A Bostonian and his wife took opposite sides in the Shakespeare-Bacon controversy, the woman being sure that the plays were written by Shakespeare, while the husband was equally sure that they were the work of Bacon.
“When I get to Heaven,” said the woman, “I am going to ask Shakespeare whether he really wrote the plays.”
“But suppose that he is not in Heaven?” said the husband.
“Then you can ask him, my dear.”
Together they had grown up, Abner, the son of a retired sea-captain, an invalid, crippled in the shoulders and arms through the attack of a certain whale–Chili John, known to all the whaling people in the vicinity as The Phantom Whale, known to the whole world wherever men put out to sea with harpoon and lance as a killer-whale, a bad “sparm”:–Pardon, the son of Captain Howland, owner and skipper of the crack whale-ship Sunbeam. To-gether the boys had gone to school, studied, played, roamed the wharves, the sea-shore, and haunted the spots where seamen gathered to swap yarns or ‘gam.’ And both had grown up hoping some day to go to sea after whales.
Pardon had visions of becoming owner and master of his own vessel, like his father before him, and to have a home on Hawthorne Street, and a wife as a pretty as his mother. Abner, conscious of his own limitations, would have been content to be a grand harpooner and be the talk of the town for his wild adventures, a gay sailor lad with a taking way, good cheer in his eyes and tattooing all over his chest and arms, like the rough seamen who swarmed the wharves and streets of New Bedford at the time. Instead, Pardon had been sent by his father to law school and Abner had been urged to take work. It was summer now, school was out till fall, and it happened to be Abner’s day off from his job at the local tannery.