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Fights Among Tars

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The regulatiou against fighting is perhaps the deadest of all naval regulations. It is impossible of enforcement If it were enforced to the letter, pretty nearly all hands among the men forward would be in the "brig" f rom one year's end to the other. Fighting is practically a necessary evil among men who wear their country's uniform for a livehhood. Officers of experience blink at it They know the bad, conaminating resulta of bitterness between a pair of bluejackets under the forecas;la They have learned that it is better the thing should be f ought ont and done with than that dozens of men should be drawn into a quarrel that festers and jrows unless the head of it is broken by a decisive battle between the two men who have been snarling at each other. People who have made ocean voyages often dweil upon the weariness which tías overeóme them at the sight of their Eellow voyagers' countenances toward the end of a passage. This is a feeling which is aggravated a thousandfold amid the uncomfortable surroundings of a war vessel's forecastle, the hundreds of oocupants of which are obliged to be constantly together for from one to three years. Each man becoines thoroughly aware of all his mates' little characteristics, and af ter awhile, whether these characteristics are good or bad, they jar upon him, if only on account of their monotony. Thus friction is generated, and it is for this reason that the crew of a war just retumed to the United States after a three years' cruise in foreign waters is generally such a sour looking lot, even as concerns the officers aft, who become quite as sick of each other as do the men forward. Hardly a day passes that there is not at least one scrap on board most menof-war, with the promise of a heavier battle to follow. A bluejacket seats bimself on another's ditty box, and, on being roughly ordered by the box 's owner to vacate, he refuses and consigns the owner to a much less moist place than Davy Jones' locker. The men come together, two or three blows are exchanged, and then, as by common consent, each man draws away, both feeling that the "jimniy legs" (i. e., the master at arms) is not far distant and neither caring for a trick in the "brig." Having thus become in volved in the minor fistic argument of the deck, the two bluejackets are looked to by the entire ship's company to bring their affair to a satisfactory conclusión. The mere exchauge of growls between the two men doesn't go. "Pipe down there, ye men-of-war chaws, and settle the thing right, ' ' is the general remark hurled at thein by all hands when they meet in mere contests of cuss words, and the sailor who is considered to be the aggrieved man is watched carefully to see if he makes any preliminary moves toward arranging a regular fight. He almost always does. Nearly all the regular flghts between bluejackets aboard ship are pulled off down below in one of the firerooms or in an empty bunker. The empty bunker is preferred on account of its greater isolation. When a fight is to come off between two bluejackets below, all hands know all about it, often including the master at arms himself, but very few of the men, unless they are intimates of the combatants, expect invitations to the fray. There is not room in a bunker for more than half a dozen friends of each man, and even with this number the space is rather eontracted. With a second each and a referee agreed upon by both, the men, stripped naked to the waist, go at it. The fights are not of the rough and tumble order. The men fight according to regular prize ring rules, and their shipmates are present to see that the rules are complied with. As many as 50 rounds are sometimes fought. Ordinarily one of the men goes under by the time the tenth round is called. If the men are unequally matched and one of them is getting palpably the worst of it, all hands in the bunker agree that the thing should stop, and it does stop. If the contestants are about of a sort, the fight is carried on to the end, until a knockout blow is planted by one of them or both are too weak to go on. At the conclusión of the fight the onlookers quietly depart from the bunker and ascend to the deck by different en gine room ladders, so as not to attract the attention of the ofticer of the deck. Both men generally get pretty thor oughly mauled and bruised up in these bunker fights, and when the battle is over they jump into their uniforms anc repair to the sick bay to get themselves patched up with árnica, court piaster etc. The surgeon knows at a glance what ails them, but for the sake o: form he asks them what the trouble is They have both fallen down a ladder Both at the same time? No, sir; they feil down different ladders. "That 's cu nous!" ïnurmurs the surgeon, with a smile and a faraway look in his eyes scribbling an account of their injurie in his record, and then he ordeis the apothecary to dress their wounds. -


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