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The San Francisco call. (San Francisco [Calif.]) 1895-1913, October 13, 1912, Image 2

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The Piracy of Black Scotty
THREE blocks away San Francis
co's streets flared with electric
. ciasc, and the heels cf the ccm
muters, ferry bound, smote the
pavements. Here in the saloon of
Lighthouse Tom, surrounded by a score
of brawny fellows, a chanty man
leaned against the bar and sang.
The fishing fleet was back in port
from Bering sea; a French bark that
had come by way of the 'Cape of Good
Hope and Australia had added two or
three red capped sailors to the crowd
in the room. A pair of half caste
Portuguese boat steerers had drifted
in, their pockets heavy with whaler's
money earned during two years in the
Big men, these, with hard, resolute
faces, with loose shirts open, above
their chests; some wore sheath knives,
after the old deep water custom. The
chanty man was swarthy and lean fea
tured; his head was black; his bronzed
throat was bare. His voice was rich
and full.
The man was singing "Shenandoah"
—a windlass chanty that has the dig
nity of a hymn. The score about him
joined in the chorus; it was like the
roll of long surges before a roaring
wind. As I listened, thrilled with the
wild romance and the mystery of the"
sea, which still clings to those places
where her rough children play between
voyages. Lighthouse Tom came and sat
beside me.
"Iron ships today," said he, "and
wooden men. 'Tis not the crew of
bullies that onct was. Lad, ye ort to
have heard them twenty year ago."
I told him what was in my%houghts.
He chuckled.
"Mystery, ye say; and wild deeds!
Is that the name ye give It? Not in
that bunch, lad. They're good enough
to man a windlass; and, even at that,
donkey engines does it fer them now.
I've seen the crew in this here room
that could of stood their own agin
any one."
He paused to light his pipe.
And a-w-a-a-a-y you rolling river,'*
boomed the chorus.
"Ye should of heard Black Scotty
sing that." Lighthouse Tom looked
down the length of the room. The
place was thick with smoke from many
pipes; into the murk the light glowed
"Did ever I tell ye how piracy was
hatched in this room? No? It was
along of this here Black Scotty. He
was built on the same lines as that
one that is a-singing tonight, and flew
the same colore. Black, he was, black
as the ace of spades. Highland Scotch,
and had run away to sea. A chanty
man; and in them days that meant
"Them was the times of long v'yges;
and the windjammers was thick along
the docks—the days of deep sea board
ing houses. Lord love ye, lad, why
there was a dozen of them places along
this street; and as many near by.
Shanghai Brown, Mother Martin, the
Bells of Shandon, Dublin Lewis* place
and many others. Them days It was
three months advance —seventy-five
dollars—and forty dollars 'blood' for
the crimp as well. Things was roaring
then. I've seen a crew shanhaied from
one ship to the other without touching
a foot on shore. And, when they did
land, it was swift work—a bunch of
money after six months at sea; a crowd
of bullies from Antwerp, Hongkong
or the Lord knows where; and what
ye may call a rip roaring time with it
all. Then, downed by the drink or
mebbe a clout on the head, and wakin'
up outside the Gate, like as hot awash
in the scuppers.
'Now, this Black Scotty he was main
fond of raising his share of hell. There
was not a port between here and the
Straits Settlements—going by way of
Port Said—but had some reason to re
member him. He was as handy at
fighting as he was at singing—a good
man with his two fists. And he was
quick to do a tiling. He did not wait
to lay out a tours'©'. Ye get me? Ha
was one of them that is always a-tak
ing a chanst. And glad to do it. He
slipped his cable for good, lad, in
Mozambique, along of a woman and a
Lascar and a knife,
'But I was headed fer piracy. Ye
see, this Black Scotty had punched his
way around the world, and he had sung
his way around the world, and, for all
that he was pretty sure to end the
n'ght in a free fight, old shipmates
liked him. Te had to like him; he had
that way with him.
"Let me see; let me see; it was all of
twenty year ago, that night. The men
is many ot them dead now, and what
of them is left is old like me. And
the Evenin' Star is a-laying rotting on
a mudbank. up on Duwamish river on
Puget sound. Ah, well; the years goes
fast when ye are on the tail end.
