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“ And so they may, and tell the truth, that's sartain, shipmate. You seo, the sparmacitty don't take the harpoon quite so quietly as the black whale does; he fights hard to the last, and sometimes is very free with his jaws.
The very large ones are the most easy to kill; so we always look out for them, when we can, as they give less trouble, and more oil: the most dangerous are the half-grown, which we call 'forty-barrel bulls,' as that's about what oil we get out of them.”
6 Well," said my father, “ I'm blessed if ever I knew whales were called bulls, before this night.”
“ Yes, that's our term,” replied Ben, “ and now to my story. We were down off the coast of Japan; when, about one hour after daybreak, the man looking out at the mast-head gave the usual word when he sees a whale blowing,—There she spouts. And this he repeats every time the fish rises. We had a clean hold at the time, for we had but just come to our fishingground, and we were mighty eager.
The boats were down in a jiffy, and away we pulled. We were within a quarter of a mile of the whale, when, to our disappointment, he peaked his flukes “What's that, messmate?" inquired my father.
Why, you see, it's the right term after all, for the tail of sparmacitty is like the flukes of an anchor; and,
course, now you understand me.” “Yes, you mean to say he went down, I suppose.”
“Of course; for how could he go down head-foremost, with peaking his tail in the air ?"
“One lives and larns as long as one lives,” observel my father. “Heave ahead again, old boy.”
“Well, as you can't know what you hav'n't heard
anything about, I must now tell you that these animals be as regular as the bells in a man of war; and whenever they goes down to feed they always stays exactly about the time allowed for dinner in a comfortable ship; that is, seventy minutes exactly. An hour, you see, is the regular time allowed; and the other ten minutes are by favour of the officer of the watch, or first lieutenant. We knew that we must wait that timo for him, so we tossed up our oars, and laid by."
“I suppose them sparmacitty chaps have a watch in their pockets," said my father, smiling.
“It's a true bill, nevertheless, messmate, and they never alter; how and why they keep to their time, the Lord who gave them the sense to do so only knows. It is one of the wonders of the deep, which they only who go on the great waters can bear witness to."
“It beats my comprehension quite entirely,” replied my father; "and yet I have seen animals with a great deal of sense.
In one ship, we had a sheep who would chew tobacco and drink grog ;—now, go ahead again.”
“ Well, we had waited about half an hour, when we saw a whiff at the mast-head of the ship; we knew that it was to direct our attention to some other point, so we looked round the horizon, and perceived that there was a 'school' of young bulls, about three miles from us. We were four boats in all, and the first mate desired my boat and another to go in chase of them, while he remained with the other two, for this old whale to come up again. Well, off we went, and soon came up with the school; they are the most awkward part of whale fishing ; for they are savage, and, moreover, easily gallied,' that is, frightened. I picked cut one, and
triod to como up with him; but he was very shy, and at last he raised his head clean out of the water, and set off at the rate of ten miles an hour; this showed that he was aware of danger. I had just thought of giving him up, and trying for another, when he suddenly turned round, and came right towards the boats. That we knew meant mischief; but, in coming towards us, he passed close to the other boat, and the steersman gave him the harpoon right well into him. This made him more savage, and he stood right for my boat, ploughing up the sea as he rushed on. I was all ready in the bow with the harpoon, and the men were all really with their oars to pull back, so as to keep clear of him. On he came, and when his snout was within six feet of us we pulled sharp across him; and as went from him, I gave him the harpoon deep into the fin. Starn all !' was the cry, as usual, that we migh, be clear of him. He sounded' immediately, that is, down he went, head foremost, which was what we were afraid of, for you see we had only two hundred fathoms of line in each boat; and having both harpoons in him, we could not bend one to the other, in case he sounded' deep, for sometimes they will go down right perpendicular, and take four lines, or eight hundred fathoms with them; so we expected that we should this time lose the whale as well as our lines, for when they were run out we must either cut, or go down with him. Well, the lines ran out so swift that we poured water on them that they might not fire-and wo thought that it was all over, for the lines were twothirds out, and he was going down as fast as ever, when all of a sudden he stopped. We were hauling in the