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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesOmoo - PART II - Chapter LXXXII. WHICH ENDS THE BOOK
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Omoo - PART II - Chapter LXXXII. WHICH ENDS THE BOOK Post by :ECLDogStar Category :Long Stories Author :Herman Melville Date :February 2011 Read :1373

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Omoo - PART II - Chapter LXXXII. WHICH ENDS THE BOOK

DISAPPOINTED in going to court, we determined upon going to sea. It
would never do, longer to trespass on Po-Po's hospitality; and then,
weary somewhat of life in Imeeo, like all sailors ashore, I at last
pined for the billows.

Now, if her crew were to be credited, the Leviathan was not the craft
to our mind. But I had seen the captain, and liked him. He was an
uncommonly tall, robust, fine-looking man, in the prime of life.
There was a deep crimson spot in the middle of each sunburnt cheek,
doubtless the effect of his sea-potations. He was a Vineyarder, or
native of the island of Martha's Vineyard (adjoining Nantucket), and
--I would have sworn it--a sailor, and no tyrant.

Previous to this, we had rather avoided the Leviathan's men, when they
came ashore; but now, we purposely threw ourselves in their way, in
order to learn more of the vessel.

We became acquainted with the third mate, a Prussian, and an old
merchant-seaman--a right jolly fellow, with a face like a ruby. We
took him to Po-Po's, and gave him a dinner of baked pig and
breadfruit; with pipes and tobacco for dessert. The account he gave
us of the ship agreed with my own surmises. A cosier old craft never
floated; and the captain was the finest man in the world. There was
plenty to eat, too; and, at sea, nothing to do but sit on the windlass
and sail. The only bad trait about the vessel was this: she had been
launched under some baleful star; and so was a luckless ship in the
fishery. She dropped her boats into the brine often enough, and they
frequently got fast to the whales; but lance and harpoon almost
invariably "drew" when darted by the men of the Leviathan. But what of
that? We would have all the sport of chasing the monsters, with none
of the detestable work which follows their capture. So, hurrah for
the coast of Japan! Thither the ship was bound.

A word now about the hard stories we heard the first time we visited
the ship. They were nothing but idle fictions, got up by the sailors
for the purpose of frightening us away, so as to oblige the captain,
who was in want of more hands, to lie the longer in a pleasant
harbour.

The next time the Vineyarder came ashore, we flung ourselves in his
path. When informed of our desire to sail with him, he wanted to know
our history; and, above all, what countrymen we were. We said that we
had left a whaler in Tahiti, some time previous; and, since then, had
been--in the most praiseworthy manner--employed upon a plantation. As
for our country, sailors belong to no nation in particular; we were,
on this occasion, both Yankees. Upon this he looked decidedly
incredulous; and freely told us that he verily believed we were both
from Sydney.

Be it known here that American sea captains, in the Pacific, are
mortally afraid of these Sydney gentry; who, to tell the truth,
wherever known, are in excessively bad odour. Is there a mutiny on
board a ship in the South Seas, ten to one a Sydney man is the
ringleader. Ashore, these fellows are equally riotous.

It was on this account that we were anxious to conceal the fact of our
having belonged to the Julia, though it annoyed me much, thus to deny
the dashing little craft. For the same reason, also, the doctor
fibbed about his birthplace.

Unfortunately, one part of our raiment--Arfretee's blue frocks--we
deemed a sort of collateral evidence against us. For, curiously
enough, an American sailor is generally distinguished by his red
frock; and an English tar by his blue one: thus reversing the
national colours. The circumstance was pointed out by the captain; and
we quickly explained the anomaly. But, in vain: he seemed
inveterately prejudiced against us; and, in particular, eyed the
doctor most distrustfully.

By way of propping the tatter's pretensions, I was throwing out a hint
concerning Kentucky, as a land of tall men, when our Vine-yarder
turned away abruptly, and desired to hear nothing more. It was
evident that he took Long Ghost for an exceedingly problematical
character.

Perceiving this, I resolved to see what a private interview would do.
So, one afternoon, I found the captain smoking a pipe in the dwelling
of a portly old native--one Mai-Mai--who, for a reasonable
compensation, did the honours of Partoowye to illustrious strangers.

His guest had just risen from a sumptuous meal of baked pig and taro
pudding; and the remnants of the repast were still visible. Two
reeking bottles, also, with their necks wrenched off, lay upon the
mat. All this was encouraging; for, after a good dinner, one feels
affluent and amiable, and peculiarly open to conviction. So, at all
events, I found the noble Vineyarder.

