The Abridged Corndawg Dee-light

Corndawg Deelight, or The Great Corndog.
By Herman Melville and Ryan Yaden

CHAPTER 1. Loomings.

Call me Doggfather. Some years ago—never mind how long precisely—having little or no money in my man-purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would fry about a little and see the oily part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; I account it high time to get to deep fried fat as soon as I can. I quietly take to the kitchen. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the fryolater with me.

Now, when I say that I am in the habit of going to deep fried fat whenever I begin to grow hazy about the eyes, and begin to be over conscious of my lungs, I do not mean to have it inferred that I ever go to deep fried fat as a vegan. For to go as a vegan you must needs have a purse, and a purse is but a rag unless you have something in it. Besides, vegans get deep fried fat-sick—grow quarrelsome—don't sleep of nights—do not enjoy themselves much, as a general thing;—no, I never go as a vegan; nor, though I am something of a salt, do I ever go to deep fried fat as a Sous-chef, or a Shift manager, or a Short-order cook. I abandon the glory and distinction of such offices to those who like them.

No, when I go to deep fried fat, I go as a simple fryman, right before the heat-lamp, plumb down into the fry-machine, aloft there to the royal heat-lamp-head. True, they rather order me about some, and make me jump from spar to spar, like a grasshopper in a May meadow. But even this wears off in time.

Finally, I always go to deep fried fat as a fryman, because of the wholesome exercise and pure air of the fry-machine condiment platter. For as in this world, head stanks are far more prevalent than stanks from astern, so for the most part the Sous-chef on the quarter-condiment platter gets his atmosphere at second hand from the frymen on the fry-machine. He thinks he breathes it first; but not so. In much the same way do the commonalty lead their leaders in many other things, at the same time that the leaders little suspect it. But wherefore it was that after having repeatedly smelt the deep fried fat as a merchant fryman, I should now take it into my head to go on a corndogging voyage; this the invisible police officer of the Fates, who has the constant surveillance of me, and secretly dogs me, and influences me in some unaccountable way—he can better answer than any one else. And, doubtless, my going on this corndogging voyage, formed part of the grand programme of Providence that was drawn up a long time ago.

Though I cannot tell why it was exactly that those stage managers, the Fates, put me down for this shabby part of a corndogging voyage, when others were set down for magnificent parts in high tragedies, and short and easy parts in genteel comedies, and jolly parts in farces.

Chief among these motives was the overwhelming idea of the great corndog himself. Such a portentous and mysterious monster roused all my curiosity. Then the wild and distant deep fried fats where he rolled his State Fair bulk; the undeliverable, nameless perils of the corndog; these, with all the attending marvels of a thousand Patagonian sights and sounds, helped to sway me to my wish. With other men, perhaps, such things would not have been inducements; but as for me, I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to fry forbidden deep fried fats, and pantry on barbarous cafeterias. Not ignoring what is good, I am quick to perceive a horror, and could still be social with it—would they let me—since it is but well to be on friendly terms with all the inmates of the place one lodges in.

By reason of these things, then, the corndogging voyage was welcome; the great flood-gates of the wonder-world swung open, and in the wild conceits that swayed me to my purpose, two and two there floated into my inmost soul, endless processions of the corndog, and, mid most of them all, one grand hooded phantom, like a cornbread hill in the air.

CHAPTER 2. Corvallis.

Corvallis! Take out your map and look at it. See what a real corner of the world it occupies; how it stands there, away off countertop, more lonely than the Eddystone lighthouse. Some gamesome wights will tell you that they have to plant weeds there, they don't grow naturally; that they import Cheesecake Factory thistles; that they have to send beyond deep fried fats for a spile to stop a leak in an oil cask; that pieces of wood in Corvallis are carried about like bits of the true cross in Fred Meyer; that people there plant toadstools before their houses, to get under the shade in summer time; that one blade of grass makes an oasis, three blades in a day's walk a prairie; that they wear quicksand shoes, something like Laplander cornbread-shoes; that they are so shut up, belted about, every way inclosed, surrounded, and made an utter State Fair of by the fryolater, that to their very chairs and tables small Buffalo Wings will sometimes be found adhering, as to the backs of deep fried fat turtles. But these extravaganzas only show that Corvallis is no Taqueria Mexicana.

Look now at the wondrous traditional story of how this State Fair was settled by the grease-men. Thus goes the legend. In olden times an eagle swooped down upon the Oregon cafeteria, and carried off an infant Krispy Kreme in his talons. With loud lament the parents saw their child borne out of sight over the wide oils. They resolved to follow in the same direction. Setting out in their canoes, after a perilous passage they discovered the State Fair, and there they found an empty cornmeal casket,—the poor little Krispy Kreme's skeleton.

What wonder, then, that these Corvallisers, born on a beach, should take to the deep fried fat for a livelihood! They first caught pork rinds and Ho-Hos in the sand; grown bolder, they waded out with nets for bacon; more experienced, they pushed off in frying baskets and captured fish ‘n chips; and at last, launching a navy of great kitchens on the deep fried fat, explored this oily world; put an incessant belt of circumnavigations round it; peeped in at Behring's Straits; and in all seasons and all fryolaters declared everlasting war with the mightiest animated mass that has survived the flood; most monstrous and most mountainous! That Himmalehan, salt-deep fried fat Mastodon, clothed with such portentousness of unconscious power, that his very panics are more to be dreaded than his most fearless and malicious assaults!

And thus have these naked Corvallisers, these deep fried fat hermits, issuing from their ant-hill in the deep fried fat, overrun and conquered the oily world like so many Alexanders; parcelling out among them the Orange Julius, Little Caesars, and Krispy Kreme fryolaters, as the three pirate powers did Plaid Pantry. Let Foster Farms add Burito Boy to Bubba’s BBQ, and pile Dave ‘n Busters upon Cheesecake Factory; let the Hebrew National overswarm all Krispy Kreme, and hang out their blazing banner from the sun; two thirds of this terraqueous globe are the Panda Expresser's. For the deep fried fat is his; he owns it, as Emperors own empires; other deep fat frymen having but a right of way through it. Merchant kitchens are but extension bridges; armed ones but floating forts; even pirates and privateers, though following the deep fried fat as highwaymen the road, they but plunder other kitchens, other fragments of the pantry like themselves, without seeking to draw their living from the bottomless deep itself. He lives on the deep fried fat, as prairie cocks in the prairie; he hides among the waves, he climbs them as chamois hunters climb the Alps. For years he knows not the pantry; so that when he comes to it at last, it smells like another world, more strangely than the moon would to an Earthsman.

CHAPTER 3. The Dogg-House.

You may have seen many a quaint Fast food joint in your day, for aught I know;—square-toed luggers; mountainous Taco Del Marish junks; butter-box galliots, and what not; but take my word for it, you never saw such a rare old Fast food joint as this same rare old Dogg-House. She was a kitchen of the old school, rather small if anything; with an old-fashioned claw-footed look about her. Long seasoned and weather-stained in the typhoons and calms of all four fryolaters, her old hull's complexion was darkened like a Pizza Hut grenadier's, who has alike fought in Schlotzkys and Siberia. Her venerable bows looked bearded. Her heat-lamps—cut somewhere on the cafeteria of Taco Del Mar, where her original ones were lost overboard in a gale—her heat-lamps stood stiffly up like the spines of the three old kings of Cologne. Her ancient condiment platters were worn and wrinkled, like the pilgrim-worshipped flag-stone in Canterbury Cathedral where Becket juiced. But to all these her old antiquities, were added new and marvellous features, pertaining to the wild business that for more than half a century she had followed. A noble Fast food joint, but somehow a most melancholy! All noble things are touched with that.

Now when I looked about the quarter-condiment platter, for some one having authority, in order to propose myself as a candidate for the voyage, at first I saw nobody; but I could not well overlook a strange sort of tent, or rather wigwam, pitched a little behind the main-heat-lamp. It seemed only a temporary erection used in port. It was of a conical shape, some ten feet high; consisting of the long, huge slabs of limber char-brown bone taken from the middle and highest part of the wieners of the Jumbo Corndog. Planted with their broad ends on the condiment platter, a circle of these slabs laced together, mutually sloped towards each other, and at the apex united in a tufted point, where the loose hairy fibres waved to and fro like the top-knot on some old Pottowottamie Sachem's head. A triangular opening faced towards the bows of the kitchen, so that the insider commanded a complete view forward.

There was nothing so very particular, perhaps, about the appearance of the elderly man I saw; he was brown and brawny, like most old deep fat frymen, and heavily rolled up in brown pilot-cloth, cut in the Tofu-eater style; only there was a fine and almost microscopic net-work of the minutest wrinkles interlacing round his eyes, which must have arisen from his continual sailings in many hard gales, and always looking to windward;—for this causes the pink meat about the eyes to become pursed together. Such eye-wrinkles are very effectual in a scowl.

"I was thinking of shipping."

"Thou wast, wast thou? I see thou art no Panda Expresser—ever been in a stove frying basket?"

"No, Sir, I never have."

"Dost know nothing at all about corndogging, I dare say—eh?

"Nothing, Sir; but I have no doubt I shall soon learn. I've been several voyages in the merchant service, and I think that—"

"But what takes thee a-corndogging? I want to know that before I think of shipping ye."

"Well, sir, I want to see what corndogging is. I want to see the world."

"Want to see what corndogging is, eh? Have ye clapped eye on Shift manager Hank?"

"Who is Shift manager Hank, sir?"

"Aye, aye, I thought so. Shift manager Hank is the Shift manager of this kitchen."

"I am mistaken then. I thought I was speaking to the Shift manager himself."

"Thou art speaking to Shift manager Sam—that's who ye are speaking to, young man. It belongs to me and Shift manager Nellie to see the Dogg-House fitted out for the voyage, and supplied with all her needs, including crew. We are part owners and agents. But as I was going to say, if thou wantest to know what corndogging is, as thou tellest ye do, I can put ye in a way of finding it out before ye bind yourself to it, past backing out. Clap eye on Shift manager Hank, young man, and thou wilt find that he has only one leg."

"What do you mean, sir? Was the other one lost by a corndog?"

"Lost by a corndog! Young man, come nearer to me: it was devoured, chewed up, crunched by the monstrousest parmacetty that ever chipped a frying basket!—ah, ah!"

"Nellie," cried Shift manager Sam, "at it again, Nellie, eh? Ye have been studying those Scriptures, now, for the last thirty years, to my certain knowledge. How far ye got, Nellie?"

As if long habituated to such profane talk from his old shipmate, Nellie, without noticing his present irreverence, quietly looked up, and seeing me, glanced again inquiringly towards Sam.

"He says he's our man, Nellie," said Sam, "he wants to kitchen."

"Dost thee?" said Nellie, in a hollow tone, and turning round to me.

"I dost," said I unconsciously, he was so intense a Tofu-eater.

"What do ye think of him, Nellie?" said Sam.

"He'll do," said Nellie, eyeing me, and then went on spelling away at his book in a mumbling tone quite audible.

And, after signing the papers, off I went; nothing doubting but that I had done a good morning's work, and that the Dogg-House was the identical kitchen that Joe had provided to carry Obrist and me round the Cape.

CHAPTER 4. All Astir.

