« PreviousContinue »
by law are peculiarly the lights of a vessel under control; and, as has been pointed out, a trawling smack with its fishing-gear down does not come under this definition, but is a vessel which drifts more or less with currents and the tide. Thus, an approaching ship would be misled, and, believing the craft ahead to be at the command of her helmsman, might steer to pass close by her, and thereby court collision and disaster. On the other hand, the pilots have come forward and emphatically protested against the use by the trawlers of the white masthead light, on account of its being their own special light; while, on different grounds, a large proportion of the mercantile marine and of shipowners, and several foreign countries have adopted a similar line of action.
Perhaps a brief history of the question may not be without interest. About the year 1875, the English trawlers found out for the first time that they were in a very unpleasant position. They learned, from cases tried at law, that the white lights they were using on their smacks were not legal lights, and that, consequently, they could not recover damages from the owner of any vessel which ran into them Under the leadership of Mr Edward Birkbeck, M.P., they immediately commenced an agitation to get the law amended. Meetings were held, petitions were signed, and deputations waited upon the government. One of the results of this agitation was that in 1880 a Select Committee of the House of Commons sat and considered the question of trawlers' lights. They recommended that trawlers should continue to carry the white masthead light they had been accustomed to. On the 31st of May 1881, Mr Birkbeck moved in parliament, That, in the opinion of the House, it is expedient that the recommendations of the Select Committee of last session on fishing-vessels' lights be carried out, in accordance with the Report of the Committee, so far as it affects trawlers' lights.' He pointed out that the red masthead light, which it had been suggested should be carried by trawlingsmacks, would very much increase the risk of collision, as it would be impossible to see it, even in the best circumstances, at more than two miles' distance; while the posting of a white light somewhere on the gunwale-as had also been proposed-would be practically an impossibility. In replying to Mr Birkbeck, Mr Chamberlain said he could not agree that the Report of the Select Committee was to be regarded as a final settlement of the question. He asked that the motion should be withdrawn, and promised that, if this were done, the matter should be thoroughly considered. Mr Birkbeck accordingly withdrew his motion.
red flare, it was urged, could not safely be used, as it was liable to spontaneous combustion. A lengthy scientific inquiry, however, proved this to be a mistake. On the 30th of December, during the parliamentary vacation, the government took a decided step in the matter-they supplemented the coloured side-lights which trawling-smacks had to carry, by the duplex or kaleidoscope lantern. But this was a change which did not commend itself in any very great degree to the trawlers; and on the 16th of April last, a further deputation-consisting of fishermen from Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft, Plymouth, Brixham, Ramsgate, Scarborough, Hull, Grimsby, London, and other ports-waited upon Mr Chamberlain, and once more asked him to legalise the white masthead light, supplemented when necessary by the red flare. Mr Chamberlain this time replied emphatically that he could not take such a step, as it would be opposed by a large section of the mercantile marine, by the pilots, by a considerable proportion of shipowners, and by certain foreign countries. He, however, frankly admitted that the lights which the law at the present time rendered necessary were 'dangerous and inconvenient,' and said he was most anxious to meet the wishes of the deputation and secure to the trawlers a distinctive light. Such a light, he said, should distinguish a trawler from a pilot; should distinguish a vessel under weigh from one at anchor, or a light on shore; and should also, if possible, show in what direction a trawler was going. He suggested that a conference should take place and as speedily as possible-between about half-a-dozen representatives of the trawlers' trade and the officials of the Board of Trade, with a view to arriving at some decision that would give general satisfaction. When that conference met, on the 14th of May last, there was an agreeable surprise in store for the trawlers. Despite what Mr Chamberlain had said to the deputation, the Board at once, through Sir Thomas Farrer, announced that they were prepared to recommend the legalisation of a white masthead light, to be used with a red flare, the duration of which was to be not less than thirty seconds, and which was to be employed, on the approach of any vessel, in sufficient time to prevent a collision.
IN THREE CHAPTERS.
CHAP. II. THE ELEPHANT-TAMER'S CHILD.
