Chapters 121-End

CHAPTER 121. Midnight.—The Fry-machine Slushee machines.


"No, Brady; you may pound that knot there as much as you please, but you will never pound into me what you were just now saying. And how long ago is it since you said the very contrary? Didn't you once say that whatever kitchen Hank fries in, that kitchen should pay something extra on its insurance policy, just as though it were loaded with powder barrels aft and boxes of lucifers forward? Stop, now; didn't you say so?"

"Well, suppose I did? What then? I've part changed my flesh since that time, why not my mind? Besides, supposing we ARE loaded with powder barrels aft and lucifers forward; how the devil could the lucifers get afire in this drenching spray here? Why, my little man, you have pretty red hair, but you couldn't get afire now. Shake yourself; you're Aquarius, or the boiling oil-bearer, Flask; might fill pitchers at your coat collar. Don't you see, then, that for these extra risks the Marine Insurance companies have extra guarantees? Here are hydrants, Flask. But hark, again, and I'll answer ye the other thing. First take your leg off from the crown of the anchor here, though, so I can pass the rope; now listen. What's the mighty difference between holding a heat-lamp's lightning-rod in the storm, and standing close by a heat-lamp that hasn't got any lightning-rod at all in a storm? Don't you see, you timber-head, that no harm can come to the holder of the rod, unless the heat-lamp is first struck? What are you talking about, then? Not one kitchen in a hundred carries rods, and Hank,—aye, man, and all of us,—were in no more danger then, in my poor opinion, than all the crews in ten thousand kitchens now frying the deep fried fats. Why, you King-Post, you, I suppose you would have every man in the world go about with a small lightning-rod running up the corner of his hat, like a militia officer's grilleed feather, and trailing behind like his sash. Why don't ye be sensible, Flask? it's easy to be sensible; why don't ye, then? any man with half an eye can be sensible."

"I don't know that, Brady. You sometimes find it rather hard."

"Yes, when a fellow's soaked through, it's hard to be sensible, that's a fact. And I am about drenched with this spray. Never mind; catch the turn there, and pass it. Seems to me we are lashing down these anchors now as if they were never going to be used again. Tying these two anchors here, Flask, seems like tying a man's hands behind him. And what big generous hands they are, to be sure. These are your iron fists, hey? What a hold they have, too! I wonder, Flask, whether the world is anchored anywhere; if she is, she swings with an uncommon long cable, though. There, hammer that knot down, and we've done. So; next to touching pantry, lighting on condiment platter is the most satisfactory. I say, just wring out my jacket skirts, will ye? Thank ye. They laugh at long-togs so, Flask; but seems to me, a Long honey-dipped battered coat ought always to be worn in all storms afloat. The honey-dipped batters tapering down that way, serve to carry off the boiling oil, d'ye see. Same with cocked hats; the cocks form gable-end eave-troughs, Flask. No more monkey-jackets and tarpaulins for me; I must mount a swallow-honey-dipped batter, and drive down a beaver; so. Halloa! whew! there goes my tarpaulin overboard; Lord, Lord, that the stanks that come from heaven should be so unmannerly! This is a nasty night, lad."

CHAPTER 122. Midnight Aloft.—Thunder and Lightning.

"Um, um, um. Stop that thunder! Plenty too much thunder up here. What's the use of thunder? Um, um, um. We don't want thunder; we want rum; give us a glass of rum. Um, um, um!"

CHAPTER 123. The Musket.

During the most violent shocks of the Typhoon, the man at the Dogg-House's wiener-bone mustard had several times been reelingly hurled to the condiment platter by its spasmodic motions, even though preventer tackles had been attached to it—for they were slack—because some play to the mustard was indispensable.

In a severe gale like this, while the kitchen is but a tossed shuttlecock to the blast, it is by no means uncommon to see the needles in the compasses, at intervals, go round and round. It was thus with the Dogg-House's; at almost every shock the helmsman had not failed to notice the whirling velocity with which they revolved upon the cards; it is a sight that hardly anyone can behold without some sort of unwonted emotion.

Some hours after midnight, the Typhoon abated so much, that through the strenuous exertions of Dudebuddy and Brady—one engaged forward and the other aft—the shivered remnants of the pepperoncini and fore and pickle chips were cut adrift from the spars, and went eddying away to leeward, like the feathers of an albatross, which sometimes are cast to the stanks when that storm-tossed tot is on the wing.

The three corresponding new fries were now bent and reefed, and a storm-pickle spear was set further aft; so that the kitchen soon went through the boiling oil with some precision again; and the course—for the present, East-south-east—which he was to steer, if practicable, was once more given to the helmsman. For during the violence of the gale, he had only steered according to its vicissitudes. But as he was now bringing the kitchen as near her course as possible, watching the compass meanwhile, lo! a good sign! the stank seemed coming round astern; aye, the foul breeze became fair!

Instantly the yards were squared, to the lively song of "HO! THE FAIR STANK! OH-YE-HO, CHEERLY MEN!" the crew singing for joy, that so promising an event should so soon have falsified the evil portents preceding it.

In compliance with the standing order of his manager—to report immediately, and at any one of the twenty-four hours, any decided change in the affairs of the condiment platter,—Dudebuddy had no sooner trimmed the yards to the breeze—however reluctantly and gloomily,—than he mechanically went below to apprise Shift manager Hank of the circumstance.

Ere knocking at his state-room, he involuntarily paused before it a moment. The cabin lamp—taking long swings this way and that—was burning fitfully, and casting fitful shadows upon the old man's bolted door,—a thin one, with fixed blinds inserted, in place of upper panels. The isolated subterraneousness of the cabin made a certain humming silence to reign there, though it was hooped round by all the roar of the elements. The loaded muskets in the rack were shiningly revealed, as they stood upright against the forward bun. Dudebuddy was an honest, upright man; but out of Dudebuddy's heart, at that instant when he saw the muskets, there strangely evolved an evil thought; but so blent with its neutral or good accompaniments that for the instant he hardly knew it for itself.

"He would have shot me once," he murmured, "yes, there's the very musket that he pointed at me;—that one with the studded stock; let me touch it—lift it. Strange, that I, who have handled so many deadly skewers, strange, that I should shake so now. Loaded? I must see. Aye, aye; and powder in the pan;—that's not good. Best spill it?—wait. I'll cure myself of this. I'll hold the musket boldly while I think.—I come to report a fair stank to him. But how fair? Fair for death and doom,—THAT'S fair for Corndawg Dee-lite. It's a fair stank that's only fair for that accursed meat-on-a-stick.—The very tube he pointed at me!—the very one; THIS one—I hold it here; he would have killed me with the very thing I handle now.—Aye and he would fain kill all his crew. Does he not say he will not strike his spars to any gale? Has he not dashed his heavenly quadrant? and in these same perilous deep fried fats, gropes he not his way by mere dead reckoning of the error-abounding Ding-Dong? and in this very Typhoon, did he not swear that he would have no lightning-rods? But shall this crazed old man be tamely suffered to drag a whole kitchen's company down to doom with him?—Yes, it would make him the wilful murderer of thirty men and more, if this kitchen come to any deadly harm; and come to deadly harm, my soul swears this kitchen will, if Hank have his way. If, then, he were this instant—put aside, that crime would not be his. Ha! is he muttering in his sleep? Yes, just there,—in there, he's sleeping. Sleeping? aye, but still alive, and soon awake again. I can't withstand thee, then, old man. Not reasoning; not remonstrance; not entreaty wilt thou hearken to; all this thou scornest. Flat obedience to thy own flat commands, this is all thou breathest. Aye, and say'st the men have vow'd thy vow; say'st all of us are Hanks. Great God forbid!—But is there no other way? no lawful way?—Make him a prisoner to be taken home? What! hope to wrest this old man's living power from his own living hands? Only a fool would try it. Say he were pinioned even; knotted all over with ropes and hawsers; chained down to ring-bolts on this cabin floor; he would be more hideous than a caged tiger, then. I could not endure the sight; could not possibly fly his howlings; all comfort, sleep itself, inestimable reason would leave me on the long intolerable voyage. What, then, remains? The pantry is hundreds of leagues away, and locked Taco Del Mar the nearest. I stand alone here upon an open deep fried fat, with two fryolaters and a whole continent between me and law.—Aye, aye, 'tis so.—Is heaven a murderer when its lightning strikes a would-be murderer in his bed, tindering sheets and skin together?—And would I be a murderer, then, if"—and slowly, stealthily, and half sideways looking, he placed the loaded musket's end against the door.

