I Thought Him By
His Face To Be Scottish; Nor Could His Accent Undeceive Me.
there is a lingua franca of many tongues on the moles and in the
feluccas of the Mediterranean, so there is a free or common accent
among English-speaking men who follow the sea.
They catch a twang
in a New England Port; from a cockney skipper, even a Scotsman
sometimes learns to drop an h; a word of a dialect is picked up
from another band in the forecastle; until often the result is
undecipherable, and you have to ask for the man's place of birth.
So it was with Mr. Jones. I thought him a Scotsman who had been
long to sea; and yet he was from Wales, and had been most of his
life a blacksmith at an inland forge; a few years in America and
half a score of ocean voyages having sufficed to modify his speech
into the common pattern. By his own account he was both strong and
skilful in his trade. A few years back, he had been married and
after a fashion a rich man; now the wife was dead and the money
gone. But his was the nature that looks forward, and goes on from
one year to another and through all the extremities of fortune
undismayed; and if the sky were to fall to-morrow, I should look to
see Jones, the day following, perched on a step-ladder and getting
things to rights.
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