“Tallyho!” is an unfinished fragment (about 1000 words) of a story set in the rugged and lawless world of sea tramps and beachcombers. The narrative follows a group of down-and-out sailors who, driven by desperation and a tantalizing yet dubious promise of pearls, embark on a tumultuous voyage under the command of the deranged Captain Bill Branner. The fragment offers a gritty and unvarnished look at life on the margins, showcasing the brutality and camaraderie of a motley crew pushed to their limits.


The story begins in a seedy dive on the waterfront of Suva, where the narrator and other derelict sailors encounter the infamous Captain Bill Branner. Known for his madness and reckless nature, Captain Bill is in a drunken rage because he cannot find a crew to sail with him. His previous crew has abandoned him, leaving only his vicious mate, Bully Sloan, by his side. Branner, desperate to man his ship, persuades a group of beachcombers, including the narrator, with the promise of a grand pearl find.

The newly assembled crew, comprised of the lowest dregs of society, sets sail that very night. The voyage is immediately fraught with violence and chaos. Within three days, the brutality of Bully Sloan is made clear when he kills a Melbourne bum for insubordination. The ship becomes a cauldron of fear and hostility, with fights and attempted murders becoming commonplace. Captain Bill’s insanity only worsens, exacerbated by constant drinking, and he drives the ship into a dangerous storm.

One fateful night, under Captain Bill’s erratic steering, the ship crashes onto a reef and begins to sink. Amidst the panic, only nine of the crew manage to escape to a nearby island, while the rest perish. Those who survive are Banda Bill, Hurley, Dutchy, Wallaroo, Ballarat, Wagga Joe, Reddy, the narrator, and Bully Sloan. Stranded and disheartened, they are left to fend for themselves on a desolate island.

As the sun rises, revealing the full extent of their predicament, the survivors curse their fate and each other. Despite their situation, Bully Sloan still holds his position of power, maintaining control with his pistol. The group begins to explore the island and scavenge for food, their resentment and mistrust festering. The fragment ends with Banda Bill proposing to the narrator that this is the perfect opportunity to finally deal with Bully Sloan once and for all.


  • Captain Bill Branner: The deranged and tyrannical captain of the ship, driven by madness and a desperate quest for pearls.
  • Bully Sloan: The brutal and feared first mate, loyal to Captain Bill, known for his viciousness and violence.
  • Narrator: An unnamed beachcomber who joins Captain Bill’s crew, providing the perspective of the story.
  • Banda Bill: An old, grey-whiskered sailor with a history of crime, suggesting a plan to kill Bully Sloan.
  • Hurley: A formidable sailor from Cape Town, capable of challenging Bully Sloan but kept in check by Sloan’s pistol.
  • Dutchy: A sailor from New Hanover, one of the survivors of the shipwreck.
  • Wallaroo: A Tasmanian sailor, also among the survivors.
  • Ballarat: An Englishman who is part of the ship’s crew and survives the wreck.
  • Wagga Joe: A half-breed sailor who makes it to the island.
  • Reddy: A cockney sailor, another survivor of the wreck.

Published in: