Chapter 1

Hewasaninch,perhapstwo,undersixfeet,powerfullybuilt,andheadvancedstraightatyouwithaslightstoopoftheshoulders,headforward,andafixedfrom-understarewhichmadeyouthinkofachargingbull.Hisvoicewasdeep,loud,andhismannerdisplayedakindofdoggedself-assertionwhichhadnothingaggressiveinit.Itseemedanecessity,anditwasdirectedapparentlyasmuchathimselfasatanybodyelse.Hewasspotlesslyneat,apparelledinimmaculatewhitefromshoestohat,andinthevariousEasternportswherehegothislivingasship-chandler’swater-clerkhewasverypopular.

Awater-clerkneednotpassanexaminationinanythingunderthesun,buthemusthaveAbilityintheabstractanddemonstrateitpractically.Hisworkconsistsinracingundersail,steam,oroarsagainstotherwater-clerksforanyshipabouttoanchor,greetinghercaptaincheerily,forcinguponhimacardthebusinesscardoftheship-chandlerandonhisfirstvisitonshorepilotinghimfirmlybutwithoutostentationtoavast,cavern-likeshopwhichisfullofthingsthatareeatenanddrunkonboardship;whereyoucangeteverythingtomakeherseaworthyandbeautiful,fromasetofchain-hooksforhercabletoabookofgold-leafforthecarvingsofherstern;andwherehercommanderisreceivedlikeabrotherbyaship-chandlerhehasneverseenbefore.

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