The Pacha of Many Tales eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 417 pages of information about The Pacha of Many Tales.

After two months, the cold became intense, and our fuel ran short.  At the end of three months the crew complained of scurvy, and could not move about the decks.  At the end of the fourth month, they had all died except the chief harpooner, a fat porpus of an Englishman, and myself.

The bodies remained on the deck, for the cold was so intense that they would not have been tainted for centuries; and, as at the end of five months, the provisions were all expended, we were again obliged to resort to the whale oil.

The whale oil produced a return of our complaints, and having no other resource, we were forced by imperious hunger to make our repasts from one of the bodies of our dead shipmates.  They were so hard, that it was with difficulty that we could separate a portion with an axe, and the flesh broke off in fragments, as if we had been splitting a piece of granite; but it thawed before the fire, which we had contrived to keep alight, by supplying it from the bulwarks of the quarter-deck, which we cut away as we required them.  The old harpooner and I lived together on the best terms for a month, during which we seldom quitted the cabin of the vessel, having now drawn down the third dead body, which we cut up as we required it with less difficulty than before, from the change in the weather.

The ice continued breaking up, and all day and night we were startled at the loud crashing which took place, as the icebergs separated from each other.  But my disgust at feeding upon human flesh produced a sort of insanity.  I had always been partial to good eating, and was by no means an indifferent cook; and I determined to try whether something more palatable could not be provided for our meals; the idea haunted me day and night, and at last I imagined myself a French restaurateur; I tied a cloth before me as an apron, put on a cotton nightcap instead of my fur cap, and was about to make a trial of my skill, when I discovered that I had no lard, no fat of any kind except train oil, which I rejected as not being suitable to the “cuisine Francaise.”  My messmates who lay dead, were examined one by one, but they had fallen away so much previous to their decease, that not a symptom of fat was to be perceived.  Without fat I could do nothing; and as I thought of it in despair, my eye was caught by the rotundity of paunch which still appertained to the English harpooner, the only living being besides myself out of so many.  “I must have fat,” cried I fiercely, as I surveyed his unwieldy carcase.  He started when he observed the rolling of my eyes, and perceiving that I was advancing towards him, sharpening my knife, he did not think it prudent to trust himself longer in my company.  Snatching up two or three blankets, he ran on deck, and contrived to ascend to the main-top before I could follow him.  There he held me at bay, and I continued watching him from below with my large carving knife in my hand, which I occasionally

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The Pacha of Many Tales from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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