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Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 100, January 24, 1891   By:

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PUNCH,

OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.

VOL. 100.

January 24, 1891.

MR. PUNCH'S PRIZE NOVELS.

NO. XII. THE MATE OF THE MARLINSPIKE.

( BY SHARK MUSSELL; AUTHOR OF "ERECT WITH A STOVE IN HER," "MY GYP MADE TO WHEEZE," "THE ROMANCE OF A PENNY PARLOUR," "A HOOK FOR THE BANNOCK," "FOUND THE GAL ON FIRE," "THE MYSTERY OF THE LOTION JAR," "THE JOKES O' LEAD," &C., &C., &C. )

["Here you are, my hearty," writes the Author, "this is a regular briny ocean story, all storms and thunderclaps and sails and rigging and soaring masts and bellying sails. How about 'avast heaving' and 'shiver my timbers,' and 'son of a sea cook,' and all that? No, thank you; that kind of thing's played out. MARRYAT was all very well in his day , but that day's gone. The public requires stories about merchant ships, and, by Neptune, the public shall have them, with all kinds of hairy villains and tempest tossed wrecks and human interest and no end of humour, likewise word pictures of ships and storms. That's me. So clear the decks, and here goes."]

CHAPTER I.

We were in mid ocean. Over the vast expanses of the oily sea no ripple was to be seen although Captain BABBIJAM kept his binoculars levelled at the silent horizon for three quarters of an hour by the saloon clock. Far away in the murky distance of the mysterious empyrean, a single star flashed with a weird brilliance down upon the death like stillness of the immemorial ocean. Yet the good old Marlinspike was rolling from side to side and rising and falling as if the liquid expanse were stirred by the rush of a tempest instead of lying as motionless as a country congregation during the rector's sermon. Suddenly Captain BABBIJAM closed his binoculars with an angry snap, and turned to me. His face showed of a dark purple under his white cotton night cap.

[Illustration]

"The silly old ship," he muttered, half to himself and half to me, "is trying to make heavy weather of it; but I'll be even with her. I'll be even with her."

"You'll find it a very odd thing to do," I said to him, jocosely.

He sprang at me like a seahorse, and reared himself to his full height before me.

"Come, Mr. TUGLEY," he continued, speaking in a low, meaning voice, "can you take a star?"

"Sometimes," I answered, humouring his strange fancy; "but there's only one about, and it seems a deuce of a long way off however, I'll try;" and, with that, I reached my arm up in the direction of the solitary planet, which lay in the vast obscure like a small silver candlestick, with a greenish tinge in its icy sparkling, mirrored far below in the indigo flood of the abysmal sea, while a grey scud came sweeping up, no one quite knew whence, and hung about the glossy face of the silent luminary like the shreds of a wedding veil, scattered by a honey moon quarrel across the deep spaces far beyond the hairy coamings of the booby hatch.

"Fool!" said the Captain, softly, "I don't mean that. If you can't take a star, can you keep a watch?"

"Well, as to that, Captain," said I, half shocked and half amused at his strange questionings, "I never take my own out in a crowd. It's one of DENT's best, given me by my aunt, and I've had it for nigh upon "

But the Captain had left me, and was at that moment engaged on his after supper occupation of jockeying a lee yard arm, while the first mate, Mr. SOWSTER, was doing his best to keep up with his rough commanding officer by dangling to windward on the flemish horse, which, as it was touched in the wind and gone in the forelegs, stumbled violently over the buttery hatchway and hurled its venturesome rider into the hold.

CHAPTER II.

On the following morning we were all sitting in the palatial saloon of the Marlinspike . We were all there, all the characters, that is to say, necessary for the completion of a first class three volume ocean novel. On my right sat the cayenne peppery Indian Colonel, a small man with a fierce face and a tight collar, who roars like a bull and says, "Zounds, Sir," on the slightest provocation... Continue reading book >>


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