crests of the waves, and snapped at the jelly-fish and the mackerel, and followed Tom the whole way to the Other-end-of-Nowhere.
Then they went on again, till they began to see the peak of Jan Mayen’s Land, standing-up like a white sugar-loaf, two miles above the clouds.
And there they fell in with a whole flock of molly-mocks, who were feeding on a dead whale.
“These are the fellows to show you the way,” said Mother Carey’s chickens; “we cannot help you farther north. We don’t like to get among the ice pack, for fear it should nip our toes: but the mollys dare fly anywhere.”
So the petrels called to the mollys: but they were so busy and greedy, gobbling and peeking and spluttering and fighting over the blubber, that they did not take the least notice.
“Come, come,” said the petrels, “you lazy greedy lubbers, this young gentleman is going to Mother Carey, and if you don’t attend on him, you won’t earn your discharge from her, you know.”
“Greedy we are,” says a great fat old molly, “but lazy we ain’t; and, as for lubbers, we’re no more lubbers than you. Let’s have a look at the lad.”
And he flapped right into Tom’s face, and stared at him in the most impudent way (for the mollys are audacious fellows, as all whalers know), and then asked him where he hailed from, and what land he sighted last.
And, when Tom told him, he seemed pleased, and said he was a good plucked one to have got so far.
“Come along, lads,” he said to the rest, “and give this little chap a cast over the pack, for Mother Carey’s sake. We’ve eaten blubber enough for to-day, and we’ll e’en work out a bit of our time by helping the lad.”
So the mollys took Tom up on their backs, and flew off with him, laughing and joking—and oh, how they did smell of train oil!
“Who are you, you jolly birds?” asked Tom.
“We are the spirits of the old Greenland skippers (as every sailor knows), who hunted here, right whales and horse-whales, full hundreds of years agone. But, because we were saucy and greedy, we were all turned into mollys, to eat whale’s blubber all our days. But lubbers we are none, and could sail a ship now against any man in the North seas, though we don’t hold with this new-fangled steam. And it’s a shame of those black imps of petrels to call us so; but because they’re her grace’s pets, they think they may say anything they like.”
“And who are you?” asked Tom of him, for he saw that he was the king of all the birds.
“My name is Hendrick Hudson, and a right good skipper was I; and my name will last to the world’s end, in spite of all the wrong I did. For I discovered Hudson River, and I named Hudson’s Bay; and many have come in my wake that dared not have shown me the way. But I was a hard man