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obtain. The captain himself is not slow to take part in this badinage, for we are cutting the last whale now, and it is a time to waive the little restraints of rank.
“This is a noble whale, and, being the last one, of course, the blubber is uncommonly fat," said he, as he drove his sharp spade into it, and slashed it into convenient pieces with true professional pride; "this is the one that pays for the bridal outfits and town clerk's fees. Let's see, Mr. Grafton, we shall get invitations to three weddings, certain. I don't know but more, but we may count on three."
"Mr. Bunker thinks we needn't count on him," said the mate.
"Nonsense!" returned the old man. “He thinks we Newtowners don't know his cruising-grounds, because the first landfall he means to make is away up North Shore Hill. But he can't throw any dust in my eyes."
“You didn't mean to count me, sir," said Fisher, "for I never have anything to do with the women.”
“No, of course not,” said the captain. "I'll bet that within forty-eight hours after we all get our new sails bent, I shall meet you, head and head, coming down the fashionable side of Orange Street, with studdingsails out both sides—sweeping common folks like me right off into the gutter."
"Well, I've got sisters, you know, sir," said Fisher with a half-blush. “I must show them round."
"Yes, I know it; but, if the Fortitude gets home ahead of us, one of your sisters won't want your services."
“That's so," put in the second mate. "You can set a new studdingsail on that boom, Fisher."
"There, you haven't a word to say, Mr. Dunham," repliod the captain. "If you were landed there to-day,
there would be an invasion of 'Egypt,' and a 'rush to arms' in that quarter of the world that would equal anything in the days of Bonaparte. A-a-ahl my spade !" said he, suddenly changing his tone. “I've struck a ringbolt-no, it isn't-it's something in the blubberhead of an iron—somebody has had a crack at this whale before."
He pulled it out, and wiped it off with a piece of canvas, scraped it lightly with his jackknife, and examined it with an incredulous look.
“Eureka!" he shouted at last, holding up the fragment of the harpoon. "Here's my iron! Who says he isn't my own whale, when he has carried my mark these twelve years !"
It was even as he said. There was little more than the barbed head left, for it must have been long before the wound cicatrized, and the small part of the shank had been reduced to a mere shred of iron from the effects of long attrition and corrosion; but fairly legible on the thick centre-piece of the head were the marks boldly cut with a chisel, S. COL'S. L. B.
“Ship Colossus's Larboard Boat," said the old man, triumphantly. “Shouldn't want any more evidence in case of life and death. It's twelve years since I struck that fish—the first time, I mean."
The last round of blubber has been "piked off"; the the last pot of oil "baled down"; the last pipe stowed that “chocks off betwixt decks,” and Old Jeff's immense "plantations" displayed in a triumphant double-shuffle on the main hatches. Now comes the expected and welcome order. “Overboard tryworks !" Crowbars, hammers or whatever else will serve the purpose, are seized, and rapidly the cumbrous pile of greasy bricks and mortar disappears under our vigorous blows, the pots alone being saved for the next voyage; the deck is washed and planed off where it had stood; and the old strainer, shattered by hard service, and half-charred by the fire, travels the same road, overboard. We are all astonished that our ship has such a spacious maindeck; and she herself, by her more buoyant and elastic movement, seems to share in the general joy, at being relieved of this unsightly burden.
Still onward, homeward, she bounds along! down into the south-east trades, where the duty of dressing her up for home begins; where the operations of fitting, rattling down and tarring down furnish ample employment for us all; where outward-bound merchantmen are met, and passed every day, and longitudes compared by chalking them in gigantic figures on boards, like showmen's posters; where the south-east trades haul to north-east, and knock us off into the “bight of Brazil," compelling us to beat off and on for several days; where catamarans, or triangular rafts, fully officered and manned by one Portuguese, come off several miles to sea, to catch fish, and to sell them, too, if a passing ship comes conveniently near; where a big, black steamer, evidently of Yankee build, but wearing the gorgeous Brazilian flag, and showing the name Bahiana, passes almost within hail of us. We are favored with a slant of wind at last; Cape St. Augustin is doubled and left astern, the towers of Pernambuco are seen, with ships in the roadstead, and now the coast again trends to the westward, and is soon lost to
"Sail ho!" a whaler, too, right from home! Now for a game, for newspapers, perhaps letters, too, for some of us, for books, for tobacco! She hails us, and gives her name as the Delta, of Greenport. No let
ters for us there; but we get bundles of New York papers, and peruse them, all four pages, from “clew to earring,” advertisements and all. They are filled with politics, for this is campaign year (1844), and of course, we are highly competent, after nearly three years' absence, to understand the issues of the hour! Not a word is said about the National Bank, or the Sub-Treasury, or any of the old bones of contention which are familiar to us, everything is Texas or no Texas. Henry Clay's name is prominent, and excites no wonder, for his fame has long been national; but “who is James K. Polk?"
The equator is crossed, and now how we check off the degrees of latitude, day by day, as we run them up in the north-east trades, for we are on the home side of the line! Our rigging is all fitted and tarred down, and a coat of paint from the mastheads down to the water-line, inside and out, works a wonderful change in the appearance of our noble ship. How eagerly we hail the first patches of gulf-weed I and as we plough through immense quantities of it, day after day, and haul great snarls of it on deck, wonder what is the use of it, and what becomes of it all, finally?
We pass Bermuda without the usual heavy squalls characteristic of that locality, but off Hatteras we lie to a couple of days, and ride out a “clear nor'wester," which seems to blow out of the sun and stars, rather than the clouds. Block Island is our first landfall; and, leaving this on our port bow, we shape our course for the Vineyard Sound. It is nearly night when we see a pilot-boat coming for us, and every heart leaps with joy at the thought of soon being at anchor in a home port. Merrily we rouse up the chain cables from their rusty lockers, and tumble the anchors off the bow; our maintopsail is
thrown aback, and the pilot-boat shoots up within hail.
"What ship is this?" he asks.
“O yes! how d'ye do, Captain Upton? You look deep,” says the pilot.
"Full ship,” replies the old man, rather proudly. “What's sperm oil worth ?”
“ 'Bout eighty-five cents. Hain't you got a piece of salt pork to spare, captain ?"
“Yes, half a dozen," answers the captain, who, knowing the ropes, has it all prepared beforehand. "Here, pass this meat into the boat."
“Now, hain't you got a few fathoms of second-hand towline that you can spare as well as not? You see my peak-halyards, they're about worn out."
“Here it is, waiting for you,” says the old man, with a laugh. “It's the most remarkable thing, that a Sound pilot-boat's peak-halyards always are about worn out! Here, pass this coil of line into the boat. I suppose you can get us into Oldtown to-night, can't you, pilot ?"
“Well, I guess you don't want to go in there, captain. I can get you in to-night as far as Holmes' Hole, anyhow, and if it's fair weather in the morning I'll take you right down to the Bar, and the camels will take you in."
“Ah, yes, the camels; they're a new institution that we've never seen yet. They've been built since we were away. Do they work well?”
"O yes, indeed," says the pilot, “pick the ship right up, cargo and all, and back her into the harbor and drop her alongside the wharf."
"Good," says Captain Upton; "those are the very animals that I want to see."
"I reckon the folks down to Nantucket are getting