Manx Bradley was an admiral—“admiral of the fleet”—though it must be admitted that his personal appearance did not suggest a position so exalted.
With rough pilot coat and sou’-wester, scarred and tarred hands, easy, rolling gait, and boots from heel to hip, with inch-thick soles, like those of a dramatic buccaneer, he bore as little resemblance to the popular idea of a lace-coated, brass-buttoned, cock-hatted admiral as a sea-urchin bears to a cockle-shell. Nevertheless Manx was a real admiral—as real as Nelson, and much harder worked.
His fleet of nearly two hundred fishing-smacks lay bobbing about one fine autumn evening on the North Sea. The vessels cruised round each other, out and in, hither and thither, in all positions, now on this tack, now on that, bowsprits pointing north, south, east, and west, as if without purpose, or engaged in a nautical game of “touch.” Nevertheless all eyes were bent earnestly on the admiral’s vessel, for it was literally the “flagship,” being distinguishable only by a small flag attached to its fore stay.