I began by saying that I called for the purpose of setting him right
touching certain opinions of his concerning the place of my
nativity:--I was an American--thank heaven!--and wanted to convince
him of the fact.

After looking me in the eye for some time, and, by so doing, revealing
an obvious unsteadiness in his own visual organs, he begged me to
reach forth my arm. I did so; wondering what upon earth that useful
member had to do with the matter in hand.

He placed his fingers upon my wrist; and holding them there for a
moment, sprang to his feet, and, with much enthusiasm, pronounced me
a Yankee, every beat of my pulse!

"Here, Mai-Mai!" he cried, "another bottle!" And, when it came, with
one stroke of a knife, he summarily beheaded it, and commanded me to
drain it to the bottom. He then told me that if I would come on board
his vessel the following morning, I would find the ship's articles on
the cabin transom.

This was getting along famously. But what was to become of the
doctor?

I forthwith made an adroit allusion to my long friend. But it was
worse than useless. The Vineyarder swore he would have nothing to do
with him--he (my long friend) was a "bird" from Sydney, and nothing
would make him (the man of little faith) believe otherwise.

I could not help loving the free-hearted captain; but indignant at
this most unaccountable prejudice against my comrade, I abruptly took
leave.

Upon informing the doctor of the result of the interview, he was
greatly amused; and laughingly declared that the Vineyarder must be a
penetrating fellow. He then insisted upon my going to sea in the
ship, since he well knew how anxious I was to leave. As for himself,
on second thoughts, he was no sailor; and although "lands--' men"
very often compose part of a whaler's crew, he did not quite relish
the idea of occupying a position so humble. In short, he had made up
his mind to tarry awhile in Imeeo.

I turned the matter over: and at last decided upon quitting the
island. The impulse urging me to sea once more, and the prospect of
eventually reaching home, were too much to be resisted; especially as
the Leviathan, so comfortable a craft, was now bound on her last
whaling cruise, and, in little more than a year's time, would be
going round Cape Horn.

I did not, however, covenant to remain in the vessel for the residue
of the voyage; which would have been needlessly binding myself. I
merely stipulated for the coming cruise, leaving my subsequent
movements unrestrained; for there was no knowing that I might not
change my mind, and prefer journeying home by short and easy stages.

The next day I paddled off to the ship, signed and sealed, and stepped
ashore with my "advance"--fifteen Spanish dollars--tasseling the ends
of my neck-handkerchief.

I forced half of the silver on Long Ghost; and having little use for
the remainder, would have given it to Po-Po as some small return for
his kindness; but, although he well knew the value of the coin, not a
dollar would he accept.

In three days' time the Prussian came to Po-Po's, and told us that the
captain, having made good the number of his crew by shipping several
islanders, had determined upon sailing with the land breeze at dawn
the following morning. These tidings were received in the afternoon.
The doctor immediately disappeared, returning soon after with a
couple of flasks of wine concealed in the folds of his frock. Through
the agency of the Marquesan, he had purchased them from an
understrapper of the court.

I prevailed upon Po-Po to drink a parting shell; and even little Loo,
actually looking conscious that one of her hopeless admirers was
about leaving Partoowye for ever, sipped a few drops from a folded
leaf. As for the warm-hearted Arfretee, her grief was unbounded. She
even besought me to spend my last night under her own palm-thatch;
and then, in the morning, she would herself paddle me off to the
ship.

But this I would not consent to; and so, as something to remember her
by, she presented me with a roll of fine matting, and another of
tappa. These gifts placed in my hammock, I afterward found very
agreeable in the warm latitudes to which we were bound; nor did they
fail to awaken most grateful remembrances.

About nightfall, we broke away from this generous-hearted household,
and hurried down to the water.

It was a mad, merry night among the sailors; they had on tap a small
cask of wine, procured in the same way as the doctor's flasks.

An hour or two after midnight, everything was noiseless; but when the
first streak of the dawn showed itself over the mountains, a sharp
voice hailed the forecastle, and ordered the ship unmoored.

The anchors came up cheerily; the sails were soon set; and with the
early breath of the tropical morning, fresh and fragrant from the
hillsides, we slowly glided down the bay, and were swept through the
opening in the reef. Presently we "hove to," and the canoes came
alongside to take off the islanders who had accompanied us thus far.
As he stepped over the side, I shook the doctor long and heartily by
the hand. I have never seen or heard of him since.

Crowding all sail, we braced the yards square; and, the breeze
freshening, bowled straight away from the land. Once more the
sailor's cradle rocked under me, and I found myself rolling in my
gait.

By noon, the island had gone down in the horizon; and all before us
was the wide Pacific.

 

THE END.
Omoo, by Herman Melville

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