- foretop + -man (Wiktionary)
“The beautiful Billy Budd is a foretopman, ready to climb up the rigging.”
“Aye, aye, bo, right you were," answered the brawny foretopman as he knocked in the head of another hogshead.”
“At the time, on the gun decks of the Indomitable, the general estimate of his nature and its unconscious simplicity eventually found rude utterance from another foretopman, one of his own watch, gifted, as some sailors are, with an artless poetic temperament; the tarry hands made some lines which after circulating among the shipboard crew for a while, finally got rudely printed at Portsmouth as a ballad.”
“Such a cynosure, at least in aspect, and something such too in nature, though with important variations made apparent as the story proceeds, was welkin-eyed Billy Budd, or Baby Budd, as more familiarly under circumstances hereafter to be given he at last came to be called, aged twenty-one, a foretopman of the British fleet toward the close of the last decade of the eighteenth century.”
“Though our new-made foretopman was well received in the top and on the gun decks, hardly here was he that cynosure he had previously been among those minor ship's companies of the merchant marine, with which companies only had he hitherto consorted.”
“But they were not so young as our foretopman, and no few of them must have known a hearth of some sort; others may have had wives and children left, too probably, in uncertain circumstances, and hardly any but must have had acknowledged kith and kin, while for Billy, as will shortly be seen, his entire family was practically invested in himself.”
“Alongside of three other slumberers from below, he lay near that end of the booms which approaches the fore-mast; his station aloft on duty as a foretopman being just over the deckstation of the forecastlemen, entitling him according to usage to make himself more or less at home in that neighbourhood.”
“You'd have made a right good foretopman if your heart is as stout as your fingers are quick," said he.”
“Came down the rope like a foretopman, hung all over with jewels: brooches, chains, and owches, you know, -- Scripture, -- kind of rope-walking Tiffany.”
“Tom Edwards, a young foretopman, had the lee lookout, and as seven bells struck he sang out, 'Lee cat-head;' but the last syllable died away on his lips as his eyes rested upon an object -- a white object -- standing bolt upright in the water before him, about a hundred yards distant and broad off on the lee bow.”
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