SS Scapa Flow



Last Voyage of the Quien Sabe (Scapa Flow) Chapter 5







C H A P T E R   F I V E 

Animals often play a larger part in maintaining morale aboard ships than
any other factor. Each animal aboard the Scapa Flow was made over
extravagantly by all the men in the crew, with the exception of the
Egyptians. The Egyptians were much distressed by the cats and would pick
purring cats off their laps with all the jealous disdain of a feline
society woman. But all the others aboard were fonder of the ship's
animals than little children would have been. When the Scapa Flow left
New York there were two cats on board. One cat had gone to West Africa
with the ship on its previous trip, and simply stayed on for another
voyage. He was called the Bum by the crew, because he would go anywhere
on the ship and would fraternize with anyone, even the gunners who lived
at the stern. Despite his name and wanderings, the Bum was a very
well-mannered kitty and was popular with the men in the fo'c'sle. Even
more popular, however, was a tiny kitten--tiny at the beginning of the
voyage, anyway--which was brought aboard the Scapa Flow just before the
ship left New York. The kitten was brought on shipboard by Alabama.

Alabama gave the kitten the name of Mickey, and this name was accepted
without protest by the men on board. Technically, Alabama always
remained the owner of the kitten, but actually Mickey became the common
property of the men in the fo'c'sle. He was.more popular with the men up
forward than the Bum because he stayed true to the men of the fo'c'sle.
Mickey was only about three weeks old when he came on the 

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Scapa Flow, and the men amidships and aft thought he was entrancing and
cute. Many attempts were made by the officers, amidships, and the
gunners, aft, to wean the kitten, from his loyalty to the fo'c'sle. But
these attempts were never permanently successful, Mickey's loyalty to
the crew and coolness toward the officers aroused the jealousy of the
first mate, and he struggled everlastingly to win Mickey by keeping a
dish of cream outside his cabin, which was situated on the main deck
amidships. He never really had a chance, although he never quite gave up
and was always very fond of Mickey. The men going by the first mate's
cabin during the change of watches usually managed to kick over the dish
of cream, and on more than one occasion the stokers or coal passers
dropped bits of coal into the dish as they came forward after leaving
the firing room. The Brazilian messman up forward had standing orders
to keep a dish of cream on the floor of the fo'c'sle messroom. Moreover,
the nicest piece of meat or chicken was always given to the kitten, a
practice which continued throughout the voyage, right through the day
that our store of meat and fowl was exhausted completely. Nonetheless,
to the great distress of the men in the fo'c'sle, on a few occasions
Mickey did wander back amidships to play there. Mickey. had his own
reasons for going amidships, and they must have seemed good ones to him.
There were nice chairs amidships, all soft and leather-covered, which of
course were never to be found up forward. Moreover, Mickey and the Bum
were good friends, and Mickey liked to play with the older cat; they
would chase each other round the decks and even up the companionways to
the bridge. Whenever Mickey was caught amidships by one of the men of
the fo'c'sle, he was tucked under an arm and brought forward, chided
meanwhile in any one of half a dozen languages. Sometimes the fo'c'sle
men were a bit rougher and spanked the cat for his own good. Sometimes a
Portuguese stoker would find Mickey somewhere amidships and would run
his grimy, coaly hands over the kitten's brown-and-white fur, so that
Mickey would associate the concept of amidships with the concept of
laborious self-bathing. Eventually he learned, and toward the end of
the voyage his trips amidships were very few. 