"It was this way, lad: There was a
dozen in the room that night—Red Lar
son. Boots Leary. Manuel that froze to
death in the arctic and Olaf Hansen.
I mind them being in the bunch. The
Evenin" Star, she was in port—and she
was a-taking on her crew.
"Not that them lads minded the
Evenin' Star, only to keep clear of the
runners; that was all. Fer these was
able seamen and could ship with whom
they pleased, so long as they did not
get drunk and laid by the heels. The
Evenin' Star was a blood ship. She
had a history, she had. A good stanch
bark; but she had a skipper that was as
bud as they make them, and a mate
named Jim White, a bucko mate he
was. A regular hell ship, and the name
ef her was a name to curse by. She
ntrer could get a crew, only by shang
iiaiing a good three-quarters of them.
And this here Jim White, he used to
tame them as soon as they got to sea.
"How did he do It? Lad, I have not
the time to tell ye the tales that has
c*me from the old Evenin* Star. The
last v'y'ge of her one man tried to cut
the skipper's throat and another come
a-runnin' aft a-yellln* and throwed
himself over the rail an* drowned.
Rope's end was too easy for Jim White;
he used his big fists as a joke, and a
belayin' pin was a pleasant argyment
fer him to put. So men hated that ship,
and, as I said, they had to steal the
crew. They'd paid as high as a hundred
dollars blood money to the crimps. f
"But this crew in my barroom was
not a-taking thought-of the Evenin'
Star. We was all snug and shipshape
here, and the boardin' house runner
that poked his head In my door—onless
he had a name of being fair and above
board—would leave the place like a
man a'trying fer to fly. So all hands
was lying and drinking and what not-
Then in comes Black Scotty.
"Many of the bunch had been ship
mate* to him; and all hands knowed
him. So every one sung out fer him to
give us a song the minute he showed
his face. But sing he would not.
"He was roaring mad, Black Scotty
was. No sooner had Jie come in than
he told us about it, and no sooner had
he told us and took a look around fer
his man, than he was fer heading out
agin. It was this way. He had dropped
into the Bells of Shandon, being sober
enough to look out fer himself and not
caring anyhow, and he had run afoul
of a lad in there, a landsman. The
two of them had some words. Lord
knows what was the trouble. Scotty
didn't remember himself. But the talk
got hot and Scotty was fer fighting.
Then this lad called him a liar. And
it seems like as soon as Scotty got his
hands up the other feller seemed to
be struck all in a heap. He just give
Scotty a look and whipped around a
making fer the door with all sail on
and a fair wind.
" 'Not like he was scared either,' says
Scotty; 'that's what made me mad. He
was a good chunk of a lad and ready
esough fer trouble. But something
come over him like, and he up and 'bout
ship, and out to the street. I've been
a-looking fer him ever sence. A liar,
he called me, and no man gets away
with that.'
"Well," as I said, he was fer looking
further; but some of the lads as was
his shipmates on the last v'y'ge got
him to stop and have a drink; and then
he had another.
"'What manner of man was this?'
Says Red Larson.
" -Bigger than me,' says Black Scotty,
'and jist a lad at that. A landsman,
he was; and there was Irish in him. I
will pull that red head of his on* of
his shoulders when I retell up with
"' 'Belay there!' sings out Olaf Han
sen; and Black Scotty stopped talk
ing just like I am a-telling you, lad.
He stopped with his mouth open, and
one fist up in the air. And all of us
stood fast and no man said a word.
"Fer the door had opened and a girl
was there right amongst us, in the
middle of the floor.
"Bareheaded she was, and her hair
all ways in the wind that was a-blow
ing outside. Her face was as white as
paper, and her big black eyes was a
blazing like beacons on a clear night.
€he had throwed herself into the door
like some one was arter her; and now
she come running towards me. And
it took the second 100k —she was that
changed with fright and with the
marks of the tears on her cheeks—
before I knowed her. 'Twas Nellie
Morgan, that lived with her mother
next door to the missus and me on
Rincon hill.
" 'Oh, help me, Lighthouse Tom,' was
the hail she give me.
