from The Century Dictionary.
- noun See
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He held on to the reef-earing as long as he could, but the flapping of the sail soon caused him to call out to his shipmates, "I can hold on no longer," and before any aid could be given he had slipped his hold and fallen into the sea, and the surges covered him over.
The captain of the top, instead of moving in, continues to sit astride the spar, dangling his legs under the weather yard-arm with the end of the close reef-earing in his hand, quite as much at his ease as any well-washed sea-bird that ever screamed defiance to a pitiless south-wester.