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ALBERT DORRINGTON

BULLY HAYES

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RGL e-Book Cover 2019©

A "BULLY" HAYES STORY


Ex Libris

As published in The Worker, Wagga, NSW, Australia, 30 August 1906

This e-book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2019
Version Date: 2019-08-09
Produced by Terry Walker and Roy Glashan

All original content added by RGL is protected by copyright.

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ABOUT CAPTAIN "BULLY" HAYES

"BULLY" HAYES was a notorious American-born "blackbirder" who flourished in the 1860 and 1870s, and was murdered in 1877. He arrived in Australia in 1857 as a ships' captain, where he began a career as a fraudster and opportunist. Bankrupted in Western Australia after a "long firm" fraud, he joined the gold rush to Otago, New Zealand. He seems to have married around four times without the formality of a divorce from any of his wives.

He was soon back in another ship, whose co-owner mysteriously vanished at sea, leaving Hayes sole owner; and he joined the "blackbirding" trade, where Pacific islanders were coerced, or bribed, and then shipped to the Queensland canefields as indentured labourers. After a number of wild escapades, and several arrests and imprisonments, he was shot and killed by ship's cook, Peter Radek.

So notorious was "Bully" Hayes, and so apt his nickname, (he was a big, violent, overbearing and brutal man) that Radek was not charged; he was indeed hailed a hero.

Dorrington wrote a number of amusing and entirely fictitious short stories about Hayes. Australian author Louis Becke, who sailed with Hayes, also wrote about him.

Terry Walker



THE pearling luggers lay three-deep at the end of the pier. Gangs of black land white-shellers loafed under the narrow sun awnings, smoking or squirting betel juice across the decks. Captain William Hayes was leaning over the pier rail, cigar in mouth, his white teeth showing through his black beard. Beside him were groups of men from all the islands of the South Pacific: Germans, Dagoes, Scandinavians and Rotumah men, and the talk ran on matters connected with shell and bÍche de mer.

'If my chance came again,' said Hayes, suddenly, 'I'd go on the stage and fight pirates with wooden swords—there's always more money in shamming the business than doing the real thing.'

A diver with a consumptive eye coughed sadly.

'I've seen 'em playing at divers on the stage,' he said. 'Used to make me feel tired the way they lifted the gold box from the wreck with the quids spillin' out and the band playin'.

'There's many a thing done in the islands,' broke in Hayes, 'that would make people sit back if they could see it behind the footlights with musical attachments. I fought a Dago for possession of a 50-acre pearl lagoon down in the Shoe Archipelago once. I've still got his knife marks under my singlet. He had ten kanakas, I had six, and we used to crawl on to one another in the middle of the night up to our necks in water, wrestling, stabbing and feeling carefully for each other's eyes. After I'd boosted him across the sky line, I set to work raking up the I golden- edged shell. Most of it was worth £200 a ton then, and we slaved for nine months until we'd gutted the lagoon from end to end. My part of the cheque, after we'd cased and bagged the shell, came to £700. It was gone in a month.

'A Sydney spieler fell across me in Apia. His wife and daughters were with him, and they looked sweet enough to read evening prayers at Government House. Cards was their game. We played Banker and Van John, and the two girls bagged my cheques as fast as I drew 'em up. The old mother of the crowd cried when she saw me losing heavily. I guess her tears would have floated an ordinary alligator—they didn't lift me much though. After the family had cleaned me up, the old man offered to play me for my schooner. I held off a bit until the girls said they'd stand out of the game to give me a chance. They were sure I could play the old man with my left hand.

'We played and papa wiped me out with the ace of spades. Next morning I asked the family to come aboard and inspect their new possession. The girl who'd won most of my money said it was wicked of papa to take my new schooner. Then she told me I had nice eyes.

'I didn't say anything. They trooped aboard, mother and dad and the girls. Dad had little pouches of flesh under his eyes, and when he walked they seemed to run up and down his cheekbone. We were lying offshore, and while the crowd was below admiring the brass cabin fittings, we boosted the anchor aboard and got out to sea.

'It was funny to see 'em come on deck yelling like a crowd or devils.

'"Don't squeal, ladies and gentlemen," says I, "or that man- o'-war guard-boat will hear you."

'Outside the harbor I called the family into the state-room. The girls cried until the rouge turned blue on their cheeks. The old man breathed as though his heart was putting up a record jump. I sat there and looked at 'em, and I guess when they looked at me they saw a big black dog in my eyes. Nobody spoke. I wanted them to do a bit of hard thinking.

