A Day and a Night in Gibraltar

THE ROCK,” as the sailors called Gibraltar, didn’t appear from the bay exactly as I had expected to see it. A certain insurance company has printed a great many pictures of the stronghold in its advertisements, and I sup-posed, of course, it would look like the photographs. In this I was disappointed, for the great rock is considerably different in shape from what it appears in the advertising. It was sufficiently impressive, however, and I was anxious indeed to get ashore. Mr Casey said Timmie and I could go in the after-noon and he would stay on the ship. He said I had better ask Captain Linder for permission, but I decided that it would be all right to see Captain Logan instead. Of course the permission was forthcoming, for the good Quartermaster seemed willing to do anything possible to add to the interest of my trip. He said it would be all right for me to go, if I would be certain to return for the midnight watch. I promised him I would be back in time.

There were dozens of rowboats in the water about the ship, waiting for passengers, so Timmie and I got in one and started for the wharf. Two swarthy Spaniards did the rowing, and as they could speak a little English, we were able to get some pointers from them regarding the town. Much fine place, Gibraltar,” said one of them ; ” Heap Tommies there.” Timmie couldn’t imagine what ” Tommies ” meant, but I had been enough in England to know that he referred to the British soldiers, who are known at home and abroad as Tommy Atkins. We already knew that Gibraltar has a large garrison, and weren’t particularly impressed with the information, but the dusky Don went on to tell other interesting things. ” English bad,” he said ; ” they make Uncle Sam fight poor Spain. America no want to fight. John Bull cause all the trouble.” This was a new view of the cause of the Cuban war, and we thought it funny that this Spaniard should blame the English for what we did. Timmie tried to correct this idea of his. ” England had nothing to do with it,” he said, “and we whipped you all by our-selves.” I was frightened at such strong language, and expected the Spaniard to object and make trouble; but he simply shook his head and went on rowing. People take life easy at Gibraltar, and don’t get excited over little things.

The Lion of the Mediterranean

When we reached the wharf, we discovered that the entire town was surrounded by a wall, and that there were only certain gates through which strangers were allowed to pass. When we went through we were handed cards of identification, which we were supposed to return when we went out again. Once through the gate, we found soldiers on every side, and nearly everything we saw was new and interesting. After walking a little, we came to a market where we saw the most delicious fruit on sale. It seemed a long while since I’d eaten any grapes or peaches, and we both laid in a supply which was sufficient to last us through the afternoon. I don’t think I ever tasted better fruit, and after the ship fare it was especially welcome. All the time we remained at Gibraltar we existed chiefly on what we bought at the market, and when we finally sailed we had a quantity of fruit to eat on the voyage to Malta. It was wonderfully cheap, so we had no cause to stint ourselves.

To Timmie and I the narrow streets of Gibraltar were filled with interest. The queer mixture of English and Spanish architecture, the cosmopolitan crowd in front of the cafes, and the strange looking vehicles, were a source of wonder to us both. Timmie had never before seen British soldiers, so he wanted to visit some of the barracks. We talked with the men, and they seemed to think that Gibraltar was not at all a bad place in which to live. When we told them that we were Americans, they treated us with the greatest friendliness, and finally one of the musicians from the regimental band volunteered to show us the fortifications. This was indeed a treat. Although neither of us knew much about cannon, or the science of war, we were deeply impressed with what we saw of the arrangements for defence, and we decided that Gibraltar is indeed invincible. There was one terrace after another mounted with the latest and most terrible guns, and our English friend said there were some of the fortifications which visitors couldn’t see ” I tell you,” he said, ” we’d make mince-meat of the nasty French if they ever tried to knock us off this rock. We’re here to stay, and there’s no country can drive us away. Every once in a while there’s pieces printed sayin’ as how the French could batter down those forts from across the bay, but they couldn’t. And besides, the Spaniards ain’t foolish enough to let ‘em have the chance.” We agreed with him that France could hardly capture Gibraltar, and when this momentous question was satisfactorily settled we went back to the town.

A Talk with the Hero of Ladysmith

We were passing an imposing building when I asked its name. ” Why,” said our guide, ” that’s where the Governor lives. He’s Sir George White, and he’s a dandy, and no mistake.”

” What,” I exclaimed, ” is he the General White who was in command at Ladysmith while the place was besieged by Boers? ”

” He’s one an’ the same,” said the musician.

“Well, I know him,” I said to Timmie, ” and we’ll go in and make a call.”

The musician looked surprised, and when we asked him to go in with us, he refused. I couldn’t call on the Governor,” he said. ” I’m only a musician. They wouldn’t let me in.” ” I don’t suppose they’d let us in Timmie,” I remarked, ” if they knew we are masters-at-arms. But we won’t let on. It’ll be all right if we can only get at the General himself.”

Inside the door we-found an officer on guard. He looked at us suspiciously, and I gave him no time to begin asking questions. ” I’m a friend of General White’s, from New York,” I said, ” and I’d like to see him.” I handed out my card. The man carried it into a room at the side of the hallway and was gone two or three minutes. Timmie and I were wondering whether we would be put out, and Timmie couldn’t imagine what had induced me to make this call, until I explained that I had really become acquainted with General White on my last visit to London. He said afterward he thought it was all a joke, when I told the musician the Governor was a friend of mine.