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Although Mickey was loyal to the fo'c'sle, he played no permanent
favorites among the men there. He seemed, however, to prefer to
concentrate on one man for a few days at a time. Purring for attention,
he would follow this man around the fo'c'sle, and at night would find
and occupy his bunk, always sleeping near the pillow. After a few days,
he would choose another man, and so on. One of the reasons the captain
was unpopular with the men in the crew was that he didn't like cats. The
captain was clever enough to realize that he couldn't conveniently get
rid of the cats on his ship--not in wartime, at least--but he wasn't
discerning enough to realize that he would have got along a lot better
with the men if he had masked his natural feelings long enough to make
over the cats a bit, as any baby-kissing politician would have had sense
enough to do. One day, while the captain was on an inspection trip up
forward, Mickey got in his way, and, in an attempt to avoid stepping on
the kitten, he tripped. Immediately he cursed. And what he did next
caused almost no end of discussion among the men in the fo'c'sle. The
more tolerant ones-or perhaps the ones who had actually seen the
incident-claimed that the captain only moved Mickey aside with his foot.
Others maintained, however, that the captain had kicked Mickey. Still
others were sure that the captain had attempted to kick Mickey to death.
Nearly all the men were agreed on one point: that if the captain ever
harmed Mickey, they would ambush him and beat him--ashore. Incidentally,
the threat of a shore beating is a favorite of seamen against
officers: it serves to let off steam. Except in the rarest instances,
though, when the men get ashore they don't think of revenge, as they are
diverted by other projects. Howwever, the very knowledge that it is
possible for them to make good such a threat enables the men in the
Merchant Marine to get along better with their superiors than the men in
the military services. For, after all, the seamen on merchant vessels
are civilians, as are their officers, and it makes a seaman feel
better to know that he can deal with any of his officers on equal terms
while ashore, it also serves to keep the officers more humane to realize
that if they ride a man too unmercifully on shipboard they may one day
encounter him on the beach, their only re-

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course the police, who might not be around. In the military services, of
course, the officers retain titular superiority always, afloat or
ashore.   

2 

As I see it, there are at least two reasons why the cats were so popular
aboard the Scapa Flow. In the first place, it was a matter of
superstition. It seems to be one of the traditions of the sea that some
idea of the fate of a ship can be deduced from the actions, or fate, of
the ship's pets. Almost all seamen believe in stories in which disaster
is forecast by some accident that befalls a ship's pet. A story told by
our chief cook is typical. It was about a mother cat on a coastwise
collier of which he had been the cook. The seamen of the collier always
took the cat ashore when the ship touched an American port, and left her
to wander by herself around the dock area, knowing from experience that
she always came back to the ship in plenty of time to avoid being left
behind. The idea was to let the cat have her chance at romance on land,
even though she was a ship's pet and forced to spend most of her time at
sea. On occasion, she met a tom and later had kittens aboard the
collier. When the cat was near her time, the men would watch her closely
to try to prevent her from having them in too embarrassing a place. But
one time she had them in the worst possible place: right on the bed of
the second mate, who didn't like cats. The mate came into his cabin to
find his clean counterpane covered with blood, the mother cat, and a
litter of newly born kittens. In a rage, he simply wrapped the whole
bunch in the counterpane, stepped out on the deck, and heaved the bundle
into the sea. When the chief cook told us this story there was, of
course, muttering against the son-of-a-bitch who would do such a thing,
but each of the listeners seemed to know that there was a more important
part of the story still to come. The chief cook did not disappoint us:
he said that within two weeks a storm drove the collier aground and
broke her up, and a number of seamen lost their lives. During this last
voyage of the Scapa Flow there were several incidents which showed how
superstitious our crew was about our pets.   

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On the day we were ready to leave our first West African port the Bum
decided to leave the ship. He was seen walking up the dock by Red, the
gunners' messman. "The mother ----er was movin' right along, makin'
awful good time," related Red defensively, trying to excuse himself to
an accusing crew for not having chased and retrieved the Bum. There were
still several hours before sailing time, but as the time passed the cat
did not show up. A half dozen of the crew members went down on the dock
and searched for the Bum, covering the entire dock area and a good deal
of the warehouse district as well. It was touching to hear some of the
men, knowing little English, trying to coax the Bum out of presumed
hiding places. "Come, Bum, son beech," they would say, supposing,
though without evidence, that the Bum would be more responsive to such
phrases in English than in their own languages. But still the Bum didn't
show himself.

The men in the searching party and on the ship gradually became more
anxious. The entire regular crew grew infected with concern, and
eventually so did the officers. The gunners didn't. As the crew strolled
about the ship, hands in pockets, muttering unhappily, the naval gunners
would ask such questions as, "Why are you so worried about the Bum ?
Isn't Mickey still safe on board? We can understand that you might be
worked up if Mickey were lost, but you didn't care so much about the
Bum. How come you're so worried?" Almost all of the gunners were
first-trippers; they didn't realize that the crew's concern had little
direct relation to our affection for the Bum.

This cat was one of the ship's pets, and he had gone ashore just as we
were ready to sail: an evil omen if there ever was one. The men on the
dock were still hunting for the cat when the Scapa Flow had to leave.
The captain began to bawl out the first mate for having allowed anyone
off the ship, and a group of men were dispatched ashore to round up the
first group. The members of the second group were warned that all had to
be back on the ship in fifteen minutes. A good part of the crew now
being ashore, there was no danger that the ship would go off and leave
them, so as soon as the second group made contact with the first, all
the men looked for the Bum.

