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From `Oscar and Lucinda'

MY father surely knew what kind of ship it was Oscar sailed on. He knew its name, and if he knew its name he probably ``looked it up.'' In any case, he said nothing about the Leviathan which was no more a clipper than the celluloid was a grid of latitude and longitude. The Leviathan was 690 feet long, 83 feet wide, and 58 feet deep. The Ark (if one allows the cubit as 20.62 inches) was 512 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 51 feet deep. This coincidence was not lost on Oscar who ``discovered'' the Leviathan two weeks after his fateful evening at Cremorne Gardens.

At this stage Ishmael Kingdom Legare's controversial liner was undergoing one of its crises in the Tyneside shipyards and it was thought the company would go bankrupt. These uncertainties were nothing to Oscar. He ignored them. He saw only that this was the ship he must travel on. It was unsinkable. Punch wrote that a man might travel from Southampton to Sydney and - so vast were the dimensions, so multitudinous the passages, alleyways, gangways, etc. - that the poor chap - although he might dance till he had no shoe leather, and dine till his buttons burst - might go all that way and never find his way to that most simple essential of an ocean voyage - a porthole with a view of the sea.

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This was just the sort of ship that Oscar required.

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