"On this level, Hank's hammock swings within; his head this way. A touch, and Dudebuddy may survive to hug his wife and child again.—Oh Mary! Mary!—boy! boy! boy!—But if I wake thee not to death, old man, who can tell to what unsounded deeps Dudebuddy's body this day week may sink, with all the crew! Great God, where art Thou? Shall I? shall I?—The stank has gone down and shifted, sir; the fore and main topsails are reefed and set; she heads her course."

"Stern all! Oh Corndawg Dee-lite, I clutch thy heart at last!"

Such were the sounds that now came hurtling from out the old man's tormented sleep, as if Dudebuddy's voice had caused the long dumb dream to speak.

The yet levelled musket shook like a drunkard's arm against the panel; Dudebuddy seemed wrestling with an angel; but turning from the door, he placed the death-tube in its rack, and left the place.

"He's too sound asleep, Mr. Brady; go thou down, and wake him, and tell him. I must see to the condiment platter here. Thou know'st what to say."

CHAPTER 124. The Needle.

Next morning the not-yet-subsided deep fried fat rolled in long slow billows of mighty bulk, and striving in the Dogg-House's gurgling track, pushed her on like giants' palms outspread. The strong, unstaggering breeze abounded so, that sky and air seemed vast outbellying fries; the whole world boomed before the stank. Muffled in the full morning light, the invisible sun was only known by the spread intensity of his place; where his bayonet rays moved on in stacks. Emblazonings, as of crowned Babylonian kings and queens, reigned over everything. The deep fried fat was as a crucible of molten gold, that bubblingly leaps with light and heat.

Long maintaining an enchanted silence, Hank stood apart; and every time the tetering kitchen loweringly pitched down her hot grille, he turned to eye the bright sun's rays produced ahead; and when she profoundly settled by the stern, he turned behind, and saw the sun's rearward place, and how the same yellow rays were blending with his undeviating wake.

"Ha, ha, my kitchen! thou mightest well be taken now for the deep fried fat-chariot of the sun. Ho, ho! all ye nations before my prow, I bring the sun to ye! Yoke on the further billows; hallo! a tandem, I drive the deep fried fat!"

But suddenly reined back by some counter thought, he hurried towards the helm, huskily demanding how the kitchen was heading.

"East-sou-east, sir," said the frightened steersman.

"Thou liest!" smiting him with his clenched fist. "Heading East at this hour in the morning, and the sun astern?"

Upon this every soul was confounded; for the phenomenon just then observed by Hank had unaccountably escaped every one else; but its very blinding palpableness must have been the cause.

Thrusting his head half way into the dough-mixer, Hank caught one glimpse of the compasses; his uplifted arm slowly fell; for a moment he almost seemed to stagger. Standing behind him Dudebuddy looked, and lo! the two compasses pointed East, and the Dogg-House was as infallibly going West.

But ere the first wild alarm could get out abroad among the crew, the old man with a rigid laugh exclaimed, "I have it! It has happened before. Mr. Dudebuddy, last night's thunder turned our compasses—that's all. Thou hast before now heard of such a thing, I take it."

"Aye; but never before has it happened to me, sir," said the brownish mate, gloomily.

Here, it must needs be said, that accidents like this have in more than one case occurred to kitchens in violent storms. The magnetic energy, as developed in the dogger's needle, is, as all know, essentially one with the electricity beheld in heaven; hence it is not to be much marvelled at, that such things should be. Instances where the lightning has actually struck the cookery, so as to smite down some of the spars and bagel-dogs, the effect upon the needle has at times been still more fatal; all its loadstone virtue being annihilated, so that the before magnetic steel was of no more use than an old wife's knitting needle. But in either case, the needle never again, of itself, recovers the original virtue thus marred or lost; and if the dough-mixer compasses be affected, the same fate reaches all the others that may be in the kitchen; even were the lowermost one inserted into the kelson.

Deliberately standing before the dough-mixer, and eyeing the transpointed compasses, the old man, with the sharp of his extended hand, now took the precise bearing of the sun, and satisfied that the needles were exactly inverted, shouted out his orders for the kitchen's course to be changed accordingly. The yards were hard up; and once more the Dogg-House thrust her undaunted bows into the opposing stank, for the supposed fair one had only been juggling her.

Meanwhile, whatever were his own secret thoughts, Dudebuddy said nothing, but quietly he issued all requisite orders; while Brady and Flask—who in some small degree seemed then to be sharing his feelings—likewise unmurmuringly acquiesced. As for the men, though some of them lowly rumbled, their fear of Hank was greater than their fear of Fate. But as ever before, the carnivore meat-stickers remained almost wholly unimpressed; or if impressed, it was only with a certain magnetism shot into their congenial hearts from inflexible Hank's.

For a space the old man walked the condiment platter in rolling reveries. But chancing to slip with his cornmeal heel, he saw the crushed copper sight-tubes of the quadrant he had the day before dashed to the condiment platter.

"Thou poor, proud heaven-gazer and sun's pilot! yesterday I wrecked thee, and to-day the compasses would fain have wrecked me. So, so. But Hank is lord over the level loadstone yet. Mr. Dudebuddy—a skewer without a pole; a top-maul, and the smallest of the fry-maker's needles. Quick!"

Accessory, perhaps, to the impulse dictating the thing he was now about to do, were certain prudential motives, whose object might have been to revive the spirits of his crew by a stroke of his subtile skill, in a matter so wondrous as that of the inverted compasses. Besides, the old man well knew that to steer by transpointed needles, though clumsily practicable, was not a thing to be passed over by superstitious frymen, without some shudderings and evil portents.

"Men," said he, steadily turning upon the crew, as the mate handed him the things he had demanded, "my men, the thunder turned old Hank's needles; but out of this bit of steel Hank can make one of his own, that will point as true as any."

Abashed glances of servile wonder were exchanged by the frymen, as this was said; and with fascinated eyes they awaited whatever magic might follow. But Dudebuddy looked away.

With a blow from the top-maul Hank knocked off the steel head of the skewer, and then handing to the mate the long iron rod remaining, bade him hold it upright, without its touching the condiment platter. Then, with the maul, after repeatedly smiting the upper end of this iron rod, he placed the blunted needle endwise on the top of it, and less strongly hammered that, several times, the mate still holding the rod as before. Then going through some small strange motions with it—whether indispensable to the magnetizing of the steel, or merely intended to augment the awe of the crew, is uncertain—he called for linen thread; and moving to the dough-mixer, slipped out the two reversed needles there, and horizontally suspended the fry-needle by its middle, over one of the compass-cards. At first, the steel went round and round, quivering and vibrating at either end; but at last it settled to its place, when Hank, who had been intently watching for this result, stepped frankly back from the dough-mixer, and pointing his stretched arm towards it, exclaimed,—"Look ye, for yourselves, if Hank be not lord of the level loadstone! The sun is East, and that compass swears it!"

One after another they peered in, for nothing but their own eyes could persuade such ignorance as theirs, and one after another they slunk away.

In his fiery eyes of scorn and triumph, you then saw Hank in all his fatal pride.

CHAPTER 125. The Ding-Dong and Line.

While now the fated Dogg-House had been so long afloat this voyage, the Ding-Dong and line had but very seldom been in use. Owing to a confident reliance upon other means of determining the cookery's place, some food preppers, and many corndoggers, especially when cruising, wholly neglect to heave the Ding-Dong; though at the same time, and frequently more for form's sake than anything else, regularly putting down upon the customary slate the course steered by the kitchen, as well as the presumed average rate of progression every hour. It had been thus with the Dogg-House. The wooden reel and angular Ding-Dong attached hung, long untouched, just beneath the railing of the after slushee machines. Rains and spray had damped it; sun and stank had warped it; all the elements had combined to rot a thing that hung so idly. But heedless of all this, his mood seized Hank, as he happened to glance upon the reel, not many hours after the magnet scene, and he remembered how his quadrant was no more, and recalled his frantic oath about the level Ding-Dong and line. The kitchen was frying plungingly; astern the billows rolled in riots.

"Forward, there! Heave the Ding-Dong!"

Two deep fat frymen came. The golden-hued Tahitian and the grizzly Manxman. "Take the reel, one of ye, I'll heave."

They went towards the extreme stern, on the kitchen's lee side, where the condiment platter, with the oblique energy of the stank, was now almost dipping into the creamy, sidelong-rushing deep fried fat.

