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ALBERT DORRINGTON

THE BALTIC MAN

Cover Image

RGL e-Book Cover 2019


Ex Libris

First published in
The Bulletin, Sydney, 21 October 1905

Reprinted in The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser,
13 December 1905 (this version)

This e-book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2019
Version Date: 2019-06-09
Produced by Terry Walker and Roy Glashan

All original content added by RGL is protected by copyright.

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This story is about the Battle of Tsushima, fought by the Japanese and Russian navies on 27-28 May 1905. The Russian fleet suffered devastating losses and surrendered on the second day of battle. The story is narrated by a Russian survivor who speaks poor English, but the dialect is terribly bogus. Where necessary the transliteration of Russian names has been corrected and/or modernised.



HE was sitting in the bar with 'Shling' Olsen. There had been a subscription, and Carl Svedensdorp, who owns three schooners and a hulk, bought him some slop-made clothes and assisted him personally to put them on.

His hair was almost white, and he stared curiously at the gang of Finnish sailors in the opposite corner. A mastiff lay in the doorway; he spoke to it softly, and the dog licked his hand. Then he took a glass of rum, and, with a sudden movement, seemed to fling it into his throat. He raised his finger to the ceiling cautiously. 'Poolice?' he said, gently.

The Finns looked annoyed. A Northern word—it was almost a snarl—was flung at him. He looked pleased and sorry. The Norwegian captain gave him some tobacco. He had been in the U.S., but that didn't concern his story. He addressed himself in strict confidence to the Norwegian.

'My name: Nicholay Petrov. Six feet two. Russ. I want eh job. Torpedo factory, concussion-parts maker, spinner of steel en' brass en' copper. My mother—my father, Russ. Good farm on the Volga. I go to de Black Sea factories. But de Government shove me aboard a collier bound for Madagascar en' de Baltic Fleet. En' de Fleet snapped me up. Eh, my hair is white! Dey gave me a Cronstadt gun en' said it was my brother. I look it over en' clean it. En' de lice crawl over me ven I sight for aim, en' cause bad shootin'. Bad for God en' the Tsar. Goot for the Jap en' his Mikada.

'I say: "Bite hard, my brothers; be white en brave. We shall be hammered to death. Die because you cannot live."

'Eh, id vos sorrowful to see de young boys on board, soft as milk, quiet, dumb—de children ob de steppes, de Volga farms, de Yenisey, de Ural mountain children, de goat-herds, de keepers of kine, shepherds. Last year dey plough de fields; dis year dey are flung at a quick firer.

'Ve vas bound anyveres. De Japs was to meet us at de end ob de world, at de South Pole, in de Sea of India. De fleet vas a rabble. Here vas Ivan Skolsky, a peasant, in charge ob a torpedo. Here was a Neva blacksmith swingin' on de searchlight. We vas a pack of fools, hunted from place to place. We haf no right anyveres. No right to de sun or moon. Dey belong to de Jap already. If we stop in some quiet bay to rest our sick, thousands of miles from de seat ob war, Europe en' England vas ablasse.

'"Turn dem out, turn, de blackguards, out." De Englishman could not eat his food ven he hear we take shelter.

'Hunted dogs, hunted beasts, no place for our sick, even in de African bays. Eferyone hates the Tsar. Eh, Christs, I hate him, too. But I cry in de nide ven I tink ob de boys penned in de Baltic hulks.

'Ve leave Madagascar, where de black leper come aboard to sell us fruit. Ve struggle across de ocean. Ve struggle mit de big Cronstadt guns ven de cyclone almost sent us ober. Der vas fightin' mit knives between decks—for a bit ob meat, for vodka, or for de name ob a harlot. En' der officers yap, der cap'n yap. But troo de ship goes a cry like a bitch in an empty hold.

'En de talk ob de Jap! One man say dot de Jap vas de size ob your arm. Anoder say dot Nippon haf a yellow god dot live under the sea, en' tear de belly out ob ships. De officer warns us dot de Jap haf no brain, only a skull mit a camera inside.

'One day in de middle ob hell der Knyaz' Suvarov signal us, en' Rozhdestvensky* comes aboard. He vas white, en' his face vas like a corpse as he lean against de rail.

[* Admiral Zinovy Petrovich Rozhestvensky. Commander of Russia's Second Pacific Squadron during the Battle of Tsushima.]

'"Dis man vill be crucified," said a Siberian gunner to me. "Do you nod see id in his face? Dey vill drive nails into his hands en' feet. A Mongol man vill gif him vinegar on a sponge. Eh, Christs," said de Siberian, an' ve shall go up der hill mit him."

Rozhdestvensky looked at de ship. Id vas like a sheep- yard.

Blood en' sweat could nod make id clean. You could nod keep away de vodka. De Admiral lifted his hands. He say no word; he vas dumb. But his hands go up as if he would cry out. "Look at de crucifixion," says de Siberian.

'We crawl east to Annam. "De Japs vill get us here," said de cowards. De nide vas dark an' squally. Some trade boats 'en colliers come up to us. Dey tell us dat the Jap haf a sausage- machine to put us in. Togo vas round the corner mit a hundred battleships; his gunners vere de finest in de world.

'"Can dey shoot?"

'"Sacre! Hit needles mit a 12 inch."

'"Vos dey friken ob us goot mans?"

'"Friken? Yah, dam! You vas a joke, a menagerie. Good nide, sausages!"


'Dot nide de drums beat to quarters. "Jap torpedoes under bows!" shouts officer. De ammunition hoist drops shells ober de deck. De Siberian gunner vas first to knock open his breech, en' den he try to slam in a big shell, but someding in de breech push back de shell. De oder guns vas de same; someding inside vas pushin' back de shells. De surtch-lights went out.

'I swear id vas true. De Jap spies haf crawled indo de gun breech en' dey vud nod let de shell go in. "Qvick!" says de Siberian; he ran at de gun, slammed the shell home, en' locked de breech. When he fire his gun de shell trundle out mit a scream. Der vas spies in all de guns, but dey go out in front ob de shells.

'Ven you haf a small enemy like de Jap it vas wise to look in de jug efery time you haf a drink.

'I got away at Annam in a coal basket. I den ship to Shangai en' Brisbane.

'Ven a Russian like Rozhdestvensky lifts up his hands it vas time to get into a coal-basket.'


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.