Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/123

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HIS LIFE, POEMS AND SPEECHES.
better stay by the ship, but he insisted on going. I finally consented, and he went. Mr. Hussey, in another boat, struck the whale first. I noticed the whale, as soon as he struck him, make for Hussey's boat, but didn't think at the time he was a bad one. We then started for him, and just before we reached him he "settled," and the next thing I saw was his back close to our boat. I told Lambert, the boat-steerer, to "give it to him." As soon as he struck him the whale raised his flukes and struck our boat four successive times, knocking her to atoms. The first time he struck her he stove her badly, and she began to fill. I noticed O'Reilly's head drop as though he was hurt. The rest of the crew Jumped into the sea away from the boat, and clung to their oars; I clung to the stem part of the boat, that being the only piece left large enough to hold a man up; this, I think, was about ten feet long. I missed O'Reilly, and thought he must have drowned, as I knew he was hurt. When the whale left us the men swam back to the shattered boat. I remember saying, "O my God! where is Mr. O'Reilly?" and Bolter, who was close by my side, said, "There he is, on the other side, under water." I looked, and sure enough, there he was, about two feet from the surface of the water, bobbing up and down like a cork. I threw myself over, and by clinging to the broken keel with my left hand, reached him by the hair of the head with my right hand, and hauled him on the stoven boat. I thought then he was dead, as the froth was running from his nostrils and mouth; but a thought struck me, if he was dead he would have sunk: so I raised him up on my shoulder. As I lay on the side of the boat, with his stomach across my shoulder, I kept punching him as much as possible to get the salt water out of him. It was several hours before he realized anything, as the ship was about twelve miles from us to the windward, and we lay on the stoven boat a long time before we were picked up by Mr. Bryan, the fourth mate. The next day after this happened, as Mr. O'Reilly was lying in his bunk, suffering from the blow of the whale's flukes, he said, "Oh, Hathaway, why didn't you let me go?" I told him to keep quiet—that he would live to see better days; but he couldn't see it. We don't see far ahead, after all,—do we? The next time we saw whales he came to me and said he would like to go with me again. I told him, "No, he had got out of one scrape, and had better rest contented." But he insisted on going, and I consented, as he said he wanted revenge. We were lucky enough that day to get a good big fellow, and I think he had his revenge, as we minced him up pretty well. I think it was the death of that whale that suggested his poem of "The Amber Whale."

What Hathaway modestly omits from this narrative is the fact that, after bravely holding his friend so long above