At Sunwich Port

W.W. Jacobs
At Sunwich Port, Complete, by
W.W. Jacobs

The Project Gutenberg EBook of At Sunwich Port, Complete, by W.W.
Jacobs 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
Title: At Sunwich Port, Complete Includes etexts #10871-10875
Author: W.W. Jacobs
Release Date: January 30, 2004 [EBook #10876]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ASCII

Produced by David Widger


From Drawings by Will Owen
The ancient port of Sunwich was basking in the sunshine of a July
afternoon. A rattle of cranes and winches sounded from the shipping in
the harbour, but the town itself was half asleep. Somnolent shopkeepers
in dim back parlours coyly veiled their faces in red handkerchiefs from
the too ardent flies, while small boys left in charge noticed listlessly the
slow passing of time as recorded by the church clock.
It is a fine church, and Sunwich is proud of it. The tall grey tower is a
landmark at sea, but from the narrow streets of the little town itself it
has a disquieting appearance of rising suddenly above the roofs
huddled beneath it for the purpose of displaying a black-faced clock
with gilt numerals whose mellow chimes have recorded the passing
hours for many generations of Sunwich men.
Regardless of the heat, which indeed was mild compared with that
which raged in his own bosom, Captain Nugent, fresh from the inquiry
of the collision of his ship Conqueror with the German barque Hans
Muller, strode rapidly up the High Street in the direction of home. An
honest seafaring smell, compounded of tar, rope, and fish, known to the
educated of Sunwich as ozone, set his thoughts upon the sea. He longed
to be aboard ship again, with the Court of Inquiry to form part of his
crew. In all his fifty years of life he had never met such a collection of
fools. His hard blue eyes blazed as he thought of them, and the mouth
hidden by his well-kept beard was set with anger.
Mr. Samson Wilks, his steward, who had been with him to London to
give evidence, had had a time upon which he looked back in later years
with much satisfaction at his powers of endurance. He was with the
captain, and yet not with him. When they got out of the train at
Sunwich he hesitated as to whether he should follow the captain or
leave him. His excuse for following was the bag, his reason for leaving
the volcanic condition of its owner's temper, coupled with the fact that

he appeared to be sublimely ignorant that the most devoted steward in
the world was tagging faithfully along a yard or two in the rear.
The few passers-by glanced at the couple with interest. Mr. Wilks had
what is called an expressive face, and he had worked his sandy
eyebrows, his weak blue eyes, and large, tremulous mouth into such an
expression of surprise at the finding of the Court, that he had all the
appearance of a beholder of visions. He changed the bag to his other
hand as they left the town behind them, and regarded with gratitude the
approaching end of his labours.
At the garden-gate of a fair-sized house some half-mile along the road
the captain stopped, and after an impatient fumbling at the latch strode
up the path, followed by Mr. Wilks, and knocked at the door. As he
paused on the step he half turned, and for the first time noticed the
facial expression of his faithful follower.
"What the dickens are you looking like that for?" he demanded.
"I've been surprised, sir," conceded Mr. Wilks; "surprised and
Wrath blazed again in the captain's eyes and set lines in his forehead.
He was being pitied by a steward!
"You've been drinking," he said, crisply; "put that bag down."
"Arsking your pardon, sir," said the steward, twisting his unusually dry
lips into a smile, "but I've 'ad no opportunity, sir--I've been follerin' you
all day, sir."
A servant opened the door. "You've been soaking in it for a month,"
declared the captain as he entered the hall. "Why the blazes don't you
bring that bag in? Are you so drunk you don't know what you are
Mr. Wilks picked the bag up and followed humbly into the house. Then
he lost his head altogether, and gave some colour to his superior

officer's charges by first cannoning into the servant and then wedging
the captain firmly in the doorway
Continue reading on your phone by scaning this QR Code

 / 81
Tip: The current page has been bookmarked automatically. If you wish to continue reading later, just open the Dertz Homepage, and click on the 'continue reading' link at the bottom of the page.