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"And yet, I dare say," replied his mother, "that many a hardy seaman engaged in this occupation, would tell you it was a far nobler sport than standing all day by the side of a quiet stream, waiting for a bite from some little fish not bigger than your hand. Of our whale fisheries, however, the sport, as these men will sometimes call it, is by no means an important consideration connected with the subject. But I suppose it will hardly accord with your taste to enter upon any further discussion upon so hideous a monster as you think the whale ?"

"Oh, yes!" said Charles, "I should like to hear something about the sperm whale; for if what we call spermaceti be a part of it, certainly that looks pure enough."

"Ambergris, too," replied the mother, "is one product of the sperm-whale, though all do not yield it. As much as fifty pounds of ambergris have been extracted from one single whale, and such is the esteem in which this article is held, that it sells frequently at one pound an ounce." "But the spermaceti ?" said Charles. to know about that."

"I want

"I can tell you nothing more about the spermaceti," replied his mother, "than that the kind of whale in which it is found, is chiefly remarkable for the enormous size of its head, and that within the head is a large cavity divided into a great many compartments, filled with a kind of fine oil, which is fluid when the animal is alive; but which afterward assumes the concrete form in which we see it, when it is called spermaceti. The throat of this animal, unlike the Greenland whale, is so

large as to be capable of receiving the body of a man; but the peculiarity which strikes every beholder as most remarkable, is the extraordinary size of its head, the length of which is about one third that of the whole body."

"How can the monster swim with such a head?" asked Charles.

"Instead of this head being an impediment to its swimming," replied his mother, "it rather adds to its agility, for the greatest part of it containing oil, the head has a tendency to rise so far out of the water as to assist the purposes of respiration; and when the animal wishes to increase its speed, the lower portion of the head bearing considerable resemblance to the form of a ship, the mighty animal, sometimes seventy or eighty feet in length, is thus enabled with the greatest ease to cut its way along the ocean.


"What a horrible thing it would be to meet," exclaimed Charles, "if one happened to be out in a boat, and just in its way!"

"You may well say so," replied his mother, especially if you have ever heard of its blow


ing ?"


Blowing! what is that?" asked Charles. "It is one of those peculiarities,” replied his mother, "which distinguish this whale from others. By blowing, is meant the act of throwing up water from the snout, with a loud roaring noise, which it does on rising to the surface of the water at regular intervals; and when vast numbers of these stupendous animals are amusing themselves together in this manner, the effect of such a commotion upon the voyager who witnesses it for the

first time, has often been described as truly astonPerhaps you have never heard of this


whale leaping out of the water ?" "Leaping!" exclaimed Charles. " Surely these moving mountains do not leap."


They are said," replied his mother," notwithstanding their size, to be remarkably timid; and whether from fear, or only in sport, sometimes perform astonishing feats of agility and strength, one of which is to descend a certain depth into the sea, and then, by violent strokes of its powerful tail, to increase its velocity, so as to dart completely out of the water; which extraordinary performance it generally repeats three or four times in succession, to the terror of the seamen who may have been bold enough to approach it. It has also a trick of rolling over and over on the surface of the water, especially when harpooned, in which case it will sometimes coil around its body an amazing length of rope. But you shall hear a short description of the sport of catching some of the smaller whales of this species, from Stewart's Journal, a book with which you would do well to make yourself familiar.

"Yesterday,' says this writer, 'a shoal of large fish, a species of whale, were descried close to our ship. We were walking on the deck at the time, and had a full view of them, as they tumbled and spouted on their way just under the stern of the ship. Three of our boats were lowered, and manned in a moment, and a chase after them commenced. At the distance of half a mile we saw the darting of a harpoon; immediately after the water dashing high in the air; and then a boat

rushing with astonishing velocity after the animal to which it was fastened. From a defect in the iron, however, this fish was not secured. Shortly after, the first officer struck another, which instantby spouted a column of blood ten or fifteen feet high, and began plunging in the agonies of death. He threw his immense body almost entirely out of the water, and, while dying, thrashed the waves until he was covered in a bed of foam.

"All hands were engaged in towing the prey to the ship, when another shoal appeared just under our bows; a boat was quickly in the midst of them, as they sported along, unconscious of danger; and one of the largest became alarmed only in time to receive a harpoon fully in his side, as he plunged round to escape it. He sprang once nearly his whole length into the air, and then diving into the deep, was soon out of sight; but the swiftness with which the boat cut the waves after him, and the purple stream that marked its wake, told that the blow had been true. The boat continued to be hurried with the speed of a racehorse, first in one direction, and then in another, for more than half an hour before the creature died.

"Unaccustomed to such feats, the whole scene was to us an exhibition of singular intrepidity. The process in taking a full-sized whale is precisely the same. The boats for this purpose are of the most slight, and apparently fragile construction, formed to move with the utmost rapidity, and to ride even on the crest of a wave. The harpooner stands erect on the bow, with a firmness and gracefulness which practice only could secure;

while the boat bounds from height to depth, and from depth to height, of the swelling sea. At a proper distance, his eye fixed on his victim, he darts the instrument with a force which would seem inevitably to throw him from his narrow foothold into the water, while the floundering animal, writhing in the desperation of death, puts the boat in constant jeopardy.

"The danger is by no means imaginary; many boats are destroyed, and many lives lost, in whaling voyages. The line, hundreds of yards in length, to which the harpoon is attached, is coiled in a tub in the fore part of the boat, and permitted to run off according to the power and speed of the whale to which it has been fastened, while one of the boatmen stands with a hatchet to cut it off, at a single blow, in case it should become entangled, as the delay of an instant might prove fatal, and the boat be irresistibly taken down by the animal. It not unfrequently happens, that an arm or leg of some of the men is caught in the line, as it glides with the quickness of lightning from the tub; and should not the limb be at once severed from the body, the poor seaman is, in a moment, hurried to an irrecoverable depth.'


"I begin to think, mother," said Charles, "that you and the eloquent writer of this description, have as high an idea of the sport of whale-catching, as I have of that of catching trout."


I don't see why," replied his mother, "my own feelings should be supposed to be the same as those of the writer of this description; yet, perhaps, if I were to confess the whole truth, I should say, have sometimes fancied, had I been a man, that I

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