It did not seem to occur to any of them that from an economic

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point of view this search was ridiculous. The Bum was just an alley cat
and not particularly popular with them, and for the offense of returning
late to the ship each man might well be logged several days' wages. Even
the Portuguese stokers, the most penurious men on the crew list; were
unimpressed by the possibility of a fine. Back on the ship, after the
fifteen minutes were up, the furious captain was forced to blow the
Scapa Flow's whistle to recall the men. This proved to be very
embarrassing to him, and later gave the crew many laughs at his expense.

Our ship was a member of a convoy which was forming to move up the
African coast, and the whistles of the various ships were to be blown
only when the captains wished to signal for convoy purposes. When our
captain signaled to the men ashore, each ship in the harbor interpreted
the whistle as a convoy signal, and each, apparently, in a different
way. Soon a dozen freighters and tankers were stewing aimlessly about in
the harbor, some going ahead, some going astern, and nearly all drifting
broadside. A British corvette hustled about the harbor like a
sheepdog, rounding up the ships. Then she came over to the dock where
the delaying offender, the Scapa Flow, still lay moored. The corvette
was equipped with a public-address system, and its commanding officer
commenced to bawl out our captain. "You should know better than to use
your whistle," said the Britisher sarcastically. "Why don't you stop
whistling and leave the dock ? You're delaying the whole convoy. Come
on, man, get a move on, we haven't got all day." Our captain must have
felt that he had to make some defense, He shouted through a megaphone to
the corvette that he was whistling to round up his men on the dock.
"What in heaven's name are they doing on the dock ?" boomed out of the
public-address system on the corvette, Our humiliated captain had to
confess, through his megaphone, that his men were ashore looking for
one of the ship's cats. Not another sarcastic word came from the
Britisher. "I quite understand," he public-addressed. "But try to get a
move on, captain. Try not to delay too long. We have to assemble outside

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the breakwater before dark, you know, or we'll not be able to leave here
tonight." Of course, later at sea, the Britisher made up the lost time
by an uneconomical, and even dangerous, sweating of the slower ships.
Not until he had accomplished this did he reduce the speed of the convoy
to that arranged beforehand, one which all the ships could make
conveniently. Soon after the corvette left the side of the Scapa Flow,
the searchers began to come aboard with glum faces. No luck. Perhaps
because the men were so moody, the captain did not punish any of us. He
vented upon us the sarcasm which the corvette's commander had first used
on him, but he fined no one. The Scapa Flow left the dock without
incident, but immediately she got out in the harbor everything seemed
to go haywire. Our ship was Number Two in the convoy, and was supposed
to thread her way second through the maze of mines and antisubmarine
nets which guarded the harbor entrance. The captain simply couldn't get
the ship to make turns properly, and on two occasions we had to drop
anchor during bad turns, to snub the ship around. Even with this
precaution, we once came very near to not making it, and for a few
dreadful moments it seemed to a terrified crew that we were going into
one of the minefields. Many of the crewmen standing round the decks,
watching the attempts of our captain to get the ship out of the harbor,
traced our difficulties directly to the evil sign the Scapa Flow was now
under because the Bum had deserted her. Each time the captain was forced
to drop anchor to make a turn he was delayed and had to give an
emergency signal for "full speed astern" to the ship just behind us.
Otherwise we might have been rammed while we tried to up anchor. The
ship behind had to pass on the signal by whistle, and so on down the
line of ships. The Scapa Flow was making a grotesque spectacle of
herself. After our second bad turn the corvette came bouncing up to us,
the little warship seeming to indicate remonstrance by her very manner
of approach. The voice of the corvette's commanding officer came again
through the public-address system, disgracing us before the entire
convoy: "This won't do, you know, 