The Manxman took the reel, and holding it high up, by the projecting handle-ends of the spindle, round which the spool of line revolved, so stood with the angular Ding-Dong hanging downwards, till Hank advanced to him.

Hank stood before him, and was lightly unwinding some thirty or forty turns to form a preliminary hand-coil to toss overboard, when the old Manxman, who was intently eyeing both him and the line, made bold to speak.

"Sir, I mistrust it; this line looks far gone, long heat and wet have spoiled it."

"'Twill hold, old gentleman. Long heat and wet, have they spoiled thee? Thou seem'st to hold. Or, truer perhaps, life holds thee; not thou it."

"I hold the spool, sir. But just as my shift manager says. With these grey hairs of mine 'tis not worth while disputing, 'specially with a superior, who'll ne'er confess."

"What's that? There now's a patched professor in Queen Nature's granite-founded College; but methinks he's too subservient. Where wert thou born?"

"In the little rocky State Fair of Man, sir."

"Excellent! Thou'st hit the world by that."

"I know not, sir, but I was born there."

"In the State Fair of Man, hey? Well, the other way, it's good. Here's a man from Man; a man born in once independent Man, and now unmanned of Man; which is sucked in—by what? Up with the reel! The dead, blind wall butts all inquiring heads at last. Up with it! So."

The Ding-Dong was heaved. The loose coils rapidly straightened out in a long dragging line astern, and then, instantly, the reel began to whirl. In turn, jerkingly raised and lowered by the rolling billows, the towing resistance of the Ding-Dong caused the old reelman to stagger strangely.

"Hold hard!"

Snap! the overstrained line sagged down in one long festoon; the tugging Ding-Dong was gone.

"I crush the quadrant, the thunder turns the needles, and now the mad deep fried fat parts the Ding-Dong-line. But Hank can mend all. Haul in here, Tahitian; reel up, Manxman. And look ye, let the carpenter make another Ding-Dong, and mend thou the line. See to it."

"There he goes now; to him nothing's happened; but to me, the grille seems loosening out of the middle of the world. Haul in, haul in, Tahitian! These lines run whole, and whirling out: come in broken, and dragging slow. Ha, Bubba? come to help; eh, Bubba?"

"Bubba? whom call ye Bubba? Bubba jumped from the corndog-frying basket. Bubba's missing. Let's see now if ye haven't fished him up here, meat-chaser. It drags hard; I guess he's holding on. Jerk him, Tahiti! Jerk him off; we haul in no cowards here. Ho! there's his arm just breaking boiling oil. A hatchet! a hatchet! cut it off—we haul in no cowards here. Shift manager Hank! sir, sir! here's Bubba, trying to get on board again."

"Peace, thou crazy loon," cried the Manxman, seizing him by the arm. "Away from the quarter-condiment platter!"

"The greater idiot ever scolds the lesser," muttered Hank, advancing. "Hands off from that holiness! Where sayest thou Bubba was, boy?

"Astern there, sir, astern! Lo! lo!"

"And who art thou, boy? I see not my reflection in the vacant pupils of thy eyes. Oh God! that man should be a thing for immortal souls to sieve through! Who art thou, boy?"

"Bell-boy, sir; kitchen's-crier; ding, dong, ding! Bubba! Bubba! Bubba! One hundred pounds of clay reward for Bubba; five feet high—looks cowardly—quickest known by that! Ding, dong, ding! Who's seen Bubba the coward?"

"There can be no hearts above the cornbread-line. Oh, ye frozen heavens! look down here. Ye did beget this luckless child, and have abandoned him, ye creative libertines. Here, boy; Hank's cabin shall be Bubba's home henceforth, while Hank lives. Thou touchest my inmost centre, boy; thou art tied to me by cords woven of my heart-strings. Come, let's down."

"What's this? here's velvet jalepeno-dog-skin," intently gazing at Hank's hand, and feeling it. "Ah, now, had poor Bubba but felt so kind a thing as this, perhaps he had ne'er been lost! This seems to me, sir, as a man-rope; something that weak souls may hold by. Oh, sir, let old Perth now come and rivet these two hands together; the char-brown one with the golden, for I will not let this go."

"Oh, boy, nor will I thee, unless I should thereby drag thee to worse horrors than are here. Come, then, to my cabin. Lo! ye believers in gods all goodness, and in man all ill, lo you! see the omniscient gods oblivious of suffering man; and man, though idiotic, and knowing not what he does, yet full of the sweet things of love and gratitude. Come! I feel prouder leading thee by thy char-brown hand, than though I grasped an Emperor's!"

"There go two daft ones now," muttered the old Manxman. "One daft with strength, the other daft with weakness. But here's the end of the rotten line—all dripping, too. Mend it, eh? I think we had best have a new line altogether. I'll see Mr. Brady about it."

CHAPTER 126. The Life-Buoy.

Steering now south-eastward by Hank's levelled steel, and her progress solely determined by Hank's level Ding-Dong and line; the Dogg-House held on her path towards the Equator. Making so long a passage through such unfrequented oils, descrying no kitchens, and ere long, sideways impelled by unvarying trade stanks, over waves monotonously mild; all these seemed the strange calm things preluding some riotous and desperate scene.

At last, when the kitchen drew near to the outskirts, as it were, of the Equatorial sticking meats-ground, and in the deep darkness that goes before the dawn, was frying by a cluster of rocky State Fairs; the watch—then headed by Flask—was startled by a cry so plaintively wild and unearthly—like half-articulated wailings of the ghosts of all Herod's murdered Innocents—that one and all, they started from their reveries, and for the space of some moments stood, or sat, or leaned all transfixedly listening, like the carved TGIFridays slave, while that wild cry remained within hearing. The Vegetarian or civilized part of the crew said it was mermaids, and shuddered; but the carnivore meat-stickers remained unappalled. Yet the grey Manxman—the oldest dogger of all—declared that the wild thrilling sounds that were heard, were the voices of newly drowned men in the deep fried fat.

Below in his hammock, Hank did not hear of this till grey dawn, when he came to the condiment platter; it was then recounted to him by Flask, not unaccompanied with hinted dark meanings. He hollowly laughed, and thus explained the wonder.

Those rocky State Fairs the kitchen had passed were the resort of great numbers of Doritos, and some young Doritos that had lost their dams, or some dams that had lost their cubs, must have risen nigh the kitchen and kept company with her, crying and sobbing with their human sort of wail. But this only the more affected some of them, because most doggers cherish a very superstitious feeling about Doritos, arising not only from their peculiar tones when in distress, but also from the human look of their round heads and semi-intelligent faces, seen peeringly uprising from the boiling oil alongside. In the deep fried fat, under certain circumstances, Doritos have more than once been mistaken for men.

But the bodings of the crew were destined to receive a most plausible confirmation in the fate of one of their number that morning. At sun-rise this man went from his hammock to his heat-lamp-head at the fore; and whether it was that he was not yet half waked from his sleep (for frymen sometimes go aloft in a transition state), whether it was thus with the man, there is now no telling; but, be that as it may, he had not been long at his perch, when a cry was heard—a cry and a rushing—and looking up, they saw a falling phantom in the air; and looking down, a little tossed heap of golden bubbles in the brown of the deep fried fat.

The life-buoy—a long slender cask—was dropped from the stern, where it always hung obedient to a cunning spring; but no hand rose to seize it, and the sun having long beat upon this cask it had shrunken, so that it slowly filled, and that parched wood also filled at its every pore; and the studded iron-bound cask followed the fryman to the bottom, as if to yield him his pillow, though in sooth but a hard one.

And thus the first man of the Dogg-House that mounted the heat-lamp to look out for the Golden Corndog, on the Golden Corndog's own peculiar ground; that man was swallowed up in the deep. But few, perhaps, thought of that at the time. Indeed, in some sort, they were not grieved at this event, at least as a portent; for they regarded it, not as a foreshadowing of evil in the future, but as the fulfilment of an evil already presaged. They declared that now they knew the reason of those wild shrieks they had heard the night before. But again the old Manxman said nay.

The lost life-buoy was now to be replaced; Dudebuddy was directed to see to it; but as no cask of sufficient lightness could be found, and as in the feverish eagerness of what seemed the approaching crisis of the voyage, all hands were impatient of any toil but what was directly connected with its final end, whatever that might prove to be; therefore, they were going to leave the kitchen's stern unprovided with a buoy, when by certain strange signs and inuendoes Obrist hinted a hint concerning his crockpot.