'The schooner was running her nose into it; the thunder of big seas shook us fore and aft. The old man stood up and his knees trembled.

'Captain Hayes,' he says, 'you are taking us out to sea.'

'"I'll supply you with free passages to H—," says I, "If you don't hand over the money you spieled from me. You can think it over, Mr. Sharpfinger; we're bound for the Line Islands, and there's no hurry."

'"Good God!" says he. "Where are the Line Islands?"

'"Thousand mile nor'-west of the Navigators," says I. "It's a long time between drinks up there."

'The girls lay on the state-room sofa and started to bite the cushions, while the old man staggered up and down feeling his hair.

'"The cheques are at the hotel," says he. "I swear to you, Hayes, that we haven't ten dollars in cash with us."

'It looked like a fix for me, and I dropped into my cabin to think it over. I couldn't take the old blackguard's cheque, and if I allowed the girls to go ashore they'd put a gunboat on my track, and jail me in short order. I'd made up my mind to block these Sydney sharps.

'Back to the state-room I went after an hour's hard thinking. They were weeping and sprawling about as though I'd given 'em a dose of poison.'

'"Now," says I, "there's one way out of the difficulty. I'll put back, if you like, and go ashore with papa while he gets the cheques from the hotel."

'It seemed a bit risky for me, but I reckoned I could handle papa if I got him alone. The old lady agreed; then the girls said I was a nasty brute for wanting my money back. Anyhow, we brought the schooner round and crept into the harbor when it was dark enough to dodge the guard-boat.'

'My mate, Bill Howe, took command of the schooner while I pulled ashore with papa in the dingy. At Man-o'-war Steps I took his hand gently, the hand he used to deal me all the bad cards with, and spoke in his ear. "Papa," says I, "if you look at a policeman or raise your hand or voice until we come out of the hotel I'll bullet you in three places."

'He waved his other hand towards the schooner.

'"You've got my family aboard. I'm thinking of them," says he.

'Down the main street we walked, his arm in mine. We had a drink at the hotel bar. Somebody was hammering the piano upstairs, while a crowd of French sailors danced on the footwalk outside.

'I escorted papa to his bedroom while he fossicked in his drawers and valise for my cheques. Then he remembered that his eldest daughter had several amounting to £250. I waited outside her room while he slipped in and lit the lamp. There was no need to bustle him, seeing that I had his family in my keeping.

'Still, he was dead slow getting my cheques. A woman keeps things different to a man, and I allowed him ten minutes to go through her millinery and glove boxes—that's where most ladies sling their valuables. When he came out I noticed that his lips were a bit dry; the pouches of flesh under his eyes shook and trembled. I put it down to excessive grief at parting with the boodle.

'We had another drink at the bar while I counted the cheques; there was one for fifty dollars missing, and when ho offered to go back and hunt for it I said it didn't matter.

'The family was wailing and weeping in the state-room when we got aboard. Putting the cheques in my locker, I lowered the whale-boat and helped the family in. I asked one of the girls for a kiss as she stepped over, but she promised to box my ears first time she met me ashore.

'I stayed aboard the schooner until they left Apia next day. We gave 'em a parting cheer as the steamer ran past. Never saw 'em again.

'A bombshell was walling for me when I strolled ashore. Old papa had cashed five cheques with my signatures attached. Blitz, the German shell buyer, had given him American dollars for 'em— two thousand five hundred in all.'

'My name was good in those days. Well, I looked at the signatures, and they were mine, every one. I raced aboard the schooner and examined the cheques old papa had given me. They were imitations of my signature—done well enough to take me in anyhow. He had drawn them up in his daughter's room. I guess old papa had a nerve like a rhinoceros to forgo my own signatures while I waited outside in the passage. And fancy him handing 'em to me in a place like Apia!

'They say the trick has been worked to death around Sydney. It broke me in halves and turned me sour. Next time I meet a respectable family man who wants to play cards, I'll give him a bath in my lagoon where the twelve foot sharks conduct all my funerals. 'I feel,' said Hayes finally, 'that a lagoon full of healthy sharks are about equal to a Sydney spieler. And I'm a bit of one myself, at times,' he added with a grin.


THE END


Roy Glashan's Library
Non sibi sed omnibus
Administered by Matthias Kaether and Roy Glashan
Go to Home Page
This work is out of copyright in countries with a copyright
period of 70 years or less, after the year of the author's death.
If it is under copyright in your country of residence,
do not download or redistribute this file.
Original content added by RGL (e.g., introductions, notes,
RGL covers) is proprietary and protected by copyright.