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this won't do at all." The tone of voice was precisely that of an
indulgent teacher with an unruly child, The corvette's officer made the
Scapa Flow heave to in a pocket formed by the twisting channel through
the nets and fields. One by one the other ships filed past us, swinging
jauntily around the turns we had so much trouble in making, while the
Scapa Flow sulked, like a dunce in a corner. When all the ships had
gone past, we followed along in their wakes, and, instead of being
Number Two, we were now the last ship in the convoy. Of course some ship
had to be the last one, but the Scapa Flow had originally had a good
number, and our demotion to be the last ship in the line was interpreted
by the men as being an exceedingly sinister omen. Ordinarily our
demotion would have been blamed eagerly upon the captain, whom we
disliked anyway and who had really been at fault. But for a time, and
for a wonder, the captain escaped blame. Our position as last in the
line, dangerously exposed to submarines, was blamed on the Bum, at
least at first,  But soon the men began to recall that while we had
been in the port no cats or dogs had been seen on the streets, no pets
of any  kind. Because of the extreme meat shortage caused by the war,
the natives had eaten all their pets. This idea spread among the crew as
rapidly as a rumor. Of course. The Bum had been a fine cat, a wonderful
cat, with only one fault: he made friends too easily; had even consorted
with the naval gunners. And this fault had been his undoing. The Bum had
been so friendly that he had allowed a native to get hold of him, and
probably the poor cat already was being cooked for the native's supper.
Obviously the Bum had just gone ashore for a walk and had been unable
to get back to the ship, although of course he had intended to. In a
surprisingly short time this theory had been adopted eagerly by a
majority of the crew. This majority declared happily, too happily,
that their fears were now at rest: there was no ill omen; the Bum had
not deserted us; he would have come back to the ship had it not been for
the hungry wogs ashore, A few die-hards among the superstitious men
refused to accept this naturalistic explanation for a while, and the
fury with which they were argued down by the majority showed how 

[ 144 ]

desperately the majority itself wanted to accept its own explanation.
And eventually all the blame for our tail position in the convoy was
placed where it belonged, on the captain. I have said that there were
at least two reasons for the popularity of our cats on the Scapa Flow.
The second one, I think, was that while they were living things, like
the men, they were completely impervious to torpedo nerves. Life on
shipboard, particularly in wartime, is enough out of the ordinary so
that it was a perpetual tonic to see our cats comporting themselves
normally, no matter how badly we felt. During the terrible few minutes
before we went to sleep at night--the worst time for torpedo nerves--it
was the most soothing thing imaginable to see or stroke a cat. Late at
night, in the Scapa Flow's messroom, sometimes a dozen men would
silently watch Mickey lap some cream from his saucer. At other times
they might play with him, offer him rope yarns to chase or bat at, but
in the evening such play was rare. It was soothing, and yet
invigorating, to watch him gracefully and unconcernedly wash himself, or
lie down with the exquisitely smooth collapse of a cat. Things couldn't
be so bad as we imagined if something alive were behaving so normally. 

3

At our last West African port one of the seamen bought a tiny
monkey--one only about half as large as the now grown-up cat, Mickey.
Had the owner of the monkey not died in the torpedoing, he might easily
have been killed by the survivors during the days we spent in the
lifeboat, because of his treatment of the pet. The monkey was owned by
the older of the two Puerto Rican A.B.s. Puerto Rico senior originally
was fairly well-liked by the crew; this quiet dark-hued man of
forty-five or so had given no trouble up to this time, and caused only
minor exasperation when he and Puerto Rico junior--Romeo and
Juliet--concertized too long with their guitar and concertina. Puerto
Rico senior bought the monkey from a native for about a dollar. The
native who brought the monkey aboard doubtless caught him in the bush to
be sold to a seaman; other-

[145]

wise the animal would surely have been eaten. It is said that the
hunters now have to go deep into the bush for monkeys because, due to
the war-caused meat shortage, so many have been killed to form the main
dish for the natives. In a couple of months' time, while visiting four
towns along the West African coast, I didn't see more than three or four
monkeys, and these were all in comparatively well-to-do homes. The
little monkey--named Chico by Puerto Rico, senior--was a bundle of fear
vhen he came aboard the Scapa Flow. He had a cord tied to a small
leather thong which fitted around his waist, but he didn't have to be
led by the native who offered him for sale. He clung to the native's
chest like a baby, whimpering, his tiny eyes darting with terror at the
sight of so many strange--and some of them white faces. When put on the
deck, the monkey instantly would leap into the native's arms and resume
his whimpering. Puerto Rico senior bargained for the monkey and got him,
but he could not win his affection. After the native went ashore, the
man dragged the monkey down the deck, Chico squealing with fright all
the while. We huddled about the monkey, fascinated with this new pet,
each of us trying to calm him by poking articles of food at him, and
thereby naturally frightening him all the more. Puerto Rico senior grew
steadily more exasperated at the tiny animal because Chico would not
make up to him, and finally, with a snort of disgust, he temporarily
let go the cord, releasing the monkey. Chico ran frantically up and down
the main deck, and suddenly, with a squeak of delight, he spotted the
chief cook. Without hesitation, the monkey hustled to the American Negro
and raced up his trousers, clutching his shirt, and laying his tiny head
against his chest. Only then did we see why Chico had been so
frightened. The Negro cook was the only man among us who looked like a
human being to the little monkey. Chico was taken forward and tied to a
rail on the foredeck. This was to be his home, and if any of the
officers or gunners wanted to see and play with him, which of course
they did, they had to come forward. They had no right to take Chico
amidships or aft. Now commenced a tremendous campaign on the part of
the crew to win the friendship of the little monkey. The men, all 

