Page images
PDF
EPUB

1

pany, you know; and the captin said the bear looked at him several times, very sorrowful, as much as to say, 'captin what the devil shall we do? Well one day they was sitten, looken at each other, with the tears ready to burst out o' their eyes, when all of a hurry, something.come floppen up out o'ihe water onto the ice. The captin looked and see it was a seal. The bear's eyes kindled up as he looked at it, and then, the captin said he giv him a wink to keep still. So there they sot, still as starch, till the seal not thinken nothen o' them no more nor if they were dead, walked right up between 'em. Then slump! went down old whitey's nails, into the fishes flesh, and the captin run his jack-knife into the tender loin. The seal soon got his bitters, and the captin cut a big hunk off the tail eend, and put it behind him, out o' the bear's reach, and then he felt smart and comfortable, for he had stores enough for a long cruise, though the bear couldn't say so much for himself.

Well, the bear, by course, soon ran out o' provisions, and had to put himself onto short allowance; and then he begun to show his naytural temper. He first stretched himself out as far as he could go, and tried to hook the captin's piece o' seal, but when he found he could'nt reach that, he begun to blow and yell." Then he'd rare up and roar, and try to get himself clear from the ice. But mostly he rared up and roared, and pounded his big paws and head upon the ice, till bye and bye, (jest as the captin said he expected,) the ice cracked in two agin, and split right through between the bear and the captin, and there they was on two different pieces o' ice, the captin and the bear! The old man said he raaly felt sorry at parten company, and when the cake split and separate, he cut off about a haaf o' pound o' seal and chucked it to the bear. But either because it wa’nt enough for him, or else on

account o his feelen bad at the captin's goen, the beast would'nt touch it to eat it, and he laid it down, and growled and moaned over it quite pitiful. Well, off they went, one one way, and tother 'nother way, both feel'n pretty bad, I expect. After a while the captin got smart and cold, and felt mighty lonesome, and he said he raaly thought he'd a gi'n in and died, if they had'nt pick'd him up that arternoon."

Who picked him up, Venus ?"

“ Who? a codfish craft off o’ Newfoundland, I expect. They did'nt know what to make o' him when they first see him slingen up his hat for 'em. But they got out all their boats, and took a small swivel and a couple o' muskets a board and started off-expecten it was the sea-sarpent, or an old maremaid. They would'nt believe it was a man, until he'd told 'em all about it, and then they did'nt hardly believe it nuther, and they cut him out o' the ice and tuk him aboard their vessel, and rubbed his legs with ile o' vitrol ; but it was a long time afore they come to."

“ Did'nt they hurt him badly in cutting him out, Venus ?"

“ No sir, I believe not; not so bad as one might s’pose ; for you see he'd been stuck in so long, that the circulaten on his blood had kind o' rotted the ice that was right next to him, and when they begun to cut, it crack'd off pretty smart and easy, and he come out whole like a hard biled egg."

" What became of the bear ?"

“Ca’nt say as to that, what became o' him. He went off to sea somewheres, I expect. I should like to know, myself, how the varment got along, right well, for it was kind in him to let the captin have the biggest haaf o' the seal, any how. That's all boys. How many's asleep?"

CH A P T E R V.

“ ASLEEP !” cried Ned. " It would be difficult for any sensible person to fall asleep during a recital of such original and thrilling interest. The Argonautic expedition, the perilous navigation of Æneas, the bold adventure of the New England pilgrims”

“ Have my doubts,” snorted Peter, interrupting Ned's laudation, in a voice not so articulate, but that the utterance might have been acknowledged for the profound expression of the sentiments of a gentleman in the land of dreams. Peter's drowsiness had finally prevailed not only over his sense of hearing but also over his sense of imbibition. I picked up his cannikin, and solemnly shook my own head in place of his, as he pronounced the oracular judgment. "Have my doubts, , mostly, mister, I say,” he grumbled again, and then the veteran gray battallion that stood marshalled upon his chin, erect, and John of Gaunt-like, or rather like the ragged columns of the Giant's Causeway, bristled up to meet the descent of his overhanging, ultra-Wellington nose.

