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Chapter 15 Chowder

  • 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,
  • Mrs. Hussey?”
  • 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.”