Poison Island eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 327 pages of information about Poison Island.

     “Yet agreeable as I found it o’er the ocean
        To glide within my bounding shallop,
      I incline to think that for the poetry of motion
        One may even more confidently recommend the Tantivy Gallop.”



Agreeable, too, as I found it to be whirled between the hedgerows behind five splendid horses; to catch the ostlers run out with the relays; to receive blue glimpses of the Channel to southward; to dive across dingles and past farm-gates under which the cocks and hens flattened themselves in their haste to give us room; to gaze back over the luggage and along the road, and assure myself that the rival coach (the Self-Defence) was not overtaking us—­yet Falmouth, when we reached it, was best of all; Falmouth, with its narrow streets and crowd of sailors, postmen, ’longshoremen, porters with wheelbarrows, and passengers hurrying to and from the packets, its smells of pitch and oakum and canvas, its shops full of seamen’s outfits and instruments and marine curiosities, its upper windows where parrots screamed in cages, its alleys and quay-doors giving peeps of the splendid harbour, thronged—­to quote Miss Plinlimmon again—­“with varieties of gallant craft, between which the trained nautical eye may perchance distinguish, but mine doesn’t.”

The residential part of Falmouth rises in neat terraces above the waterside, and of these Delamere Terrace was by no means the least respectable.  The brass doorplate of No. 7—­“Copenhagen Academy for the Sons of Gentlemen.  Principal, the Rev. Philip Stimcoe, B.A.  (Oxon.)”—­shone immaculate; and its window-blinds did Mrs. Stimcoe credit, as Miss Plinlimmon remarked before ringing the bell.

Mrs. Stimcoe herself opened the door to us, in a full lace cap and a maroon-coloured gown of state.  She was a gaunt, hard-eyed woman, tall as a grenadier, remarkable for a long upper lip decorated with two moles.  She excused her condescension on the ground that the butler was out, taking the pupils for a walk; and conducted us to the parlour, where Mr. Stimcoe sat in an atmosphere which smelt faintly of sherry.

Mr. Stimcoe rose and greeted us with a shaky hand.  He was a thin, spectacled man, with a pendulous nose and cheeks disfigured by a purplish cutaneous disorder (which his wife, later on, attributed to his having slept between damp sheets while the honoured guest of a nobleman, whose name I forget).  He wore a seedy clerical suit.

While shaking hands he observed that I was taller than he had expected; and this, absurdly enough, is all I remember of the interview, except that the room had two empty bookcases, one on either side of the chimney-breast; that the fading of the wallpaper above the mantelpiece had left a patch recording where a clock had lately stood (I conjectured that it must be at Greenwich, undergoing repairs); that Mrs. Stimcoe

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Poison Island from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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