NEXT morning, Bux Khán entered on his duties as the mahout of the elephant Shaitán. According to his prediction, Shaitán, after the severe lesson it had received, remained quiet and made no attempt to attack him. The animal would not, however, allow any one else to approach it; and an unfortunate fodder coolie, who carelessly went within its reach while throwing it a bundle of grass, received a blow from its trunk
Months passed by, and no action was taken by government which satisfied the trawlers. On the 24th of July 1884, a deputation on the troublesome question waited on Mr Chamberlain, who then said that he should be happy to consider any solution of the difficulty which might come from the trawlers themselves. Acting upon the hint thus thrown out, they very shortly proposed to the Board of Trade that they should that sent him to the hospital for several days. carry a white masthead light, supplemented Bux Khán had consequently himself to do all when necessary by a red flare. At this point, the work connected with the elephant-to feed a difficulty was raised in official quarters. The and bathe it, and to dress its sores and to clean
out its stable. He took it every day to work; and it wrought steadily and quietly, without evincing the slightest disposition to attack any of the other elephants. In fact Shaitán became to all intents and purposes a perfectly steady, hard-working elephant, with the single fault, that it was extremely dangerous for any person but its mahout to go near it.
The feat that Bux Khán had performed in subduing Shaitán made him, in the eyes of all who were employed at the kheddah, a sort of hero. None of them, however, could understand the strange power he seemed to exercise over the savage brute. Many of them attributed it to magic. An impudent fodder coolie ventured to ask him one day what was the charm he employed. But so fierce was the scowl with which the Afghan responded to the question, that the man turned hastily away, and never afterwards dared to speak to him. The peculiar temper and disposition of the elephant-tamer only served to confirm the opinion of his fellows that there was something uncanny about him. He was very taciturn, never speaking except on matters of business. Frequently, though addressed in a friendly manner, he would make no reply. When not at work, he would sit smoking for hours near his elephant, with his eyes on the ground, silent and motionless, and apparently oblivious of all surroundings. He would not associate with any of his fellow-mahouts, but cooked his own meals and ate them by himself. Bux Khán, however, won golden opinions from Captain Eaton by the way he did his work. Shaitán rapidly improved in condition and temper, and became as valuable and useful an animal as any in the kheddah.
About three days after his installation as Shaitán's mahout, Bux Khán applied one afternoon for an hour's leave of absence. On his return, he brought with him a little boy, about five years old, who was evidently his son, though as unlike him in many respects as it was possible to be. The child was exceedingly pretty, of a bright olive complexion, with an oval face, regular features, great soft black eyes, and long, dark curling hair, descending to his shoulders. He was dressed in bright-coloured clothes, and wore gold bangles and anklets. As Bux Khán entered the kheddah carrying the child, its beauty immediately attracted the attention of the people standing near, and many friendly remarks were made and salutations uttered. The Afghan, however, made no reply, and took no notice of anybody, but carried the child straight to his hut at the back of Shaitán's stable. There he remained undisturbed, every person in the kheddah having by this time learned better than to thrust his company or conversation on the elephant-tamer unbidden.
It very soon became evident that Bux Khán was passionately fond of his child, and also exceedingly jealous of any attentions paid to it. He resented unmistakably any attempt on the part of strangers to patronise or pet the child, and would not allow it to play with the other children in the kheddah, of whom there were many. He rarely let it out of his sight,
and tended it as carefully and gently as a mother her first-born. The child was as fond of him as he of it, and would lie in his lap as he sat smoking, pulling his beard with its little hands and laughing in his face with childish glee. At smile would pass over the elephant-tamer's rigid such times, something like the ghost of a grim features, only to be exchanged for a dark frown, should any stranger pass by and witness the little scene.
Something which happened one day effectually put a stop to any further disposition on the part of the people in the kheddah to take notice of the child. Observing one of the elephantattendants to be gazing very earnestly at the diately concluded he was casting an evil eye on child as it was playing about, Bux Khán immeit. Starting to his feet, the Afghan seized a heavy cudgel and rushed at the man. Luckily for himself, the fellow was a nimble runner, and succeeded in escaping unhurt. The matter was reported to Captain Eaton, and he was at first disposed to punish Bux Khán for the unprovoked attack; but afterwards decided to pass and he thought it would do more harm than it over, as the man attacked had not been hurt, good to take notice of it. Nothing was known of the mother of the child; but there was a dark rumour current in the kheddah that Bux Khán had in a fit of jealousy murdered his wife, a young girl to whom he had been devotedly attached, and had since gone mad with remorse. One thing was certain, no one ventured to ques tion him on the subject.
