American Detective Fiction    Prior to July 1891

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  Published in
Erie [PA] Observer, June 9, 1855
The Forecastle Story

  are a curious fish; you will always find it blows from the quarter they come. I think it was just about here, sir, that—”

“Lower away—lower away, smartly!” rang out the clear tones of Capt. Backstay, and old Tom’s yarn was broken off before it was fairly commenced. We turned our eyes aft, and saw over the leeward side of the ship, buffeting the waves, a sailor, whom, by his black, curly locks, I recognized as a Spanish boy, of sixteen years, one of the hands in charge of the deck at that hour, his hat had been carried away by a flow of wind, and the foolish fellow had immediately—as it was almost dead calm—jumped in for it. The heavy swell had carried him some yards from the ship before the small boat could be lowered from over the stern where it swung; but the instant it touched the water eight strong arms pulled away and the little shell shot from under the cabin windows, like an arrow. A stout hand soon fastened like a vice in the boy’s locks, and he was dragged into the boat in much less . . .


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    Water and sky, sky and water—east, west, north and south, the same listless rolling sea—Not a sail, not a sea bird, not a flying fish to be seen. Even a nautilus would have been welcomed; but nothing met our eyes but the blue ocean and the blue sky, and the monotony was producing a mental sea-sickness as dreadful as the physical.

I paced the deck that day for four tedious hours—patience had given out, the shores of England were at least ten good days sail to the eastward. We yet rolled lazily on the banks of Newfoundland.

The sun was dipping his red, fiery face in the Atlantic, as a few light puffs of wind began to fill the white canvas which had flapped against the yards since noon. As the noble ship began to show a very slight headway, a school of dolphins crossed her boughs. “Plenty of breeze from the north sir, by midnight,” said old Tom to me, a weather-beaten salt of sixty, pulling at his Scotch cap. “I hope so, Tom; this is dull music. But what makes you think we shall catch it by midnight?” “The dolphins, sir; they





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