The officer returned with a smiling face. ” Just step into his Excellency’s office,” he said. ” His Excellency will be disengaged in a moment.” The office proved to be a room beautifully furnished, and the walls were hung with portraits of former governors of the Colony. We sat in two great arm-chairs, and after two or three minutes General White entered with outstretched hand. ” Why,” he said, ” you American boys are most remarkable. How did you happen to turn up in this out-of-the-way place? I shall expect to see you next in Ceylon or Singapore.” I laughed and told him that those places were on the itinerary of our trip. ” It seems only a few weeks since I saw you in London on my return from the Cape. Have you been interviewing any more people of late at ten pounds per head?”

General White referred to an interview I had secured from him regarding his Ladysmith experiences and had sold to a London paper for fifty dollars. I told him that I was a sailor now, and had little time for writing. ” But I thought I couldn’t leave Gibraltar without coming to see you,” I said. ” It’s good to see any person I’ve met before, in a place so far from New York.” The Governor said he was glad we came and that he hoped we would enjoy our stay in port. He asked us about our plans for getting around the world, and Timmie told him very enthusiastically that he, too, was going round the world before he reached home again. ” Well,” said the General, ” travel is a great educator, and American boys seem to be able to go to most any place they want to see.”

We didn’t make a long call, for there were still a great many things we wanted to do before returning to the transport. We were delighted with the conversation, and Timmie was wildly excited to think he had been talking with the hero of Ladysmith. ” He’s not a bit proud,” he asserted, ” and he treated us as if we were old friends.” When we were passing out of the Government House we met some of the passengers from the ship, and they stared to see the masters-atarms emerging from such a place. When I told Captain Logan the next day what a good time we had experienced, he remarked that he had no doubt we were in for an interesting trip. ” You’ve already had one pleasure which none of the rest of us had,” he said, ” and I shan’t be surprised if you get more real profit and pleasure from the trip than any of the passengers.”

Gibraltar at Night

Before dark that evening we visited the Neutral Ground, which is a piece of land belonging equally to Spain and England. There are soldiers of both nationalities encamped there, and it was a strange sight to see them facing each other like watch-dogs. When Timmie saw the Spanish troops he laughed with contempt. ” My,” he exclaimed, ” it’s no wonder we licked them if they’re all like this.” They didn’t compare very favorably with the sturdy Britishers, and from all appearances we decided that Gibraltar will belong to John Bull for a long time to come. Both Spain and France would like to see a change of ownership, for as things are now the Mediterranean is truly an English lake. With Gibraltar at one end and Egypt at the other, and with Malta for a Central depot, Great Britain dominates that great waterway, and could play havoc with the navies of Europe, scattered as they are.

Gibraltar at night was a gay place. The cafes and restaurants did a rushing business, for there were several ships anchored in the harbor, and the passengers had seized the opportunity to enjoy a night ashore. There were Germans, Italians and French mingling with the Spanish and English, and there was a great mixture of languages. At eight o’clock there was a band concert in a small park, and Timmie and I determined to attend. We wanted to hear the music, but we were especially anxious to see our friend of the afternoon, who had been so kind in taking us about. He was in the very front row, and smiled and bowed when we stationed ourselves in front of the band-stand. He played a violoncello, and, as Timmie expressed it, ” he made it fairly sing.” It was a fine band altogether, and we hoped the McClellan band was there to get some points. There were eighty musicians altogether, and when they played the ” Star-Spangled Banner ” as a compliment to our passengers, we said we had never heard it played so well before.

There was a great crowd of people in the park, and we were almost as interested in watching them as in listening to the music. It was so different from any crowd we had ‘ever seen before, and we boys decided that it couldn’t compare with a New York crowd in appearance. ” The women are positively homely,” said Timmie, ” and their dresses wouldn’t pass muster on the Bowery.” I told him that he mustn’t be too critical, for he would certainly see worse looking people before our trip was over.

We stayed in the park until the concert was over, and then our friend, the musician, took us off to the barracks, where we had a jolly time among the soldiers. They asked us all sorts of questions about America, and Timmie told them some pretty wild tales. Two of the soldiers got into an argument which amused us greatly. One asserted that he had studied geography at school, and that the Hudson River certainly flowed through a valley in the Rocky Mountains. This was ridiculed by another ” Tommy,” who said that the Rocky Mountains were at least two hundred miles from the Hudson. When they appealed to Timmie to settle the dispute, he told them that the Hudson flowed down from the White Mountains, and that the Rockies were really a hundred and fifty miles further west. ” That would be near Rochester,” he said to me sotto voce.

About a quarter after eleven it occurred to me that I would have to return to the transport if I was to begin my watch at midnight, so we said good-night to the soldiers, after promising to see them again before leaving port. We walked down the silent streets to the Water Gate and found it closed. I’m sure I went pale from fright. ” What do you suppose is the matter ? ” I said to Timmie. ” Look here,” he replied, and I saw on the gate a notice reading as follows : ” No persons will be permitted to enter or leave this gate between the hours of eleven P. M. and four A. M.” We looked at each other, and Timmie burst out laughing. ” We’re in this town for the night, all right,” he said. I couldn’t see the joke. ” Well, all I’m thinking about is what Captain Linder will say in the morning,” I returned. ” That’s all right,” said Timmie, ” no use crying over spilled milk.