Sunday, December 11, 2011
Seafaring Sunday: Birth of a Legend
"Certainly you must put on silk stockings. And do show a leg, my dear chap: we shall be late, without you spread a little more canvas."
"You are always in such a hurry," said Stephen peevishly, groping among his possessions. A Montpellier snake glided out with a dry rustling sound and traversed the room in a series of extraordinarily elegant curves, its head held up some eighteen inches above the ground.
"Oh, oh, oh," cried Jack, leaping on to a chair. "A snake!"
"Will these do?" asked Stephen. "They have a hole in them."
"Is it poisonous?"
"Extremely so. I dare say it will attack you, directly. I have very little doubt of it. Was I to put the silk stockings over my worsted stockings, sure the hole would not show: but then, I should stifle with heat. Do you not find it uncommonly hot?"
"Oh, it must be two fathoms long. Tell me, is it really poisonous? On your oath now?"
"If you thrust your hand down its throat as far as its back teeth you may meet a little venom; but not otherwise."
~ from Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian
December 12, 1914: Richard Patrick Russ, the author later to be known as Patrick O'Brian was born in Buckinghamshire, England