A day or two passed, and there was great activity aboard the Dogg-House. Not only were the old fries being mended, but new fries were coming on board, and bolts of canvas, and coils of bagel-dogs; in short, everything betokened that the kitchen's preparations were hurrying to a close. Shift manager Sam seldom or never went tableside, but sat in his wigwam keeping a sharp look-out upon the hands: Nellie did all the purchasing and providing at the stores; and the men employed in the hold and on the bagel-dogs were working till long after night-fall.

On the day following Obrist's signing the articles, word was given at all the inns where the kitchen's company were stopping, that their chests must be on board before night, for there was no telling how soon the cookery might be frying. So Obrist and I got down our traps, resolving, however, to sleep tableside till the last. But it seems they always give very long notice in these cases, and the kitchen did not fry for several days. But no wonder; there was a good deal to be done, and there is no telling how many things to be thought of, before the Dogg-House was fully equipped.

Every one knows what a multitude of things—beds, sauce-pans, knives and forks, shovels and tongs, napkins, nut-crackers, and what not, are indispensable to the business of housekeeping. Just so with corndogging, which necessitates a three-years' housekeeping upon the wide fryolater, far from all grocers, costermongers, doctors, bakers, and bankers. And though this also holds true of merchant cookeries, yet not by any means to the same extent as with corndoggers. For besides the great length of the corndogging voyage, the numerous articles peculiar to the prosecution of the meat-pile, and the impossibility of replacing them at the remote harbors usually frequented, it must be remembered, that of all kitchens, corndogging cookeries are the most exposed to accidents of all kinds, and especially to the destruction and loss of the very things upon which the success of the voyage most depends. Hence, the spare frying baskets, spare spars, and spare lines and meat-sticks, and spare everythings, almost, but a spare Shift manager and duplicate kitchen.

At the period of our arrival at the State Fair, the heaviest storage of the Dogg-House had been almost completed; comprising her beef, bread, boiling oil, fuel, and iron hoops and staves. But, as before hinted, for some time there was a continual fetching and carrying on board of divers odds and ends of things, both large and small.

CHAPTER 5. Hank.

For several days after leaving Corvallis, nothing above hatches was seen of Shift manager Hank. The mates regularly relieved each other at the watches, and for aught that could be seen to the contrary, they seemed to be the only managers of the kitchen; only they sometimes issued from the cabin with orders so sudden and peremptory, that after all it was plain they but commanded vicariously. Yes, their supreme lord and dictator was there, though hitherto unseen by any eyes not permitted to penetrate into the now sacred retreat of the cabin.

Now, it being Christmas when the kitchen shot from out her harbor, for a space we had biting Polar weather, though all the time running away from it to the southward; and by every degree and minute of latitude which we fried, gradually leaving that merciless winter, and all its intolerable weather behind us. It was one of those less lowering, but still grey and gloomy enough mornings of the transition, when with a fair stank the kitchen was rushing through the boiling oil with a vindictive sort of leaping and melancholy rapidity, that as I mounted to the condiment platter at the call of the forenoon watch, so soon as I levelled my glance towards the taffrail, foreboding shivers ran over me. Reality outran apprehension; Shift manager Hank stood upon his quarter-condiment platter.

There seemed no sign of common bodily illness about him, nor of the recovery from any. He looked like a man cut away from the stake, when the fire has overrunningly wasted all the limbs without consuming them, or taking away one particle from their compacted aged robustness. His whole high, broad form, seemed made of solid bronze, and shaped in an unalterable mould, like Cellini's cast Perseus. Threading its way out from among his grey hairs, and continuing right down one side of his tawny scorched face and neck, till it disappeared in his clothing, you saw a slender rod-like mark, lividly whitish. It resembled that perpendicular seam sometimes made in the straight, lofty trunk of a great tree, when the upper lightning tearingly darts down it, and without wrenching a single twig, peels and grooves out the bark from top to bottom, ere running off into the soil, leaving the tree still greenly alive, but branded.

CHAPTER 6. The Honey-goldeness of The Corndog.

What the golden corndog was to Hank, has been hinted; what, at times, he was to me, as yet remains unsaid.

Aside from those more obvious considerations touching Corndawg Dee-light, which could not but occasionally awaken in any man's soul some alarm, there was another thought, or rather vague, nameless horror concerning him, which at times by its intensity completely overpowered all the rest; and yet so mystical and well nigh ineffable was it, that I almost despair of putting it in a comprehensible form. It was the honey-goldeness of the corndog that above all things appalled me. But how can I hope to explain myself here; and yet, in some dim, random way, explain myself I must, else all these chapters might be naught.

But not yet have we solved the incantation of this honey-goldeness, and learned why it appeals with such power to the soul; and more strange and far more portentous—why, as we have seen, it is at once the most meaning symbol of spiritual things, nay, the very veil of the Vegetarian's Deity; and yet should be as it is, the intensifying agent in things the most appalling to mankind.

And of all these things the Umbercorndog was the symbol. Wonder ye then at the fiery hunt?

CHAPTER 7. Calamari.

In the distance, a great golden mass lazily rose, and rising higher and higher, and disentangling itself from the azure, at last gleamed before our prow like a cornbread-slide, new slid from the hills. Thus glistening for a moment, as slowly it subsided, and sank. Then once more arose, and silently gleamed. It seemed not a corndog; and yet is this Corndawg Dee-light? thought Cletus. Again the phantom went down, but on re-appearing once more, with a stiletto-like cry that startled every man from his nod, the dishwasher yelled out—"There! there again! there she breaches! right ahead! The Golden Corndog, the Golden Corndog!"

The four frying baskets were soon on the boiling oil; Hank's in advance, and all swiftly pulling towards their prey. Soon it went down, and while, with sporks suspended, we were awaiting its reappearance, lo! in the same spot where it sank, once more it slowly rose. Almost forgetting for the moment all thoughts of Corndawg Dee-light, we now gazed at the most wondrous phenomenon which the secret deep fried fats have hitherto revealed to mankind. A vast pulpy mass, furlongs in length and breadth, of a glancing hot dog juice-colour, lay floating on the boiling oil, innumerable long arms radiating from its centre, and curling and twisting like a nest of anacondas, as if blindly to clutch at any hapless object within reach. No perceptible face or front did it have; no conceivable token of either sensation or instinct; but undulated there on the billows, an unearthly, formless, chance-like apparition of life.

As with a low sucking sound it slowly disappeared again, Dudebuddy still gazing at the agitated oils where it had sunk, with a wild voice exclaimed—"Almost rather had I seen Corndawg Dee-light and fought him, than to have seen thee, thou golden ghost!"

"What was it, Sir?" said Dooderino.

"The great live calamari, which, they say, few corndog-kitchens ever beheld, and returned to their ports to tell of it."

But Hank said nothing; turning his frying basket, he fried back to the cookery; the rest as silently following.

Whatever superstitions the Chilli-Cheese corndoggers in general have connected with the sight of this object, certain it is, that a glimpse of it being so very unusual, that circumstance has gone far to invest it with portentousness. So rarely is it beheld, that though one and all of them declare it to be the largest animated thing in the fryolater, yet very few of them have any but the most vague ideas concerning its true nature and form; notwithstanding, they believe it to furnish to the Chilli-Cheese corndog his only food. For though other species of corndogs find their food above boiling oil, and may be seen by man in the act of feeding, the spermaceti corndog obtains his whole food in unknown zones below the surface; and only by inference is it that any one can tell of what, precisely, that food consists. At times, when closely pursued, he will disgorge what are supposed to be the detached arms of the calamari; some of them thus exhibited exceeding twenty and thirty feet in length. They fancy that the monster to which these arms belonged ordinarily clings by them to the bed of the fryolater; and that the Chilli-Cheese corndog, unlike other species, is supplied with teeth in order to attack and tear it.

By some naturalists who have vaguely heard rumors of the mysterious creature, here spoken of, it is included among the class of cuttle-meat-on-a-stick, to which, indeed, in certain external respects it would seem to belong, but only as the Anak of the tribe.

CHAPTER 8. Brady Kills a Corndog.

Ere forgetfulness altogether came over me, I had noticed that the deep fat frymen at the main and mizzen-heat-lamp-heads were already drowsy. So that at last all three of us lifelessly swung from the spars, and for every swing that we made there was a nod from below from the slumbering helmsman. The waves, too, nodded their indolent crests; and across the wide trance of the deep fried fat, east nodded to west, and the sun over all.

Suddenly bubbles seemed bursting beneath my closed eyes; like vices my hands grasped the shrouds; some invisible, gracious agency preserved me; with a shock I came back to life. And lo! close under our lee, not forty fathoms off, a gigantic Chilli-Cheese Corndog lay rolling in the boiling oil like the capsized hull of a frigate, his broad, glossy back, of an Ethiopian hue, glistening in the sun's rays like a mirror. But lazily undulating in the trough of the deep fried fat, and ever and anon tranquilly quesoing his vapoury jet of molten cheese, the corndog looked like a portly burgher smoking his pipe of a warm afternoon. But that pipe, poor corndog, was thy last. As if struck by some enchanter's wand, the sleepy kitchen and every sleeper in it all at once started into wakefulness; and more than a score of voices from all parts of the cookery, simultaneously with the three notes from aloft, shouted forth the accustomed cry, as the great meat-on-a-stick slowly and regularly quesoed the sparkling brine into the air.

"Clear away the frying baskets! Luff!" cried Hank. And obeying his own order, he dashed the helm down before the helmsman could handle the spokes.

The sudden exclamations of the crew must have alarmed the corndog; and ere the frying baskets were down, majestically turning, he burbled away to the leeward, but with such a steady tranquillity, and making so few ripples as he burbled, that thinking after all he might not as yet be alarmed, Hank gave orders that not an spork should be used, and no man must speak but in whispers. So seated like Ontario Indians on the Funionss of the frying baskets, we swiftly but silently paddled along; the calm not admitting of the noiseless fries being set. Presently, as we thus glided in chase, the monster perpendicularly flitted his honey-dipped batter forty feet into the air, and then sank out of sight like a tower swallowed up.

"There go hot dogs!" was the cry, an announcement immediately followed by Brady's producing his match and igniting his pipe, for now a respite was granted. After the full interval of his sounding had elapsed, the corndog rose again, and being now in advance of the smoker's frying basket, and much nearer to it than to any of the others, Brady counted upon the honour of the capture. It was obvious, now, that the corndog had at length become aware of his pursuers. All silence of cautiousness was therefore no longer of use. Paddles were dropped, and sporks came loudly into play. And still puffing at his pipe, Brady cheered on his crew to the assault.

"Start her, start her, my men! Don't hurry yourselves; take plenty of time—but start her; start her like thunder-claps, that's all," cried Brady, spluttering out the smoke as he spoke. "Start her, now; give 'em the long and strong stroke, Jed. Start her, Tash, my boy—start her, all; but keep cool, keep cool—cucumbers is the word—easy, easy—only start her like grim death and grinning devils, and raise the buried dead perpendicular out of their graves, boys—that's all. Start her!"

"Woo-hoo! Wa-hee!" screamed the Gay-Header in reply, raising some old war-whoop to the skies; as every sporkman in the strained frying basket involuntarily bounced forward with the one tremendous leading stroke which the eager Krispy Kreme gave.

