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the agony of holding my breath soon overpowered every other feeling and thought, till just as something was going to snap inside my head, I rose to the surface. I was surrounded by a welter of bloody froth, which made it impossible for me to see ; but oh, the air was sweet!
I struck out blindly, instinctively, although I could feel so strong an eddy that voluntary progress was out of the question. My hand touched and clung to a rope, which immediately towed me in some direction - 1 neither knew nor cared whither. Soon the motion ceased, and, with a seaman's instinct, I began to haul myself along by the rope I grasped, although no definite idea was in my mind as to where it was attached. Presently I came square up against something solid, the feel of which gathered all my scattered wits into one thought of dread. It was the whale ! “Any port in a storm," I murmured, beginning to haul away again on my friendly line.
By dint of hard work I pulled myself right up the sloping, slippery bank of blubber, until I reached the iron, which, as luck would have it, was planted in that side of the carcass now uppermost. Carcass I said
Carcass I said — well, certainly I had no idea of there being any life remaining within the vast mass beneath me; yet I had hardly time to take a couple of turns round myself with the rope (or whale line, as I had proved it to be), when I felt the great animal quiver all over, and begin to forge ahead. I was now composed enough to remember that help could not be far away, and that my rescue, providing that I could keep above water, was but a question of a few minutes.
But I was hardly prepared for the whale's next move. His death being near at hand, the boats had drawn off a
bit, and I could see nothing of them. Then I remembered the death struggles of the whale. Almost at the same moment they began; and there was I, who with fearful admiration had so often watched the titanic convulsions of a dying cachalot, actually involved in them. The turns were off my body, but I was able to twist a couple of turns round my arms, which, in case of his sounding, I could readily let go.
Then all was lost in roar and rush, as of the heart of some mighty cataract, during which I was sometimes above, sometimes beneath, the water, but always clinging, with every ounce of energy still left, to the line. Now one thought was uppermost — “What if he should breach ?" I had seen them do so when in the last struggles, leaping full twenty feet in the air. Then I prayed.
Quickly as all the preceding changes had passed came perfect peace. There I lay, still alive, but so weak that although I could feel the turns slipping off my arms, and knew that I should slide off the slope of the whale's side into the sea if they did, I could make no effort to secure myself. Everything then passed away from me, just as if I had gone to sleep.
I do not at all understand how I kept my position, nor how long, but I awoke to the blessed sound of voices, and saw the second mate's boat alongside. Very gently and tenderly they lifted me into the boat, although I could hardly help screaming with agony when they touched me, so bruised and broken up did I feel. My arms must have been nearly torn from their sockets, for the strands of the whale line had cut deep into their flesh with the strain upon it, while my thigh was swollen enormously from the blow I received at the onset.
Mr. Cruce was the most surprised man I ever saw. For full ten minutes he stared at me with wide-open eyes. When at last he spoke, it was with difficulty, as if wanting words to express his astonishment. Then, in his broad sailor's brogue, he blurted out: “Where have you been all the time, anyhow ? 'Cause if you've been hanging on that whale ever since your boat was smashed, why aren't you all to bits, hey?” I smiled feebly, but was too weak to talk, and presently went off again into a dead faint.
When I recovered, I was snug in my bunk aboard, but aching in every joint, and as sore as if I had been pounded with a club until I was bruised all over. During the day the first mate was kind enough to pay me a visit. With his usual luck, he had escaped without the slightest injury; neither was any other member of the boat's crew the worse for the ducking but myself. He told me that the whale was one of the largest he had ever seen, and as fat as butter. The boat was an entire loss, so completely smashed to pieces that nothing of her or her gear had been recovered.
When my poor, weary shipmates came below from their heavy toil of cutting in, they were almost inclined to be envious of my comfort - small blame to them - though I would gladly have taken my place among them again could I have got rid of my hurts. But I was condemned to lie there for nearly three weeks before I was able to get about once more.
At last I managed to get on deck, quite a differentlooking man from what I was when I went below, and feeling about ten years older. I found the same sullen quiet reigning that I had noticed several times before
when we had been unfortunate, and was told that although three whales had been taken, all were small and comparatively worthless.
DEFINITIONS. Vì cis'sĩ tüdes,
An tiç'i pātes, looks forward to. Op' tỉ mỉs' tịc, inclined to look at the bright side of things. Căch'a lot, a sperm whale. Lõll'ing, lying quietly. Au'di ble, that cam be heard. Ev o lū'tions, movements. Căt'a pults, engines of war, used for throwing stones. Põr'tals, gates, passageways. Gül'let, throat. Dé'bris (dā brē'), materials from a wreck. Ti tăn'ic, gigantic.
NOTE. — This extract is from “The Cruise of the Cachalot,” one of the most interesting of all books on whaling.
THE MARINER'S DREAM.
BY WILLIAM DIMOND.
In slumbers of midnight the sailor boy lay ;
His hammock swung loose at the sport of the wind ; But watch-worn and weary, his cares flew away,
And visions of happiness danced o'er his mind. He dreamed of his home, of his dear native bowers,
And pleasures that waited on life’s merry morn ; While Memory each scene' gayly covered with flowers,
And restored every rose, but secreted the thorn.
Then Fancy her magical pinions spread wide,
And bade the young dreamer in ecstasy rise ; Now, far, far behind him the green waters glide,
And the cot of his forefathers blesses his eyes.
The jessamine clambers in flowers o'er the thatch,
And the swallow chirps sweet from her nest in the wall; All trembling with transport, he raises the latch,
And the voices of loved ones reply to his call.
A father bends o'er him with looks of delight;
His cheek is impearled with a mother's warm tear ; And the lips of a boy in a love kiss unite
With the lips of a maid whom his bosom holds dear.
The heart of the sleeper beats high in his breast;
Joy quickens his pulses, — all his hardships seem o'er; And a murmur of happiness steals through his rest,
6 0 God! thou hast blest me, I ask for no more.”
Ah! whence is that flame which now bursts on his eye?
Ah! what is that sound that now ’larums his ear? 'Tis the lightning's red glare painting hell on the sky!
'Tis the crashing of thunders, the groan of the sphere !
He springs from his hammock, — he flies to the deck;
Amazement confronts him with images dire ;
The masts fly in splinters ; the shrouds are on fire.
Like mountains the billows tremendously swell;
In vain the lost wretch calls on Mercy to save ; Unseen hands of spirits are ringing his knell,
And the death angel flaps his broad wings o'er the wave!
O sailor boy, woe to thy dream of delight !
In darkness dissolves the gay frost work of bliss ! Where now is the picture that Fancy touched bright,
Thy parents' fond pressure, and love's honeyed kiss ?
() sailor boy! sailor boy! never again
Shall home, love, or kindred thy wishes repay ; Unblessed and unhonored, down deep in the main, Full many a fathom, thy frame shall decay.