National Geographic : 1952 Oct
552 John E. II. Nolan Villagers, Guided by Centuries-old Cairns, Tramp Through a Sea of Worm Casts Old-time monks laid these rock piles as a guide to and from the mainland. Remarkably intact, the line still leads toward the Northumberland village of Beal in the distance. Seaweed-covered cairns, once perhaps four feet high, show loss from wind and water (page 548). The islanders can tell some remarkable stories of salvage work. During the war, the 2,000-ton Prins Knud, a Danish vessel, was driven on a sand ridge, where at high tide it stood in less than five feet of water. Mainland experts, who arrived to salvage the ship, were watched with amused detachment by the canny natives. Inside two weeks the disillusioned professionals gave up, leaving the undamaged vessel, so they thought, to be broken up by the weather (page 558). That was the islanders' opportunity. In six weeks they dug a colossal amount of sand from around the hull and cut a channel to deep water, which they banked with thou sands of sandbags. Then they hired a tug and refloated the freighter. Next day two islanders visited Berwick upon Tweed and registered their claim for salvage reward. Anxious months followed; finally a check came for £3,700. Ta-a and Wonka told me about the strange cargoes washed ashore in war years: potatoes, tennis balls, coal, soap, oranges, unbroken phials of drugs, Chinese bank notes, cases of whiskey, canned tripe, cigarettes, candles, and enough pit props to provide firewood for months. This last was a godsend, as the island has few trees. When the Chinese bank notes were tossed up from the bombed S. S. Somali, the islanders stuffed their pockets with thousands of yuans (Chinese Nationalist money). They had a sad awakening, however, when they learned that the whole note issue had been cancelled. They still keep packets of this worthless paper, hoping that someone, someday, will make an offer for the lot. Said Bella Kyle, hostess of the Castle Hotel, "Ye kin have thees one," and she gave me a handsome blue bank note embossed with the head of Sun Yat-sen. WhereaPigIsNotaPig I tried to follow the loud-spoken, rapid-fire speech of those who were gathered one eve ning around the fire in the Northumberland Arms. Ends of sentences seemed flattened as if put through a mangle. The dialect is neither Northumbrian nor Scottish, but distinguished from both by many different words and idioms. By concentrating I was able to understand a little of what was being said.