The Blockade Runners

by

Jules Verne

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The Blockade Runners by Jules Verne

[Redactor’s Note: The Blockade Runners is a translation of Les forceurs de blocus (1871). The Blockade Runners, a novella, was included along with A Floating City in the first english and french editions of this work. This translation, which follows that of Sampson and Low (UK) and Scribners (US) is by “N. D’Anvers”, pseudonymn for Mrs. Arthur Bell (d. 1933) who also translated other Verne books. It is also included in the fifteen volume Parke edition of the works of Jules Verne (1911). There is another translation by Henry Frith which was published by Routledge (1876).

Both of these stories are about ships; Floating City about the largest ship of the time, the Great Eastern, and Blockade Runners about one of the fastest, the Dolphin.

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The Blockade Runners

Table of Contents

I THE DOLPHIN
II GETTING UNDER SAIL
III THINGS ARE NOT WHAT THEY SEEM
IV CROCKSTON’S TRICK
V THE SHOT FROM THE IROQUOIS, AND MISS JENNY’S ARGUMENTS
VI SULLIVAN ISLAND CHANNEL
VII A SOUTHERN GENERAL
VIII THE ESCAPE
IX BETWEEN TWO FIRES
X ST. MUNGO

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THE BLOCKADE RUNNERS

Chapter I

THE DOLPHIN

The Clyde was the first river whose waters were lashed into foam by a steam-boat. It was in 1812 when the steamer called the Comet ran between Glasgow and Greenock, at the speed of six miles an hour. Since that time more than a million of steamers or packet-boats have plied this Scotch river, and the inhabitants of Glasgow must be as familiar as any people with the wonders of steam navigation.

However, on the 3rd of December, 1862, an immense crowd, composed of shipowners, merchants, manufacturers, workmen, sailors, women, and children, thronged the muddy streets of Glasgow, all going in the direction of Kelvin Dock, the large shipbuilding premises belonging to Messrs. Tod & MacGregor. This last name especially proves that the descendants of the famous Highlanders have become manufacturers, and that they have made workmen of all the vassals of the old clan chieftains.

Kelvin Dock is situated a few minutes’ walk from the town, on the right bank of the Clyde. Soon the immense timber-yards were thronged with spectators; not a part of the quay, not a wall of the wharf, not a factory roof showed an unoccupied place; the river itself was covered with craft of all descriptions, and the heights of Govan, on the left bank, swarmed with spectators.

There was, however, nothing extraordinary in the event about to take place; it was nothing but the launching of a ship, and this was an everyday affair with the people of Glasgow. Had the Dolphin, then — for that was the name of the ship built by Messrs. Tod & MacGregor — some special peculiarity? To tell the truth, it had none.

It was a large ship, about 1,500 tons, in which everything combined to obtain superior speed. Her engines, of 500 horse-power, were from the workshops of Lancefield Forge; they worked two screws, one on either side the stern-post, completely independent of each other. As for the depth of water the Dolphin would draw, it must be very inconsiderable; connoisseurs were not deceived, and they concluded rightly that this ship was destined for shallow straits. But all these particulars could not in any way justify the eagerness of the people: taken altogether, the Dolphin was nothing more or less than an ordinary ship. Would her launching present some mechanical difficulty to be overcome? Not any more than usual. The Clyde had received many a ship of heavier tonnage, and the launching of the Dolphin would take place in the usual manner.

In fact, when the water was calm, the moment the ebb-tide set in, the workmen began to operate. Their mallets kept perfect time falling on the wedges meant to raise the ship’s keel: soon a shudder ran through the whole of her massive structure; although she had only been slightly raised, one could see that she shook, and then gradually began to glide down the well greased wedges, and in a few moments she plunged into the Clyde.

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