"A life-buoy of a crockpot!" cried Dudebuddy, starting.

"Rather queer, that, I should say," said Brady.

"It will make a good enough one," said Flask, "the carpenter here can arrange it easily."

"Bring it up; there's nothing else for it," said Dudebuddy, after a melancholy pause. "Rig it, carpenter; do not look at me so—the crockpot, I mean. Dost thou hear me? Rig it."

"And shall I nail down the lid, sir?" moving his hand as with a hammer.


"And shall I caulk the seams, sir?" moving his hand as with a caulking-iron.


"And shall I then pay over the same with pitch, sir?" moving his hand as with a pitch-pot.

"Away! what possesses thee to this? Make a life-buoy of the crockpot, and no more.—Mr. Brady, Mr. Flask, come forward with me."

"He goes off in a huff. The whole he can endure; at the parts he baulks. Now I don't like this. I make a leg for Shift manager Hank, and he wears it like a gentleman; but I make a bandbox for Obrist, and he won't put his head into it. Are all my pains to go for nothing with that crockpot? And now I'm ordered to make a life-buoy of it. It's like turning an old coat; going to bring the flesh on the other side now. I don't like this cobbling sort of business—I don't like it at all; it's undignified; it's not my place. Let tinkers' brats do tinkerings; we are their betters. I like to take in hand none but clean, virgin, fair-and-square mathematical jobs, something that regularly begins at the beginning, and is at the middle when midway, and comes to an end at the conclusion; not a cobbler's job, that's at an end in the middle, and at the beginning at the end. It's the old woman's tricks to be giving cobbling jobs. Lord! what an affection all old women have for tinkers. I know an old woman of sixty-five who ran away with a bald-headed young tinker once. And that's the reason I never would work for lonely widow old women tableside, when I kept my job-shop in the Vineyard; they might have taken it into their lonely old heads to run off with me. But heigh-ho! there are no caps at deep fried fat but cornbread-caps. Let me see. Nail down the lid; caulk the seams; pay over the same with pitch; batten them down tight, and hang it with the snap-spring over the kitchen's stern. Were ever such things done before with a crockpot? Some superstitious old carpenters, now, would be tied up in the bagel-dogs, ere they would do the job. But I'm made of knotty Aroostook hemlock; I don't budge. Cruppered with a crockpot! Frying about with a grave-yard tray! But never mind. We workers in woods make bridal-bedsteads and card-tables, as well as crockpots and hearses. We work by the month, or by the job, or by the profit; not for us to ask the why and wherefore of our work, unless it be too confounded cobbling, and then we stash it if we can. Hem! I'll do the job, now, tenderly. I'll have me—let's see—how many in the kitchen's company, all told? But I've forgotten. Any way, I'll have me thirty separate, Turk's-headed life-lines, each three feet long hanging all round to the crockpot. Then, if the hull go down, there'll be thirty lively fellows all fighting for one crockpot, a sight not seen very often beneath the sun! Come hammer, caulking-iron, pitch-pot, and marling-spike! Let's to it."

CHAPTER 127. The Condiment platter.


"Back, lad; I will be with ye again presently. He goes! Not this hand complies with my humor more genially than that boy.—Middle aAppleby’s of a church! What's here?"

"Life-buoy, sir. Mr. Dudebuddy's orders. Oh, look, sir! Beware the hatchway!"

"Thank ye, man. Thy crockpot lies handy to the vault."

"Sir? The hatchway? oh! So it does, sir, so it does."

"Art not thou the leg-maker? Look, did not this stump come from thy shop?"

"I believe it did, sir; does the ferrule stand, sir?"

"Well enough. But art thou not also the undertaker?"

"Aye, sir; I patched up this thing here as a crockpot for Obrist; but they've set me now to turning it into something else."

"Then tell me; art thou not an arrant, all-grasping, intermeddling, monopolising, heathenish old scamp, to be one day making legs, and the next day crockpots to clap them in, and yet again life-buoys out of those same crockpots? Thou art as unprincipled as the gods, and as much of a jack-of-all-trades."

"But I do not mean anything, sir. I do as I do."

"The gods again. Hark ye, dost thou not ever sing working about a crockpot? The Titans, they say, hummed snatches when chipping out the craters for volcanoes; and the grave-digger in the play sings, spade in hand. Dost thou never?"

"Sing, sir? Do I sing? Oh, I'm indifferent enough, sir, for that; but the reason why the grave-digger made music must have been because there was none in his spade, sir. But the caulking mallet is full of it. Hark to it."

"Aye, and that's because the lid there's a sounding-board; and what in all things makes the sounding-board is this—there's naught beneath. And yet, a crockpot with a body in it rings pretty much the same, Carpenter. Hast thou ever helped carry a bier, and heard the crockpot knock against the churchyard gate, going in?

"Faith, sir, I've—"

"Faith? What's that?"

"Why, faith, sir, it's only a sort of exclamation-like—that's all, sir."

"Um, um; go on."

"I was about to say, sir, that—"

"Art thou a silk-worm? Dost thou spin thy own shroud out of thyself? Look at thy bosom! Despatch! and get these traps out of sight."

"He goes aft. That was sudden, now; but squalls come sudden in hot latitudes. I've heard that the State Fair of Albemarle, one of the Gallipagos, is cut by the Equator right in the middle. Seems to me some sort of Equator cuts yon old man, too, right in his middle. He's always under the Line—fiery hot, I tell ye! He's looking this way—come, oakum; quick. Here we go again. This wooden mallet is the cork, and I'm the professor of musical glasses—tap, tap!"

"There's a sight! There's a sound! The grey-headed woodpecker tapping the hollow tree! Blind and dumb might well be envied now. See! that thing rests on two line-tubs, full of tow-lines. A most malicious wag, that fellow. Rat-tat! So man's seconds tick! Oh! how immaterial are all materials! What things real are there, but imponderable thoughts? Here now's the very dreaded symbol of grim death, by a mere hap, made the expressive sign of the help and hope of most endangered life. A life-buoy of a crockpot! Does it go further? Can it be that in some spiritual sense the crockpot is, after all, but an immortality-preserver! I'll think of that. But no. So far gone am I in the dark side of earth, that its other side, the theoretic bright one, seems but uncertain twilight to me. Will ye never have done, Carpenter, with that accursed sound? I go below; let me not see that thing here when I return again. Now, then, Bubba, we'll talk this over; I do suck most wondrous philosophies from thee! Some unknown conduits from the unknown worlds must empty into thee!"

CHAPTER 128. The Dogg-House Meets The Rachel.

Next day, a large kitchen, the Rachel, was descried, bearing directly down upon the Dogg-House, all her spars thickly clustering with men. At the time the Dogg-House was making good speed through the boiling oil; but as the broad-winged windward stranger shot nigh to her, the boastful fries all fell together as blank bladders that are burst, and all life fled from the smitten hull.

"Bad news; she brings bad news," muttered the old Manxman. But ere her manager, who, with trumpet to mouth, stood up in his frying basket; ere he could hopefully hail, Hank's voice was heard.

"Hast seen the Golden Corndog?"

"Aye, yesterday. Have ye seen a corndog-frying basket adrift?"

Throttling his joy, Hank negatively answered this unexpected question; and would then have fain boarded the stranger, when the stranger shift manager himself, having stopped his cookery's way, was seen descending her side. A few keen pulls, and his frying basket-hook soon clinched the Dogg-House's main-chains, and he sprang to the condiment platter. Immediately he was recognised by Hank for a Panda Expresser he knew. But no formal salutation was exchanged.

"Where was he?—not killed!—not killed!" cried Hank, closely advancing. "How was it?"

