quotes_nov21_2010.htm

(November 21st to 27th)



Format: Triple

“…Three paces was the depth of the ledge”, muttered Janki without heeding, “and – oh my poor bones, I have found it ! It is here, up this ledge. Come you, one by one, to the place of my voice, and I will count you…”

  

This is from “At Twenty-Two” in In Black and White within Soldiers Three and Other Stories. After heavy rain a coal-mine has been flooded, and one of the gangs is trapped by the black waters. Fortunately Janki Meah, an obstinate old blind pitman, knows a way out. He and the gang break through to safety, but soon after his beautiful young wife runs off with one of the younger miners.


…’ “She’ll be fillin’ aft”, says Bell; “for why is she down by the stern ? The tail shaft’s punched a hole in her, an’ we’ve no boats. There’s three hunder thousand punds sterlin’, at a conservative estimate, droonin’ before our eyes/ What’s to do ?” An’ his bearin’s got hot again in a minute, for he was an incontinent man.

‘ ” Run her as near as ye daur”, I said. “Gie me a jacket an’ a lifeline, an’ I’ll swum for it…”

   

This is from “Bread upon the Waters” from The Day’s Work. To save money for her grasping owners, the Grotkau, an old tramp steamer, had set off into the Atlantic without a proper refit. Her Chief Engineer protested, and was sacked. The engineer, who tells the tale, then put to sea in a ship of a rival shipowner, and followed the Grotkau, waiting for the inevitable breakdown. When it came, the ship was abandoned, and the engineer boarded her with salvage – and retribution – in mind…


… (he) went forward to the bows and meditated, staring through the muddy waters. After two hours of rooting through this desolation at an average rate of five miles an hour, his eyes were cheered by the sight of one white buoy in the coffee-hued mid-stream. The flat iron crept up to it cautiously, and a leadsman took soundings all round it from a dinghy…

   

This is from “Judson and the Empire” in Many Inventions. There have been reports of a troublesome rebellion in a Portuguese colony, and Lieutenant Judson, the commander of a flat-bottomed gunboat, has been sent up by his Admiral to keep the peace, with a minimum of trouble. His first task is to immobilise the other side’s navy…

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