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confuse our power of judging the distance ; nor are we alone in our difficulty. We read somewhere of one hardy explorer of the early days, who after vain attempts to gain the land he saw so distinctly, and which always seemed to baffle his attempts, at length, in superstitious dread, turned his back upon the scene, fearful of being beguiled by some enchanter's trick ; and we now do not wonder at his simplicity. All this time we watch the harpooner steadily gaining on the distant object, the wondrous beauty of the scene before us and the sport in hand dividing our admiration and combining to fill us with such a sense of enjoyment as we have rarely felt.
The little crowd around us are plunged into the same sea of ecstacy. No one breathes a whisper as the eyes are strained to observe every motion of the pursuers and pursued. The boat seems to glide rather than creep upon its prey, who lies all regardless of the impending danger, and at the distance we are, the suspense grows painful. Suddenly, like lightning, something has happened, and the shout is raised, “A fall! a fall !" Before the echo dies away, the crowd, as if released from some enchanter's spell, is now a confused mass of bustling, hurrying men, as they rush to assist the crew in the first boat. Men come tumbling up from below, half clad, clutching in
DEATH OF THE WHALE.
their hot haste such clothes as are snatched hastily as they run. Here are fellows but half awake, dropping into their places in the boats, with oar in hand, impatient to give way when the rest are in their places. There is no time now to waste, and for the present the garments are scattered anywhere. By-and-by a chance may come in which they may get time to dress. In the meantime the whale, hard hit by the trusty Byers, has plunged headlong into the depths below.
In some ten or twelve minutes 500 fathoms of line has spun itself out over the boat's bow into the sea, measuring the course the wounded whale has run in his agonised fear of the too certain fate awaiting him. The boat, dragged through the water, throws up a spray from the divided wave, and the bollard smokes and fizzes with the friction of the line. We overhaul the boat just as the line is all paid out. We bend on our line. “Look out ! look out !! Keep away, or I can't fire again!” shouts Byers, in his eager way, as he sees the indications of the whale's reappearance. Up he comes, a frightful sight to see—the great tail lashing the water into foam, the fountain this time a jet of blood. We slue our boat round, and pull hard, in the hopes of getting a shot ; but to no purpose. We are out of range, and miss
our chance. “Pinch him all you can!” “Not an inch of line more than you can help!” “He is well fast, and no fear !” Such are the warnings and precautions of the harpooners one to the other, as they make their several dispositions before the fellow dives. Once more the two boats are dragged towards the place where the whale had just been. The water is made foul by his slimy back, and the air is full of the foul odour peculiar to the cetacean. Down plunge the bows of the boats as the unseen cause drags onwards and downwards in his efforts to free himself from his tormentors, but with no avail. Each man is now fully alive to the danger of the enterprise he is engaged upon. All sit with eager eye upon the line, ready, too, in case of a capsize, to jump for dear life into the icy stream, to take what chance may offer of being picked up.
Again the whale is on the surface ; this time he is out of breath, but is getting ready for another mad effort to free himself. Our gun is charged with a rocket, a steel-tipped bolt, fatal and deadly beyond compare. If it but strike the object aimed at, then its course is certain ; rending and burning its onward course it soon penetrates to the very centre of its victim, and there it bursts asunder, causing such a wound as will rob this giant of the seas of its life. Eddy
FLENCING THE WHALE.
stands prepared, his stern face tells of his responsibility. The whale is close to us, and as the chance offers the deadly missile is driven with horrid force into the quivering flesh, and after one short dive, one dying struggle on the surface, the huge leviathan lies floating dead.
We cannot tell of the excitement of a chase of this kind—by comparison all other sport is tame—the size, the vast strength of the whale, the danger, the scene altogether, cannot be told in words, and while all are evidently full of the thoughts such a scene will raise in the brain even of the dullest amongst us, we are too preoccupied to care to express ourselves, and almost in silence we fasten our prize by the tail with a rope rove through two holes cut in the broad extremities. This rope we trice to the bows of one boat, and we tow it towards the schooner ; then, indeed, we give vent to our pent-up thoughts in three hearty cheers, whilst the bottle is passed round with many a hearty quaff to success to the future. .
Then ensued a scene of laborious toil greater than that endured in the capture. The flensers, with their sharp spades, dug out and stowed away the precious blubber with many a song and cheery laugh, turning the great mass over with great toil as though it were mere child's play, and a sport most enjoyable.
In whaling ships the men agree for a small stipulated sum per month, barely sufficient to purchase the requisite clothing for a voyage of the kind, trusting to find oil sufficient to create a fund by their share of half-a-crown per ton on the return to port. Therefore, each man has a special interest in the ship's success; hence the zeal displayed by the crews when the hunting grounds of the whales are entered upon, and the lookout man is kept well to his work by the ever-expectant crew, who are altogether dependent on his quickness of vision.
The sailors said they had often noticed the strong resemblance to the head and face of a man in the roof of the right whale's mouth, and we regretted not having examined for ourselves this very remarkable circumstance. They were so confident in their statement we had no reasonable cause to doubt them; and as many tales, sayings, and opinions were in use amongst these worthy people which evidently had been accepted as traditions which might easily be traced to a remote date if one had time for so curious a line of study, it would be well worth examining this strange conformation of the palate of the whale, to see how far the resemblance would warrant the foundation of a tale somewhat similar to that we read of the Prophet Jonah, for though the Scriptures state that Jonah was swal