[ 146 ]

of them, paid him attention with desperate earnestness; you might have
thought their lives depended upon winning his friendship. Their lives
may not have depended on it, but their peace of mind certainly did.
Somehow they seemed to feel that they couldn't rest until the monkey
lost his fear of them. I felt this way myself: I tried as hard as anyone
to make friends with Chico, and I am judging the other men's feelings by
my own. It was inevitable that the very intensity of our desire for
friendship with the monkey delayed that friendship, for we tended to
frighten him with our strained advances. Eventually Chico began to
relent and to accept from our hands the little bits of food we brought
him, and even to sit in our arms. Almost without exception, however, he
made friends with the men in inverse ratio to the whiteness of their
complexions. He made up to the Brazilians, then the Egyptians, then the
younger Puerto Rican, then the Portuguese, and so on. It was tough going
for the bosun; the Englishman, the Latvian, and me, as we were
fair-skinned and blond. I finally made the grade with a gift of some raw
rice, which proved to be just what Chico had been looking for to balance
his diet. But there was one man the monkey would have nothing to  do
with, and that was his owner, Puerto Rico senior. There seemed to be no
just reason for Chico's dislike of him: the man was as nice as could be
to him--in the beginning, anyway. Probably the monkey never really got
over his resentment of the fright he got when first he was transferred
from the native to Puerto Rico senior. It grew more and more
disconcerting to the owner to see his pet making up to others and not to
him. After about a week Chico would take food and petting from all the
crew members except his owner. We couldn't help but laugh at Puerto Rico
senior over his failure to conciliate the monkey, and the man steadily
became more jealous of our success. He took it out on the monkey by
teasing him, thereby ruining permanently his chances of ever winning
Chico's friendship. Chico had become great friends with Mickey, and when
the men were off watch they would sit for hours watching the two pets
play. The little monkey was the more agile and intelligent 

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of the two, and would jump up and down stanchions and ventilators, with
Mickey following ponderously behind. They always evidenced great
interest in each other's tails. Chico once bit Mickey's tail
vigorously, as an experiment probably, but he didn't do it again, as
Mickey boxed him hard, rolling him over and over. The monkey was
endlessly intrigued by the cat's eyes, and had one trick which provided
leg-slapping delight to many of us. He would seize the lids of one of
Mickey's eyes with his tiny paws, and pull the lids apart. Then he would
put his face right up to the eye and peer intently into the pupil. As
likely as not, he was captivated, Narcissus-like, by the reflection of
his face in the cat's eye. Strangely, Mickey did not particularly resent
this indignity; he would let the monkey have a good long look, and then
would gently box him loose, as if to say, "That's enough for now."
Puerto Rico senior first began to irritate the crew by trying to
discourage the friendship between the two pets. Whenever he saw them
together he would haul the monkey away, berating him in Spanish. The
first time he did this we naturally wanted to know how come. Puerto Rico
senior made some remark about wanting to keep his monkey clean and the
cat getting him dirty. This fantasy drew immediate raucous sarcasm from
the men. Everyone knows, or should know, that a monkey is among the
filthiest of animals, and a cat among the cleanest. The Puerto Rican
disdained to argue, and hauled the monkey away. There was nothing we
could do: the monkey was his. We knew, of course, that the animals would
play together again just as soon as he wasn't around. Puerto Rico senior
got nastier. In his fits of jealousy, he often teased the animal before
our eyes, exerting his rights of private property while we stood by
helpless. He would stamp in front of the monkey, creep up silently on
him from behind to boo at him, and snarl like a dog while the two were
face to face. He would get the animal beside himself with fright and
anger, and then would walk off, looking at us defiantly and laughing
unpleasantly. He never tortured the monkey physically; he was bright
enough not to do that. If Puerto Rico senior had hurt the tiny
animal--it couldn't have weighed more than two pounds, 