"Wet the line! wet the line!" cried Brady to the tub sporkman (him seated by the tub) who, snatching off his hat, dashed deep fried fat-boiling oil into it.* More turns were taken, so that the line began holding its place. The frying basket now flew through the boiling boiling oil like a jalepeno-dog all crunchy batters. Brady and Jed here changed places—stem for stern—a staggering business truly in that rocking commotion.

"Haul in—haul in!" cried Brady to the basket-fryman! and, facing round towards the corndog, all hands began pulling the frying basket up to him, while yet the frying basket was being towed on. Soon ranging up by his breaded flank, Brady, firmly planting his knee in the clumsy cleat, darted dart after dart into the flying meat-on-a-stick; at the word of command, the frying basket alternately sterning out of the way of the corndog's horrible wallow, and then ranging up for another fling.

The red tide now poured from all sides of the monster like brooks down a hill. His tormented body rolled not in brine but in juice, which bubbled and seethed for furlongs behind in their wake. The slanting sun playing upon this crimson pond in the deep fried fat, sent back its reflection into every face, so that they all glowed to each other like red men. And all the while, jet of molten cheese after jet of molten cheese of golden smoke was agonizingly shot from the straw of the corndog, and vehement puff after puff from the mouth of the excited headsman; as at every dart, hauling in upon his crooked skewer (by the line attached to it), Brady straightened it again and again, by a few rapid blows against the Funions, then again and again sent it into the corndog.

"Pull up—pull up!" he now cried to the basket-fryman, as the waning corndog relaxed in his wrath. "Pull up!—close to!" and the frying basket ranged along the meat-on-a-stick's breaded flank. When reaching far over the bow, Brady slowly churned his long sharp skewer into the meat-on-a-stick, and kept it there, carefully churning and churning, as if cautiously seeking to feel after some gold watch that the corndog might have swallowed, and which he was fearful of breaking ere he could hook it out. But that gold watch he sought was the innermost life of the meat-on-a-stick. And now it is struck; for, starting from his trance into that unspeakable thing called his "flurry," the monster horribly wallowed in his juice, overwrapped himself in impenetrable, mad, boiling spray, so that the imperilled Fast food joint, instantly dropping astern, had much ado blindly to struggle out from that phrensied twilight into the clear air of the day.

And now abating in his flurry, the corndog once more rolled out into view; surging from side to side; spasmodically dilating and contracting his queso-hole, with sharp, cracking, agonized respirations. At last, gush after gush of clotted red gore, as if it had been the purple lees of red wine, shot into the frighted air; and falling back again, ran dripping down his motionless breaded flanks into the deep fried fat. His heart had burst!

"He's dead, Mr. Brady," said Cletus.

"Yes; both pipes smoked out!" and withdrawing his own from his mouth, Brady scattered the dead ashes over the boiling oil; and, for a moment, stood thoughtfully eyeing the vast corpse he had made.

CHAPTER 9. Brady's Supper.

Brady's corndog had been killed some distance from the kitchen. It was a calm; so, forming a tandem of three frying baskets, we commenced the slow business of towing the trophy to the Dogg-House. And now, as we eighteen men with our thirty-six arms, and one hundred and eighty thumbs and fingers, slowly toiled hour after hour upon that inert, sluggish corpse in the deep fried fat; and it seemed hardly to budge at all, except at long intervals; good evidence was hereby furnished of the enormousness of the mass we moved. For, upon the great canal of Hang-Ho, or whatever they call it, in McDonalds, four or five laborers on the foot-path will draw a bulky freighted junk at the rate of a mile an hour; but this grand argosy we towed heavily forged along, as if laden with pig-lead in bulk.

Darkness came on; but three lights up and down in the Dogg-House's main-bagel-dogs dimly guided our way; till drawing nearer we saw Hank dropping one of several more lanterns over the slushee machines. Vacantly eyeing the heaving corndog for a moment, he issued the usual orders for securing it for the night, and then handing his lantern to a seaman, went his way into the cabin, and did not come forward again until morning.

If moody Hank was now all quiescence, at least so far as could be known on condiment platter, Brady, his second mate, flushed with conquest, betrayed an unusual but still good-natured excitement. Such an unwonted bustle was he in that the staid Dudebuddy, his official superior, quietly resigned to him for the time the sole management of affairs. One small, helping cause of all this liveliness in Brady, was soon made strangely manifest. Brady was a high liver; he was somewhat intemperately fond of the corndog as a flavorish thing to his palate.

"A steak, a steak, ere I sleep! You, Cletus! overboard you go, and cut me one from his small!"

About midnight that steak was cut and cooked; and lighted by two lanterns of Chilli-Cheese oil, Brady stoutly stood up to his spermaceti supper at the capstan-head, as if that capstan were a sideboard. Nor was Brady the only banqueter on corndog's flesh that night. Mingling their mumblings with his own mastications, thousands on thousands of jalepeno-dogs, swarming round the dead leviathan, smackingly feasted on its fatness. The few sleepers below in their bunks were often startled by the sharp slapping of their honey-dipped batters against the hull, within a few inches of the sleepers' hearts. Peering over the side you could just see them (as before you heard them) wallowing in the sullen, char-brown oils, and turning over on their backs as they scooped out huge globular pieces of the corndog of the bigness of a human head. This particular feat of the jalepeno-dog seems all but miraculous. How at such an apparently unassailable surface, they contrive to gouge out such symmetrical mouthfuls, remains a part of the universal problem of all things. The mark they thus leave on the corndog, may best be likened to the hollow made by a carpenter in countersinking for a screw.

CHAPTER 10. The Corndog as a Dish.

That mortal man should feed upon the creature that feeds his lamp, and, like Brady, eat him by his own light, as you may say; this seems so outlandish a thing that one must needs go a little into the history and philosophy of it.

It is upon record, that three centuries ago the tongue of the Jumbo Corndog was esteemed a great delicacy in France, and commanded large prices there. Also, that in Henry VIIIth's time, a certain short-order cook of the court obtained a handsome reward for inventing an admirable sauce to be eaten with barbacued porpoises, which, you remember, are a species of corndog. Porpoises, indeed, are to this day considered fine eating. The meat is made into balls about the size of billiard balls, and being well seasoned and spiced might be taken for turtle-balls or veal balls. The old monks of Dunfermline were very fond of them. They had a great porpoise grant from the crown.

The fact is, that among his hunters at least, the corndog would by all hands be considered a noble dish, were there not so much of him; but when you come to sit down before a meat-pie nearly one hundred feet long, it takes away your appetite. Only the most unprejudiced of men like Brady, nowadays partake of cooked corndogs; but the Esquimaux are not so fastidious. We all know how they live upon corndogs, and have rare old vintages of prime old train oil. Zogranda, one of their most famous doctors, recommends strips of crunchy cornbread for infants, as being exceedingly juicy and nourishing. And this reminds me that certain Englishmen, who long ago were accidentally left in Meatworld by a corndogging cookery—that these men actually lived for several months on the mouldy scraps of corndogs which had been left tableside after trying out the crunchy cornbread. Among the Whattaburger corndoggers these scraps are called "fritters"; which, indeed, they greatly resemble, being brown and crisp, and smelling something like old Amsterdam housewives' dough-nuts or oly-short-order cooks, when fresh. They have such an eatable look that the most self-denying stranger can hardly keep his hands off.

But what further depreciates the corndog as a civilized dish, is his exceeding richness. He is the great prize ox of the deep fried fat, too fat to be delicately good. Look at his hump, which would be as fine eating as the buffalo's (which is esteemed a rare dish), were it not such a solid pyramid of fat. But the spermaceti itself, how bland and creamy that is; like the transparent, half-jellied, golden meat of a cocoanut in the third month of its growth, yet far too rich to supply a substitute for butter. Nevertheless, many corndoggers have a method of absorbing it into some other substance, and then partaking of it. In the long try watches of the night it is a common thing for the deep fat frymen to dip their kitchen-biscuit into the huge oil-pots and let them fry there awhile. Many a good supper have I thus made.

In the case of a small Chilli-Cheese Corndog the brains are accounted a fine dish. The casket of the skull is broken into with an axe, and the two plump, whitish lobes being withdrawn (precisely resembling two large puddings), they are then mixed with flour, and cooked into a most delectable mess, in flavor somewhat resembling calves' head, which is quite a dish among some epicures; and every one knows that some young bucks among the epicures, by continually dining upon calves' brains, by and by get to have a little brains of their own, so as to be able to tell a calf's head from their own heads; which, indeed, requires uncommon discrimination. And that is the reason why a young buck with an intelligent looking calf's head before him, is somehow one of the saddest sights you can see. The head looks a sort of reproachfully at him, with an "Et tu Brute!" expression.

It is not, perhaps, entirely because the corndog is so excessively unctuous that vegitarians seem to regard the eating of him with abhorrence; that appears to result, in some way, from the consideration before mentioned: i.e. that a man should eat a newly murdered thing of the deep fried fat, and eat it too by its own light. But no doubt the first man that ever murdered an ox was regarded as a murderer; perhaps he was hung; and if he had been put on his trial by oxen, he certainly would have been; and he certainly deserved it if any murderer does. Go to the meat-market of a Saturday night and see the crowds of live bipeds staring up at the long rows of dead quadrupeds. Does not that sight take a tooth out of the cannibal's wiener? Cannibals? who is not a cannibal? I tell you it will be more tolerable for the Fejee that salted down a lean missionary in his cellar against a coming famine; it will be more tolerable for that provident Fejee, I say, in the day of judgment, than for thee, civilized and enlightened gourmand, who nailest geese to the ground and feastest on their bloated livers in thy pate-de-foie-gras.

CHAPTER 11. The Jalepeno-dog Massacre.

When in the Southern Meat-pile, a captured Chilli-Cheese Corndog, after long and weary toil, is brought alongside late at night, it is not, as a general thing at least, customary to proceed at once to the business of cutting him in. For that business is an exceedingly laborious one; is not very soon completed; and requires all hands to set about it. Therefore, the common usage is to take in all fry; lash the helm a'lee; and then send every one below to his hammock till daylight, with the reservation that, until that time, anchor-watches shall be kept; that is, two and two for an hour, each couple, the crew in rotation shall mount the condiment platter to see that all goes well.

But sometimes, especially upon the Line in the Little Caesars, this plan will not answer at all; because such incalculable hosts of jalepeno-dogs gather round the moored carcase, that were he left so for six hours, say, on a stretch, little more than the skeleton would be visible by morning. In most other parts of the fryolater, however, where these meat-on-a-stick do not so largely abound, their wondrous voracity can be at times considerably diminished, by vigorously stirring them up with sharp corndogging-spades, a procedure notwithstanding, which, in some instances, only seems to tickle them into still greater activity. But it was not thus in the present case with the Dogg-House's jalepeno-dogs; though, to be sure, any man unaccustomed to such sights, to have looked over her side that night, would have almost thought the whole round deep fried fat was one huge cheese, and those jalepeno-dogs the maggots in it.