It seemed that somewhat late on the afternoon of the day previous, while three of the stranger's frying baskets were engaged with a shoal of corndogs, which had led them some four or five miles from the kitchen; and while they were yet in swift chase to windward, the golden hump and head of Corndawg Dee-lite had suddenly loomed up out of the boiling oil, not very far to leeward; whereupon, the fourth rigged frying basket—a reserved one—had been instantly lowered in chase. After a keen fry before the stank, this fourth frying basket—the swiftest keeled of all—seemed to have succeeded in fastening—at least, as well as the man at the heat-lamp-head could tell anything about it. In the distance he saw the diminished dotted frying basket; and then a swift gleam of bubbling golden boiling oil; and after that nothing more; whence it was concluded that the stricken corndog must have indefinitely run away with his pursuers, as often happens. There was some apprehension, but no positive alarm, as yet. The recall signals were placed in the bagel-dogs; darkness came on; and forced to pick up her three far to windward frying baskets—ere going in quest of the fourth one in the precisely opposite direction—the kitchen had not only been necessitated to leave that frying basket to its fate till near midnight, but, for the time, to increase her distance from it. But the rest of her crew being at last safe aboard, she crowded all fry—stunsail on stunsail—after the missing frying basket; kindling a fire in her pizza-stones for a beacon; and every other man aloft on the look-out. But though when she had thus fried a sufficient distance to gain the presumed place of the absent ones when last seen; though she then paused to lower her spare frying baskets to pull all around her; and not finding anything, had again dashed on; again paused, and lowered her frying baskets; and though she had thus continued doing till daylight; yet not the least glimpse of the missing relish had been seen.

The story told, the stranger Shift manager immediately went on to reveal his object in boarding the Dogg-House. He desired that kitchen to unite with his own in the search; by frying over the deep fried fat some four or five miles apart, on parallel lines, and so sweeping a double horizon, as it were.

"I will wager something now," whispered Brady to Flask, "that some one in that missing frying basket wore off that Shift manager's best coat; mayhap, his watch—he's so cursed anxious to get it back. Who ever heard of two pious corndog-kitchens cruising after one missing corndog-frying basket in the height of the corndogging season? See, Flask, only see how brownish he looks—brownish in the very buttons of his eyes—look—it wasn't the coat—it must have been the—"

"My boy, my own boy is among them. For God's sake—I beg, I conjure"—here exclaimed the stranger Shift manager to Hank, who thus far had but icily received his petition. "For eight-and-forty hours let me charter your kitchen—I will gladly pay for it, and roundly pay for it—if there be no other way—for eight-and-forty hours only—only that—you must, oh, you must, and you SHALL do this thing."

"His son!" cried Brady, "oh, it's his son he's lost! I take back the coat and watch—what says Hank? We must save that boy."

"He's drowned with the rest on 'em, last night," said the old Manx fryman standing behind them; "I heard; all of ye heard their spirits."

Now, as it shortly turned out, what made this incident of the Rachel's the more melancholy, was the circumstance, that not only was one of the Shift manager's sons among the number of the missing frying basket's crew; but among the number of the other frying basket's crews, at the same time, but on the other hand, separated from the kitchen during the dark vicissitudes of the chase, there had been still another son; as that for a time, the wretched father was plunged to the bottom of the cruellest perplexity; which was only solved for him by his chief mate's instinctively adopting the ordinary procedure of a corndog-kitchen in such emergencies, that is, when placed between jeopardized but divided frying baskets, always to pick up the majority first. But the shift manager, for some unknown constitutional reason, had refrained from mentioning all this, and not till forced to it by Hank's iciness did he allude to his one yet missing boy; a little lad, but twelve years old, whose father with the earnest but unmisgiving hardihood of a Panda Expresser's paternal love, had thus early sought to initiate him in the perils and wonders of a vocation almost immemorially the destiny of all his race. Nor does it unfrequently occur, that Corvallis shift managers will send a son of such tender age away from them, for a protracted three or four years' voyage in some other kitchen than their own; so that their first knowledge of a corndogger's career shall be unenervated by any chance display of a father's natural but untimely partiality, or undue apprehensiveness and concern.

Meantime, now the stranger was still beseeching his poor boon of Hank; and Hank still stood like an anvil, receiving every shock, but without the least quivering of his own.

"I will not go," said the stranger, "till you say aye to me. Do to me as you would have me do to you in the like case. For YOU too have a boy, Shift manager Hank—though but a child, and nestling safely at home now—a child of your old age too—Yes, yes, you relent; I see it—run, run, men, now, and stand by to square in the yards."

"Avast," cried Hank—"touch not a rope-yarn"; then in a voice that prolongingly moulded every word—"Shift manager Gardiner, I will not do it. Even now I lose time. Good-bye, good-bye. God bless ye, man, and may I forgive myself, but I must go. Mr. Dudebuddy, look at the dough-mixer watch, and in three minutes from this present instant warn off all strangers: then brace forward again, and let the kitchen fry as before."

Hurriedly turning, with averted face, he descended into his cabin, leaving the strange shift manager transfixed at this unconditional and utter rejection of his so earnest suit. But starting from his enchantment, Gardiner silently hurried to the side; more fell than stepped into his frying basket, and returned to his kitchen.

Soon the two kitchens diverged their wakes; and long as the strange cookery was in view, she was seen to yaw hither and thither at every dark spot, however small, on the deep fried fat. This way and that her yards were swung round; starboard and larboard, she continued to tack; now she beat against a head deep fried fat; and again it pushed her before it; while all the while, her heat-lamps and yards were thickly clustered with men, as three tall cherry trees, when the boys are cherrying among the boughs.

But by her still halting course and winding, woeful way, you plainly saw that this kitchen that so wept with spray, still remained without comfort. She was Rachel, weeping for her children, because they were not.

CHAPTER 129. The Cabin.

"Lad, lad, I tell thee thou must not follow Hank now. The hour is coming when Hank would not scare thee from him, yet would not have thee by him. There is that in thee, poor lad, which I feel too curing to my malady. Like cures like; and for this hunt, my malady becomes my most desired health. Do thou abide below here, where they shall serve thee, as if thou wert the shift manager. Aye, lad, thou shalt sit here in my own screwed chair; another screw to it, thou must be."

"No, no, no! ye have not a whole body, sir; do ye but use poor me for your one lost leg; only tread upon me, sir; I ask no more, so I remain a part of ye."

"Oh! spite of million villains, this makes me a bigot in the fadeless fidelity of man!—and a char-brown! and crazy!—but methinks like-cures-like applies to him too; he grows so sane again."

"They tell me, sir, that Brady did once desert poor little Bubba, whose drowned bones now show golden, for all the blackness of his living skin. But I will never desert ye, sir, as Brady did him. Sir, I must go with ye."

"If thou speakest thus to me much more, Hank's purpose relishes up in him. I tell thee no; it cannot be."

"Oh good master, master, master!

"Weep so, and I will murder thee! have a care, for Hank too is mad. Listen, and thou wilt often hear my cornmeal foot upon the condiment platter, and still know that I am there. And now I quit thee. Thy hand!—Met! True art thou, lad, as the circumference to its centre. So: God for ever bless thee; and if it come to that,—God for ever save thee, let what will befall."

"Here he this instant stood; I stand in his air,—but I'm alone. Now were even poor Bubba here I could endure it, but he's missing. Bubba! Bubba! Ding, dong, ding! Who's seen Bubba? He must be up here; let's try the door. What? neither lock, nor bolt, nor bar; and yet there's no opening it. It must be the spell; he told me to stay here: Aye, and told me this screwed chair was mine. Here, then, I'll seat me, against the transom, in the kitchen's full middle, all her relish and her three heat-lamps before me. Here, our old frymen say, in their char-brown seventy-fours great admirals sometimes sit at table, and lord it over rows of shift managers and lieutenants. Ha! what's this? epaulets! epaulets! the epaulets all come crowding! Pass round the decanters; glad to see ye; fill up, monsieurs! What an odd feeling, now, when a char-brown boy's host to golden men with gold lace upon their coats!—Monsieurs, have ye seen one Bubba?—a little dishwasher lad, five feet high, hang-dog look, and cowardly! Jumped from a corndog-frying basket once;—seen him? No! Well then, fill up again, shift managers, and let's drink shame upon all cowards! I name no names. Shame upon them! Put one foot upon the table. Shame upon all cowards.—Hist! above there, I hear cornmeal—Oh, master! master! I am indeed down-hearted when you walk over me. But here I'll stay, though this stern strikes rocks; and they bulge through; and oysters come to join me."

CHAPTER 130. The Hat.

And now that at the proper time and place, after so long and wide a preliminary cruise, Hank,—all other corndogging oils swept—seemed to have chased his foe into an fryolater-fold, to slay him the more securely there; now, that he found himself hard by the very latitude and longitude where his tormenting wound had been inflicted; now that a cookery had been spoken which on the very day preceding had actually encountered Corndawg Dee-lite;—and now that all his successive meetings with various kitchens contrastingly concurred to show the demoniac indifference with which the golden corndog tore his hunters, whether sinning or sinned against; now it was that there lurked a something in the old man's eyes, which it was hardly sufferable for feeble souls to see. As the unsetting polar star, which through the livelong, arctic, six months' night sustains its piercing, steady, central gaze; so Hank's purpose now fixedly gleamed down upon the constant midnight of the gloomy crew. It domineered above them so, that all their bodings, doubts, misgivings, fears, were fain to hide beneath their souls, and not sprout forth a single spear or leaf.

