Page:A Mainsail Haul - Masefield - 1913.djvu/34

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A MAINSAIL HAUL

A SAILOR'S YARN

"Once upon a time there was a clipper ship called the Mary, and she was lying in Panama waiting for a freight. It was hot, and it was calm, and it was hazy, and the men aboard her were dead sick of the sight of her. They had been lying there all the summer, having nothing to do but to wash her down, and scrape the royal masts with glass, and make the chain cables bright. And aboard of her was a big A.B. from Liverpool, with a tattooed chest on him and an arm like a spar. And this man's name was Bill.

"Now, one day, while the captain of this clipper was sunning in the club, there came a merchant to him offering him a fine freight home and 'despatch' in loading. So the old man went aboard that evening in a merry temper, and bade the mates rastle the hands aft. He told them that they could go ashore the next morning for a