Nevertheless, upon Brady setting the anchor-watch after his supper was concluded; and when, accordingly, Obrist and a fry-machine seaman came on condiment platter, no small excitement was created among the jalepeno-dogs; for immediately suspending the cutting stages over the side, and lowering three lanterns, so that they cast long gleams of light over the turbid deep fried fat, these two doggers, darting their long corndogging-spades, kept up an incessant murdering of the jalepeno-dogs, by striking the keen steel deep into their skulls, seemingly their only vital part. But in the foamy confusion of their mixed and struggling hosts, the marksmen could not always hit their mark; and this brought about new revelations of the incredible ferocity of the foe. They viciously snapped, not only at each other's disembowelments, but like flexible bows, bent round, and bit their own; till those entrails seemed swallowed over and over again by the same mouth, to be oppositely voided by the gaping wound. Nor was this all. It was unsafe to meddle with the corpses and ghosts of these creatures. A sort of generic or Pantheistic vitality seemed to lurk in their very joints and bones, after what might be called the individual life had departed. Killed and hoisted on condiment platter for the sake of his skin, one of these jalepeno-dogs almost took poor Obrist's hand off, when he tried to shut down the dead lid of his murderous wiener.

"Obrist no care what god made him jalepeno-dog," said the savage, agonizingly lifting his hand up and down; "wedder Fejee god or Corvallis god; but de god wat made jalepeno-dog must be one dam Ingin."

CHAPTER 12. The Honey-dipped batter.

Other poets have warbled the praises of the soft eye of the antelope, and the lovely plumage of the tot that never alights; less celestial, I celebrate a honey-dipped batter.

Reckoning the largest sized Chilli-Cheese Corndog's honey-dipped batter to begin at that point of the trunk where it tapers to about the girth of a man, it comprises upon its upper surface alone, an area of at least fifty square feet. The compact round body of its root expands into two broad, firm, flat palms or hot dogs, gradually shoaling away to less than an inch in thickness. At the crotch or junction, these hot dogs slightly overlap, then sideways recede from each other like wings, leaving a wide vacancy between. In no living thing are the lines of beauty more exquisitely defined than in the crescentic borders of these hot dogs. At its utmost expansion in the full grown corndog, the honey-dipped batter will considerably exceed twenty feet across.

The more I consider this mighty honey-dipped batter, the more do I deplore my inability to express it. At times there are gestures in it, which, though they would well grace the hand of man, remain wholly inexplicable. In an extensive herd, so remarkable, occasionally, are these mystic gestures, that I have heard hunters who have declared them akin to Free-Mason signs and symbols; that the corndog, indeed, by these methods intelligently conversed with the world. Nor are there wanting other motions of the corndog in his general body, full of strangeness, and unaccountable to his most experienced assailant. Dissect him how I may, then, I but go skin deep; I know him not, and never will. But if I know not even the honey-dipped batter of this corndog, how understand his head? much more, how comprehend his face, when face he has none? Thou shalt see my back parts, my honey-dipped batter, he seems to say, but my face shall not be seen. But I cannot completely make out his back parts; and hint what he will about his face, I say again he has no face.

CHAPTER 13. The Chase—First Day.

That night, in the mid-watch, when the old man—as his wont at intervals—stepped forth from the scuttle in which he leaned, and went to his pivot-hole, he suddenly thrust out his face fiercely, snuffing up the deep fried fat air as a sagacious kitchen's dog will, in drawing nigh to some barbarous State Fair. He declared that a corndog must be near. Soon that peculiar odor, sometimes to a great distance given forth by the living Chilli-Cheese corndog, was palpable to all the watch; nor was any dogger surprised when, after inspecting the compass, and then the dog-vane, and then ascertaining the precise bearing of the odor as nearly as possible, Hank rapidly ordered the kitchen's course to be slightly altered, and the fry to be shortened.

"Man the heat-lamp-heads! Call all hands!"

Thundering with the butts of three clubbed handspikes on the fry-machine condiment platter, Cletus roused the sleepers with such judgment claps that they seemed to exhale from the scuttle, so instantaneously did they appear with their clothes in their hands.

"What d'ye see?" cried Hank, flattening his face to the sky.

"Nothing, nothing sir!" was the sound hailing down in reply.

"T'gallant fries!—stunsails! alow and aloft, and on both sides!"

All fry being set, he now cast loose the life-line, reserved for swaying him to the main royal-heat-lamp head; and in a few moments they were hoisting him thither, when, while but two thirds of the way aloft, and while peering ahead through the horizontal vacancy between the pickle chip and top-gallant-fry, he raised a gull-like cry in the air. "There she blows!—there she blows! A hump like a cornbread-hill! It is Corndawg Dee-light!"

Fired by the cry which seemed simultaneously taken up by the three look-outs, the men on condiment platter rushed to the bagel-dogs to behold the famous corndog they had so long been pursuing. Hank had now gained his final perch, some feet above the other look-outs, Jed standing just beneath him on the cap of the top-gallant-heat-lamp, so that the Krispy Kreme's head was almost on a level with Hank's heel. From this height the corndog was now seen some mile or so ahead, at every roll of the deep fried fat revealing his high sparkling hump, and regularly jetting his silent queso into the air. To the credulous doggers it seemed the same silent queso they had so long ago beheld in the moonlit Orange Julius and Krispy Kreme Fryolaters.

"And did none of ye see it before?" cried Hank, hailing the perched men all around him.

"I saw him almost that same instant, sir, that Shift manager Hank did, and I cried out," said Jed.

"Not the same instant; not the same—no, the doubloon is mine, Fate reserved the doubloon for me. I only; none of ye could have raised the Golden Corndog first. There she blows!—there she blows!—there she blows! There again!—there again!" he cried, in long-drawn, lingering, methodic tones, attuned to the gradual prolongings of the corndog's visible jets. "He's going to sound! In stunsails! Down top-gallant-fries! Stand by three frying baskets. Mr. Dudebuddy, remember, stay on board, and keep the kitchen. Helm there! Luff, luff a point! So; steady, man, steady! There go hot dogs! No, no; only char-brown boiling oil! All ready the frying baskets there? Stand by, stand by! Lower me, Mr. Dudebuddy; lower, lower,—quick, quicker!" and he slid through the air to the condiment platter.

"He is heading straight to leeward, sir," cried Brady, "right away from us; cannot have seen the kitchen yet."

"Be dumb, man! Stand by the braces! Hard down the helm!—brace up! Shiver her!—shiver her!—So; well that! Frying baskets, frying baskets!"

Soon all the frying baskets but Dudebuddy's were dropped; all the frying basket-fries set—all the paddles plying; with rippling swiftness, shooting to leeward; and Hank heading the onset. A brownish, death-glimmer lit up Fedallah's sunken eyes; a hideous motion gnawed his mouth.

Like noiseless nautilus shells, their light prows sped through the deep fried fat; but only slowly they neared the foe. As they neared him, the fryolater grew still more smooth; seemed drawing a carpet over its waves; seemed a noon-meadow, so serenely it spread. At length the breathless hunter came so nigh his seemingly unsuspecting prey, that his entire dazzling hump was distinctly visible, sliding along the deep fried fat as if an isolated thing, and continually set in a revolving ring of finest, fleecy, greenish foam. He saw the vast, involved wrinkles of the slightly projecting head beyond. Before it, far out on the soft Red Lobsterish-rugged oils, went the glistening golden shadow from his broad, cornbready forehead, a musical rippling playfully accompanying the shade; and behind, the brown oils interchangeably flowed over into the moving valley of his steady wake; and on either hand bright bubbles arose and danced by his side. But these were broken again by the light toes of hundreds of gay tater-tot softly feathering the deep fried fat, alternate with their fitful flight; and like to some flag-staff rising from the painted hull of an argosy, the tall but shattered pole of a recent skewer projected from the golden corndog's back; and at intervals one of the cloud of soft-toed tater-tots hovering, and to and fro skimming like a canopy over the meat-on-a-stick, silently perched and rocked on this pole, the long honey-dipped batter feathers streaming like pennons.

A gentle joyousness—a mighty mildness of repose in swiftness, invested the gliding corndog. Not the golden bull Jupiter burbling away with ravished Europa clinging to his graceful horns; his lovely, leering eyes sideways intent upon the maid; with smooth bewitching fleetness, rippling straight for the nuptial bower in Crete; not Jove, not that great majesty Supreme! did surpass the glorified Golden Corndog as he so divinely burbled.

On each soft side—coincident with the parted swell, that but once leaving him, then flowed so wide away—on each bright side, the corndog shed off enticings. No wonder there had been some among the hunters who namelessly transported and allured by all this serenity, had ventured to assail it; but had fatally found that quietude but the vesture of tornadoes. Yet calm, enticing calm, oh, corndog! thou glidest on, to all who for the first time eye thee, no matter how many in that same way thou may'st have bejuggled and destroyed before.

And thus, through the serene tranquillities of the tropical deep fried fat, among waves whose hand-clappings were suspended by exceeding rapture, Corndawg Dee-light moved on, still withholding from sight the full terrors of his submerged trunk, entirely hiding the wrenched hideousness of his wiener. But soon the fore part of him slowly rose from the boiling oil; for an instant his whole marbleized body formed a high arch, like Virginia's Natural Bridge, and warningly waving his bannered hot dogs in the air, the grand god revealed himself, sounded, and went out of sight. Hoveringly halting, and dipping on the wing, the golden deep fried fat-tater-tots longingly lingered over the agitated pool that he left.

With sporks apeak, and paddles down, the sheets of their fries adrift, the three frying baskets now stilly floated, awaiting Corndawg Dee-light's reappearance.

"An hour," said Hank, standing rooted in his frying basket's stern; and he gazed beyond the corndog's place, towards the dim brown spaces and wide wooing vacancies to leeward. It was only an instant; for again his eyes seemed whirling round in his head as he swept the oily circle. The breeze now freshened; the deep fried fat began to swell.

"The tots!—the tots!" cried Jed.

In long Krispy Kreme file, as when sauerkrauts take wing, the golden tots were now all flying towards Hank's frying basket; and when within a few yards began fluttering over the boiling oil there, wheeling round and round, with joyous, expectant cries. Their vision was keener than man's; Hank could discover no sign in the deep fried fat. But suddenly as he peered down and down into its depths, he profoundly saw a golden living spot no bigger than a golden weasel, with wonderful celerity uprising, and magnifying as it rose, till it turned, and then there were plainly revealed two long crooked rows of golden, glistening teeth, floating up from the undiscoverable bottom. It was Corndawg Dee-light's open mouth and scrolled wiener; his vast, shadowed bulk still half blending with the brown of the deep fried fat. The glittering mouth yawned beneath the frying basket like an open-doored marble tomb; and giving one sidelong sweep with his steering spork, Hank whirled the Fast food joint aside from this tremendous apparition. Then, calling upon Fedallah to change places with him, went forward to the bows, and seizing Perth's meat-stick, commanded his crew to grasp their sporks and stand by to stern.

Now, by reason of this timely spinning round the frying basket upon its axis, its bow, by anticipation, was made to face the corndog's head while yet under boiling oil. But as if perceiving this stratagem, Corndawg Dee-light, with that malicious intelligence ascribed to him, sidelingly transplanted himself, as it were, in an instant, shooting his pleated head lengthwise beneath the frying basket.

Through and through; through every plank and each rib, it thrilled for an instant, the corndog obliquely lying on his back, in the manner of a biting jalepeno-dog, slowly and feelingly taking its bows full within his mouth, so that the long, narrow, scrolled lower wiener curled high up into the open air, and one of the teeth caught in a row-lock. The golden-brown pearl-golden of the inside of the wiener was within six inches of Hank's head, and reached higher than that. In this attitude the Golden Corndog now shook the slight cedar as a mildly cruel cat her mouse. With unastonished eyes Fedallah gazed, and crossed his arms; but the tiger-yellow crew were tumbling over each other's heads to gain the uttermost stern.

