"I wish most heartily that something would happen," Harry Parkhurst,
a midshipman of ...
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"I wish most heartily that something would happen," Harry Parkhurst,
a midshipman of some sixteen years of age, said to his chum, Dick
Balderson, as they leaned on the rail of her majesty's gunboat Serpent,
and looked gloomily at the turbid stream that rolled past the ship as
she lay at anchor.

"One day is just like another--one is in a state of perspiration from
morning till night, and from night till morning. There seems to be
always a mist upon the water; and if it were not that we get up steam
every three or four days and run out for twenty-four hours for a breath
of fresh air, I believe that we should be all eaten up with fever in no
time. Of course, they are always talking of Malay pirates up the river
kicking up a row; but it never seems to come off."

"There is one thing, Harry--there is always something to look at, for
there are canoes constantly going up and down, and there is plenty
of variety among them--from the sluggish dhows, laden with up
country produce, to the long canoes with a score of paddlers and some
picturesque ruffian sitting in the stern. It adds to the interest when
you know that the crews are cutthroats to a man, and would make but the
shortest possible work of you if they had got you in their power."

"Yes, Dick. Look at that canoe coming up stream; what a good looking
chap that is in the stern, though by the way he scowls at us I can quite
believe he would, as you say, cut our throats if he had the chance. That
is a pretty little child sitting by him, and what a gorgeous dress she
has! There, you see, he can look pleasant enough when he speaks to her.
I fancy they must have come from a long way up the river, for they
look wilder than most of the fellows who pass us. If that fool who is
steering her does not mind what he is about, Dick, he will either run
into that canoe coming down or else get across our chain. There, I told
you so."

The man at the tiller was in fact, looking, with mingled curiosity and
hostility, at the gunboat that he was passing but a few yards away, and
did not notice a canoe, manned by six rowers, that was coming down with
the stream, taking an oblique course across the bows of the Serpent, and
was indeed hidden from his view by the hull of the vessel, until he had
passed beyond her. Then there was a sudden shout and a yell from a dozen
throats, as the two canoes came into collision, the one proceeding up
the river being struck on the quarter with a force that almost cut her
in two, and in an instant her occupants were in the water. As the
Malays were to a man almost as much at home in the water as on land, the
accident would have had little effect beyond the loss of the boat and
its contents, had it not been that the stern of the other craft struck
the Malay chief with such force as to completely disable him, and he
would have sunk at once had not two of the boatmen grasped him and kept
his head above water.
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Product Details

  • BN ID: 2940013288850
  • Publisher: SAP
  • Publication date: 10/19/2011
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 159 KB

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