Snarleyyow or The Dog Fiend

Publisher: DigiLibraries.com
ISBN: N/A
Language: English
Published: 1 month ago
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Introduction of Divers Parties and a Red-Herring.

It was in the month of January, 1699, that a one-masted vessel, with black sides, was running along the coast near Beachy Head, at the rate of about five miles per hour. The wind was from the northward and blew keenly, the vessel was under easy sail, and the water was smooth. It was now broad daylight, and the sun rose clear of clouds and vapour; but he threw out light without heat. The upper parts of the spars, the hammock rails, and the small iron guns which were mounted on the vessel’s decks, were covered with a white frost. The man at the helm stood muffled up in a thick pea-jacket and mittens, which made his hands appear as large as his feet. His nose was a pug of an intense bluish red, one tint arising from the present cold, and the other from the preventive checks which he had been so long accustomed to take to drive out such an unpleasant intruder. His grizzled hair waved its locks gently to the wind, and his face was distorted with an immoderate quid of tobacco which protruded his right cheek. This personage was second officer and steersman on board of the vessel, and his name was Obadiah Coble. He had been baptised Obadiah about sixty years before; that is to say, if he had been baptised at all. He stood so motionless at the helm, that you might have imagined him to have been frozen there as he stood, were it not that his eyes occasionally wandered from the compass on the binnacle to the bows of the vessel, and that the breath from his mouth, when it was thrown out into the clear frosty air, formed a smoke like to that from the spout of a half-boiling tea-kettle.

The crew belonging to the cutter, for she was a vessel in the service of his Majesty, King William the Third, at this time employed in protecting his Majesty’s revenue against the importation of alamodes and lutestrings, were all down below at their breakfasts, with the exception of the steersman and lieutenant-commandant, who now walked the quarter-deck, if so small an extent of plank could be dignified with such a name. He was a Mr Cornelius Vanslyperken, a tall meagre-looking personage, with very narrow shoulders and very small head. Perfectly straight up and down, protruding in no part, he reminded you of some tall parish pump, with a great knob at its top. His face was gaunt, cheeks hollow, nose and chin showing an affection for each other, and evidently lamenting the gulf between them which prevented their meeting. Both appear to have fretted themselves to the utmost degree of tenuity from disappointment in love: as for the nose it had a pearly round tear hanging at its tip, as if it wept. The dress of Mr Vanslyperken was hidden in a great coat, which was very long, and buttoned straight down. This great coat had two pockets on each side, into which its owner’s hands were deeply inserted, and so close did his arms lie to his sides, that they appeared nothing more than as would battens nailed to a topsail yard. The only deviation from the perpendicular was from the insertion of a speaking-trumpet under his left arm, at right angles with his body....