Light on a Dark Horse: An Autobiography (1901-1935)

By Roy Campbell | Go to book overview

XIII
VOYAGE TO ENGLAND--OXFORD-- LONDON

THE breakwater was the last thing I saw of Durban on my first remembered trans-oceanic voyage on the s.s. Inkonka, 2,000 tons ( Captain Barrow) of the Harrison Rennie Line, in 1918. The scarcity of shipping made it impossible to get across as an ordinary passenger, so I had to come on a cargo-boat.

No sooner had the breakwater slid past my porthole, while I was arranging my bunk, than the third mate came in and noticed that I carried more books than was usual for odd deckhands and super- cargoes. He was even more indignant when he found them to be non-scientific. "Wot's this? Classics, hey? Never done no good to nobody since they was first invented. They'll never get you anywhere, they won't." Whereupon he pushed Shakespeare, Milton, Keats, Dryden, Pope, Marlowe, and all my painting and drawing materials out of the porthole into the sea. Then, seeing that I was trying to take it with a grin though I had tears in my eyes (for I always had a lot of "Candide" in my nature) and being a truly kind- hearted fellow in spite of his hatred of "the Classics," he said: "There, there, don't take it to 'eart. I'll lend you a book wot'll compensate all that rubbidge. It's me Bible, that's wot it is though it ain't no Bible; and I'll lend it to you if you come to my cabin at eight bells. I only thrown away that rubbidge for your own good. You'll thank me one day."

The weather came on very rough and I agreeably surprised the third mate by my handiness and general seamanship for I had often been out on our tiny cockleshell whalers in far worse weather. He made no secret of the fact that I had impressed him and that he never expected so much from a scholar of "Classics." When I reported at his cabin at eight bells, his "Bible" proved to be a well- thumbed copy of Ann Veronica. By the end of the voyage I had got on checking-terms with him and was really very fond of him, as

-156-

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Light on a Dark Horse: An Autobiography (1901-1935)
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Table of Contents vii
  • Introduction ix
  • I - Forebears 3
  • II - Early Days in Durban 19
  • III - A Human Rhinoceros 42
  • IV - The Surly Tutor of My Youth 57
  • V - Holidays in Rhodesia 65
  • VI - Octopuses 83
  • VII - Peace Cottage 89
  • VIII - The Lagoon 96
  • IX - More About Peace Cottage 106
  • X - Birds 116
  • XI - Doctors and Witch-Doctors 130
  • XII - The Durban Breakwater 140
  • XIII - Voyage to England--Oxford-- London 156
  • XIV - The Land of the Cypress And Myrtle 169
  • XV - The Camargue 183
  • XVI - The Lights of London 202
  • XVII - Marriage 215
  • XVIII - Martigues 232
  • XIX - Jousting 239
  • XX - Under the Sea 253
  • XXII - To Spain 276
  • XXIII - The Coming of the Terror 291
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