A few days later
Ensign Day and I happened to be on shore patrol duty together in Tsingtao.
It was a bitterly cold night. To stay warm during my rounds I was
doing what the local Chinese dideating peanuts, cracking the
shells with my cumbersome gloved hands. My shore patrol duty involved
spending the night walking from one bar to another; the bars were
scattered all over so I got in a lot of walking. Each bar was a little
refuge where I could warm myself over the coal brazier. The bar owners
were always glad to see me, since my job of keeping the sailors out
of trouble helped business. In one tiny bar, they all eyed me apprehensively.
The old White Russian pianist started playing a plaintively beautiful
song on the little upright piano. His beautiful blue-eyed, blond daughter
began to sing. Although magnificent musicians (it is surprising the
talent you find in the most unlikely places), they seemed a bit tense
this night. Suddenly there was a commotion on the shelf behind the
piano. A large peanut sack had suddenly come to life. The lumps in
the sack were a U.S. sailor and a little Chinese bar girl. They had
been interrupted when I walked in the door, and after a few minutes,
he could wait no longer. It was too late for me to keep him out of
trouble. I left, smiling a bit and the others smiled back.
Due to bad weather that night the landing boats werent making
runs back to the ship so we were forced to stay overnight in the little
Shore Patrol headquarters. I was exhausted after spending the whole
evening walking all over town. It was fiercely cold and in the little
headquarters shack there was only one cot and one blanket; so I lay
on my side of the cot with my back to Day. I was very tired and went
right to sleep. Into that cold night I awoke with a start, feeling
something warm against my bottom. After my sleep was thus interrupted
I flipped over and spent the rest of the night sleeping on my backside.