Conseil was already trying to unclasp the harpooner's hand from his half-suffocated victim, and I was going to fly to the rescue, when suddenly I was nailed to the spot by hearing these words in French: "Be quiet, Master Land; and you, Professor, will you be so good as to listen to me?" It was the commander of the vessel who thus spoke. At these words, Ned Land rose suddenly.
"Unfortunately," Ned Land said, "they've only given us the standard menu." "Ned my friend," Conseil answered, "what would you say if they'd given us no lunch at all?" This dose of sanity cut the harpooner's complaints clean off. We sat down at the table. Our meal proceeded pretty much in silence. I ate very little.
At this cry the entire crew rushed towards the harpooner captain, officers, masters, sailors, and cabin-boys; even the engineers left their engines, and the stokers their furnaces. The frigate was now moving only by her own momentum, for the engines had been stopped. My heart beat violently. I was sure the harpooner's eyes had not deceived him.
In its agony the whale reared its tail high out of the water, and the flukes whirled for a moment like a great fan just above the harpooner's head. One glance up was enough to show him that certain death was descending. In an instant he dived over the side and disappeared.
There is not the enduring moistness in my mouth that was when I was young. It seems that afresh upon me is the thirst that was mine when tormented by the visioned tongue of the harpooner. The gin and milk is very good, O Kanaka Oolea, for a tongue that is like the harpooner's." A shadow of a smile flickered across Pool's face. He clapped his hands, and the little maid came running.
In consequence of there being none of the crew fit to take a harpooner's place, I was now really harpooner of the captain's boat, which he would continue to work, when necessary, until we were able to ship a harpooner, which he hoped to do at Hawaii. The news of my promotion was received in grim silence by the Portuguese forward, but the white men all seemed pleased.
Almost at the same moment the irons flew from the hands of the rival harpooners; but while ours was buried to the hitches in the whale's side, the other man's just ploughed up the skin on the animal's back, as it passed over him and pierced our boat close behind the harpooner's leg.
Still, at first, the men gave him a wide berth, and returned scowls for his smiles; but who can forever resist the very Devil himself, when he comes in the guise of a gentleman, free, fine, and frank? Though Goethe's pious Margaret hates the Devil in his horns and harpooner's tail, yet she smiles and nods to the engaging fiend in the persuasive,winning, oily, wholly harmless Mephistopheles.
No doubt it was my nationality that attracted him. It was an opportunity for him to speak, and for me to hear, that old Rabelaisian dialect still used in some Canadian provinces. The harpooner's family originated in Quebec, and they were already a line of bold fishermen back in the days when this town still belonged to France.
Conseil was already trying to loosen the harpooner's hands from his half-suffocated victim, and I had gone to join in the rescue, when I was abruptly nailed to the spot by these words pronounced in French: "Calm down, Mr. Land! And you, professor, kindly listen to me!" The Man of the Waters At these words Ned Land stood up quickly.