Page:A Mainsail Haul - Masefield - 1913.djvu/32

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20
A MAINSAIL HAUL

immediately he was at the surface, under the skies, struggling towards some rocks a little distance from him. He reached the shore and went home to Lisbon in a fisher-boat, but he was never quite sane after seeing that beauty beneath the sea. He became very melancholy, and used to go down the Tagus in a row-boat, singing to himself and looking down into the water.

Before I left that ship I had to help clean her for her decent entry to the Mersey. I spent one afternoon with an old man from the Clyde doing up some ironwork, first with rope yarn and paraffin, then with red lead. The mate left us to ourselves all the watch, because the old man was trusty, and we had a fine yarn together about the things of the sea. He said that there were some who believed in the white whale, though it was all folly their calling him the king of all the fishes. The white whale was nothing but a servant, and lay low, "somewhere nigh the Poles," till the last day dawned. And then, said the old man, "he's a busy man raising the wrecks." When I asked him who was the king of all the fishes, he looked about to see that there were no listeners, and said, in a