"Well, lad, what with them distress
signals she was a-flying, and what
with her coming in on us so sudden,
right in the middle of Black Scotty's
rough talk that way, I was all struck
in a heap. I mind now how it come
to me that something might have hap
pened to the missus or the babies. That
is the way of a family man. But I
made shift to ask her what was wrong.
" 'Larry,' says she, 'they nearly killed
him. Right before my eyes. And he
doing what be could to fight them off.'
She sort of choked and reached out
fer to hold herself up by the bar. And
then I come back to my senses and,
'Give her a hand,' says I to Black
Scotty, for he was hard by whore she
stood. He made shift to stiddy her
or she'd have fallen to the floor. And
I come out from behind the bar with
some liquor; but she was strong agin
before I come up alongside of her. And
now her lips was tight and she talked
like a mate a-giving orders, hard and
"'Listen,' says she. 'I must tell ye;
and ye must help me quick. I tried to
find a policeman, and could not; and
if I had It would of been no good.
Larry is shanghaied. Right in front
of my eyes they dragged him off, and
not this half hour gone. I come here
to you, Lighthouse Tom. I knowed ye
could help me.'
""Shanghaied?' says I, and I could
not believe the words. For this Larry
was as handy a lad as ever was raised
south of Market—a big young lad; and
had been a teamster for three year
now. He knowed the city front from
Meggs wharf to Indian basin. Ye see,
lad, he had been courting Nellie Mor
gan this long time now. Me and the
missus knowed them both. A bit of
rowdy he had been, but he had stlddled
" 'Shanghaied," says she. 'At first I
thought 'twas thieves. But I saw more,
and then I knew.'
"Tell me, lass,' e\ys I.
" 'And oh,' says she, 'it was all
through fault of mine. We two was to
go out tonight to the Chutes. And
Larry would have it that I come up
town to meet him. Always he had
come after me; but tonight he got off
late from work. So we was to meat
up on Third street and take the car.
I went there and I waited for him. And
he was late.
" *lt was that made the trouble. I
did not like it. Ye mind how Larry
used to drink a bit too much at first,
and now he does not because of my
asking him. And I was afraid it might
be that was keeping him—-afraid he
had mixed up with some of the boys.
And when he did come, I smolled
the liquor on his breath. It was not
that so much —I had not made him stop
it altogether—but I was angry like
from the waiting. And one word
brought on another. We quarreled.
And I told him to go away from me.
He started back down Folsom street
toward the city front and I started
for home.
" 'But I had only gone a little ways
when I felt my heart grow so heavy in
side of me that I could stand it no
longer. I turned back and tried to
catch up with Larry. I hurried down
Folsom street. He was way ahead of
me. I saw him and X almost ran.
Another "Lighthouse Tom" Story
Will Appear on October 21th
• •••• i«—«——-—« »» i » linn »..» ■■ » «.«fi»n ■ iMmmn i> » t linn 9'••-"• •'• iih m »n «>m mn mil
" 'Down near Steuart street he was
passing an alleyway; and I was not
far behind him; and then it happened.
I saw them come out from the dark
and leap on top of him; and J heard
them strike him. And at first I
thought it would be robbers, and I was
running toward them —for why, I do not
know—and I screamed. And then they
dragged him away. And I was clost
enough now to hear their voices and
the words they Said; and I knew from
the talk that they were seafaring men.
A half a dozen of them; and one that
give them orders—a great hulk of a
,man with a long black moustache.
" 'Jim White,' sings out Black
Scotty. 'Mates, the lad Is shanghaied
fer the Evenin* Star.'
"Nellie went on:
" T run into the alley after them. It
was all dark; and when I had gone a
ways and they was far ahead, I grew
afraid. Then I ran back and tried to
find an officer. There was none. I knew
now that these would be runners and a
crimp's gang; and I thought of you,
Lighthouse Tom.' v
"And then Black Scotty spoke agin.
Says he: The Evenin' Star sails with
the morning tide. And that big man la
Jim White.'
"I felt something like a shiver a-goin'
up my hack, for I knowed he had
spoken the truth. And I knowed that
by this minute Larry would be laid
hard and fast In the fo'castle of that
blood ship.
