as I wis 
          takin’ a gless o’ the wine that made it go doon the wrang way.  
          Hooever, I jist filled up anither, an’ him an’ me joined hauns 
          an’ swore eternal freenship, an’ he promised tae come an’ stop a fortnight 
          wi’ me next summer at Saltcoats, if it widna put me aboot.  
        “And now,” says he, “come up and inspect the marines.”
        So up we gaed 
          tae the hurricane deck, where the hale crew an’ the marines were drawn 
          up, the one on the one side, an the ither on the ither.  We walked leisurely doon between them, an’ at last I says:  “Attention! eyes richt — the rear rank will 
          advance fower paces backwards!  So! 
          when I say ‘Hoop la!’ every man’ll put his gun in ablow his oxter an 
          keep it there!  So!  Vera well dune.  Load noo; 
          present an’ turn roon aboot so that ye’ll fire ootwards.  Cannie na!  
          Cannie till I see if there’s nae steamboats ootside.  No ! the coast’s clear.  F.I.R.E.!” 
        The minister put his fingers in his ears, an’ Betty fented in 
          the Admiral’s arms, but I stood unmoved, an’ as firm as if I wis adamant.  Then I cries, “An’ noo I must see hoo ye march!” 
        “But there’s no room to march on board ship,” says the Admiral.  
        “Isna there,” says I, “we’ll sune see that.  
          All hands clear the deck.  Put 
          a’ thae Pails an things tae the one side.  
          Noo, men, ye'll begin at the hin’ en’, an’ march richt tae the 
          bow, then doon the stairs, an’ back in the flat below, an' up the stairs 
          here, an’ sae on roon aboot.“  I 
          sune let them see whether they could march or no’.  
          I had them going up an’ doon the stairs like yon white mice ye 
          see in the bird shop windows, an’ the Admiral allooed it wis a plan 
          he wid never hae thocht upon.
        “I’ll let ye 
          see mair than that,” says I, an’ while the marines marched alang the 
          one side o’ the deck tae the bow I made the sailor buddies march alang 
          the ither side o’ the deck the hin’ en’ an’ doon the stairs an’ up at 
          the bow, an’ it wid hae gone on fine, only they met in a dark place 
          doon below an’ tae fecht.
        But ye see,
        BAILIE, that wisna my faut.  So 
          I cried, “Halt! All hauns on deck.  
          Come up the hale lot o’ ye, sodgers an’ sailors — every man o’ 
          ye come up at once before I read the Riot Act!  
          Noo,” I says when they had come up, “weel done, noble fellows.  
          It gives me great pleasure, as one o’ your owners, tae come an’ 
          see the discipline, the order, the regularity, the cleanliness, the 
          integrity, the — oh, I don’t know what a’ — that prevails on board.  Fellow-comrades — for a'tho’ I am a cornel, still I’m jist mortal 
          like yersel’s — in the name o’ the sister branch o’ the service — the 
          Volunteers - I thank ye; an’ mair than that, I’m prood o’ ye.  Aye keep heids cool an’ your feet warm — no, 
          no, that’s no’ it; aye yer powder dry an’ yer throats moist, and there’s 
          nae fear o’ ye.  Farewell, brithers 
          in arms; au revoir, Admiral.”
        As we cam’ awa’ 
          the band played—
         
        “When 
          ye gang awa, Jamie,
        Far 
          across the sea, laddie.”
         
        It wis rale 
          touching — there wis hardly a dry e’e in the hale boat.  Indeed, the minister said that that wee bit 
          simple tune had mair effect on the bronzed tars than if he had preached 
          a sermon an ‘oor lang.  An’ I 
          weel believe it, BAILIE.