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orew of a man of war are assuredly not laid out in overluxurious fashion. There is, for each twenty men or SO of the crew, a long wellscrubbed table, with "stools" (plain strong benches) on each side of it. There is a locker, or its equivalent space, for holding each man's clothing or kit-bag; there are "messshelves" for holding crockery, knives, forks, &o.; and there is tinned ware for the table"kettles" and "tin dishes" of an adamantine build. It is not comfortable furniture, but it is adequate, and, above all, it is clean. There is air, any. way, and (dependent on the ship) usually quite a fair amount of space. When it is desired to clear the deck, both tables and stools, having legs that fold up, can be quickly hooked overhead, flat, and out of the way. As to beds, each man has his hammock, hung up, swinging for the night, but lashed up neatly and stowed away during the day. Nothing is so comfortable to sleep in on board & ship at sea as a hammock, and no other kind of bed occupies less space. Then there is ample washing accommodation for everybody, and, for the stokers, large bathrooms; so that there is every possibility for cleanliness and refreshment after a long hot watch amidst oil, coal-dust, boilers, and engines. Ever since steamships began to be in the Navy, some sort of bathroom space has been arranged for the stokers: though prob

ably this dispensation originated less in kindness and humanity, than in preventing the smallest shadow of engineroom products from marring the whiteness and brightness of the Old Navy's decks. The above simple lower-deck furnishings were to us, naval folk, a commonplace of life to which we had been accustomed from our callow midshipmanhood; and (in our ignorance) we supposed such to be the sealed pattern accommodation for all seamen, merchant as well as naval. So, when we stepped jauntily, on that first bright "Sunday Rounds," into our men's quarters, for inspection thereof, the amazement, and gradually the horror, at sight of what we then encountered, are sentiments that still remain fresh, at the end of five years, of experiences sufficiently overwhelming to blot out most other things.

We were conducted into the very "eyes" of the ship-to the forecastle, and the narrow depths beneath it: to the part which, in the great Atlantic liners, dips, shuddering, into the monstrous head - seas; bears on its front the first and worst of the furious impact, and carries on its dripping shoulders the chief of the strain and motion of the labouring ship. No place this, at any time, for men; but, especially, not for men tired out in long watches below, among the boilers, or on deck, in the fierce wind, rain, and cold spray. Yet this was the region allotted to the orew: squeezed away here into the least pos

sible area by the greedy owners of the ship, so as to permit of more space for cabins in the comfortable parts, further aft, for those who paid for their accommodation. The word "Bolshevik" had not, at this period of the war, been invented; but that is what we felt like as we entered, and regarded these quarters.

could be found for them, to the number of about fourteen. Regardless of the solemn hour of Captain's Sunday Rounds, each bedplace contained its proper human occupant, dirty and sweaty, just as he had come from the stokehold. (This profanity-blasphemy, evenof the day and the hour, apparently here a matter of There were three decks, one every-Sunday oustom, filled us beneath the other, each divided of the Navy with a shocked into steel walled compart- indignation indescribable !) ments, whose sides had once Each man was couched on (long ago) been daubed over, a "Donkey's Breakfast." This first with thin red lead, and consists of a coarse brown afterwards with thick and sack, tightly stuffed with old sticky white paint. The decks, hard straw. It is not also steel, were thickly bedded "shaped," as is a mattress with cement-the surface of or palliasse, with square corwhich resembled, to weary feet, ners and flat sides and surthe pavement of a city street faces, but is merely a bulged both in appearance and in and overfilled bag. Sorrow comfort. Each compartment befall the donkey who had was illuminated by two tiny its contents for "breakfast," and hermetically sorewed-up or even as bedding litter! glass souttles, and was "ven- The R.S.P.C.A. would be "on tilated" by a pipe leading to" the owner of that fourfrom the "ceiling" to the footed animal, and mighty upper air-but now tightly quickly! stuffed up with a black and dripping rag, in order to exolude the salt sea that poured down it at every dip of the labouring ship, from its opening on the forecastle.

The deck-hands occupied the upper compartments, which, as they opened more or less on the upper air, were much the best; the firemen inhabited the deeper depths beneath; and with a horrified interest we descended.

Round the filthy sides of each den there were riveted as many iron bed-frames, one above the other, as spaces

As for the rest of the furniture or fittings of this pleasant home from home on the sea, there was none! No table, no chair, no bench; and as a receptacle for olothes, a little shelf that soarce would hold a cap.

As to the presence of the men at this holy moment of Sunday rounds, there seemed to be no explanation required. The long-sanctioned custom Was that each man, as he came off watoh, whatever the day or hour, threw himself down on his bunk, just as he was, and there remained

until it was time for him to go to his next turn of watch in the stokehold.

As for meals, when the time for them came round, the members of each den took it in rotation to go up to the oook's galley and bring down thence, in a large tin dish, the mess of meat and gravy, or whatever was provided. On its arrival, each man reached forth from his bed, took with his hand out of the dish as it went by his gruesome portion, and, lying there, devoured it. This interesting interval of refreshment was, in fact, in process at the time of rounds, so that we had the advantage actually of seeing the animals fed without extra charge. It was, indeed, a much more degrading spectacle than any that the Zoo, at its most carnivorous, has to offer. There were no plates, knives, or forks - no table (as has already been indicated) on which to lay them, nor even a bench on which to sit down to eat.

The arrangements for personal washing were outside the dens, and consisted of a row of minute enamel basins, each holding a proportionate supply of water. An inquiry as to the position of the "Stoker's Bathroom" was met with a smile of pitying amazement at so landsmanlike an inquiry from an unquestioned man-of-the-sea! Such an effeminacy was entirely unknown to these hardy folk!


