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with the shock fell upon the rocks, and by its aid these four sailors only escaped ; the ship went down in deep water and all hands were lost. The casks of costly wine floated out of the wreck, and for twenty days the people along-shore got drunk and grew sober to get drunk again as long as the intoxicating beverages intended for the trade in the far east, supplied their thirsty souls. The Earl of Morton, a great local potentate in those days, got together all the gold it was possible to recover, and a difficulty respecting his right to the flotsam and jetsam with King Charles II. led ultimately to his loss of certain property granted to the family by the Crown. As we proceeded north the sea grew gradually less turbulent; and as soon as we were clear of the land it settled down to its usual regular motion; then we bustled along with a fair wind. Some of the seamen that were “floored” by sea sickness on first meeting with the rough water now shook off its effects, and as they slowly recovered they began to enjoy the rallying they had to endure from their more fortunate shipmates.
To-day, we for the first time saw some “finners ” (Balena antiquorum), the largest species of whale frequenting these seas; as they bore down upon us they were regarded with seeming indifference by the men, though we gained some curious particulars respecting them from Eddie, who noticed us gazing with ill-concealed admiration at the monsters as they neared our schooner. Your “finner” is longer looking, more lithe, and a faster swimmer when compared with the portly gentleman whose broader beam and more abundant oil has gained for him the title of “right whale” (B. mysticetus), and we could casily see from his rapid and even graceful motion through the water that he must be a much more difficult quarry to contend with than his more greasy relative, who is so great an object of solicitude to all on board a whale ship. This fellow has an awkward habit of sinking out of reach of his captors for a period of three or four days after he has been killed, and the enforced delay is often rendered futile by the failure of the flukes of the harpoon to take firm hold of the skin. In the interval, between the successful pursuit and its reappearance again upon the surface, the body becomes much distended by the gases generated during its rapid decomposition after death. The men, after risking their lives in the dangerous pursuit, are often deprived of their expected gain by the sinking of the carcass altogether, and when success has crowned their efforts, and the inflated carcass reappears upon the surface of the sea once more, the air above is soon filled by thousands of screaming sea
birds, attracted to the spot by the tempting prospect of a feast. These dainty-looking denizens of the air squabble and fight amongst themselves for every morsel as it becomes detached from the skin, in the ugly and offensive process of “ fencing.” But there are other guests at the feast who are much more repulsive-looking and add another element to the sickening operation—we mean the savage and greedy sharks, who have long since commenced the banquet while the whale was still submerged “full fathom five." These
horrid monsters of the sea make sad havoc with their cruel fangs as they dig into the flesh, and even now seem loath to part with what they consider their rightful perquisite, daring even to contend with the busy sailors who are armed with the sharp flencing tools. Often and often the men have to desist from their labour to drive away these frightful assailants, and so unwilling are they to forego the meal once tasted, that sometimes a shark, more greedy than his crueleyed companions, will receive what would seem a mortal thrust, and after a momentary dive will appear again amongst his fellows struggling with
and worrying at the unsightly food. It is in the sunny fiords of northern Iceland these finners are now oftenest found, and there in the clear deep water of the beautiful bays indenting the coast they lead a comparatively easy life. Some speculative Americans established in one of these fiords a rather extensive fishing-station, hoping to derive large profits from the systematic pursuit of the finner whale. The undertaking was a disastrous one, and the remains of the deserted factory now encumber the shores of one of the finest natural harbours of that coast. The harpooners are capital sailors, and a few are fair sportsmen ; they contribute to the support of their families by making these trips with whalers, when they gain as wages sometimes from £10 to £15 a month ; they are usually naval reserve men, and at times they are employed on the works at the Hull docks refitting ships, picking up odd jobs, looking after leaky ships as they come in for shelter in stormy weather, or in hiring gangs of men to clear ships by contract. Such men have the greatest contempt for the Navy—“Why, sir, I can earn as much money as a brass-buttoned lieutenant gets any day, and as for being ordered about by a set of middies who knows nothing they give orders about—no, sir, none of my family enter the Navy; we saw enough of them up
the Straits to see what they were made of.” Some of these men have made nineteen or twenty voyages to these seas, and have had too much experience of the pursuit of the finners to make them enthusiasts in their pursuit. One of our men was employed on board a vessel engaged in the capture of this whale when all their fishing tackle was lost; several finners were struck and but one was ultimately secured, so that the outlay was greatly overbalanced by the losses incurred. The oil also, when compared with that of the right whale, is less in quantity, and inferior in quality; it is thin and greasy, while the true whale oil is, when recently collected, of a pale salmon colour and remarkably rich in quality. Towards evening the finners left us.
On calm, clear days, while we waited for the appearance of the whale, we preserved the strictest silence, and as we waited and watched, he would glide on to the surface with a sudden but gentle motion, heaving a loud p-o-o-f as he came; and if on his way either in search of food or swimming in mere sport, we could see the peculiar inclination forwards which formed the first part of the curve in which the drive is made. The odour of a whale is most unpleasant, and he leaves a slimy track behind him, just such a track as some great black slug leaves when passing over the garden path in the early morning; we could also