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this to tell;—that I made the rest of my
journey in all speed and safety, and
was soon in London streets, with London
flashing by, driving on to my own home,
where Little Constancy was sitting up
nearly restored, waiting with certain hope
and confidence for my return upon her


EARLY one morning, in the Eastern seas,
when I was a youngster, we sighted a shoal
of whales, at some little distance. Instantly
the boats were lowered; and, as usual, an
animating chace commenced. I was in the
mate's boat. After a half-hour's pull, the
mate contrived to strike one of the whales,
and make us fast. But the huge monster
no sooner felt the barbed iron in his back,
than off he went at a speed of not less
than twenty miles an hour, dragging the
boat after him. In a very short time we
all but lost sight of our ship, and of the
other boats that had accompanied us;
the former appearing on the distant horizon
like a fluttering bird on the wing,
while the latter, if seen at all, were only
discernible by a knowledge of their last
position. It was no unusual thing to be
separated for many miles from our ship;
but, in the present case, several circumstances
caused the occurrence to be anything but
desirable. It was intensely hot; and the sun's
burning rays shone fiercely upon us, producing,
with the feverish excitement of the chace,
a degree of thirst which could not be easily
quenched, if a short allowance of water had
to be our fate for even a limited period.
Moreover, we were in a latitude where
the fierce wind as suddenly arises as it as
suddenly subsides into an intolerable calm.
Consequently, to be far away from the ship,
and, at the same time, some hundred leagues
distant from land, was no agreeable position;
and so we began to think, after vainly
endeavouring, during another half-hour, to
lance our determined foe. At length the
mate decided upon hoisting a whiff (which
is a flag tied up lengthways, in a long strip)
at the boat's stern, as a signal to the other
boats, trusting that they might, in the pursuit
which we knew they would maintain, soon
get sight of us; particularly as we observed
that the whale to which we were fast was
taking a circuitous direction.

As it was too good a prize to relinquish
without some strenuous effort, we still held
on, and soon had the satisfaction of
perceiving the speed of the whale slacken.
By this time some twenty or thirty whales
were around us, attended by a number
of sharks and others of the finny tribe.
Presently the whole "school" came to a
standstill, and the mate, thinking it a good
opportunity for lancing, gave the order for hauling
the boat close alongside.

"Now, lads," said he, "run her up close,
and let me have a chance at him." But, even
as the words were upon his lips, another
whale that was just a-head of us, and very
close, too, lifted his enormous tail, "That
fellow," said our officer, again, "seems to say,
I'll smash you, my boys, if you venture
to come here;" and, lo! barely had he said
it, when another of the monsters suddenly
rose right under the boat, lifting it slightly,
and making a complete hole in its side and
bottom as he passed instantly away from us
to leeward, apparently not at all sensible of
what he had done. The moment we felt
the boat lift, the cause was understood; and
our oars, which had been apeak, were, with
lightning speed, thrown into an horizontal
position, and lashed with the life-lines. (When
a boat fastens to a whalethat is, strikes
one with the harpoon, and holds on by the
linethe oars are immediately thrown a-peak,
namely, placed at an angle of about thirty
degrees from the horizontal position. The
moment a boat runs alongside the whale, and
touches her, then the oars are placed
horizontally, in readiness for use, or against
danger. By this means, though the boat
instantly filled, we kept her from entirely
sinking,—the oars serving as a raft. Our
position, however, was very far from comfortable,
for we soon found ourselves, seated as
we were on the thwarts, up to our waists
in the water, with several sharks around,
ready to attack us. The whales, also,
remained close to us, and we could not
tell when a second blow from a
companion of the last one might ensure us
complete destruction. Our first movement
was to draw our long knives to
defend ourselves from the rapacious
monsters alongside; who with swift yet silent
motion, glided, now away, now back, eager for
their prey.

Thus we sat, alone upon the ocean, a hot
burning sun glaring on our heads, and the
calm sea, undisturbed by aught save the
movements of the huge monsters around us.
Life and Death were rarely more strongly
presented before us than then. Death stared
us full in the face, and we had ample leisure
to contemplate his aspect. To us, Life
seemed but as a possibility, not a reality:
Death, almost certain. No power of our own
could save us. To remain in our present
position long, would be morally impossible. With
three-fourths of our bodies in the water, and
the other part exposed to the fierce heat of
a tropical sun darting full upon the brain,
fever and insanity must speedily set in. In
vain we cast our eyes towards that quarter
of the horizon, where, as we conceived, we
had left the boats, and, also, where our ship
was last seen. All points of the compass,
and all quarters of the wide world were
alike, with a sun in the zenith, and our
elevation above the surface of the sea not
more than eighteen inches. The boundary

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