Saturday, June 8, 2013

Hair Breadth Escapes Perilous incidents in the lives of sailors and so forth - by T.S. Arthur

Free US/UK Kindle Classic

Sometimes it is the title that hooks you and drags you into a book.  A title such as Hair Breadth Escapes Perilous incidents in the lives of sailors and travelers in Japan, Cuba, East Indies, etc., etc. This is probably the only book every written with two etceteras in the title.  The book is by Timothy Shay Arthur, an American writer.  (US Edition)  (UK Edition)

This is a non-fiction book published in 1889, a few years after Arthur's death.  It looks and reads like non-fiction, but I had to check because he wrote perhaps 100 novels and some in the voice of women. With all those novels, you might think he had no time for non-fiction . .  .

Bangs was sitting up in bed, busily engaged in putting on his breeches, which luckily he had put under his pillow. The rest of his own clothes, and those of his friends, were swimming about the cabin, saturated with water. Gelid, who during all the tumult had slept soundly, was now awake. He put one of his legs out of bed, with a view of rising, and plunged it into the water.

 “Heavens! Wagtail,” he exclaimed, “the cabin is full of water––we are sinking! Ah! it is deuced hard to be drowned in this puddle, like potatoes in a tub.”

“Captain, captain,” cried Bangs, looking over the side of his bed, “did you ever see the like of that? There, just under your light––look at it; why it’s a bird’s nest, with a thrush in it, swimming about.” “Damn your bird’s nest,” growled little Pepperpot, “by Jove, it’s my wig with a live rat in it.”

Funny, in a creepy way!

I served as assistant pilot on board the merchant vessel Dolphin, bound from Jamaica for London, which had already doubled the southern point of the Island of Cuba, favored by the wind, when one afternoon, I suddenly observed a very suspicious-looking schooner bearing down upon us from the coast. I climbed the mast, with my spy glass, and became convinced that it was a pirate. I directed the captain, who was taking his siesta, to be awaked instantly, showed him the craft, and advised him to alter our course, that we might avoid her. The captain, a man of unfortunate temper, whose principal traits of character were arrogance, avarice, and obstinacy, scorned my counsel, and insisted that we had nothing to fear, as we were perfectly well protected by the English flag.

This is an edited non-fiction collection.  It is clear from the author's biography that he never sailed the seas, although he called the port of Baltimore home.

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