We must forbear from any description of the bestially

of They


primitive "conveniences these terrible abodes. had instantly to be closed.... Inspection completed, the order went forth on the spot, and the ship's carpenters were set to work without delay to convert one of the big empty deoks, whence the cabins had been swept at Liverpool, into a proper living place for the firemen, with tables, "stools," bed-places, bedding, clothes lookers, and baths. Something of the sort had already been done with the 2nd-class saloon, for the accommodation of the extra ship's company, necessary upon the vessel becoming a "man-ofwar"; and this formed model in the arrangements for the rehousing of the original orew. There was no difficulty as regards the provision of baths; for there were, standing in groups of four about the empty deck, the baths of the former passengers. They were no longer chastely enclosed, for each had been stripped of its wooden casing before we left England and was now lying gaunt and bare to the world. Plates for food, table gear generally, blankets and bedding, all were provided from the ship's store, but not without a gasp of indignant reluctance from the former chief steward; and soon the wretched firemen were established in their new quarters. Four pensioner naval chief stokers, dug out for the war, were then sent for, and ordered to live on the new mess-deck, forming, as it were, a mission of civilisation, in order to in

struct in the primitive, but, to these poor wretches, the entirely unknown arts of decent living at sea.

The result was marvellously satisfactory. The response to treatment was immediate, and within a month the new messdeck had the well-scrubbed appearance of that of a manof-war; while the captain was hailed by its inhabitants as "the firemen's friend."

As to their former abode, when its human occupants had been cleared out of it, a close inspection of its chinks and corners-nay, even of its open surfaces revealed the dreadful fact that it was "crawling"! There is only one cure on such occasions"the ditch"; and presently the broad Atlantic received into its deepest embrace every removable fitting: the Donkey's Breakfasts having already,some time before, sailed away on its all obliterating waves. Car bolic was libated upon the once filthy, but now closely scrubbed, cement floors and rusty "walls"; and the key was then turned on those unspeakable compartments "for the duration."

More lies in this illumination of a dark corner-a great deal than the plainly obvious need for a change in such conditions. For what is the For what is the result, in this instance, of man's inhumanity to man? Only the most miserable and the most ignorant of men, unemployables of all sorts and sizes, and from all causes, will enlist into a life so deeply far below the common lot of men.

Yet is the ignorance of these poor devils, self-styled "firemen," not less black and dense than that of those who engage them! It seems, indeed, to be supposed by these recruiters that no special training is necessary for the duties of a fireman: that "anybody" will do, and that all the requirements are fulfilled if the applicant possesses sufficient arms and legs to wield a shovel! Anything so truly inane can scarcely be conceived!

Stoking is a skilled profession-in some respects highly skilled; and if properly instructed men were employed in the Merchant Service, the saving in coal to the great steamship companies-and to the country at large-would run into thousands of tons every year, and even in every month.

When, during the war, the merchant firemen were placed, for the first time, beside our naval stokers, and, above all, came under the orders, disoipline, and instruction of our stoker petty-officers, they received the shock of their lives! They then, very angrily, discovered that they knew nothing whatever about their profession, which, according to their ideas, consisted in heaping periodically into a furnace as much raw coal as it would hold, shutting the door, and sitting down while it burnt away and the slower the better! This mistake of theirs has long since been lived down, Perhaps, now that the war is over and coal become so precious a commodity, the


great steamer companies are now reaping the benefit of the war training in stoking that these men got, and now are saving fuel and increasing speed through the scientific combustion of coal? Perhaps, on the other hand, their former men, now skilled and civilised, will not go back to them? If things are allowed to go on as before, and if every decently comfortable part of these great ships is still complacently robbed from their crews, in order to fill them with passengers' cabins, waste of the country's coal must inevitably result. The skilled men will take their knowledge elsewhere, and the stokeholds will again be filled by the miserable and the ignorant.

When the last day of "leave" had been left behind; the last repair repaired; the last "lashup" unlashed, and replaced by a permanent improvement, we were a much more efficient Armed Merchant Cruiser than before, in both matériel and in personnel. The war was getting on by this time; and the engagements of the hired crew, hopefully made out in 1914 as "for six months," had now grimly (but still not unhopefully) been changed into "for the duration.' That made far towards our future comfort and restfulness. Our teeth had never properly been "in it" before: it had been, as it were, only a growl and a snatch.

The feral instinets of the merchant crew, never really brought into subjection, had begun, indeed, to assert them

selves when their first engagement of "six months" with "the Government" had been exceeded, and they still found themselves kept away from the Almighty Burst at Liverpool that, in all previous engagements, had been the inevitable sequel to each "voyage." It was not their War; and all they wanted was their Rights. This Call of the Wild to them had now, during the refitting period, been fulfilled (not so satisfactorily, perhaps, as had been hoped, owing to police and liquor restrictions); and here they were, back on board, sailing south; wondering, vaguely, why the Navy should fine a man for returning from leave drunk? In what other condition, indeed, could or should he be on such an occasion?

On taking up the threads of our work after our return, we realised by degrees that a big change had taken place in the numbers of travelling neutral steamers. Very few were anywhere to be encountered; and as our own and Allied merchant ships were now, by Admiralty Order, spread wide on new and secret tracks, they too were no longer to be met with on our usual beat, the "Trade Route."

This enforced deflection from the usual track was deeply disliked and disbelieved in by the masters of all ships -ever the blackest of reactionary conservatives. They "could see no sense in it,' and bitterly resented being made to lay courses which took them to their ports by

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