"And Red Larsen was a-saying some
thing to Olaf Hansen, and In it I heard
him cursing quiet like. And Manuel
piped up: 'A hundred dollars blood,
they're paying tonight for her crew. I
got it in the Bells of Shandon.'
"What was there to do? There was
no law in them days fer a sailor. Onct
aboard that craft, a man was aa good
as out to sea. The masters had the
courts then. These things were a-run
nlng through my head and I was a-try
lng to give Nellie some comfort, a-tell-
Ing her,. There, there,' and the like.
"Then she turned on me. "Ye have
got to get him,' she sung out. Te have
got to get him back for me.'
"Then Black Scotty swore a big oath,
round and free as if no woman was
a-nigh. And says he: 'Mates, the lass is
right. It Is the only way. Come on.
We'll go shanghai that lad back agin.'
" 'Hold hard.' say 31. "This Is easy
talking. But what ye say is no more
nor less than piracy.'
"Black Scotty, he looked me between
the eyes, and says he: 'Piracy,' says he;
'name it if ye want to. What odds doeß
that make, the name ye give it? I'm
going to get that lad back fer his
"'Well,' says I, 'no need to make so
much noise about it if ye are. So am I,
too, fer the matter of that.'
" 'And the rest of us goes,' says Red
Larson. 'Don't we, mates?'
"Olaf Hansen, he was swearing down
under his red moustache in Swede,
and Manuel says something along the
same lines in Portugee. Lad, ye can
lay to it, there was no man in that
crowd of bullies tuk any thought brut
the one. And, says I to Nellie:
" "Now,* says I, 'lass, do ye be goln'
home. We will tend to Larry.'
"I mind how her eyes was blazing
and her breath was a-coming hard, and
she turned on me. 'Go home?* says she.
'I'll go with ye. I can not stay and
"Well, I tried to talk with her and I
might as well of saved my wind. And
whilst I was doing that, Black Scotty
began to make fer the door.
" *I tell ye,' he sung out, 'by this time
Jim White will be ashore again, and in
another hour the rest of the crew will
be aboard. Will ye stand here the bal
ance of the night?*
"So we put our heads together and
Nellie stood by while we was a-talking.
We made it up to slip down by Mother
Martin's place in twos and threes and
take a whaleboat that Black Scotty
knowed of by the old seawall.
" 'Easy enough," says Scotty; 'we can
handle them on deck, and one or two
drop down on the skipper in the cabin
whilst the balance of us goes through
the fo'castle lively like.'
"And so we laid it out. The others
left, and I was the last. Nellie went
with me. The whaleboat was there,
moored to the old seawall, and black
with men in the shadows of the night.
No sooner had we two piled in than
Scotty sung out, quiet as may be, *Glve
"A dark night with a lively gale
blowing up the harbor and a flurry of
rain every so often. Ye could not see
two boats' lengths ahead. It was pretty
lumpy on the bay and I could feel the
spray now and agin when we would
ship a hatful or two of water."
Lighthouse Tom .paused to light his
pipe and looked around the room. The
sailors were gathered In groups; some
were arguing with uplifted ftsts; some
were laughing, and oaths boomed from
the lips of many.
The San Francisco Sunday Call
"Never a crew like that agin," said
he. "They do not make that manner of
men these days. A different breed!
These in that whaleboat was men, they
"And whilst I was a-palling away
with the wind a-cuffling me alongside
of the head and the smell of the bay
a-coming In with every long breath, I
remembered that I was a married man,
with wife and childer up home on Rln
con hill; and I felt that like as not I
was a fool to be out here all along of
Black Scotty's orders. For that was
what it come to. And then I thought of
the girl we was a-taking, and how
there would be ugly business ahead.
It seemed like that I must of lost my
senses to stand for it. But no time fer
that sort of thinkin" now. I tried to
put It out of my mind.
'The bay waa black as your hat, and
here and there a ship's light made a
crooked streak on the water as we run
under some vessel's starn. There was
times when ye could not see two oars'
lengths before ye. And no man in our
boat spoke a word, onless it would be
Black Scotty a-singing out some order
very quiet like. Piracy it was ttiat laid
before us, and mebbe worse. For the
mates On the Evenin' Star was not the
sort to make windy, argyment, if there
was belayin' pins in reach. My mind
was heavy with these things, and I did
not take note of how fur we had gone
when the word come to 'up oars- and
stand by.'
