« PreviousContinue »
cold, frightened nor composed ; but I had a combination of all kinds of feelings, and emotions. The present, past, future, heaven, earth, my father and mother, a little girl I knew once, and the sharks, were all confusedly inixed up together, and swelled my crazy brain almost to bursting. I cried, and laughed, and shouted, and screamed for Tim Titus. In a fit of most wise madness, I opened my broad-bladed fishing knife, and waved it around my head, with an air of defiance. As the tide continued to rise, my extravagance of madness mounted. At one time, I became persuaded that my tidewaiters were reasonable beings, who might be talked into mercy, and humanity, if a body could only hit upon the right
So, I bowed, and gesticulated, and threw out my hands, and talked to them, as friends, and brothers, members of my family, cousins, uncles, aunts, people waiting to have their bills paid ;-I scolded them as my servants ; I abused them as duns; I implored them as jurymen sitting on the question of my life; I congratulated, and flattered them as my comrades upon some glorious enterprize; I sung and ranted to them, now as an actor in a play-house, and now as an elder at a camp-meeting ; in one moment, roaring
“On this cold flinty rock I will lay down my head,”
and in the next, giving out to my attentive hearers for singing, the hymn of Dr. Watts so admirably appropriated to the occasion,
“On slippery rocks, I see them stand,
While fiery billows roll below."
In the mean time, the water had got well up towards my shoulders, and while I was shaking and vibrating upon my uncertain foothold, I felt the cold nose of the captain of the band, snubbing against my side. Desperately, and without a definite object, I struck my knife at one of his eyes, and by some singular fortune, cut it out clean from the socket. The shark darted back, and halted. In an instant hope and and reason came to my relief ; and it occurred to me, that if I could only blind the monster, I might yet escape. the
Accordingly, I stood ready for the next attack. The loss of an eye did not seem to affect him much, for, aster shaking his head, once or twice, he came up to me again, and when he was about half an inch off, turned upon his back. This was the critical moment. With a most unaccountable presence of mind, I laid hold of his nose with my left hand, and with my right, I scooped out his remaining organ of vision. He opened his big mouth, and champed his long teeth at me, in despair. But it was all over with him. I raised my right foot and gave him a hard shove, and he glided off into deep water, and went to the bottom.
Well, gentlemen, I suppose you'll think it a hard story, but it is none the less a fact, that I served every remaining one of those nineteen sharks in the same fashion. They all came up to me, one by one, regularly, and in order; and I scooped their eyes out, and gave them a shove, and they went off into deep water, just like so many lambs. By the time I had scooped out and blinded a couple of dozen of them, they began to seem so scarce, that I thought I would swim for the island, and fight the rest for fun, on the way; but just then, Tim Titus hove in sight, and it had got to be almost dark, and I concluded to get aboard, and rest myself."
CII A PT ER I V.
“What an infernal lie !" growled Daniel.
“ 'Have my doubts ;" suggested the somnolent Peter Probasco, with all the solemnity of a man who knows his situation; at the same time shaking his head and spilling his liquor.
“ Ha! ha! ha! Ha! ha! ha!" roared all the rest of the boys together.
“ Is he done ?” asked Raynor Rock.
“How many shirks was there ?” cried Long John, putting in his unusual lingual oar.
“ That story puts me in mind,” said Venus Raynor, “ about what I've heerd tell on Ebenezer Smith, at the time he went down to the north pole on a walen' voyage."
“ Now look out for a screamer," laughed out Raynor Rock, refilling his pipe. “Stand by, Mr. Cypress, to let the sheet
“ Is there any thing uncommon about that yarn, Venus ?',
“Oncommon! well, I expect it's putty smart and oncommon for a man to go to sea with a bear, all alone, on a bare cake of ice. Captain Smith's woman used to say she couldn't bear to think on't."
" Tell us the whole of that, Venus,” said Ned;" that is, if it is true. Mine was—the whole of it,-although Peter has his doubts."
“I can't tell it as well as Zoph can, but I've no 'jections to tell it my way, no how. So, here goes-that's great brandy, Mr. Cypress." There was a gurgling sound of "somethingto-take," running
“Well, they was down into Baffin's Bay, or some other o’ them cold Norwegen bays at the North, where the rain freezes as it comes down, and stands up in the air, on winter mornens, like
great mountens o' ice, all in streaks. Well, the schooner was layen at anchor, and all the hands was out into the small boats, looken for wales ;-all except the capting, who said he wan't very well that day. Well, he was walken up and down, on deck, smoken and thinken, I expect, mostly, when all on a sudden he reckoned he see one o' them big white bears-polar bears, you know-big as thunder-with long teeth. He reckoned he see one on 'em sclumpen along on a great cake o' ice, they lay on the leeward side of the bay, up again the bank. The old cap. wanted to kill one o' them varmints most wonderful, but he never lucked to get a chance. Now tho', he thought, the time had come for him to walk into one on ’em at least, and fix his mutton for him right. So he run forrad and lay hold onto a small skiff, that was layen near the forc'stal, and run her out, and launched her. Then he tuk a drink, and-here's luck--and put in a stiff load of powder, a couple of balls, and jumped in, and pulled away for the ice.
" It wa’n't long fore he got 'cross the bay, for it was a narrer piece o' water-not more than haaf a mile wide-and then he got out on to the ice. It was a smart and large cake, and the bear was ’way down to the tother end on't, by the edge o' the water. So, he walked first strut along, and then when he got putty cloast he walked 'round catecornedlike-like's if he was driven for a plain plover-so that the bear wouldn't think he was comin arter him, and he dragged himself along on his hands and knees low down, mostly. Well, the bear did'nt seem to mind him none, and he got up within 'bout fifty yards on him, and then he looked so savage
and big,--the bear did, -that the captin stopped, and rested on his knees, and put up his gun, and he was a goin to shoot. But just then the bear turned round and snuffed up captin,-just as one of Lif's hounds snuffs up an old buck, Mr. Cypress,--and begun to walk towards him, slowly like. He come along, the captin said, clump, clump, very slow, and made the ice bend and crack agin under him, so that the water come up and putty much kivered it all over. Well, there the captin was all the time squat on his knees, with his
gun pinted, waiten for the varment to come up, and his knees and legs was most mighty cold by means of the water, that the bear riz on the ice as I was mentionen. At last the bear seemed to make up his mind to see how the captin would taste, and so he left off walken slow, and started off on a smart and swift trot, right towards the old man, with his mouth wide open, roaren,
and his tail sticken out stiff. The captin kept still, looken out all the time putty sharp, I should say, till the beast got within about ten yards on him, and then he let him have it. He aimed right at the fleshy part of his heart, but the bear dodged at the flash, and rared up, and the balls went into his two hind legs, jist by the jynt, one into each, and broke the thigh bones smack off, so that he went right down aft, on the ice, thump, on his hind quarters, with nothen standen but his fore legs and his head ris up, a growlen at the captin. When the old man see him down, and tryen to slide along the ice to get his revenge, likely, thinks he to himself, thinks he, I might as well get up and go and cut that ere creter's throat. So he tuk out his knife and opened it. But when he started to get up, he found to his extonishment, that he was fruz fast to the ice. Don't laugh; it's a fact; there an't no doubt. The water, you see, had been round him, a smart and long while, whilst he