Three Quotations

(Jan 16th to 25th)


1. Her cinnabar-tinted topsail, nicking the hot blue horizon, showed she was a Spanish wheat-boat hours before she reached Marseilles mole...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" in Limits and Renewals, a story set in the great Roman port of Marseilles. Three sea captains are reminiscing, and one recalls the moral courage of Paul of Tarsus during a ship-wreck on the island of Malta, when he was a prisoner on his way to a terrible death in Rome, in the arena.


2. ...the little schooner was gambolling all around her anchor among the silver-tipped waves. Backing with a start of affected surprise at the sight of the strained cable, she pounced on it like a kitten, while the spray of her descent burst through the hawse-holes with the report of a gun. Shaking her head she would say: 'Well, I'm sorry I can't stay any longer with you, I'm going North'... This is from Captains Courageous.

After a hard day's fishing, the cod are stowed away in barrels, and the We're Here is making her way through a heavy sea. But Harvey has his sea legs now, and can savour the schooner's sea-worthiness with relish.


3. Precisely over the flagstaff I saw Two Six Seven astern, her black petticoat half hitched up, meekly floating on the still sea. She looked like the pious Abigail who has just spoken her mind, and, with folded hands, sits thanking heaven among the pieces. I could almost have sworn that she wore black worsted gloves, and had a little dry cough... The narrator of the tale has spent the night on board No 267 Torpedo-boat, on manoeuvres in the Channel. Through various piratical stratagems, her commander has triumphantly wiped the eye of the Red Fleet, by 'sinking' two massive battleships.