Lady-“Can’t you find work?”
Tramp-“Yessum; but everyone wants a reference from my last employer.”
Lady-“And can’t you get one?”
Tramp-“No, mum. You see, he’s been dead twenty-eight years.”
There was salt in the air too, or so it seemed, a tang and zip to the breeze that made a fellow’s heart thump a little harder and made the feet move a bit faster. Roistering laughter from an inn disturbed the busy hum of life at the waterfront, and down a side street a fight was going on. The boys hurried on watching the masts of the ships appearing over the roof tops, slender rigging strung out against the sky, and sails on some ships flapping and billowing alternately in the wind, drying out. It was old New Bedford in its day of glory when hundred of ships cleared from the harbor in the course of a single season, when fortunes were made and lost in the great gamble of men and wooden ship against the sea and whales, when the blunt-bowed craft carried the Stars-and-Stripes to the tiniest coves of earth’s far-flung coast line, across and upon the deepest, broadest oceans! In those dim days the doughty whalemen haunted waters not marked with certainty on any chart, and played adventurer, discoverer, pioneer for the world, building a great, complex industry—giving light to mankind! The coldest climes were not unknown to those Yankee skippers and their crews. The hottest parts of the world were familiar stamping grounds.
landlady-“Just when are you going to pay your arrears of room rent?”
Hard-up Arthur-“As soon as I receive the check which the publisher will send me if he accepts the novel I am about to commence when I have found a suitable subject and the necessary inspiration.”
Over and over again the boys had tried to get their parents to allow them to go to sea even if only as cabin-boys on the Sunbeam. Captian Howland felt that whaling was dying out and would soon be a dead industry. Already kerosene was making in-roads on the sale of whale oil. He wanted Pardon to be in a profession, something steady, dependable, respectable. Abner’s father saw things from a different light—that of danger. He had been flung high into the air by the smashing flukes of Chili John, landing across the shattered remains of the whaleboat, to be carried aboard his ship a bleeding, battered hulk of a man fit for nothing now but the fireside. He did not want that to happen to his son. Mrs. Joslin had been dead for many years now and she had begged Abner’s father to bear careful watch over his infant son. But blood runs hot in the veins of youth and the sea calls clearly and distinctly to such a one so that Abner would lie awake nights after a hard day at the mill thinking hard thoughts about far waters, full bellied sails, and pods of fighting sperm whales… As for Pardon, he would stare across his law books daytimes, and before his eyes would dance charts, seamen, log books, sextants, the swaying, heaving decks of a ship running her easting down, and scurrying of whaleboats closing in on sleeping cachelots.