There was a noise as of a muttered voice of trumpets. And then it gradually died away, and there was a deep, deep peace. To use Peter's own classical language, he was “shut up."

Asleep? Not a man, Venus,” said Oliver Paul. thee tells us such yarns as that, we won't go to sleep all night. But thee must not ask us to believe them.”

Well, every man must believe for himself,” replied Venus, “ I expect. I admit it's likely the captin must have stretched a leetle about the length o'time he was out, I should say. But it's easy to make a mistake about the number of days in

66

66 If

66

them latitudes, you know; 'cause I've heerd say the sun shines there several days together on a stretch, sometimes, without goen down none; and then agin it's as dark as pitch for a hull month, and no moon nother. Some people reckons the sun can't rise there, no how, winter mornens, on account it's bein so darn’d cold. How is it about that Mr. Cypress ? You're college larnt, I expect."

“It's a long answer to that question, Venus. Since Captain Symmes returned from his penetration into the north pole, there has been a vast addition to our stores of knowledge of the character and habits of the sun. Professor Saltonstall contends, and proves, to my satisfaction, at the least, that the god of day is a living animal, the Behemoth of the Scriptures. But I'll tell you all about that some other, better opportunity ;-—the next time we're stooling snipe together, in Pine Creek. Let's have another story, now. Zoph, can't you get up something? What was that Venus said about mermaids ? Were there ever any mermaids about here ?"

“Can't say-Can't say," answered Zoph, with a hesitating, inquiring sort of deliberation ; “can't say, for my part ; but I've heerd folks tell there used to be lots on 'em."

Sarten, sarten, no doubt ;" continued Daniel, with better confidence. “I know, that in th' time o' my grit gründfth'r they used to be pr’tty considerabl' plenty. Th' old man had a smart tussel with a he merm'd-a merman, I sh'd say-one day."

“Let's have that, Dannel ;" cried two or three voices at

once.

“Let's have a drink, first;" interposed Dan's copartner in the eel trade,—who probably knew the necessity of soaking the story—at the same time uncorking the jug. Dannel, hand the tumbler over to Mr. Paul.”

“ Here, “Don't drink—don't drink, boys,” advised the virtuous Oliver, as usual. “Well, if you will,”—resting the jug upon his knee with his right hand, and bringing its avenue of discharge into no merely suspicious juxtaposition to the tumbler in his lest—"if you will, you will. Some pork will boil that

way."

“It's goen to be a dry story, I expect, Mr. Paul. My throat feels 'mazen dusty a'ready."

A general drought prevailed, and the watering-pot performed its interesting and refreshing functions.

At last, the ground being put in order, Dan prepared to sow the

crop. So he hummed and hawed, and threw out his cud, and drew his sleeve across his chin, and began his work after this wise.—Dan, it will be perceived, is a special economist of vowels, and uses no more words than are precisely necessary to “express his sentiments.”

Why, y' see, th' old man was one o' th' first settlers that come down from M'sschus'ıts, and he tuk a small farm on shears down to Fort-neck, and he'd every thing fixed accorden. The most of his time, hows’m’ver, he spent in the bay, clammen and sich like. He was putty tol'r'bl’ smart with a gun, too, and he was the first man that made wooden stools for ducks. So he was out bright and arely one morn'n-he'd laid out all night, likely—and he'd his stool sot out on th' n'r-east side o' a hassck off Wanza's Flat ;-(the place tuk its name from gr’t gr’ndfth'r ;)—th' wind bein from th’ so-west princip’ly; and he lay in his skiff in the hassck, putty well hid, for't was in th’ fall o'th' year, and the sedge was smart and high. Well, jest arter day 'd fairly broke, and the faawl begun to stir, he reckoned he heer'd a kind o splashen in the water, like geese pick'n and wash'n themselves. So he

« PreviousContinue »