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Bird Prevents Ship Murder

Amitav Ghosh | May 10, 2011 in Lascari tales,Uncategorized | Comments (0)

 

A tale of a lascar and an unidentifiable bird: the ‘minka’ mentioned in the news report was probably a ‘myna’.

 

From, The Washington Post, Feb 20, 1908.

 

Dateline: New York, Feb 19, 1908.

 

Bird Prevents Ship Murder

 

‘Hi! Hi! Hi! Look at ‘em ye lubbers,’ shrieked a voice from the bridge of the Inbrafamba as she made her way through the waters of the Mediterranean.

 

‘Look at the knife,’ was the next shriek. It was the shriek of a bird, a strange bird from Japan, with a fairly good English education and an observant eye.

 

A dozen Lascars beneath the bridge heard the shriek and knew it was a warning from the minka. Within a yard of them, unnoticed save by the minka, was a crazed sailor, another Lascar, armed with a long weapon, half knife, half sword. Another instant and some one would have gone down before the maniac’s blow.

 

Mara Binmohab, who had been a prime favourite with the minka, had become insane. The bird, which is as black as a raven or crow, and distinguishable from either only by a yellow circlet around the throat, saw him crawling toward the group beneath the bridge. With eyes fixed on him the bird watched every movement and shrieked the warning just in time to save life.

 

Capt. Evans and Chief Officer Charles Charters, who were on the bridge with the minka, then took a hand, and, revolver in hand, began pursuing the pursuer. Round the deck they went until at last the man made a dash for the bridge. Then a body shot through the air, there was a splash and a shriek, and then the mocking laugh of the minka as it called out ‘look at him’. But the Lascar had gone out of sight forever.