Several weeks passed away, and Captain Eaton had seen no reason to change the good opinion he had formed of the elephant-tamer. He was by far the best mahout in the kheddah; and his sobriety, steadiness, and regularity made him a model to all the others. His good conduct soon brought him an unexpected reward.
For some time past, Eaton had been dissatisfied with the conduct of the jemadar, his headman. He was getting very old, and being of an easy, kindly disposition, had allowed many irregularities to creep into the daily work at the kheddah, the consequence being that discipline was much relaxed. Another thing that troubled Captain Eaton was, that a batch of elephants had recently arrived at the kheddah from Lower Bengal, the mahouts and coolies in charge of which were the worst he had ever had to deal with. They were most of them low-caste Hindus, and were a noisy, drunken, turbulent lot, ever giving trouble, and taxing Eaton's patience to the utmost. Drunken orgies, followed by fights, had of late been of frequent occurrence; while several of the men being confirmed bang-smokers, were often incapable of work. Complaints of petty thefts in the kheddah had also become common. Captain Eaton had dismissed one or two and flogged others without improving matters much, and was now at his wits' end. He determined to pension off the old jemadar and appoint another man in his place, on whom he could rely to assist him in restoring order and discipline; nor had he far to look. In Bux Khán he had a man to his hand, whom all respected or feared, and whose giant strength, cool courage, and iron nature fitted him above all others to rule turbulent
and reckless characters. Though there were several elderly mahouts who, by right of seniority and good conduct, were entitled to the post of jemadar, Eaton was not long in making up his mind to appoint the Afghan. Having decided on this step, he sent for him
'Bux Khán,' he said, when the elephant-tamer presented himself, 'I have sent for you to tell you that I am greatly pleased with the way in which you have conducted yourself since you entered my service.'
Bux Khán salaamed, but made no reply.
'I am therefore about to reward you, and to raise you to a post of great responsibility and trust: I intend to make you jemadar.'
Bux Khán salaamed again, but without any expression of surprise or pleasure.
You know the trouble we have had recently with those Bengalees; I shall rely on you to put down all disturbances and irregularities.'
'Sahib!' replied Bux Khán, not boastfully, but with quiet conviction, 'I am one whom men obey. I will keep those Hindu dogs in order.'
So the elephant-tamer was made jemadar; and the wisdom of the appointment was soon manifest. At first, there was some natural grumbling and discontent; but it was soon recognised that Bux Khán was in his right place. So great was the respect all had for him, and so strong was the feeling among the bad characters of the kheddah that it was a proceeding of no ordinary peril to disobey or thwart the new jemadar, that in a few days the turbulent were overawed, the drunkards and bang-smokers frightened into keeping sober, and the petty thieves induced to drop their objectionable habits.
Something happened, however, one day to make Captain Eaton regret for the moment that he had made Bux Khán jemadar. He was standing in the hospital shed superintending an operation which was being performed on an elephant; and close by, within twenty or thirty yards, stood Shaitán in its stable. In front of it, but out of its reach, Bux Khán's little son was playing about, but, strange to say, Bux Khán himself was not in sight. He had suddenly been called away to attend to some important duty, and for once had let his child out of his sight, when suddenly one of the men who was assisting at the operation exclaimed 'Sahib, Sahib! look at the child! Allah preserve it!'
Looking quickly up, Captain Eaton saw, to his horror, that Bux Khán's child had in his play approached within reach of Shaitán. Almost before he could realise the danger, he saw Shaitan stride forward to the full length of his chains, and stretching out his trunk, seize the child round the body. The child was but a mere feather-weight to the elephant, and with one twist of its powerful trunk, it threw him into the air over its shoulder into the stable behind. The little fellow fell on to a heap of fodder, and Shaitan was turning round to seize him, when Captain Eaton rushed to the child's
He was only just in time. Leaning up against the stable wall was an elephant-spear, with
which he gave the brute a thrust, causing it to turn on him, and with one blow to strike the spear out of his hands. Before the elephant could strike again, Captain Eaton darted past it, and seizing the child by the arm, tried to drag him out of the stable. As he stooped to grasp the child's arm, the elephant kicked out violently, and the gallant rescuer was hurled heavily against the stable wall. He fortunately fell in such a position that Shaitán could not easily get at him. Nevertheless, the brute made a thrust sideways at him with its tusks, one of which passed through the loose part of his coat, grazing his side. Before Shaitán could repeat the thrust, a spear, thrown by one of the men who had hastened to their master's assistance, struck the ferocious animal. With a roar of pain, the brute threw its head up, whereupon Eaton seized the opportunity to roll sideways out of its reach, dragging the child with him. Having failed in its murderous intentions, Shaitán, after rumbling with rage for a few moments, commenced to eat again, as if nothing had happened.
