Three Quotations

(December 2nd to 8th)




1. ...a spritsail broke out forward and a handy driver aft; and she threaded her way through the shipping to her berth at the quay as quietly as a veiled woman slips through a bazaar.



This is from the opening passage of "The Manner of Men" from Limits and Renewals. In the high days of the Roman Empire a grain ship is berthing at Marseilles after a journey from Spain. Later in the story three sea captains forgather, and one tells the tale of a shipwreck when he was carrying Paul or Tarsus to Rome. Despite being a prisoner, on his way to death by execution or worse, he showed strength of purpose and fortitude that those who witnssed it never forgot.


2. . Imagine a respectable charwoman in the tights of a ballet dancer rolling drunk along the streets, and you will come to some notion of the appearance of that nine-hundred-ton well-decked once schooner-rigged cargo boat...

This is from "The Devil and the Deep Sea" in The Day's Work. A British cargo boat, the Haliotis, with a chequered past, had been fired upon while diving illegally for pearls. Her engines had been damaged and her crew taken prisoner. Now they have been allowed back on board what was thought by their captors to be a wreck. Against all the odds the crew have repaired the engines after a fashion and headed for the open sea. They have just encountered a proa, a local pirate vessel, which they have captured. To achieve more speed they have set up the proa's huge triangular sails on their own vessel; this passage describes what she looks like under this new rig...



3. The low-sided schooner was naturally on most intimate terms with her surroundings. They saw little of the horizon, save when she topped a swell; and usually she was elbowing, fidgeting, and coaxing her steadfast way through gray, gray-blue, or black hollows, laced across and across with streaks of shivering foam.

This is from Captains Courageous. The We're Here has filled her holds with cod, once again the first of the fishing fleet, and is cramming on all sail to get back from the Grand Banks to Gloucester as swiftly as possible.