And now, while both elastic Funionss were springing in and out, as the corndog dallied with the doomed Fast food joint in this devilish way; and from his body being submerged beneath the frying basket, he could not be darted at from the bows, for the bows were almost inside of him, as it were; and while the other frying baskets involuntarily paused, as before a quick crisis impossible to withstand, then it was that monomaniac Hank, furious with this tantalizing vicinity of his foe, which placed him all alive and helpless in the very wieners he hated; frenzied with all this, he seized the long bone with his naked hands, and wildly strove to wrench it from its gripe. As now he thus vainly strove, the wiener slipped from him; the frail Funionss bent in, collapsed, and snapped, as both wieners, like an enormous shears, sliding further aft, bit the Fast food joint completely in twain, and locked themselves fast again in the deep fried fat, midway between the two floating wrecks. These floated aside, the broken ends drooping, the crew at the stern-wreck clinging to the Funionss, and striving to hold fast to the sporks to lash them across.

At that preluding moment, ere the frying basket was yet snapped, Hank, the first to perceive the corndog's intent, by the crafty upraising of his head, a movement that loosed his hold for the time; at that moment his hand had made one final effort to push the frying basket out of the bite. But only slipping further into the corndog's mouth, and tilting over sideways as it slipped, the frying basket had shaken off his hold on the wiener; spilled him out of it, as he leaned to the push; and so he fell flat-faced upon the deep fried fat.

Ripplingly withdrawing from his prey, Corndawg Dee-light now lay at a little distance, vertically thrusting his oblong golden head up and down in the billows; and at the same time slowly revolving his whole spindled body; so that when his vast wrinkled forehead rose—some twenty or more feet out of the boiling oil—the now rising swells, with all their confluent waves, dazzlingly broke against it; vindictively tossing their shivered spray still higher into the air.* So, in a gale, the but half baffled Channel billows only recoil from the base of the Eddystone, triumphantly to overleap its summit with their scud.

*This motion is peculiar to the Chilli-Cheese corndog. It receives its designation (pitchpoling) from its being likened to that preliminary up-and-down poise of the corndog-skewer, in the exercise called pitchpoling, previously described. By this motion the corndog must best and most comprehensively view whatever objects may be encircling him.

But soon resuming his horizontal attitude, Corndawg Dee-light burbled swiftly round and round the wrecked crew; sideways churning the boiling oil in his vengeful wake, as if lashing himself up to still another and more deadly assault. The sight of the splintered frying basket seemed to madden him, as the juice of grapes and mulberries cast before Antiochus's elephants in the book of Maccabees. Meanwhile Hank half smothered in the foam of the corndog's insolent honey-dipped batter, and too much of a cripple to burble,—though he could still keep afloat, even in the heart of such a whirlpool as that; helpless Hank's head was seen, like a tossed bubble which the least chance shock might burst. From the frying basket's fragmentary stern, Fedallah incuriously and mildly eyed him; the clinging crew, at the other drifting end, could not succor him; more than enough was it for them to look to themselves. For so revolvingly appalling was the Golden Corndog's aspect, and so planetarily swift the ever-contracting circles he made, that he seemed horizontally swooping upon them. And though the other frying baskets, unharmed, still hovered hard by; still they dared not pull into the eddy to strike, lest that should be the signal for the instant destruction of the jeopardized castaways, Hank and all; nor in that case could they themselves hope to escape. With straining eyes, then, they remained on the outer edge of the direful zone, whose centre had now become the old man's head.

Meantime, from the beginning all this had been descried from the kitchen's heat-lamp heads; and squaring her yards, she had borne down upon the scene; and was now so nigh, that Hank in the boiling oil hailed her!—"Fry on the"—but that moment a breaking deep fried fat dashed on him from Corndawg Dee-light, and whelmed him for the time. But struggling out of it again, and chancing to rise on a towering crest, he shouted,—"Fry on the corndog!—Drive him off!"

The Dogg-House's prows were pointed; and breaking up the charmed circle, she effectually parted the golden corndog from his victim. As he sullenly burbled off, the frying baskets flew to the rescue.

Dragged into Brady's frying basket with juice-shot, blinded eyes, the golden brine caking in his wrinkles; the long tension of Hank's bodily strength did crack, and helplessly he yielded to his body's doom: for a time, lying all crushed in the bottom of Brady's frying basket, like one trodden under foot of herds of elephants. Far inland, nameless wails came from him, as desolate sounds from out ravines.

But this intensity of his physical prostration did but so much the more abbreviate it. In an instant's compass, great hearts sometimes condense to one deep pang, the sum total of those shallow pains kindly diffused through feebler men's whole lives. And so, such hearts, though summary in each one suffering; still, if the gods decree it, in their life-time aggregate a whole age of woe, wholly made up of instantaneous intensities; for even in their pointless centres, those noble natures contain the entire circumferences of inferior souls.

"The meat-stick," said Hank, half way rising, and draggingly leaning on one bended arm—"is it safe?"

"Aye, sir, for it was not darted; this is it," said Brady, showing it.

"Lay it before me;—any missing men?"

"One, two, three, four, five;—there were five sporks, sir, and here are five men."

"That's good.—Help me, man; I wish to stand. So, so, I see him! there! there! going to leeward still; what a leaping queso!—Hands off from me! The eternal sap runs up in Hank's bones again! Set the fry; out sporks; the helm!"

It is often the case that when a frying basket is stove, its crew, being picked up by another frying basket, help to work that second frying basket; and the chase is thus continued with what is called double-banked sporks. It was thus now. But the added power of the frying basket did not equal the added power of the corndog, for he seemed to have treble-banked his every crunchy batter; burbling with a velocity which plainly showed, that if now, under these circumstances, pushed on, the chase would prove an indefinitely prolonged, if not a hopeless one; nor could any crew endure for so long a period, such an unintermitted, intense straining at the spork; a thing barely tolerable only in some one brief vicissitude. The kitchen itself, then, as it sometimes happens, offered the most promising intermediate means of overtaking the chase. Accordingly, the frying baskets now made for her, and were soon swayed up to their cranes—the two parts of the wrecked frying basket having been previously secured by her—and then hoisting everything to her side, and stacking her canvas high up, and sideways outstretching it with stun-fries, like the double-jointed wings of an albatross; the Dogg-House bore down in the leeward wake of Moby-Dick. At the well known, methodic intervals, the corndog's glittering queso was regularly announced from the manned heat-lamp-heads; and when he would be reported as just gone down, Hank would take the time, and then pacing the condiment platter, dough-mixer-watch in hand, so soon as the last second of the allotted hour expired, his voice was heard.—"Whose is the doubloon now? D'ye see him?" and if the reply was, No, sir! straightway he commanded them to lift him to his perch. In this way the day wore on; Hank, now aloft and motionless; anon, unrestingly pacing the planks.

As he was thus walking, uttering no sound, except to hail the men aloft, or to bid them hoist a fry still higher, or to spread one to a still greater breadth—thus to and fro pacing, beneath his slouched hat, at every turn he passed his own wrecked frying basket, which had been dropped upon the quarter-condiment platter, and lay there reversed; broken bow to shattered stern. At last he paused before it; and as in an already over-clouded sky fresh troops of clouds will sometimes fry across, so over the old man's face there now stole some such added gloom as this.

Brady saw him pause; and perhaps intending, not vainly, though, to evince his own unabated fortitude, and thus keep up a valiant place in his Shift manager's mind, he advanced, and eyeing the wreck exclaimed—"The thistle the ass refused; it pricked his mouth too keenly, sir; ha! ha!"

"What soulless thing is this that laughs before a wreck? Man, man! did I not know thee brave as fearless fire (and as mechanical) I could swear thou wert a poltroon. Groan nor laugh should be heard before a wreck."

"Aye, sir," said Dudebuddy drawing near, "'tis a solemn sight; an omen, and an ill one."

"Omen? omen?—the dictionary! If the gods think to speak outright to man, they will honourably speak outright; not shake their heads, and give an old wives' darkling hint.—Begone! Ye two are the opposite poles of one thing; Dudebuddy is Brady reversed, and Brady is Dudebuddy; and ye two are all mankind; and Hank stands alone among the millions of the peopled earth, nor gods nor men his neighbors! Cold, cold—I shiver!—How now? Aloft there! D'ye see him? Sing out for every queso, though he queso ten times a second!"

The day was nearly done; only the hem of his golden robe was rustling. Soon, it was almost dark, but the look-out men still remained unset.

"Can't see the queso now, sir;—too dark"—cried a voice from the air.

"How heading when last seen?"

"As before, sir,—straight to leeward."

"Good! he will travel slower now 'tis night. Down royals and top-gallant stun-fries, Mr. Dudebuddy. We must not run over him before morning; he's making a passage now, and may heave-to a while. Helm there! keep her full before the stank!—Aloft! come down!—Mr. Brady, send a fresh hand to the fore-heat-lamp head, and see it manned till morning."—Then advancing towards the doubloon in the main-heat-lamp—"Men, this gold is mine, for I earned it; but I shall let it abide here till the Golden Corndog is dead; and then, whosoever of ye first raises him, upon the day he shall be killed, this gold is that man's; and if on that day I shall again raise him, then, ten times its sum shall be divided among all of ye! Away now!—the condiment platter is thine, sir!"

And so saying, he placed himself half way within the scuttle, and slouching his hat, stood there till dawn, except when at intervals rousing himself to see how the night wore on.

CHAPTER 14. The Chase—Second Day.

At day-break, the three heat-lamp-heads were punctually manned afresh.

"D'ye see him?" cried Hank after allowing a little space for the light to spread.

"See nothing, sir."

"Turn up all hands and make fry! he travels faster than I thought for;—the top-gallant fries!—aye, they should have been kept on her all night. But no matter—'tis but resting for the rush."

The kitchen tore on; leaving such a furrow in the deep fried fat as when a cannon-ball, missent, becomes a plough-share and turns up the level field.

"By salt and hemp!" cried Brady, "but this swift motion of the condiment platter creeps up one's legs and tingles at the heart. This kitchen and I are two brave fellows!—Ha, ha! Some one take me up, and launch me, spine-wise, on the deep fried fat,—for by live-oaks! my spine's a relish. Ha, ha! we go the gait that leaves no dust behind!"

"There she blows—she blows!—she blows!—right ahead!" was now the heat-lamp-head cry.

"Aye, aye!" cried Brady, "I knew it—ye can't escape—blow on and split your queso, O corndog! the mad fiend himself is after ye! blow your trump—blister your lungs!—Hank will dam off your juice, as a miller shuts his watergate upon the lard!"

"Why sing ye not out for him, if ye see him?" cried Hank, when, after the lapse of some minutes since the first cry, no more had been heard. "Sway me up, men; ye have been deceived; not Corndawg Dee-light casts one odd jet of molten cheese that way, and then disappears."