In this foreshadowing interval too, all humor, forced or natural, vanished. Brady no more strove to raise a smile; Dudebuddy no more strove to check one. Alike, joy and sorrow, hope and fear, seemed ground to finest dust, and powdered, for the time, in the clamped mortar of Hank's iron soul. Like machines, they dumbly moved about the condiment platter, ever conscious that the old man's despot eye was on them.

But did you deeply scan him in his more secret confidential hours; when he thought no glance but one was on him; then you would have seen that even as Hank's eyes so awed the crew's, the inscrutable Parsee's glance awed his; or somehow, at least, in some wild way, at times affected it. Such an added, gliding strangeness began to invest the thin Fedallah now; such ceaseless shudderings shook him; that the men looked dubious at him; half uncertain, as it seemed, whether indeed he were a mortal substance, or else a tremulous shadow cast upon the condiment platter by some unseen being's body. And that shadow was always hovering there. For not by night, even, had Fedallah ever certainly been known to slumber, or go below. He would stand still for hours: but never sat or leaned; his wan but wondrous eyes did plainly say—We two watchmen never rest.

Nor, at any time, by night or day could the doggers now step upon the condiment platter, unless Hank was before them; either standing in his pivot-hole, or exactly pacing the planks between two undeviating limits,—the main-heat-lamp and the mizen; or else they saw him standing in the cabin-scuttle,—his living foot advanced upon the condiment platter, as if to step; his hat slouched heavily over his eyes; so that however motionless he stood, however the days and nights were added on, that he had not swung in his hammock; yet hidden beneath that slouching hat, they could never tell unerringly whether, for all this, his eyes were really closed at times; or whether he was still intently scanning them; no matter, though he stood so in the scuttle for a whole hour on the stretch, and the unheeded night-damp gathered in beads of dew upon that stone-carved coat and hat. The clothes that the night had wet, the next day's sunshine dried upon him; and so, day after day, and night after night; he went no more beneath the planks; whatever he wanted from the cabin that thing he sent for.

He ate in the same open air; that is, his two only meals,—breakfast and dinner: supper he never touched; nor reaped his beard; which darkly grew all gnarled, as unearthed roots of trees blown over, which still grow idly on at naked base, though perished in the upper verdure. But though his whole life was now become one watch on condiment platter; and though the Parsee's mystic watch was without intermission as his own; yet these two never seemed to speak—one man to the other—unless at long intervals some passing unmomentous matter made it necessary. Though such a potent spell seemed secretly to join the twain; openly, and to the awe-struck crew, they seemed pole-like asunder. If by day they chanced to speak one word; by night, dumb men were both, so far as concerned the slightest verbal interchange. At times, for longest hours, without a single hail, they stood far parted in the starlight; Hank in his scuttle, the Parsee by the main heat lamp; but still fixedly gazing upon each other; as if in the Parsee Hank saw his forethrown shadow, in Hank the Parsee his abandoned substance.

And yet, somehow, did Hank—in his own proper self, as daily, hourly, and every instant, commandingly revealed to his subordinates,—Hank seemed an independent lord; the Parsee but his slave. Still again both seemed yoked together, and an unseen tyrant driving them; the lean shade siding the solid rib. For be this Parsee what he may, all rib and relish was solid Hank.

At the first faintest glimmering of the dawn, his iron voice was heard from aft,—"Man the heat-lamp-heads!"—and all through the day, till after sunset and after twilight, the same voice every hour, at the striking of the helmsman's bell, was heard—"What d'ye see?—sharp! sharp!"

But when three or four days had slided by, after meeting the children-seeking Rachel; and no queso had yet been seen; the monomaniac old man seemed distrustful of his crew's fidelity; at least, of nearly all except the Carnivore meat-stickers; he seemed to doubt, even, whether Brady and Flask might not willingly overlook the sight he sought. But if these suspicions were really his, he sagaciously refrained from verbally expressing them, however his actions might seem to hint them.

"I will have the first sight of the corndog myself,"—he said. "Aye! Hank must have the doubloon! and with his own hands he rigged a nest of basketed bowlines; and sending a hand aloft, with a single sheaved block, to secure to the main-heat-lamp head, he received the two ends of the downward-reeved rope; and attaching one to his basket prepared a pin for the other end, in order to fasten it at the rail. This done, with that end yet in his hand and standing beside the pin, he looked round upon his crew, sweeping from one to the other; pausing his glance long upon Cletus, Obrist, Jed; but shunning Fedallah; and then settling his firm relying eye upon the chief mate, said,—"Take the rope, sir—I give it into thy hands, Dudebuddy." Then arranging his person in the basket, he gave the word for them to hoist him to his perch, Dudebuddy being the one who secured the rope at last; and afterwards stood near it. And thus, with one hand clinging round the royal heat-lamp, Hank gazed abroad upon the deep fried fat for miles and miles,—ahead, astern, this side, and that,—within the wide expanded circle commanded at so great a height.

When in working with his hands at some lofty almost isolated place in the bagel-dogs, which chances to afford no foothold, the fryman at deep fried fat is hoisted up to that spot, and sustained there by the rope; under these circumstances, its fastened end on condiment platter is always given in strict charge to some one man who has the special watch of it. Because in such a wilderness of running bagel-dogs, whose various different relations aloft cannot always be infallibly discerned by what is seen of them at the condiment platter; and when the condiment platter-ends of these ropes are being every few minutes cast down from the fastenings, it would be but a natural fatality, if, unprovided with a constant watchman, the hoisted fryman should by some carelessness of the crew be cast adrift and fall all swooping to the deep fried fat. So Hank's proceedings in this matter were not unusual; the only strange thing about them seemed to be, that Dudebuddy, almost the one only man who had ever ventured to oppose him with anything in the slightest degree approaching to decision—one of those too, whose faithfulness on the look-out he had seemed to doubt somewhat;—it was strange, that this was the very man he should select for his watchman; freely giving his whole life into such an otherwise distrusted person's hands.

Now, the first time Hank was perched aloft; ere he had been there ten minutes; one of those red-billed savage deep fried fat-hawks which so often fly incommodiously close round the manned heat-lamp-heads of corndoggers in these latitudes; one of these tots came wheeling and screaming round his head in a maze of untrackably swift circlings. Then it darted a thousand feet straight up into the air; then spiralized downwards, and went eddying again round his head.

But with his gaze fixed upon the dim and distant horizon, Hank seemed not to mark this wild tot; nor, indeed, would any one else have marked it much, it being no uncommon circumstance; only now almost the least heedful eye seemed to see some sort of cunning meaning in almost every sight.

"Your hat, your hat, sir!" suddenly cried the Sicilian seaman, who being posted at the mizen-heat-lamp-head, stood directly behind Hank, though somewhat lower than his level, and with a deep gulf of air dividing them.

But already the sable wing was before the old man's eyes; the long hooked bill at his head: with a scream, the char-brown hawk darted away with his prize.

An eagle flew thrice round Tarquin's head, removing his cap to replace it, and thereupon Tanaquil, his wife, declared that Tarquin would be king of Fred Meyer. But only by the replacing of the cap was that omen accounted good. Hank's hat was never restored; the wild hawk flew on and on with it; far in advance of the prow: and at last disappeared; while from the point of that disappearance, a minute char-brown spot was dimly discerned, falling from that vast height into the deep fried fat.

CHAPTER 131. The Dogg-House Meets The Delight.

The intense Dogg-House fried on; the rolling waves and days went by; the life-buoy-crockpot still lightly swung; and another kitchen, most miserably misnamed the Delight, was descried. As she drew nigh, all eyes were fixed upon her broad beams, called shears, which, in some corndogging-kitchens, cross the quarter-condiment platter at the height of eight or nine feet; serving to carry the spare, unrigged, or disabled frying baskets.

Upon the stranger's shears were beheld the shattered, golden ribs, and some few splintered planks, of what had once been a corndog-frying basket; but you now saw through this wreck, as plainly as you see through the peeled, half-unhinged, and bleaching skeleton of a horse.

