Mr. Simon Softleigh had spent most of his life
His knowledge of the sea was therefore very limited.
So, as he was taking a holiday on the south coast, he thought this was
splendid opportunity for picking up a little useful
therefore proceeded to "draw" the natives.
"I suppose," said Mr. Softleigh one morning to a
skipper, "you have seen many wonderful sights on the rolling seas?"
"Bless you, sir, yes," said the skipper.
vanilla iceberg, or a mermaid a-hanging out her things to dry on the
equatorial line, or the blue-winged shark what flies through the air in
pursuit of his prey, or the sea-sarpint"
"Have you really seen a sea-serpent? I thought it
"Uncertin! You wouldn't say there was anything
uncertin about a
sea-sarpint if once you'd seen one.
The first as I seed was when I was
skipper of the Saucy Sally.
We was a-coming round
Cape Horn with a
cargo of shrimps from the Pacific Islands when I looks over the port
and sees a tremenjus monster like a snake, with its 'ead out of the
and its eyes flashing fire, a-bearing down on our ship.
So I shouts to
the bo'sun to let down the boat, while I runs below and fetches my
sword—the same what I used when I killed King Chokee, the
as eat our cabin-boy—and we pulls straight into the track of
Well, to make a long story short, when we come alongside
the beast I just let drive at him with that sword o' mine, and before
could say 'Tom Bowling' I cut him into three pieces, all of exactually
the same length, and afterwards we hauled 'em aboard the Saucy
What did I do with 'em? Well, I sold 'em to a feller in Rio
what do you suppose he done with 'em?
He used 'em to make tyres for his
motor-car—takes a lot to puncture a sea-sarpint's skin."
"What was the length of the creature?" asked Simon.
"Well, each piece was equal in length to
length of a
piece added to three-quarters of a cable. There's a little puzzle for
to work out, young gentleman. How many cables long must that there
sea-sarpint 'ave been?"
Now, it is not at all to the discredit of Mr.
never succeeded in working out the correct answer to that little
for it may confidently be said that out of a thousand readers who
the solution not one will get it exactly right.