Meanwhile, the captain had carried the child to his office and examined him to see if he was hurt. To his surprise, he found him uninjured. His having fallen on the bundle of fodder, when the elephant threw him into the air, had saved the child from breaking any bones.
That evening, as Captain Eaton sat smoking in his veranda after dinner, Bux Khán stalked in, and standing before him, salaamed_deeply two or three times without saying a word; then touching his master's knees and feet, and afterwards his own forehead, he salaamed again, and walked silently away. And the Englishman knew better than if Bux Khán had spent an hour in protestations, that he had in the jemadar a devoted follower, bound to him by the tie of a gratitude deep and lasting.
This new outbreak of Shaitán's decided Captain Eaton to get rid of it at once, as too dangerous an animal to keep in the kheddah. He determined to shoot it next day. But he was saved the trouble. Early next morning, before he went to his office, an old mahout presented himself at the bungalow. Will the Sahib please come down to the kheddah at once?' he said. 'We have something to show him.' 'What is the matter?'
'Shaitán is dead,' replied the man.
Captain Eaton at once hurried down to the kheddah, and went straight to Shaitan's stable. There lay the elephant on its side dead, in a great pool of blood. An examination showed that it had received two deep thrusts behind the left fore-leg, both of which must have penetrated its heart. The spear with which the wounds had evidently been inflicted was lying on the floor of the stable. There was no occasion to ask who had done the deed. There was but one man in the kheddah who had sufficient strength and courage, as every one knew, and that was Bux Khán, the jemadar. He had clearly, during the night, taken vengeance on the elephant for its attack on his child. Eaton at once sent for him and taxed him with the offence. The
Afghan did not attempt to deny it, and his face darkened and his eyes gleamed as he said grimly: It is true, Sahib; I killed it.'
Captain Eaton spoke severely to him, pointing out to him the gravity of the offence he had committed; but in his heart he sympathised with the man, and was glad the dangerous creature had thus been disposed of. Bux Khán listened silently, and made no attempt to exculpate himself. It was well for him that the death of the elephant had already been decided on. He had merely forestalled the order which would have been given next day, and was consequently lightly punished by a trifling fine. Had any other man than Bux Khán been the offender, he would not only have been dismissed, but probably have been committed to jail. The jemadar was too valuable a man, however, to lose; and his English master was glad of any excuse to pass over the matter. He took care, however, to let every one employed at the kheddah know the reason for his leniency, warning them at the same time that any attempt to kill or injure any elephant in the future would be visited with the severest punishment.
WE learn from a contemporary that since the time when De la Bastie introduced his toughened glass, Mr F. Siemens, of Dresden, has not ceased to prosecute his investigations in connection with the tempering of glass. That substance is, as is too well known by some, very brittle, although hard; but if it could also be rendered tough, it would be immensely more useful than it is at present. De la Bastie found that by heating the glass to a certain temperature and immersing it in oil he increased its hardness and produced some degree of toughness; but the process was wrong in principle, because the 'metal' was put into a state of tension, and a slight scratch often led to the sudden dissolution of the article, which exploded into a thousand fragments. Mr Siemens heats his glass in a radiation furnace and cools it between metal plates in a press, by which means he enormously increases its strength, and, if desired, can make it so hard that a diamond will not abrase its surface. Only glass of the best quality can be so treated; but another process, called semi-hardening, in which the glass is cooled in the open air while held in an iron casing, yields a product having about three times the strength of the ordinary article. The most important discovery, however, is one which promises to provide a field of usefulness for the enormous heaps of blast-furnace slag which have been accumulating in this country for many years; for Mr Siemens has succeeded in producing railway-sleepers, tramrails, floor-plates, grindstones, &c., in hard castglass, simply by running the molten metal' into moulds which have the same specific heat and conductivity as the glass itself.
