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268             Rambling Notes of an Idle Excursion
that's the result! Well, sir, she hain't been hove down a week till you can heave a dog through her seams. You send that vessel to sea, and what's the result? She wets her oakum the first trip! Leave it to any man if 'tain't so. Well, you let our folks build you a vessel — down New Bedford-way. What's the result? Well, sir, you might take that ship and heave her down, and keep her hove down six months, and she'll never shed a tear !"
Everybody, landsmen and all, recognized the descrip­tive neatness of that figure, and applauded, which greatly pleased the old man. A moment later, the meek eyes of the pale young fellow heretofore men­tioned came up slowly, rested upon the old man's face a moment, and the meek mouth began to open.
" Shet your head !" shouted the old mariner.
It was a rather startling surprise to everybody, but it was effective in the matter of its purpose. So the con­versation flowed on instead of perishing.
There was some talk about the perils of the sea, and a landsman delivered himself of the customary non­sense about the poor mariner wandering in far oceans, tempest-tossed, pursued by dangers, every storm-blast and thunder-bolt in the home skies moving the friends by snug firesides to compassion for that poor mariner, and prayers for his succor. Captain Bowling put up with this for a while, and then burst out with a new view of the matter.
" Come, belay there! I have read this kind of rot all my life in poetry and tales and such like rubbage. Pity for the poor mariner! sympathy for the poor mariner! All right enough, but not in the way the poetry puts it. Pity for the mariner's wife ! all right again, but not in the way the poetry puts it. Look-a-here ! whose life's the safest in the whole world? The poor mariner's. You look at the statistics, you'll see.