The next English frigate we escaped with no more than a shot in our quarter. Then we was chased two days and a night by a French privateer, firing between squalls, and the dirty little English ten-gun brig which made him sheer off had the impudence to press another five of our men. That's how we reached to the chops of the Channel. Twelve good men pressed out of thirty-five; an eighteen-pound shot-hole close beside our rudder ; our mainsail looking like spectacles where the Frenchman had hit us--and the Channel crawling with short-handed British cruisers. Put that in your pipe and smoke it next time you grumble at the price of tobacco! 'Well, then, to top it off, while we was trying to get at our leaks, a French lugger come swooping at us out o' the dusk.

This is from "Rewards and Fairies" "A Priest in Spite of Himself" by Kipling. http://www.telelib.com/authors/K/KiplingRudyard/prose/RewardsFaries/priest.html

What is the meaning of "to get at our leaks" ?

I am glad if some one kindly teach me.

1 Answer 1


The English ship had been hit by a French cannon. The crew was trying to stop the leaks, and while they were doing so a second French ship showed up.

Kipling is writing in the older, wordier style common in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (the piece was published in 1910). He was also using idiomatic phrases he thought might have been used by sailors at the time.

  • @RicgF, Thank you so much for your answer! It so helpful for me. Mar 3, 2017 at 7:00

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