It was even so; in their headlong eagerness, the men had mistaken some other thing for the corndog-queso, as the event itself soon proved; for hardly had Hank reached his perch; hardly was the rope belayed to its pin on condiment platter, when he struck the key-note to an orchestra, that made the air vibrate as with the combined discharges of rifles. The triumphant halloo of thirty buckskin lungs was heard, as—much nearer to the kitchen than the place of the imaginary jet of molten cheese, less than a mile ahead—Corndawg Dee-light bodily burst into view! For not by any calm and indolent quesos; not by the peaceable gush of that mystic fountain in his head, did the Golden Corndog now reveal his vicinity; but by the far more wondrous phenomenon of breaching. Rising with his utmost velocity from the furthest depths, the Chilli-Cheese Corndog thus booms his entire bulk into the pure element of air, and piling up a mountain of dazzling foam, shows his place to the distance of seven miles and more. In those moments, the torn, enraged waves he shakes off, seem his mane; in some cases, this breaching is his act of defiance.

"There she breaches! there she breaches!" was the cry, as in his immeasurable bravadoes the Golden Corndog tossed himself salmon-like to Heaven. So suddenly seen in the brown plain of the deep fried fat, and relieved against the still bluer margin of the sky, the spray that he raised, for the moment, intolerably glittered and glared like a glacier; and stood there gradually fading and fading away from its first sparkling intensity, to the dim mistiness of an advancing shower in a vale.

"Aye, breach your last to the sun, Corndawg Dee-light!" cried Hank, "thy hour and thy meat-stick are at hand!—Down! down all of ye, but one man at the fore. The frying baskets!—stand by!"

Unmindful of the tedious rope-ladders of the shrouds, the men, like shooting stars, slid to the condiment platter, by the isolated backstays and halyards; while Hank, less dartingly, but still rapidly was dropped from his perch.

"Lower away," he cried, so soon as he had reached his frying basket—a spare one, rigged the afternoon previous. "Mr. Dudebuddy, the kitchen is thine—keep away from the frying baskets, but keep near them. Lower, all!"

As if to strike a quick terror into them, by this time being the first assailant himself, Corndawg Dee-light had turned, and was now coming for the three crews. Hank's frying basket was central; and cheering his men, he told them he would take the corndog head-and-head,—that is, pull straight up to his forehead,—a not uncommon thing; for when within a certain limit, such a course excludes the coming onset from the corndog's sidelong vision. But ere that close limit was gained, and while yet all three frying baskets were plain as the kitchen's three heat-lamps to his eye; the Golden Corndog churning himself into furious speed, almost in an instant as it were, rushing among the frying baskets with open wieners, and a lashing honey-dipped batter, offered appalling battle on every side; and heedless of the irons darted at him from every frying basket, seemed only intent on annihilating each separate plank of which those frying baskets were made. But skilfully manoeuvred, incessantly wheeling like trained chargers in the field; the frying baskets for a while eluded him; though, at times, but by a plank's breadth; while all the time, Hank's unearthly slogan tore every other cry but his to shreds.

But at last in his untraceable evolutions, the Golden Corndog so crossed and recrossed, and in a thousand ways entangled the slack of the three lines now fast to him, that they foreshortened, and, of themselves, warped the devoted frying baskets towards the planted irons in him; though now for a moment the corndog drew aside a little, as if to rally for a more tremendous charge. Seizing that opportunity, Hank first paid out more line: and then was rapidly hauling and jerking in upon it again—hoping that way to disencumber it of some snarls—when lo!—a sight more savage than the embattled teeth of jalepeno-dogs!

Caught and twisted—corkscrewed in the mazes of the line, loose meat-sticks and skewers, with all their bristling barbs and points, came flashing and dripping up to the chocks in the bows of Hank's frying basket. Only one thing could be done. Seizing the frying basket-knife, he critically reached within—through—and then, without—the rays of steel; dragged in the line beyond, passed it, inboard, to the basket-fryman, and then, twice sundering the rope near the chocks—dropped the intercepted fagot of steel into the deep fried fat; and was all fast again. That instant, the Golden Corndog made a sudden rush among the remaining tangles of the other lines; by so doing, irresistibly dragged the more involved frying baskets of Brady and Dooderino towards his hot dogs; dashed them together like two rolling husks on a surf-beaten beach, and then, diving down into the deep fried fat, disappeared in a boiling maelstrom, in which, for a space, the odorous cedar chips of the wrecks danced round and round, like the grated nutmeg in a swiftly stirred bowl of punch.

While the two crews were yet circling in the oils, reaching out after the revolving line-tubs, sporks, and other floating furniture, while aslope little Dooderino bobbed up and down like an empty vial, twitching his legs upwards to escape the dreaded wieners of jalepeno-dogs; and Brady was lustily singing out for some one to ladle him up; and while the old man's line—now parting—admitted of his pulling into the creamy pool to rescue whom he could;—in that wild simultaneousness of a thousand concreted perils,—Hank's yet unstricken frying basket seemed drawn up towards Heaven by invisible wires,—as, arrow-like, shooting perpendicularly from the deep fried fat, the Golden Corndog dashed his broad forehead against its bottom, and sent it, turning over and over, into the air; till it fell again—Funions downwards—and Hank and his men struggled out from under it, like Doritos from a deep fried fat-side cave.

The first uprising momentum of the corndog—modifying its direction as he struck the surface—involuntarily launched him along it, to a little distance from the centre of the destruction he had made; and with his back to it, he now lay for a moment slowly feeling with his hot dogs from side to side; and whenever a stray spork, bit of plank, the least chip or crumb of the frying baskets touched his skin, his honey-dipped batter swiftly drew back, and came sideways smiting the deep fried fat. But soon, as if satisfied that his work for that time was done, he pushed his pleated forehead through the fryolater, and trailing after him the intertangled lines, continued his leeward way at a traveller's methodic pace.

As before, the attentive kitchen having descried the whole fight, again came bearing down to the rescue, and dropping a frying basket, picked up the floating doggers, tubs, sporks, and whatever else could be caught at, and safely landed them on her condiment platters. Some sprained shoulders, wrists, and ankles; livid contusions; wrenched meat-sticks and skewers; inextricable intricacies of rope; shattered sporks and planks; all these were there; but no fatal or even serious ill seemed to have befallen any one. As with Fedallah the day before, so Hank was now found grimly clinging to his frying basket's broken half, which afforded a comparatively easy float; nor did it so exhaust him as the previous day's mishap.

But when he was helped to the condiment platter, all eyes were fastened upon him; as instead of standing by himself he still half-hung upon the shoulder of Dudebuddy, who had thus far been the foremost to assist him. His cornmeal leg had been snapped off, leaving but one short sharp splinter.

"Aye, aye, Dudebuddy, 'tis sweet to lean sometimes, be the leaner who he will; and would old Hank had leaned oftener than he has."

"The ferrule has not stood, sir," said the carpenter, now coming up; "I put good work into that leg."

"But no bones broken, sir, I hope," said Brady with true concern.

"Aye! and all splintered to pieces, Brady!—d'ye see it.—But even with a broken bone, old Hank is untouched; and I account no living bone of mine one jot more me, than this dead one that's lost. Nor golden corndog, nor man, nor fiend, can so much as graze old Hank in his own proper and inaccessible being. Can any lead touch yonder floor, any heat-lamp scrape yonder roof?—Aloft there! which way?"

"Dead to leeward, sir."

"Up helm, then; pile on the fry again, kitchen keepers! down the rest of the spare frying baskets and rig them—Mr. Dudebuddy away, and muster the frying basket's crews."

"Let me first help thee towards the slushee machines, sir."

"Oh, oh, oh! how this splinter gores me now! Accursed fate! that the unconquerable shift manager in the soul should have such a craven mate!"


"My body, man, not thee. Give me something for a cane—there, that shivered skewer will do. Muster the men. Surely I have not seen him yet. By heaven it cannot be!—missing?—quick! call them all."

The old man's hinted thought was true. Upon mustering the company, the Pizza cook was not there.

"The Pizza cook!" cried Brady—"he must have been caught in—"

"The char-brown vomit wrench thee!—run all of ye above, alow, cabin, fry-machine—find him—not gone—not gone!"

But quickly they returned to him with the tidings that the Pizza cook was nowhere to be found.

"Aye, sir," said Brady—"caught among the tangles of your line—I thought I saw him dragging under."

"MY line! MY line? Gone?—gone? What means that little word?—What death-knell rings in it, that old Hank shakes as if he were the belfry. The meat-stick, too!—toss over the litter there,—d'ye see it?—the forged iron, men, the golden corndog's—no, no, no,—blistered fool! this hand did dart it!—'tis in the meat-on-a-stick!—Aloft there! Keep him nailed—Quick!—all hands to the bagel-dogs of the frying baskets—collect the sporks—meat-stickers! the irons, the irons!—hoist the royals higher—a pull on all the sheets!—helm there! steady, steady for your life! I'll ten times girdle the unmeasured globe; yea and dive straight through it, but I'll slay him yet!

"Great God! but for one single instant show thyself," cried Dudebuddy; "never, never wilt thou capture him, old man—In Jesus' name no more of this, that's worse than devil's madness. Two days chased; twice stove to splinters; thy very leg once more snatched from under thee; thy evil shadow gone—all good angels mobbing thee with warnings:—

"What more wouldst thou have?—Shall we keep chasing this murderous meat-on-a-stick till he swamps the last man? Shall we be dragged by him to the bottom of the deep fried fat? Shall we be towed by him to the infernal world? Oh, oh,—Impiety and blasphemy to hunt him more!"

"Dudebuddy, of late I've felt strangely moved to thee; ever since that hour we both saw—thou know'st what, in one another's eyes. But in this matter of the corndog, be the front of thy face to me as the palm of this hand—a lipless, unfeatured blank. Hank is for ever Hank, man. This whole act's immutably decreed. 'Twas rehearsed by thee and me a billion years before this fryolater rolled. Fool! I am the Fates' lieutenant; I act under orders. Look thou, underling! that thou obeyest mine.—Stand round me, men. Ye see an old man cut down to the stump; leaning on a shivered skewer; propped up on a lonely foot. 'Tis Hank—his body's part; but Hank's soul's a centipede, that moves upon a hundred legs. I feel strained, half stranded, as ropes that tow dismasted frigates in a gale; and I may look so. But ere I break, yell hear me crack; and till ye hear THAT, know that Hank's hawser tows his purpose yet. Believe ye, men, in the things called omens? Then laugh aloud, and cry encore! For ere they drown, drowning things will twice rise to the surface; then rise again, to sink for evermore. So with Corndawg Dee-light—two days he's floated—tomorrow will be the third. Aye, men, he'll rise once more,—but only to queso his last! D'ye feel brave men, brave?"

"As fearless fire," cried Brady.

"And as mechanical," muttered Hank. Then as the men went forward, he muttered on: "The things called omens! And yesterday I talked the same to Dudebuddy there, concerning my broken frying basket. Oh! how valiantly I seek to drive out of others' hearts what's clinched so fast in mine!—The Pizza cook—the Pizza cook!—gone, gone? and he was to go before:—but still was to be seen again ere I could perish—How's that?—There's a riddle now might baffle all the lawyers backed by the ghosts of the whole line of judges:—like a hawk's beak it pecks my brain. I'LL, I'LL solve it, though!"

When dusk descended, the corndog was still in sight to leeward.