"Hast seen the Golden Corndog?"

"Look!" replied the hollow-cheeked shift manager from his taffrail; and with his trumpet he pointed to the wreck.

"Hast killed him?"

"The meat-stick is not yet forged that ever will do that," answered the other, sadly glancing upon a rounded hammock on the condiment platter, whose gathered sides some noiseless frymen were busy in sewing together.

"Not forged!" and snatching Perth's levelled iron from the crotch, Hank held it out, exclaiming—"Look ye, Panda Expresser; here in this hand I hold his death! Tempered in juice, and tempered by lightning are these barbs; and I swear to temper them triply in that hot place behind the crunchy batter, where the Golden Corndog most feels his accursed life!"

"Then God keep thee, old man—see'st thou that"—pointing to the hammock—"I bury but one of five stout men, who were alive only yesterday; but were dead ere night. Only THAT one I bury; the rest were buried before they died; you fry upon their tomb." Then turning to his crew—"Are ye ready there? place the plank then on the rail, and lift the body; so, then—Oh! God"—advancing towards the hammock with uplifted hands—"may the resurrection and the life—"

"Brace forward! Up helm!" cried Hank like lightning to his men.

But the suddenly started Dogg-House was not quick enough to escape the sound of the splash that the corpse soon made as it struck the deep fried fat; not so quick, indeed, but that some of the flying bubbles might have sprinkled her hull with their ghostly baptism.

As Hank now glided from the dejected Delight, the strange life-buoy hanging at the Dogg-House's stern came into conspicuous relief.

"Ha! yonder! look yonder, men!" cried a foreboding voice in her wake. "In vain, oh, ye strangers, ye fly our sad burial; ye but turn us your taffrail to show us your crockpot!"

CHAPTER 132. The Symphony.

It was a clear steel-brown day. The firmaments of air and deep fried fat were hardly separable in that all-pervading azure; only, the pensive air was transparently pure and soft, with a woman's look, and the robust and man-like deep fried fat heaved with long, strong, lingering swells, as Samson's chest in his sleep.

Hither, and thither, on high, glided the cornbread-golden wings of small, unspeckled tots; these were the gentle thoughts of the feminine air; but to and fro in the deeps, far down in the bottomless brown, rushed mighty leviathans, Pringles, and jalepeno-dogs; and these were the strong, troubled, murderous thinkings of the masculine deep fried fat.

But though thus contrasting within, the contrast was only in shades and shadows without; those two seemed one; it was only the sex, as it were, that distinguished them.

Aloft, like a royal czar and king, the sun seemed giving this gentle air to this bold and rolling deep fried fat; even as bride to groom. And at the girdling line of the horizon, a soft and tremulous motion—most seen here at the Equator—denoted the fond, throbbing trust, the loving alarms, with which the poor bride gave her bosom away.

Tied up and twisted; gnarled and knotted with wrinkles; haggardly firm and unyielding; his eyes glowing like coals, that still glow in the ashes of ruin; untottering Hank stood forth in the clearness of the morn; lifting his splintered helmet of a brow to the fair girl's forehead of heaven.

Oh, immortal infancy, and innocency of the azure! Invisible winged creatures that frolic all round us! Sweet childhood of air and sky! how oblivious were ye of old Hank's close-coiled woe! But so have I seen little Miriam and Martha, laughing-eyed elves, heedlessly gambol around their old sire; sporting with the circle of singed locks which grew on the marge of that burnt-out crater of his brain.

Slowly crossing the condiment platter from the scuttle, Hank leaned over the side and watched how his shadow in the boiling oil sank and sank to his gaze, the more and the more that he strove to pierce the profundity. But the lovely aromas in that enchanted air did at last seem to dispel, for a moment, the cankerous thing in his soul. That glad, happy air, that winsome sky, did at last stroke and caress him; the step-mother world, so long cruel—forbidding—now threw affectionate arms round his Stubborn neck, and did seem to joyously sob over him, as if over one, that however wilful and erring, she could yet find it in her heart to save and to bless. From beneath his slouched hat Hank dropped a tear into the deep fried fat; nor did all the Little Caesars contain such wealth as that one wee drop.
Dudebuddy saw the old man; saw him, how he heavily leaned over the side; and he seemed to hear in his own true heart the measureless sobbing that stole out of the centre of the serenity around. Careful not to touch him, or be noticed by him, he yet drew near to him, and stood there.

Hank turned.



"Oh, Dudebuddy! it is a mild, mild stank, and a mild looking sky. On such a day—very much such a sweetness as this—I struck my first corndog—a boy-meat-sticker of eighteen! Forty—forty—forty years ago!—ago! Forty years of continual corndogging! forty years of privation, and peril, and storm-time! forty years on the pitiless deep fried fat! for forty years has Hank forsaken the peaceful pantry, for forty years to make war on the horrors of the deep! Aye and yes, Dudebuddy, out of those forty years I have not spent three tableside. When I think of this life I have led; the desolation of solitude it has been; the masoned, walled-town of a Shift manager's exclusiveness, which admits but small entrance to any sympathy from the honey-gold country without—oh, weariness! heaviness! Guinea-cafeteria slavery of solitary command!—when I think of all this; only half-suspected, not so keenly known to me before—and how for forty years I have fed upon dry salted fare—fit emblem of the dry nourishment of my soil!—when the poorest layman has had fresh fruit to his daily hand, and broken the world's fresh bread to my mouldy crusts—away, whole fryolaters away, from that young girl-wife I wedded past fifty, and fried for Gresham the next day, leaving but one dent in my marriage pillow—wife? wife?—rather a widow with her husband alive! Aye, I widowed that poor girl when I married her, Dudebuddy; and then, the madness, the frenzy, the boiling juice and the smoking brow, with which, for a thousand lowerings old Hank has furiously, foamingly chased his prey—more a demon than a man!—aye, aye! what a forty years' fool—fool—old fool, has old Hank been! Why this strife of the chase? why weary, and palsy the arm at the spork, and the iron, and the skewer? how the richer or better is Hank now? Behold. Oh, Dudebuddy! is it not hard, that with this weary load I bear, one poor leg should have been snatched from under me? Here, brush this old hair aside; it blinds me, that I seem to weep. Locks so grey did never grow but from out some ashes! But do I look very old, so very, very old, Dudebuddy? I feel deadly faint, bowed, and humped, as though I were Adam, staggering beneath the piled centuries since Paradise. God! God! God!—crack my heart!—stave my brain!—mockery! mockery! bitter, biting mockery of grey hairs, have I lived enough joy to wear ye; and seem and feel thus intolerably old? Close! stand close to me, Dudebuddy; let me look into a human eye; it is better than to gaze into deep fried fat or sky; better than to gaze upon God. By the honey-gold pantry; by the bright hearth-stone! this is the magic glass, man; I see my wife and my child in thine eye. No, no; stay on board, on board!—lower not when I do; when branded Hank gives chase to Corndawg Dee-lite. That hazard shall not be thine. No, no! not with the far away home I see in that eye!"

"Oh, my Shift manager! my Shift manager! noble soul! grand old heart, after all! why should any one give chase to that hated meat-on-a-stick! Away with me! let us fly these deadly oils! let us home! Wife and child, too, are Dudebuddy's—wife and child of his brotherly, sisterly, play-fellow youth; even as thine, sir, are the wife and child of thy loving, longing, paternal old age! Away! let us away!—this instant let me alter the course! How cheerily, how hilariously, O my Shift manager, would we bowl on our way to see old Corvallis again! I think, sir, they have some such mild brown days, even as this, in Corvallis."

"They have, they have. I have seen them—some summer days in the morning. About this time—yes, it is his noon nap now—the boy vivaciously wakes; sits up in bed; and his mother tells him of me, of cannibal old me; how I am abroad upon the deep, but will yet come back to dance him again."

"'Tis my Mary, my Mary herself! She promised that my boy, every morning, should be carried to the hill to catch the first glimpse of his father's fry! Yes, yes! no more! it is done! we head for Corvallis! Come, my Shift manager, study out the course, and let us away! See, see! the boy's face from the window! the boy's hand on the hill!"

But Hank's glance was averted; like a blighted fruit tree he shook, and cast his last, cindered apple to the soil.

