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  1. #1
    jiho is offline Member
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    At the old trade

    Hi all,
    Here i come again with another one of my favourite head-scratchers...

    First of all, the context:
    Two friends, one aboard a ship (the Captain) & the other one inland.
    The one aboard writes a letter to the inland one, telling him that no matter how long he is inland, he will wait for him to come aboard as the ship is anchored near the shore...

    ... I shall stay here, at the old trade—"quarter-er-less four"...

    Well, the questions are two, as follows:
    1.- What does "at the old trade" mean? Sort of "doing the same old things"?
    2.- Of course, What on earth can "quarter-er-less four" mean?

    My previous posts about Butter stuff have made me run out of guesses

  2. #2
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    Re: At the old trade

    What David said. =)
    Last edited by Hi_there_Carl; 08-Dec-2007 at 20:21.

  3. #3
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    Re: At the old trade

    FitzRoy is being humourous in this letter to Charles Darwin!
    A 'quarter' is one of the points of the compass, referring to the direction in which the wind is blowing. This has importance when the ship is under sail and trying to capture the force of the wind. However, he is anchored. He, as if, starts to say, (as he continues to captain the ship, his old trade), which quarter the wind is blowing from; but that aspect of the 'old trade' is only relevant when under sail, so he then catches himself -er- and says 'less four', that is, minus all four quarters because he is stuck in harbour until Darwin returns to the ship...and in effect, CAN'T ply his 'old trade'. He's as good as land-bound as Darwin is inland.

  4. #4
    jiho is offline Member
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    Re: At the old trade

    Quote Originally Posted by David L. View Post
    FitzRoy is being humourous in this letter to Charles Darwin!
    A 'quarter' is one of the points of the compass, referring to the direction in which the wind is blowing. This has importance when the ship is under sail and trying to capture the force of the wind. However, he is anchored. He, as if, starts to say, (as he continues to captain the ship, his old trade), which quarter the wind is blowing from; but that aspect of the 'old trade' is only relevant when under sail, so he then catches himself -er- and says 'less four', that is, minus all four quarters because he is stuck in harbour until Darwin returns to the ship...and in effect, CAN'T ply his 'old trade'. He's as good as land-bound as Darwin is inland.
    Impressive to me David!
    I see you have read Darwin's Correspondence...

    Thank you, man!

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