It is obvious that if glass can be robbed of its brittleness and rendered tough as well as hard, its freedom from oxidation would make it a very useful material indeed. Many attempts have been made to utilise the slag-heaps in Cleveland, but at present they are of no commercial value. It is
not impossible that the persistent efforts of Mr Siemens may point out the way to effect an industrial revolution in connection with the iron manufacture by utilising the slag as it runs from the blast-furnaces.
A LAUGHING PLANT.
This is not a flower that laughs, but one that creates laughter, if the printed stories of travellers are to be believed. It grows in Arabia, and is called the laughing plant because its seeds produce effects like those produced by laughing. gas. The flowers are of a bright yellow, and the seed-pods are soft and woolly, while the seeds resemble black beans, and only two or three grow in a pod. The natives dry and pulverise them; and the powder, if taken in small doses, makes the soberest person behave like a circus clown or a madman; for he will dance, sing, and laugh, and cut the most fantastic capers, and be in an uproariously ridiculous condition for about an hour. When the excitement ceases, the exhausted exhibitor of these antics falls asleep; and when he awakes, he has not the slightest remembrance of his frisky doings.—Vick's Floral Magazine (American).
All Rights Reserved.
LITERATURE, SCIENCE, AND ART
ESTABLISHED BY WILLIAM AND ROBERT CHAMBERS, 1832
BY A LADY.
YOUNG AND OLD.
Is treating the question of nursing, we have hitherto confined our attention to those general rules which are applicable to all forms of illness; we now propose dealing with a few of the more marked and special varieties of condition and disease.
As regards condition, the question of a patient's age plays a prominent part, and what would pass muster as ordinary care in the case of an adult, might be actual neglect in dealing with a child; for not only are children more delicate and sensitive, but they are also at a great disadvantage, in being unable to give proper expression to their feelings of suffering; and though, when a child complains of pain, we are quite sure the complaint is genuine, this is often about all the information inexperience can gather. In regard to infants, the difficulty is even greater, for almost the only guide we have is in a change of cry; and though most mothers quickly learn to distinguish between the cries of ordinary passing pain, of hunger, and of temper, there are few who can distinguish those subtler differences in a persistently altered ery, which to trained ears tell their own tale. But the most inexperienced may understand this, that if a changed cry continues, extra watching is needed; and should a warm bath fail to give relief and restore smiles, it will be safer to call in medical aid. In this connection, I cannot too earnestly warn mothers and nurses against the dangerous practice of perpetually dosing their children. In more than one nursery I could name, it is the rule, as soon as a child is tiresome,' to punish it with a dose of medicine, from which it turns in loathing, and about which the mother knows as little as she does of the wonderful and complex structure she is thus maltreating. Home-doctoring is bad enough when practised on the comparatively strong frame of an
adult; but the delicate, finely poised mechanism of child-life may be so affected by the injudicious use of powerful drugs, that the innocent sufferer shall pay a lasting penalty for the presumptuous ignorance of its home-doctor.
Broadly speaking, if a child is ill enough to need medicine, it is ill enough to need a doctor; but at the same time, a mother of ordinary intelligence may easily learn so much of the laws of health as, by judicious diet, exercise, clothing, and bathing, to avoid much unnecessary suffering in the nursery.
It is not within our present province to speak of the management of children in health; but in their case, acute disease is liable to run such a quick course, that warnings of danger should never go unheeded. There is one set of symptoms so grave, that even the most inexperienced may take warning of the near 'approach of danger. When an ordinarily lively child becomes suddenly, or gradually, listless and dull, turns away from its toys, and seeks only some place on which to rest its weary head, there is distinct threatening of trouble, and no time should be lost in seeking medical help. In such cases, it sometimes happens that a child will be much easier if held in the arms than if put to bed, where it loses the sense of comfort derived from a supporting arm. Should this necessity arise, it will greatly help a nurse if she can obtain a hammock-chair, an excellent invention, so contrived that the angle can be altered at will, and which, moreover, gives to the figure in such a way as to insure ease and support. Failing this, a low rocking-chair may be used, which, by the aid of a footstool or second chair, will allow the nurse to keep in a semi-recumbent position, which of itself is a great relief. It is also a comfort to have the weight of the child taken off, by passing a towel or shawl round the supporting arm and its burden, and then fastening the ends round the opposite corner of the nurse's chair.
* The word 'it' is here used for convenience-sake, and applies, of course, alike to male and female children.