A Message from the Sea by Charles Dickens

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The Project Gutenberg eBook, A Message from the Sea, by Charles Dickens

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net

Title: A Message from the Sea

Author: Charles Dickens

Release Date: April 3, 2005 [eBook #1407]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-646-US (US-ASCII)


Transcribed from the 1894 Chapman and Hall "Christmas Stories" edition by
David Price, email ccx074@coventry.ac.uk



"And a mighty sing'lar and pretty place it is, as ever I saw in all the
days of my life!" said Captain Jorgan, looking up at it.

Captain Jorgan had to look high to look at it, for the village was built
sheer up the face of a steep and lofty cliff. There was no road in it,
there was no wheeled vehicle in it, there was not a level yard in it.
From the sea-beach to the cliff-top two irregular rows of white houses,
placed opposite to one another, and twisting here and there, and there
and here, rose, like the sides of a long succession of stages of crooked
ladders, and you climbed up the village or climbed down the village by
the staves between, some six feet wide or so, and made of sharp irregular
stones. The old pack-saddle, long laid aside in most parts of England as
one of the appendages of its infancy, flourished here intact. Strings of
pack-horses and pack-donkeys toiled slowly up the staves of the ladders,
bearing fish, and coal, and such other cargo as was unshipping at the
pier from the dancing fleet of village boats, and from two or three
little coasting traders. As the beasts of burden ascended laden, or
descended light, they got so lost at intervals in the floating clouds of
village smoke, that they seemed to dive down some of the village
chimneys, and come to the surface again far off, high above others. No
two houses in the village were alike, in chimney, size, shape, door,
window, gable, roof-tree, anything. The sides of the ladders were
musical with water, running clear and bright. The staves were musical
with the clattering feet of the pack-horses and pack-donkeys, and the
voices of the fishermen urging them up, mingled with the voices of the
fishermen's wives and their many children. The pier was musical with the
wash of the sea, the creaking of capstans and windlasses, and the airy
fluttering of little vanes and sails. The rough, sea-bleached boulders
of which the pier was made, and the whiter boulders of the shore, were
brown with drying nets. The red-brown cliffs, richly wooded to their
extremest verge, had their softened and beautiful forms reflected in the
bluest water, under the clear North Devonshire sky of a November day
without a cloud. The village itself was so steeped in autumnal foliage,
from the houses lying on the pier to the topmost round of the topmost
ladder, that one might have fancied it was out a bird's-nesting, and was
(as indeed it was) a wonderful climber. And mentioning birds, the place
was not without some music from them too; for the rook was very busy on
the higher levels, and the gull with his flapping wings was fishing in
the bay, and the lusty little robin was hopping among the great stone
blocks and iron rings of the breakwater, fearless in the faith of his
ancestors, and the Children in the Wood.

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Books | Photos | Paul Mutton | Wed 3rd Jun 2020, 0:54