Today is the second anniversary of the death of Eric Leggett, who was struck down by the scarlet fever whilst on active service in France.
I have the fondest of memories of Eric, who was the first young Dragon to fulfil the role of cabin boy (KB) on my boat the ‘Blue Dragon’ in 1892. He wrote the Log of 1894, when he sailed with us from Portree on Skye to Eigg, Tobermoray, Oban, Fort William, round Mull to Iona and Staffa, and on to Plockton.
Eric joined the Royal Artillery in 1899, after which his military career took him to foreign parts, which explains the references to India and Mandalay in the poem below. It was written by Frank Sidgwick, when ‘The Log of the Blue Dragon’ was published in 1907.
To E.L. Will you read this little rhyme, Our K.B. of olden time, There in India's sunny clime? (Exiled, alas) Still we sail the old B.D., Still we bend the old burgee, Though we ship a new K.B. (Who is an ass.) While the hathi's piling teak, While the dreary punkahs creak, Can you hear your shipmates speak? (Isn't this rot?) Can you hear your shipmates say, "Come you back from Mandalay, Come you back to Oban Bay"? (Probably not.)
(A ‘burgee’ is a flag bearing the colours or emblem of a sailing club, typically triangular; ‘hathi’ – an elephant in Hindi; ‘punkah – a large cloth fan on a frame suspended from the ceiling, moved backwards and forwards by pulling on a cord by a ‘punkah-wallah.’)