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Chapter 84
I was on the tarpaulin, wrapped in a blanket, sleeping anddreaming and awakening and daydreaming and generallypassing the time. There was a steady breeze. From time totime spray was blown off the crest of a wave and wet theboat. Richard Parker had disappeared under the tarpaulin. Heliked neither getting wet nor the ups and downs of the boat.
But the sky was blue, the air was warm, and the sea wasregular in its motion. I awoke because there was a blast. Iopened my eyes and saw water in the sky. It crashed downon me. I looked up again. Cloudless blue sky. There wasanother blast, to my left, not as powerful as the first. RichardParker growled fiercely. More water crashed against me. It hadan unpleasant smell.
I looked over the edge of the boat. The first thing I sawwas a large black object floating in the water. It took me a fewseconds to understand what it was. An arching wrinkle aroundits edge was my clue. It was an eye. It was a whale. Its eye,the size of my head, was looking directly at me.
Richard Parker came up from beneath the tarpaulin. Hehissed. I sensed from a slight change in the glint of the whaleseye that it was now looking at Richard Parker. It gazed forthirty seconds or so before gently sinking under. I worried thatit might strike us with its tail, but it went straight down andvanished in the dark blue. Its tail was a huge, fading, roundbracket.
I believe it was a whale looking for a mate. It must havedecided that my size wouldn't do, and besides, I alreadyseemed to have a mate.
We saw a number of whales but none so close up as thatfirst one. I would be alerted to their presence by their spouting.
They would emerge a short distance away, sometimes three orfour of them, a short-lived archipelago of volcanic islands. Thesegentle behemoths always lifted my spirits. I was convinced thatthey understood my condition, that at the sight of me one ofthem exclaimed, "Oh! It's that castaway with the pussy catBamphoo was telling me about. Poor boy. Hope he hasenough plankton. I must tell Mumphoo and Tomphoo andStimphoo about him. I wonder if there isn't a ship around Icould alert. His mother would be very happy to see him again.
Goodbye, my boy. I'll try to help. My name's Pimphoo." Andso, through the grapevine, every whale of the Pacific knew ofme, and I would have been saved long ago if Pimphoo hadn'tsought help from a Japanese ship whose dastardly crewharpooned her, the same fate as befell Lamphoo at the handsof a Norwegian ship. The hunting of whales is a heinous crime.
Dolphins were fairly regular visitors. One group stayed withus a whole day and night. They were very gay. Their plungingand turning and racing just beneath the hull seemed to haveno purpose other than sporting fun. I tried to catch one. Butnone came close to the gaff. And even if one had, they weretoo fast and too big. I gave up and just watched them.
I saw six birds in all. I took each one to be an angelannouncing nearby land. But these were seafaring birds thatcould span the Pacific with hardly a flutter of the wings. Iwatched them with awe and envy and self-pity.
Twice I saw an albatross. Each flew by high in the airwithout taking any notice of............
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