Whalers Who Missed A Valuable Prize
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
AN inhabitant of Lemoine, Me., tells the following story :
The fishing schooner, Squantum, Captain William Parslow, had come in from the Grand Bank of Newfoundland with cod.
Captain David Parslow, of this port, an ex-whaler, brother of the skipper of the Squantum and principal owner, was inspecting the craft after her arrival and in the fo'castle detected the odor of the precious product of the sea, ambergris. He traced the odor to a pair of sea boots belonging to one of the crew, and upon diligent inquiry evolved the fact that, without doubt, at one time on the Squantum's last trip a mass of ambergris worth at least $5,000 was alongside the little old schooner, and was allowed to go adrift because the crew were ignorant of its value, and, furthermore, that a " sample " that had been saved, and that was worth at least $100, had been used as a lubricant for the boots of one of the crew.
James Perkins, first hand and head splitter of the Squantum, tells the following story :
" One night on the Virgin Rocks ` Bill' Jason, who was up in the bow, sung out that there was something drifting down on us. We thought first that it was a dead body or something, but when it came alongside we saw that it was a junk of something as big as a bait cask, or bigger—looked like tallow, only it was a dark grayish color, mottled with white in streaks. It had a powerful smell—sickish, sweetlike.
" We had a line round it and set out to call the skipper, but lie was snoozin' and we thought it wasn't best to get him riled up about nothing, and so, after Oliver Eaton had cut out a junk big enough to fill a baking-powder tin, we let the stuff go adrift again.
" Oliver made an awful smell with the stuff a'greasin' his boots in the fo'castle and we made him move them out. Oliver said it wasn't very good grease anyway—wouldn't give a pint of neat's foot oil for a ton of the stuff."
As they navigate the sea of life, men, either through ignorance or sheer carelessness, are constantly permitting the most valuable prizes to drift away from them, while they spend their time and strength in securing treasures that are trifling in comparison with them. They spend years in search of live whales, which would not be nearly so valuable as the product of the dead one, which they allow to float away from them. They hunt for cheap game, and permit the five thousand dollars' worth of flavoring perfume to pass by them unheeded. Poor human nature is continually preferring the material to the spiritual, the temporal to the eternal.