It was quite late in the evening when the little Moss came snugly to anchor,
and Queequeg and I went ashore; so we could attend to no business that day, a_east none but a supper and a bed. The landlord of the Spouter-Inn ha_ecommended us to his cousin Hosea Hussey of the Try Pots, whom he asserted t_e the proprietor of one of the best kept hotels in all Nantucket, an_oreover he had assured us that Cousin Hosea, as he called him, was famous fo_is chowders. In short, he plainly hinted that we could not possibly do bette_han try pot-luck at the Try Pots. But the directions he had given us abou_eeping a yellow warehouse on our starboard hand till we opened a white churc_o the larboard, and then keeping that on the larboard hand till we made _orner three points to the starboard, and that done, then ask the first man w_et where the place was; these crooked directions of his very much puzzled u_t first, especially as, at the outset, Queequeg insisted that the yello_arehouse— our first point of departure—must be left on the larboard hand,
whereas I had understood Peter Coffin to say it was on the starboard. However,
by dint of beating about a little in the dark, and now and then knocking up _eaceable inhabitant to inquire the way, we at last came to something whic_here was no mistaking.
Two enormous wooden pots painted black, and suspended by asses’ ears, swun_rom the cross-trees of an old top-mast, planted in front of an old doorway.
The horns of the cross-trees were sawed off on the other side, so that thi_ld top-mast looked not a little like a gallows. Perhaps I was over sensitiv_o such impressions at the time, but I could not help staring at this gallow_ith a vague misgiving. A sort of crick was in my neck as I gazed up to th_wo remaining horns; yes, two of them, one for Queequeg, and one for me. It’_minous, thinks I. A Coffin my Innkeeper upon landing in my first whalin_ort; tombstones staring at me in the whalemen’s chapel, and here a gallows!
and a pair of prodigious black pots too! Are these last throwing out obliqu_ints touching Tophet?
I was called from these reflections by the sight of a freckled woman wit_ellow hair and a yellow gown, standing in the porch of the inn, under a dul_ed lamp swinging there, that looked much like an injured eye, and carrying o_ brisk scolding with a man in a purple woollen shirt.
“Get along with ye,” said she to the man, “or I’ll be combing ye!”
“Come on, Queequeg,” said I, “all right. There’s Mrs. Hussey.”
And so it turned out; Mr. Hosea Hussey being from home, but leaving Mrs.
Hussey entirely competent to attend to all his affairs. Upon making known ou_esires for a supper and a bed, Mrs. Hussey, postponing further scolding fo_he present, ushered us into a little room, and seating us at a table sprea_ith the relics of a recently concluded repast, turned round to us an_aid—“Clam or Cod?”
“What’s that about Cods, ma’am?” said I, with much politeness.
“Clam or Cod?” she repeated.
“A clam for supper? a cold clam; is that what you mean, Mrs. Hussey?” says I,
“but that’s a rather cold and clammy reception in the winter time, ain’t it,
But being in a great hurry to resume scolding the man in the purple shirt wh_as waiting for it in the entry, and seeming to hear nothing but the word
“clam,” Mrs. Hussey hurried towards an open door leading to the kitchen, an_awling out “clam for two,” disappeared.
“Queequeg,” said I, “do you think that we can make out a supper for us both o_ne clam?”
However, a warm savory steam from the kitchen served to belie the apparentl_heerless prospect before us. But when that smoking chowder came in, th_ystery was delightfully explained. Oh! sweet friends, hearken to me. It wa_ade of small juicy clams, scarcely bigger than hazel nuts, mixed with pounde_hip biscuits, and salted pork cut up into little flakes! the whole enriche_ith butter, and plentifully seasoned with pepper and salt. Our appetite_eing sharpened by the frosty voyage, and in particular, Queequeg seeing hi_avourite fishing food before him, and the chowder being surpassingl_xcellent, we despatched it with great expedition: when leaning back a momen_nd bethinking me of Mrs. Hussey’s clam and cod announcement, I thought _ould try a little experiment. Stepping to the kitchen door, I uttered th_ord “cod” with great emphasis, and resumed my seat. In a few moments th_avoury steam came forth again, but with a different flavor, and in good tim_ fine cod-chowder was placed before us.
We resumed business; and while plying our spoons in the bowl, thinks I t_yself, I wonder now if this here has any effect on the head? What’s tha_tultifying saying about chowder-headed people? “But look, Queequeg, ain’_hat a live eel in your bowl? Where’s your harpoon?”
Fishiest of all fishy places was the Try Pots, which well deserved its name;
for the pots there were always boiling chowders. Chowder for breakfast, an_howder for dinner, and chowder for supper, till you began to look for fish-
bones coming through your clothes. The area before the house was paved wit_lam-shells. Mrs. Hussey wore a polished necklace of codfish vertebra; an_osea Hussey had his account books bound in superior old shark-skin. There wa_ fishy flavor to the milk, too, which I could not at all account for, til_ne morning happening to take a stroll along the beach among some fishermen’_oats, I saw Hosea’s brindled cow feeding on fish remnants, and marching alon_he sand with each foot in a cod’s decapitated head, looking very slipshod, _ssure ye.
Supper concluded, we received a lamp, and directions from Mrs. Husse_oncerning the nearest way to bed; but, as Queequeg was about to precede me u_he stairs, the lady reached forth her arm, and demanded his harpoon; sh_llowed no harpoon in her chambers. “Why not? said I; “every true whalema_leeps with his harpoon— but why not?” “Because it’s dangerous,” says she.
“Ever since young Stiggs coming from that unfort’nt v’y’ge of his, when he wa_one four years and a half, with only three barrels of ile, was found dead i_y first floor back, with his harpoon in his side; ever since then I allow n_oarders to take sich dangerous weepons in their rooms at night. So, Mr.
Queequeg” (for she had learned his name), “I will just take this here iron,
and keep it for you till morning. But the chowder; clam or cod to-morrow fo_reakfast, men?”
“Both,” says I; “and let’s have a couple of smoked herring by way of variety.”