"The wind and tide was with us, and
there laid the Evenin' Star. We was
drifting down on her fast. Big and
black she looked, a-swinging on her
-cable in the stream. We was as still
as If we was a shadow. Down we
drifted, right under her bows.
"We come a-slipping along her-side.
And as we come we fended off with our
hands, so that we did not make a
sound. Down between the thwarts,
cuddled close, to me, I could feel Nellie
a-shaklng like a leaf. I bent my head
clost to her ear and I told her she must
stand by In the boat and—no matter
what s*he heard—she must not come
aboard ship. Then we was alongside
the gangway ladder.
"There was a man or two on watch
on deck. And they had never seen nor
heard us as yet. But now Black Scotty
was on the ladder and two men had
boat books out a-rfolding fast. And—
" 'Boat ahoy,' I heard some one sing
out on deck; and then, 'Is that you,
Jim?' And even In the second it took
me to see that this one would be at
least a mate, fer calling Jim White
by his first name, I heard his feet a
pounding on the planking as he come
to the gangway. And hard on that I
grabbed a hold myself to board her;
then, 'what the h—l?' yelled the man.
In the same minute Black Scotty had
him by the throat.
"I was aboard while the two of them
was going down together. An almighty
smash they made when they hit the
planks. I stumbled over them and I
felt lied Larson a-shoving me from
behind; and back of him 1 heard Olaf
Hansen a-swearing in Swede, and Man
uel's piping Vice sputtering out sailors'
oaths in Portugee. And, 'Do ye make
for the fo'c'stle.' I says over my shoul
der to Red. Then I run on aft.
"A man or two was coming from'
forard; I could hear them as I run.
And I could hear the balance of our
crew swearing and thumping their
boots agin the timbers as they piled
overside. I went fer the cabin with ail
sail on. For well I knowed that if
real trouble come, it would be from
that end of the ship.
"I reached the house and started
down the stairs. I made them in two
jumps. Inside the cabin it was aTt
alight. The skipper had been a-setting
there by himself, a-taking a quiet
drink, and now he was up on his feet.
I take it that he had an idee it was
Jim White back with the balance of
his crew; for many's the men was
landed aboard the old Evenin' Star
with an almighty lot of noise.
"I was big enough then, and harder
than I am now, and quick. And I come
into the middle of the floor before he
well seen what or who I was. One of
them old bluebellied Yankee skippers,
he was. with a ring of whiskers under
his chin. I mind a-taking note of how
his face growed red, and then he made
a'dive for his breeches pocket.
"I had my legs good and under me
when I come down in the middle of
the cabin floor on that last jump. I
seen a heavy chair and I picked it up.
And about the same time he out with
a pistol. The two of us let fly to
"Well, it was all things at onct
then —a roar of noise and a smother of
powder smoke, and the smash of that
chair again the bulkhead. I ducked
low and I made a dive for where X had
seen him last. And lucky enough 1
did that, too. Fer I had missed him
as he had missed me; %nd now he was
a-shooting agin. By the time he had
let go that other shot I had him by
the legs, and he went down, with me
on top of him. I knowed what it was
I wanted most; and I had him fast by
the wrist before he had more than
capsized. I twisted his arm and the
gun fell on the floor.
"Two of our byes come a-billng In
whilst I was at that; they helped me
take a turn or two of rope about his
legs and wrists. We left him on the
floor a-cursing us when we run back to
the deck. X
From forard come the noise of
sounded like a free fer all. A smash
and then a yell, and then a smash agin.
And in it I heard Red Larson bellering
like a bull walrus. I seen Black
Scotty, with his face all red from his
own blood, grappled with one of the
mates. They was on the floor together
and at it like a pair of fighting dogs.
And in and out and all around was the
poor devils of the Evenin' Star's crew.
Some of them was a-flghting and some
was a-standing by; and none of them
had any notion of what they was
a-doing or why. I dived through the
ruck and took a look about fer Larry.
"I.did not see him at first; but when
I had gone on to where the bunks come
together, near the eyes of the ship, I
seen him in one of them. Trussed up
he was, and that right neatly, too. J
out with my knife and cut the ropes.
