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are short ones in this latitude, and we seem to be "putting a girdle round about the earth,” if not, like Puck, “in forty minutes," yet still at a rate that appears to us marvellous, as we find our clock nearly half an hour behind the sun each day at meridian, and push her ahead to keep her up to our flying rate of progress.
Land ho! most welcome to our eager eyes, rough, barren and uninhabitable though it be, the storm-beaten rock of Diego Ramirez, for it tells us where we are, better than the whole slateful of figures. “Shake out another reef !” she'll bear it! another day's run, and we can shove her off north-east on the "home side of the land" -the towering seas gather and roll on after us—but keep the canvas on her and she will keep ahead of them -every one of them shoots her on towards "Home, sweet home”-Diego Ramirez fades into the dark squall astern, and if the wind stands where it is, we shall catch Cape Horn asleep. That squall has passed—it is not so heavy as it promised to be- "Give her the mainto'. gallantsail!” We must make the most of the breeze while we have it, for we're homeward bound! The sun rises brightly this morning, and the wind is fresh yet, and canting to the southward— “Never mind! let her slide off two points, east-north-east now!" for we've plenty of sea room-we're in the Atlantic!
We passed to the eastward of the Falklands, and were nearly on the ground where we lost our third mate, when outward-bound. Of course the melancholy circumstance was recalled, and talked over, and the captain mentioned that some twelve years previous, when a mate of the Colossus, he had struck a whale in this vicinity, and lost him in consequence of his iron breaking.
“I hope," said he, "to see whales yet in crossing this
ground. It bids fair to be a good day to-morrow, and I think we will shorten sail at night and let her jog easy, so as to take a good look along here. One large whale would be all we want to chock us off, and we would go home with flying colors.”
The next morning we had hardly got the reefs shaken out, when whales were raised. There were several of them, but they did not appear to run together, but were seen here and there in different directions, and were also irregular in their time of rising and going down.
“These whales have been gallied," said the old man, "and have not got regular yet. Some ship has been whaling here yesterday, I think. But here is one off the lee quarter that I think can be struck, Mr. Grafton. You and Mr. Dunham lower away and go down there and try him, and I will wait a while and take the ship's chance. If you get fast, I'll come down there to you.'
Away we went off to leeward, but it soon appeared that his whaleship was too shy for us, and was playing a dodge game with us. In vain we tried to “prick for him”; we spread our chances, and used our best judgment, but all to no purpose. He always rose in some unexpected quarter, and spouting but a few times, was down again before we could get near enough to “stand up." At length he took a start and went off to leeward at a round pace, and led on by our ardor in the chase we pursued it until we were full three miles from the ship, when it became evident that he was moving faster and faster at each rising, and we abandoned the chase, especially as the ship showed no signs of running off, but still lay aback in the same position as when we lowered. We laid round the heads of our boats towards the ship, and pulled to windward, wondering why the old man still kept
his luff, when up went the ensign at the peak, and the small signal at the main was run up and down several time in rapid succession.
“Give way hard, boys!" said the mate. “We are wanted in a hurry. The old man must have lowered and struck a whale to windward, and wants help. Perhaps he's stove! spring hard and shoot her up there!"
We put out strength to the oars with a will, the second mate keeping way with us, and, though doing our best, it seemed in our anxiety and impatience, that he did not make any headway. The signal was now and then run up and down again hurriedly, speaking the most urgent language of which it was capable. We saw men on the bearers, apparently trying to clear away the lashings of the spare boat which was turned up overhead, but soon this seemed to be abandoned. We could make
. out now, as we drew nearer, that the cooper was on the hurricane house, waving with all his might to us and thus stimulated to greater exertion, we toiled away at our oars, the boats jumping into the head sea, and sending the spray all over us. We could hear them hailing us from the ship, long before we could make out the words. We could see them pointing to windward, as if to tell us we were needed there. Up across the stern we held our long and strong stroke, receiving the information as we passed, that the old man had struck a whale off the weather bow, and he had run him into the "sunglaze," so that they could not see him from the ship, and they thought he must be stoven. He could not be far off, however, as he was not more than a mile from the ship when last seen.
“Give way hard, boys!" said the mate again. "Brace forward, Cooper, and down tacks !" but he was already mustering his small force for this purpose. We "laid back" on our oars, the mates heaving at the stroke oars, and keeping a sharp lookout, not pulling directly at the glare of the sun, but in a direction abaft it so as to look broad off the bow and beam of the boat. Soon the mate's countenance lighted, and he threw her head suddenly off with the steering oar.
“Here they are!" said he, "and not far from us, either! Spring hard, men! They're all on the wreck—two, four, five, six—all safe yet !"
They were, indeed, all safe as yet; but we were none too soon, for they were nearly exhausted, as there was a smart sea on, washing over them, and they had all they could do to keep their positions, the strongest assisting and encouraging the others. My friend Ashton was almost gone when I dragged him into our boat; a few minutes more would have finished him. The whole bottom of their boat was crushed, she had filled and rolled over with them, and they had all clung to the bottom.
“Never mind the boat," said the old man, “she isn't worth picking up.
Set a waif for the cooper to tack and stand towards us. Let's get on board, some of us, and get the spare boat out.
boat out. I think we shall see the whale again if we work up to windward a tack or two."
The ship went about, and soon hove to again close to us. We shot alongside, put the half-drowned men on board, and had hardly done so when the whale came up in the ship's wake, distance less than half a mile. "Shove off !” was the word, and we were after him again with two boats, while the captain with his force were already rousing the third one off the bearers. The second mate got the lead this time and was fast a few minutes after pushing astern of the ship. The whale rounded to, and
“showed good play,” and we were quickly on hand to let more blood from him. He was already weakened from his wounds, and a few touches of the lance made him our prize. The spare boat was not called into service; but another short tack with the ship, and with shouts of triumph that rang loud and clear over the sea, we hauled alongside our last whale, that was to "chock off” the between decks and fill all our spare casks. Our perils in the attack of these monsters were over, for this voyage. No more hard pulls to windward-no involuntary seabathing—no more tedious “mastheads” to be stood. Well might we shout over this "last but not least" of our hard-earned prizes.
The last whale! How many pleasant recollections are associated with this landmark in the voyage! How many congratulations were exchanged among us, and how many smart things said! Sweethearts and wives are especially remembered, for both married and single are in high feather, and this is emphatically a redletter day in the Arethusa's calendar. The work of cutting goes bravely on, amid a running fire of goodnatured remarks and spicy jokes, which, of course, between the regular “natives” bear something of a personal character; for every true knight of the island chivalry in those days had his “ladie-love," whose image, held in fond remembrance, fired his heart and nerved his arm in his perilous encounters with leviathan. Each of our Nantucketers, on occasions like this called to mind some fair face and form, his life-partner, either in esse or in posse; all had either wives to maintain or wives to