(August 14th to 20th)

Format: Triple

… his work was one mile and three-quarters in length; a lattice-girder bridge, trussed with the Findlayson truss standing on seven-and-twenty brick piers. Each one of those piers was twenty-four feet in diameter, capped with red Agra stone and sunk eighty feet below the shifting sand of the Ganges’ bed. Above them was a railway-line fifteen feet broad; above that, again, a cart-road of eighteen feet, flanked with footpaths. At either end rose towers, of red brick, loopholed for musketry and pierced for big guns, and the ramp of the road was being pushed forward to their haunches.


This is from the opening of “The Bridge-Builders” in The Day’s Work.

The Kashi bridge over the Ganges, nearly completed, is threatened by a great flood. After anxious hours the water subsides. Modern technology has prevailed over the Old Gods, the immemorial powers of India. But this is only for today. The bridge will be gone one day, and India will still be there.

There were fires everywhere, they say; the whole ship was one consuming furnace, and the hammers were never still … They remember, too, that for many years voices gave orders which they obeyed with their bodies, but their minds were abroad on all the seas. It seems to them that they stood through days and nights slowly sliding a bar backwards and forwards through a white glow that was part of the ship. They remember an intolerable noise in their burning heads from the walls of the stoke-hole, and they remember being savagely beaten by men whose eyes seemed asleep. When their shift was over they would draw straight lines in the air, anxiously and repeatedly, and would question one another in their sleep, crying, “Is she straight?”


This is from “The Devil and the Deep Sea” in The Day’s Work.

A British crew, illicitly gathering pearls in East Indian waters, have been caught by a local gunboat, which fires on them, disabling their vessel. Later, by heroic efforts, they repair the damaged engines, and get their revenge by wrecking the gunboat.

… as he pointed out, the pressure-gauge was jumping up and down like a bottle-imp. The stoker had long since gone away into the night; for he was a prudent man.

“Doocid queer thing altogether,” said the subaltern, “but look here, if you like, I’ll chuck on the coals and you can drive the old jigamaroo, if she’ll go.”

“Perhaps she will blow up,” said the gunner-guard.

“Shouldn’t at all wonder by the sound of her. Where’s the shovel?” said the subaltern
… She moved quite seven miles an hour, and—for the floods were all over the line—the staggering voyage began.


This is from “The Bold ‘Prentice” in Land and Sea Tales.

Young Ottley, an apprentice locomotive engineer is travelling north by train one dark night in Bengal through rain and flood. The driver overstrains the engine, which blows up one of its cylinders. With the aid of some British soldiers, also on the train, and a guide written by an elderly colleague, he dismantles the engine, gets up steam, aand drives the train to safety.