And then I shoved him ahead of me
right through the middle of the fight
that was still a-going on. 'All hands!'
I sung out as I went; and I give ye
my word, lad, I had to raise my vice
to make the words sound louder than a
"Well, 'All hands' was easier said
than done. I lost no time a-getting
Larry out. He went in front of me, and
did not stop. But the rest of the
byes was more or less tied up. So
we two stopped on the deck, and I was
in half a mind that the pair of us
should go back agin and help my
mates out when Red Larson come up.
and then Black Scotty. a wiping his
face with his sleeve. And hard on his
heels come Manuel.
"'Get them out,' I told Scotty; and
he bellered down to the rest. I heard
them a-coming as fast as they could
cast loose from them that held on. And
Larry and I made fer the boat. And
as we went a-running I Jieard a racket
aft; and some one was a-coming to
ward us. It was Nellie.
"Her hair was looselike and her eyes
was a-blazing so that I could see the
lights from them through the
And when she got sight of us she"
" Quick!* she sung out. They're
here, in a boat.' And with that she
throwed herself on Larry; and I left
the two of them together there. I
roared to the rest of them forard and
they come running. And none too soon.
Fer here was Jim White and two
boarding house runners piling down on
top of us.
"Nellie told me arterwards how she
had heard them come as she was
a-waiting there alone in our whale
boat; and how she had been a-scared
to move -until she got the Vice of Jim
White a-carsing at the noise we was
a-making in the fo'c'stle. Then she
run up the ladder and come to give
us word. ,
"Well, they must of thought It waa a
mutiny among the shanghaied crew of
theirs, fer they left the half dozen
they had In their boat and come on
right away to take a hand. They did
not look fer the likes of us. We met
them head on, right amidships. Me
and Manuel had one of the runners by
the throat and down in less time than
it takes to tell; and Red Larson and
Olaf Hansen was settling his mate. But
Black Scotty. he made ler Jim White
alone. By the time the others of us
was on our feet and ready to make
fer the boat, them two was at it
hard and heavy—as pretty a fight as
any man would want to watch. But
there was no time fer pleasure then;
and so I jumped Jim White from be
hind and got my arm under his chin.
He come loose handy enough with my
knee in the middle of his back. And
I started fer the boat.
"Lad, ye should of heard Black Scotty
abuse me as he come alongside me. He
was that mad from having that mlxup
of his spiled. It seems like Jim White
had smashed him one good one on the
nose, too. I told him to stow his
talk, and the next minute we was at
our oars and making fer the shore.
"Nowtlme fer wasting words now. We
could hear the yelling on the EveniifW
Star behind us; and any minute ther» T
might be some one a-making fer the
ship from the docks. We did not stand
by. ya can lay to that. And when we
got back to the old seawall, It was a
case of scatter, and no orders needed.
"Only Black Scotty and me was left
Avith Larry and his lass when the rest
of them was out of sight. Nellie had
kept Scotty fer a minute, a-telling him
how brave a man he was and the like.
Then Larry made to shake hands with
"Them two took hold of each other's
flsts; and fer all that there waa no
light here at all and the night was
black. I seen something strange. They
gripped hands; and Larry said a word
or two, like Thank ye,' and then he
stopped; and then I seen them a-stand
ing with their heads clost together
like they would be taking a clost look.
And then they cast loose.
"Black Scotty and I w-ent away to
gether. He did not say a word to m«j
When we got up by the Pacific MaK
docks, where there was light, I give
him an eye. And his face was like
the face of a man who is a-trying. to
figger out where he has been and what
he has been a-doing and why.
"'What,' says I, 'is bothering ye?"
" 'Tom,' says he, 'do ye know who
that lad was?'
" 'Why, yes' says I, I know him
"'Ye do,' says he. 'And so do I. I
combed the city front a-trying to find
him. No wonder I could not lay my
eyes on him then. That is the Irish-;
man I was a-!ooking fer to tear hijw.
head off.' says he. 7"
" "Anyhow.* says he after a bit, 'I got
a good fight out of this.'
"And with that I left him and went
home to the missus aad the babiaa."

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