[ 148 ]


we would have instantly thrown property rights aside for monkey
rights, and hurt Puerto Rico senior to at least an equal degree. His
treatment of his monkey finally made us despise the man  thoroughly. The
situation came to a head when we were five days out in the Atlantic,
alone, and headed for home. It was early afternoon. Most of the men off
watch were still in the messroom, smoking after lunch. We heard a clear
cry of alarm from the lookout in the crow's nest, high up on the forward
mast, and a couple of seconds later another cry, this one from a gunner
in a turret on one of the flying bridges. "This is it!" we bawled at
each other. In a hurry, but without panic, the men in the messroom dived
into their respective bunkrooms for their life jackets. We were all sure
that a submarine had been sighted, and that we would soon be attacked.

We were pouring across the well deck and up onto the main deck when
explanations of the cries began to come through. Puerto Rico senior had
thrown his monkey over the side. The lookout in the crow's nest had seen
him do it. And the gunner had seen the tiny animal struggling in the
water. With mingled feelings of rage and quivering relief, a great bunch
of men raced up on the foredeck, from which the monkey had been thrown,
to confront his owner. The man was small and older and less spry than
most of us, but he was no coward. He was sneeringly defiant. The monkey
was his; he had grown tired of it; he had killed it. We asked him
furiously why he hadn't offered to sell Chico to one of us; any of us
would have given him several times the dollar he paid for the monkey.
The most benighted intellect among us knew why he had killed
his monkey rather than sell him to one of us; he couldn't bear the
thought of the jealousy he would continue to feel over the monkey's
friendship for us and enmity to him. We formed a menacing ring around
the man as one of us--a Portuguese stoker, I think--said one word which
fired us all with a desire to settle all issues instantly with Puerto
Rico senior. That word was "Mickey." At once, all of us were overcome by
the notion that the man had also thrown our cat overboard. The idea was
completely 

[ 149 ]

silly. Mickey liked him as well as any of us, and he liked Mickey. But
the idea took hold of us, nonetheless at least twenty men began to
scream at him, in various languages, the equivalent of: "Did you throw
Mickey over the side, you bastard ?" He denied the charge volubly in
Spanish, and, lest there be some boggle in translating his denials, he
shook his head violently. "Then where is Mickey?" we all wanted to
know. He wasn't on the foredeck. The hot heads instantly concluded that
this was proof that he had been thrown overboard. A concerted jam
pushed Puerto Rico senior against the rail, and he was within a whisker
of following his monkey into the sea.

But some of us managed to stave off too precipitate action. After all,
Mickey might be below in the messroom, or in one of the bunkrooms, or
might even have wandered amidships. It was close, but the cooler heads
prevailed upon the rest of the crew to make a cursory search for the cat
before we threw the man over. Puerto Rico senior protested continually,
sometimes angrily and sometimes as if laboring under an intolerable
sense of injustice, that he had the greatest affection for Mickey, and
that it was unthinkable that he would kill or hurt the cat. Mickey was
found asleep on one of the bunks.

In the next few minutes the Puerto Rican must have been told a score of
times that if he ever laid a hand on the cat, for any reason, he would
instantly be dispatched. Aside from this warning, the man was completely
ostracized. Nobody would have anything to do with him. Even the
Egyptians, who didn't like cats, kept him in Coventry.

The first mate came storming up to the fo'c'sle. He had been pretty well
licked in his attempts to entice Mickey away from the fo'c'sle, but he
still liked the cat a great deal and played with him whenever he came
forward.

The mate had heard from the men what had happened to the monkey. He
stamped up to Puerto Rico senior and said with icy clarity: "If you ever
lay a hand on Mickey, you Puerto Rican bastard, I personally will beat
the ---- out of you, even if I lose my license for it." Two days later
the Scapa Flow was torpedoed and sunk.

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Mickey was drowned in the sinking. His technical owner, Alabama, was one
of the first men off the ship. Puerto Rico senior lost his life because
he gave his life jacket to his younger countryman. At least a dozen of
the twenty-seven survivors were convinced that the U-boat never would
have found and sunk us if Puerto Rico senior hadn't thrown the little
monkey over the side.
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