Captain Dunning stood with his back to the fireplace in the back-parlour of a temperance coffee-house in a certain town on the eastern seaboard of America.
The name of that town is unimportant, and, for reasons with which the reader has nothing to do, we do not mean to disclose it.
Captain Dunning, besides being the owner and commander of a South Sea whale-ship, was the owner of a large burly body, a pair of broad shoulders, a pair of immense red whiskers that met under his chin, a short, red little nose, a large firm mouth, and a pair of light-blue eyes, which, according to their owner’s mood, could flash like those of a tiger or twinkle sweetly like the eyes of a laughing child. But his eyes seldom flashed; they more frequently twinkled, for the captain was the very soul of kindliness and good-humour. Yet he was abrupt and sharp in his manner, so that superficial observers sometimes said he was hasty.