The North Water
Behold the man. He shuffles out of Clappison's courtyard onto Sykes Street and snuffs the complex air -- turpentine, fishmeal, mustard, black lead, the usual grave, morning-piss stink of just emptied night jars. He snorts once, rubs his bristled head, and readjusts his crotch. He sniffs his fingers, then slowly sucks each one in turn, drawing off the last remnants, getting his final money's worth. At the end of Charterhouse Lane he turns north onto Wincolmlee, past the De La Pole Tavern, past the sperm candle manufactory and the oil-seed mill. Above the warehouse roofs, he can see the swaying tops of main and mizzenmasts, hear the shouts of the stevedores and the thump of mallets from the cooperage nearby.