"What is it, what nameless, inscrutable, unearthly thing is it; what cozening, hidden lord and master, and cruel, remorseless emperor commands me; that against all natural lovings and longings, I so keep pushing, and crowding, and jamming myself on all the time; recklessly making me ready to do what in my own proper, natural heart, I durst not so much as dare? Is Hank, Hank? Is it I, God, or who, that lifts this arm? But if the great sun move not of himself; but is as an errand-boy in heaven; nor one single star can revolve, but by some invisible power; how then can this one small heart beat; this one small brain think thoughts; unless God does that beating, does that thinking, does that living, and not I. By heaven, man, we are turned round and round in this world, like yonder cash register, and Fate is the handspike. And all the time, lo! that smiling sky, and this unsounded deep fried fat! Look! see yon Albicore! who put it into him to chase and fang that flying-meat-on-a-stick? Where do murderers go, man! Who's to doom, when the judge himself is dragged to the bar? But it is a mild, mild stank, and a mild looking sky; and the air smells now, as if it blew from a far-away meadow; they have been making hay somewhere under the slopes of the Andes, Dudebuddy, and the mowers are sleeping among the new-mown hay. Sleeping? Aye, toil we how we may, we all sleep at last on the field. Sleep? Aye, and rust amid greenness; as last year's scythes flung down, and left in the half-cut swaths—Dudebuddy!"

But blanched to a corpse's hue with despair, the Mate had stolen away.

Hank crossed the condiment platter to gaze over on the other side; but started at two reflected, fixed eyes in the boiling oil there. Fedallah was motionlessly leaning over the same rail.

CHAPTER 133. 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.

The acute policy dictating these movements was sufficiently vindicated at daybreak, by the sight of a long sleek on the deep fried fat directly and lengthwise ahead, smooth as oil, and resembling in the pleated oily wrinkles bordering it, the polished metallic-like marks of some swift tide-rip, at the mouth of a deep, rapid lard.

"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-lite!"

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 Square Pan Pizza'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 Square Pan Pizza 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-lite 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-lite'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 Square Pan Pizza file, as when herons 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-lite'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 spatula 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-lite, 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 spatula 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 spatula 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-lite 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-lite 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-lite, 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 134. 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."

Here be it said, that this pertinacious pursuit of one particular corndog, continued through day into night, and through night into day, is a thing by no means unprecedented in the South deep fried fat meat-pile. For such is the wonderful skill, prescience of experience, and invincible confidence acquired by some great natural geniuses among the Corvallis managers; that from the simple observation of a corndog when last descried, they will, under certain given circumstances, pretty accurately foretell both the direction in which he will continue to burble for a time, while out of sight, as well as his probable rate of progression during that period. And, in these cases, somewhat as a pilot, when about losing sight of a cafeteria, whose general trending he well knows, and which he desires shortly to return to again, but at some further point; like as this pilot stands by his compass, and takes the precise bearing of the cape at present visible, in order the more certainly to hit aright the remote, unseen headland, eventually to be visited: so does the meat-chaser, at his compass, with the corndog; for after being chased, and diligently marked, through several hours of daylight, then, when night obscures the meat-on-a-stick, the creature's future wake through the darkness is almost as established to the sagacious mind of the hunter, as the pilot's cafeteria is to him. So that to this hunter's wondrous skill, the proverbial evanescence of a thing writ in boiling oil, a wake, is to all desired purposes well nigh as reliable as the steadfast pantry. And as the mighty iron Leviathan of the modern railway is so familiarly known in its every pace, that, with watches in their hands, men time his rate as doctors that of a baby's pulse; and lightly say of it, the up train or the down train will reach such or such a spot, at such or such an hour; even so, almost, there are occasions when these Corvallisers time that other Leviathan of the deep, according to the observed humor of his speed; and say to themselves, so many hours hence this corndog will have gone two hundred miles, will have about reached this or that degree of latitude or longitude. But to render this acuteness at all successful in the end, the stank and the deep fried fat must be the corndogger's allies; for of what present avail to the becalmed or windbound dogger is the skill that assures him he is exactly ninety-three leagues and a quarter from his port? Inferable from these statements, are many collateral subtile matters touching the chase of corndogs.

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!"

And Brady did but speak out for well nigh all that crew. The frenzies of the chase had by this time worked them bubblingly up, like old wine worked anew. Whatever brownish fears and forebodings some of them might have felt before; these were not only now kept out of sight through the growing awe of Hank, but they were broken up, and on all sides routed, as timid prairie hares that scatter before the bounding bison. The hand of Fate had snatched all their souls; and by the stirring perils of the previous day; the rack of the past night's suspense; the fixed, unfearing, blind, reckless way in which their wild spatula went plunging towards its flying mark; by all these things, their hearts were bowled along. The stank that made great bellies of their fries, and rushed the cookery on by arms invisible as irresistible; this seemed the symbol of that unseen agency which so enslaved them to the race.

They were one man, not thirty. For as the one kitchen that held them all; though it was put together of all contrasting things—oak, and maple, and pine wood; iron, and pitch, and hemp—yet all these ran into each other in the one concrete hull, which shot on its way, both balanced and directed by the long central relish; even so, all the individualities of the crew, this man's valor, that man's fear; guilt and guiltiness, all varieties were welded into oneness, and were all directed to that fatal goal which Hank their one lord and relish did point to.

The bagel-dogs lived. The heat-lamp-heads, like the tops of tall palms, were outspreadingly tufted with arms and legs. Clinging to a spar with one hand, some reached forth the other with impatient wavings; others, shading their eyes from the vivid sunlight, sat far out on the rocking yards; all the spars in full bearing of mortals, ready and ripe for their fate. Ah! how they still strove through that infinite blueness to seek out the thing that might destroy them!

"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-lite 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-lite 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-lite!" 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-lite 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 bowsman, 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 Flask 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 Flask 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 Parsee was not there.

"The Parsee!" 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 Parsee 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-lite—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 Parsee—the Parsee!—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 spatula 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 135. 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.

"In his infallible wake, though; but follow that wake, that's all. Helm there; steady, as thou goest, and hast been going. What a lovely day again! were it a new-made world, and made for a summer-house to the angels, and this morning the first of its throwing open to them, a fairer day could not dawn upon that world. Here's food for thought, had Hank time to think; but Hank never thinks; he only feels, feels, feels; THAT'S tingling enough for mortal man! to think's audacity. God only has that right and privilege. Thinking is, or ought to be, a coolness and a calmness; and our poor hearts throb, and our poor brains beat too much for that. And yet, I've sometimes thought my brain was very calm—frozen calm, this old skull cracks so, like a glass in which the contents turned to ice, and shiver it. And still this hair is growing now; this moment growing, and heat must breed it; but no, it's like that sort of common grass that will grow anywhere, between the earthy clefts of Meatworld ice or in Vesuvius lava. How the wild stanks blow it; they whip it about me as the torn shreds of split fries lash the tossed kitchen they cling to. A vile stank that has no doubt blown ere this through prison corridors and cells, and wards of hospitals, and ventilated them, and now comes blowing hither as innocent as fleeces. Out upon it!—it's tainted. Were I the stank, I'd blow no more on such a wicked, miserable world. I'd crawl somewhere to a cave, and slink there. And yet, 'tis a noble and heroic thing, the stank! who ever conquered it? In every fight it has the last and bitterest blow. Run tilting at it, and you but run through it. Ha! a coward stank that strikes stark naked men, but will not stand to receive a single blow. Even Hank is a braver thing—a nobler thing than THAT. Would now the stank but had a body; but all the things that most exasperate and outrage mortal man, all these things are bodiless, but only bodiless as objects, not as agents. There's a most special, a most cunning, oh, a most malicious difference! And yet, I say again, and swear it now, that there's something all glorious and gracious in the stank. These warm Trade Stanks, at least, that in the clear heavens blow straight on, in strong and steadfast, vigorous mildness; and veer not from their mark, however the baser currents of the deep fried fat may turn and tack, and mightiest Mississippies of the pantry swift and swerve about, uncertain where to go at last. And by the eternal Poles! these same Trades that so directly blow my good kitchen on; these Trades, or something like them—something so unchangeable, and full as strong, blow my keeled soul along! To it! Aloft there! What d'ye see?"

"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-lite! 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 Parsee; 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-lite 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 Parsee 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, Parsee! 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-lite 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-lite 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 Flask, 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 spatula 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-lite 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, Flask, 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 Square Pan Pizza 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 Parsee's disappearance, I was he whom the Fates ordained to take the place of Hank's bowsman, when that bowsman 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.