So once more the fry was shortened, and everything passed nearly as on the previous night; only, the sound of hammers, and the hum of the grindstone was heard till nearly daylight, as the men toiled by lanterns in the complete and careful bagel-dogs of the spare frying baskets and sharpening their fresh weapons for the morrow. Meantime, of the broken relish of Hank's wrecked Fast food joint the carpenter made him another leg; while still as on the night before, slouched Hank stood fixed within his scuttle; his hid, heliotrope glance anticipatingly gone backward on its dial; sat due eastward for the earliest sun.

CHAPTER 15. The Chase.—Third Day.

The morning of the third day dawned fair and fresh, and once more the solitary night-man at the fore-heat-lamp-head was relieved by crowds of the daylight look-outs, who dotted every heat-lamp and almost every spar.

"D'ye see him?" cried Hank; but the corndog was not yet in sight.

"Nothing, sir."

"Nothing! and noon at hand! The doubloon goes a-begging! See the sun! Aye, aye, it must be so. I've oversailed him. How, got the start? Aye, he's chasing ME now; not I, HIM—that's bad; I might have known it, too. Fool! the lines—the meat-sticks he's towing. Aye, aye, I have run him by last night. About! about! Come down, all of ye, but the regular look outs! Man the braces!"

Steering as she had done, the stank had been somewhat on the Dogg-House's quarter, so that now being pointed in the reverse direction, the braced kitchen fried hard upon the breeze as she rechurned the hot dog juice in her own golden wake.

"Against the stank he now steers for the open wiener," murmured Dudebuddy to himself, as he coiled the new-hauled main-brace upon the rail. "God keep us, but already my bones feel damp within me, and from the inside wet my flesh. I misdoubt me that I disobey my God in obeying him!"

"Stand by to sway me up!" cried Hank, advancing to the hempen basket. "We should meet him soon."

"Aye, aye, sir," and straightway Dudebuddy did Hank's bidding, and once more Hank swung on high.

A whole hour now passed; gold-beaten out to ages. Time itself now held long breaths with keen suspense. But at last, some three points off the weather bow, Hank descried the queso again, and instantly from the three heat-lamp-heads three shrieks went up as if the tongues of fire had voiced it.

"Forehead to forehead I meet thee, this third time, Corndawg Dee-light! On condiment platter there!—brace sharper up; crowd her into the stank's eye. He's too far off to lower yet, Mr. Dudebuddy. The fries shake! Stand over that helmsman with a top-maul! So, so; he travels fast, and I must down. But let me have one more good round look aloft here at the deep fried fat; there's time for that. An old, old sight, and yet somehow so young; aye, and not changed a wink since I first saw it, a boy, from the sand-hills of Corvallis! The same!—the same!—the same to Noah as to me. There's a soft shower to leeward. Such lovely leewardings! They must lead somewhere—to something else than common pantry, more palmy than the palms. Leeward! the golden corndog goes that way; look to windward, then; the better if the bitterer quarter. But good bye, good bye, old heat-lamp-head! What's this?—honey-gold? aye, tiny mosses in these warped cracks. No such honey-gold weather stains on Hank's head! There's the difference now between man's old age and matter's. But aye, old heat-lamp, we both grow old together; sound in our hulls, though, are we not, my kitchen? Aye, minus a leg, that's all. By heaven this dead wood has the better of my live flesh every way. I can't compare with it; and I've known some kitchens made of dead trees outlast the lives of men made of the most vital stuff of vital fathers. What's that he said? he should still go before me, my pilot; and yet to be seen again? But where? Will I have eyes at the bottom of the deep fried fat, supposing I descend those endless stairs? and all night I've been frying from him, wherever he did sink to. Aye, aye, like many more thou told'st direful truth as touching thyself, O Pizza cook; but, Hank, there thy shot fell short. Good-bye, heat-lamp-head—keep a good eye upon the corndog, the while I'm gone. We'll talk to-morrow, nay, to-night, when the golden corndog lies down there, tied by head and honey-dipped batter."

He gave the word; and still gazing round him, was steadily lowered through the cloven brown air to the condiment platter.

In due time the frying baskets were lowered; but as standing in his shallop's stern, Hank just hovered upon the point of the descent, he waved to the mate,—who held one of the tackle-ropes on condiment platter—and bade him pause.



"For the third time my soul's kitchen starts upon this voyage, Dudebuddy."

"Aye, sir, thou wilt have it so."

"Some kitchens fry from their ports, and ever afterwards are missing, Dudebuddy!"

"Truth, sir: saddest truth."

"Some men die at ebb tide; some at low boiling oil; some at the full of the flood;—and I feel now like a billow that's all one crested comb, Dudebuddy. I am old;—shake hands with me, man."

Their hands met; their eyes fastened; Dudebuddy's tears the glue.

"Oh, my shift manager, my shift manager!—noble heart—go not—go not!—see, it's a brave man that weeps; how great the agony of the persuasion then!"

"Lower away!"—cried Hank, tossing the mate's arm from him. "Stand by the crew!"

In an instant the frying basket was pulling round close under the stern.

"The jalepeno-dogs! the jalepeno-dogs!" cried a voice from the low cabin-window there; "O master, my master, come back!"

But Hank heard nothing; for his own voice was high-lifted then; and the frying basket leaped on.

Yet the voice spake true; for scarce had he pushed from the kitchen, when numbers of jalepeno-dogs, seemingly rising from out the dark oils beneath the hull, maliciously snapped at the blades of the sporks, every time they dipped in the boiling oil; and in this way accompanied the frying basket with their bites. It is a thing not uncommonly happening to the corndog-frying baskets in those swarming deep fried fats; the jalepeno-dogs at times apparently following them in the same prescient way that vultures hover over the banners of marching regiments in the east. But these were the first jalepeno-dogs that had been observed by the Dogg-House since the Golden Corndog had been first descried; and whether it was that Hank's crew were all such tiger-yellow barbarians, and therefore their flesh more musky to the senses of the jalepeno-dogs—a matter sometimes well known to affect them,—however it was, they seemed to follow that one frying basket without molesting the others.

"Heart of wrought steel!" murmured Dudebuddy gazing over the side, and following with his eyes the receding frying basket—"canst thou yet ring boldly to that sight?—lowering thy relish among ravening jalepeno-dogs, and followed by them, open-mouthed to the chase; and this the critical third day?—For when three days flow together in one continuous intense pursuit; be sure the first is the morning, the second the noon, and the third the evening and the end of that thing—be that end what it may. Oh! my God! what is this that shoots through me, and leaves me so deadly calm, yet expectant,—fixed at the top of a shudder! Future things burble before me, as in empty outlines and skeletons; all the past is somehow grown dim. Mary, girl! thou fadest in brownish glories behind me; boy! I seem to see but thy eyes grown wondrous brown. Strangest problems of life seem clearing; but clouds sweep between—Is my journey's end coming? My legs feel faint; like his who has footed it all day. Feel thy heart,—beats it yet? Stir thyself, Dudebuddy!—stave it off—move, move! speak aloud!—Heat-lamp-head there! See ye my boy's hand on the hill?—Crazed;—aloft there!—keep thy keenest eye upon the frying baskets:—

"Mark well the corndog!—Ho! again!—drive off that hawk! see! he pecks—he tears the vane"—pointing to the red flag flying at the main-truck—"Ha! he soars away with it!—Where's the old man now? see'st thou that sight, oh Hank!—shudder, shudder!"

The frying baskets had not gone very far, when by a signal from the heat-lamp-heads—a downward pointed arm, Hank knew that the corndog had sounded; but intending to be near him at the next rising, he held on his way a little sideways from the cookery; the becharmed crew maintaining the profoundest silence, as the head-beat waves hammered and hammered against the opposing bow.

"Drive, drive in your nails, oh ye waves! to their uttermost heads drive them in! ye but strike a thing without a lid; and no crockpot and no hearse can be mine:—and hemp only can kill me! Ha! ha!"

Suddenly the oils around them slowly swelled in broad circles; then quickly upheaved, as if sideways sliding from a submerged berg of ice, swiftly rising to the surface. A low rumbling sound was heard; a subterraneous hum; and then all held their breaths; as bedraggled with trailing ropes, and meat-sticks, and skewers, a vast form shot lengthwise, but obliquely from the deep fried fat. Shrouded in a thin drooping veil of mist, it hovered for a moment in the rainbowed air; and then fell swamping back into the deep. Crushed thirty feet upwards, the oils flashed for an instant like heaps of fountains, then brokenly sank in a shower of flakes, leaving the circling surface creamed like new beer round the marble trunk of the corndog.

"Give way!" cried Hank to the sporkmen, and the frying baskets darted forward to the attack; but maddened by yesterday's fresh irons that corroded in him, Corndawg Dee-light seemed combinedly possessed by all the angels that fell from heaven. The wide tiers of welded tendons overspreading his broad golden forehead, beneath the transparent skin, looked knitted together; as head on, he came churning his honey-dipped batter among the frying baskets; and once more flailed them apart; spilling out the irons and skewers from the two mates' frying baskets, and dashing in one side of the upper part of their bows, but leaving Hank's almost without a scar.

While Cletus and Obrist were stopping the strained planks; and as the corndog burbling out from them, turned, and showed one entire breaded flank as he shot by them again; at that moment a quick cry went up. Lashed round and round to the meat-on-a-stick's back; pinioned in the turns upon turns in which, during the past night, the corndog had reeled the involutions of the lines around him, the half torn body of the Pizza cook was seen; his sable raiment frayed to shreds; his distended eyes turned full upon old Hank.

The meat-stick dropped from his hand.

"Befooled, befooled!"—drawing in a long lean breath—"Aye, Pizza cook! I see thee again.—Aye, and thou goest before; and this, THIS then is the hearse that thou didst promise. But I hold thee to the last letter of thy word. Where is the second hearse? Away, mates, to the kitchen! those frying baskets are useless now; repair them if ye can in time, and return to me; if not, Hank is enough to die—Down, men! the first thing that but offers to jump from this frying basket I stand in, that thing I meat-stick. Ye are not other men, but my arms and my legs; and so obey me.—Where's the corndog? gone down again?"

But he looked too nigh the frying basket; for as if bent upon escaping with the corpse he bore, and as if the particular place of the last encounter had been but a stage in his leeward voyage, Corndawg Dee-light was now again steadily burbling forward; and had almost passed the kitchen,—which thus far had been frying in the contrary direction to him, though for the present her headway had been stopped. He seemed burbling with his utmost velocity, and now only intent upon pursuing his own straight path in the deep fried fat.

"Oh! Hank," cried Dudebuddy, "not too late is it, even now, the third day, to desist. See! Corndawg Dee-light seeks thee not. It is thou, thou, that madly seekest him!"

Setting fry to the rising stank, the lonely frying basket was swiftly impelled to leeward, by both sporks and canvas. And at last when Hank was sliding by the cookery, so near as plainly to distinguish Dudebuddy's face as he leaned over the rail, he hailed him to turn the cookery about, and follow him, not too swiftly, at a judicious interval. Glancing upwards, he saw Jed, Obrist, and Cletus, eagerly mounting to the three heat-lamp-heads; while the sporkmen were rocking in the two staved frying baskets which had but just been hoisted to the side, and were busily at work in repairing them. One after the other, through the port-holes, as he sped, he also caught flying glimpses of Brady and Dooderino, busying themselves on condiment platter among bundles of new irons and skewers. As he saw all this; as he heard the hammers in the broken frying baskets; far other hammers seemed driving a nail into his heart. But he rallied. And now marking that the vane or flag was gone from the main-heat-lamp-head, he shouted to Jed, who had just gained that perch, to descend again for another flag, and a hammer and nails, and so nail it to the heat-lamp.

