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June 26 , 2008

The Charm of Ireland


Twilight was at hand when the little steamer, slender as a greyhound, cast loose from the pier at Holyhead, made its way cautiously out past the breakwater, and then, gathering speed, headed away across the Irish Sea, straight toward the setting sun. The boat showed many evidences that the Irish Sea can be savage when it chooses. Everything movable about the decks was carefully lashed down; there were railings and knotted ropes everywhere to cling to; and in the saloon the table-racks were set ready at hand, as though they had just been used, and might be needed again at any moment. But, on this Saturday evening in late May, the sea was in a pleasant, even a jovial, mood, with just enough swell to send a thin shower of spray across the deck from time to time, and lend exhilaration to the rush of the fleet little turbine. There were many boats in sight—small ones, for the most part, rolling and pitching apparently much worse than we; and then the gathering darkness obscured them one by one, and presently all that was left of them were the bobbing white lights at their mastheads. A biting chill crept into the air, and Betty finally sought refuge from it in the saloon, while I made my way back to the smoking-room, hoping for a friendly pipe with some one.
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