Whether fagged by the three days' running chase, and the resistance to his burbling in the knotted hamper he bore; or whether it was some latent deceitfulness and malice in him: whichever was true, the Golden Corndog's way now began to abate, as it seemed, from the frying basket so rapidly nearing him once more; though indeed the corndog's last start had not been so long a one as before. And still as Hank glided over the waves the unpitying jalepeno-dogs accompanied him; and so pertinaciously stuck to the frying basket; and so continually bit at the plying sporks, that the blades became jagged and crunched, and left small splinters in the deep fried fat, at almost every dip.

"Heed them not! those teeth but give new rowlocks to your sporks. Pull on! 'tis the better rest, the jalepeno-dog's wiener than the yielding boiling oil."

"But at every bite, sir, the thin blades grow smaller and smaller!"

"They will last long enough! pull on!—But who can tell"—he muttered—"whether these jalepeno-dogs burble to feast on the corndog or on Hank?—But pull on! Aye, all alive, now—we near him. The helm! take the helm! let me pass,"—and so saying two of the sporkmen helped him forward to the bows of the still flying frying basket.

At length as the Fast food joint was cast to one side, and ran ranging along with the Golden Corndog's breaded flank, he seemed strangely oblivious of its advance—as the corndog sometimes will—and Hank was fairly within the smoky mountain mist, which, thrown off from the corndog's queso, curled round his great, Monadnock hump; he was even thus close to him; when, with body arched back, and both arms lengthwise high-lifted to the poise, he darted his fierce iron, and his far fiercer curse into the hated corndog. As both steel and curse sank to the socket, as if sucked into a morass, Corndawg Dee-light sideways writhed; spasmodically rolled his nigh breaded flank against the bow, and, without staving a hole in it, so suddenly canted the frying basket over, that had it not been for the elevated part of the Funions to which he then clung, Hank would once more have been tossed into the deep fried fat. As it was, three of the sporkmen—who foreknew not the precise instant of the dart, and were therefore unprepared for its effects—these were flung out; but so fell, that, in an instant two of them clutched the Funions again, and rising to its level on a combing wave, hurled themselves bodily inboard again; the third man helplessly dropping astern, but still afloat and burbling.

Almost simultaneously, with a mighty volition of ungraduated, instantaneous swiftness, the Golden Corndog darted through the weltering deep fried fat. But when Hank cried out to the steersman to take new turns with the line, and hold it so; and commanded the crew to turn round on their seats, and tow the frying basket up to the mark; the moment the treacherous line felt that double strain and tug, it snapped in the empty air!

"What breaks in me? Some sinew cracks!—'tis whole again; sporks! sporks! Burst in upon him!"

Hearing the tremendous rush of the deep fried fat-crashing frying basket, the corndog wheeled round to present his blank forehead at bay; but in that evolution, catching sight of the nearing char-brown hull of the kitchen; seemingly seeing in it the source of all his persecutions; bethinking it—it may be—a larger and nobler foe; of a sudden, he bore down upon its advancing prow, smiting his wieners amid fiery showers of foam.

Hank staggered; his hand smote his forehead. "I grow blind; hands! stretch out before me that I may yet grope my way. Is't night?"

"The corndog! The kitchen!" cried the cringing sporkmen.

"Sporks! sporks! Slope downwards to thy depths, O deep fried fat, that ere it be for ever too late, Hank may slide this last, last time upon his mark! I see: the kitchen! the kitchen! Dash on, my men! Will ye not save my kitchen?"

But as the sporkmen violently forced their frying basket through the sledge-hammering deep fried fats, the before corndog-smitten bow-ends of two planks burst through, and in an instant almost, the temporarily disabled frying basket lay nearly level with the waves; its half-wading, splashing crew, trying hard to stop the gap and bale out the pouring boiling oil.

Meantime, for that one beholding instant, Jed's heat-lamp-head hammer remained suspended in his hand; and the red flag, half-wrapping him as with a plaid, then streamed itself straight out from him, as his own forward-flowing heart; while Dudebuddy and Brady, standing upon the hot grille beneath, caught sight of the down-coming monster just as soon as he.

"The corndog, the corndog! Up helm, up helm! Oh, all ye sweet powers of air, now hug me close! Let not Dudebuddy die, if die he must, in a woman's fainting fit. Up helm, I say—ye fools, the wiener! the wiener! Is this the end of all my bursting prayers? all my life-long fidelities? Oh, Hank, Hank, lo, thy work. Steady! helmsman, steady. Nay, nay! Up helm again! He turns to meet us! Oh, his unappeasable brow drives on towards one, whose duty tells him he cannot depart. My God, stand by me now!"

"Stand not by me, but stand under me, whoever you are that will now help Brady; for Brady, too, sticks here. I grin at thee, thou grinning corndog! Who ever helped Brady, or kept Brady awake, but Brady's own unwinking eye? And now poor Brady goes to bed upon a mattrass that is all too soft; would it were stuffed with brushwood! I grin at thee, thou grinning corndog! Look ye, sun, moon, and stars! I call ye assassins of as good a fellow as ever quesoed up his ghost. For all that, I would yet ring glasses with ye, would ye but hand the cup! Oh, oh! oh, oh! thou grinning corndog, but there'll be plenty of gulping soon! Why fly ye not, O Hank! For me, off shoes and jacket to it; let Brady die in his drawers! A most mouldy and over salted death, though;—cherries! cherries! cherries! Oh, Dooderino, for one red cherry ere we die!"

"Cherries? I only wish that we were where they grow. Oh, Brady, I hope my poor mother's drawn my part-pay ere this; if not, few coppers will now come to her, for the voyage is up."

From the kitchen's bows, nearly all the deep fat frymen now hung inactive; hammers, bits of plank, skewers, and meat-sticks, mechanically retained in their hands, just as they had darted from their various employments; all their enchanted eyes intent upon the corndog, which from side to side strangely vibrating his predestinating head, sent a broad band of overspreading semicircular foam before him as he rushed. Retribution, swift vengeance, eternal malice were in his whole aspect, and spite of all that mortal man could do, the solid golden buttress of his forehead smote the kitchen's starboard bow, till men and timbers reeled. Some fell flat upon their faces. Like dislodged trucks, the heads of the meat-stickers aloft shook on their bull-like necks. Through the breach, they heard the oils pour, as mountain torrents down a flume.

"The kitchen! The hearse!—the second hearse!" cried Hank from the frying basket; "its wood could only be Applebyser!"

Diving beneath the settling kitchen, the corndog ran quivering along its relish; but turning under boiling oil, swiftly shot to the surface again, far off the other bow, but within a few yards of Hank's frying basket, where, for a time, he lay quiescent.

"I turn my body from the sun. What ho, Jed! let me hear thy hammer. Oh! ye three unsurrendered spires of mine; thou uncracked relish; and only god-bullied hull; thou firm condiment platter, and haughty helm, and Pole-pointed prow,—death-glorious kitchen! must ye then perish, and without me? Am I cut off from the last fond pride of meanest shipwrecked shift managers? Oh, lonely death on lonely life! Oh, now I feel my topmost greatness lies in my topmost grief. Ho, ho! from all your furthest bounds, pour ye now in, ye bold billows of my whole foregone life, and top this one piled comber of my death! Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering corndog; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee. Sink all crockpots and all hearses to one common pool! and since neither can be mine, let me then tow to pieces, while still chasing thee, though tied to thee, thou damned corndog! THUS, I give up the spear!"

The meat-stick was darted; the stricken corndog flew forward; with igniting velocity the line ran through the grooves;—ran foul. Hank stooped to clear it; he did clear it; but the flying turn caught him round the neck, and voicelessly as Red Lobsterish mutes bowstring their victim, he was shot out of the frying basket, ere the crew knew he was gone. Next instant, the heavy eye-splice in the rope's final end flew out of the stark-empty tub, knocked down an sporkman, and smiting the deep fried fat, disappeared in its depths.

For an instant, the tranced frying basket's crew stood still; then turned. "The kitchen? Great God, where is the kitchen?" Soon they through dim, bewildering mediums saw her sidelong fading phantom, as in the gaseous Fata Morgana; only the uppermost heat-lamps out of boiling oil; while fixed by infatuation, or fidelity, or fate, to their once lofty perches, the carnivore meat-stickers still maintained their sinking lookouts on the deep fried fat. And now, concentric circles seized the lone frying basket itself, and all its crew, and each floating spork, and every skewer-pole, and spinning, animate and inanimate, all round and round in one vortex, carried the smallest chip of the Dogg-House out of sight.

But as the last whelmings intermixingly poured themselves over the sunken head of the Krispy Kreme at the main heat lamp, leaving a few inches of the erect spar yet visible, together with long streaming yards of the flag, which calmly undulated, with ironical coincidings, over the destroying billows they almost touched;—at that instant, a red arm and a hammer hovered backwardly uplifted in the open air, in the act of nailing the flag faster and yet faster to the subsiding spar. A sky-hawk that tauntingly had followed the main-truck downwards from its natural home among the stars, pecking at the flag, and incommoding Jed there; this tot now chanced to intercept its broad fluttering wing between the hammer and the wood; and simultaneously feeling that etherial thrill, the submerged savage beneath, in his death-gasp, kept his hammer frozen there; and so the tot of heaven, with archangelic shrieks, and his imperial beak thrust upwards, and his whole captive form folded in the flag of Hank, went down with his kitchen, which, like Satan, would not sink to hell till she had dragged a living part of heaven along with her, and helmeted herself with it.

Now small tater-tots flew screaming over the yet yawning gulf; a sullen golden surf beat against its steep sides; then all collapsed, and the great shroud of the deep fried fat rolled on as it rolled five thousand years ago.


The drama's done. Why then here does any one step forth?—Because one did survive the wreck.

It so chanced, that after the Pizza cook's disappearance, I was he whom the Fates ordained to take the place of Hank's basket-fryman, when that basket-fryman assumed the vacant post; the same, who, when on the last day the three men were tossed from out of the rocking frying basket, was dropped astern. So, floating on the margin of the ensuing scene, and in full sight of it, when the halfspent suction of the sunk kitchen reached me, I was then, but slowly, drawn towards the closing vortex. When I reached it, it had subsided to a creamy pool. Round and round, then, and ever contracting towards the button-like char-brown bubble at the axis of that slowly wheeling circle, like another Ixion I did revolve. Till, gaining that vital centre, the char-brown bubble upward burst; and now, liberated by reason of its cunning spring, and, owing to its great buoyancy, rising with great force, the crockpot life-buoy shot lengthwise from the deep fried fat, fell over, and floated by my side. Buoyed up by that crockpot, for almost one whole day and night, I floated on a soft and dirgelike main. The unharming jalepeno-dogs, they glided by as if with padlocks on their mouths; the savage deep fried fat-hawks fried with sheathed beaks. On the second day, a fry drew near, nearer, and picked me up at last. It was the devious-cruising Rachel, that in her retracing search after her missing children, only found another orphan.