Short story: The Berg

A Kittywake comes over us or we go under the Kittywake. Wee-wah, it goes, wee-ee, catterwailing as they do, you knoe how seaguls are. They will be at nest in the skerreys about now but Temmick the Dutch sayes, The Egs are not worth the Boat. A bugeration to get to besides: our Bill broke his Sholder clambering for Fulmar at Flamboro’ and Kittywake are as bad. Onwords then. The Sea stretching like a cats back. I red the Glass at 3 bells and we are in for a bloe. The sky flat and dark like wet slait and the sales all have full Bellies.

Onwords onwords. We are not like a Tea Cliper or som such where on a Whim we migt go for a jaunt to the Canarias or Gib. as the fancey takes us – no we sale ahead of the wind and That is That.

The fackt of the mater is that we are nuought but a great block of Ice, sqare-rigged and South bound. When the Wind bloes Norwesterley we run before it and when it bloes Otherwise we reef the Sales wich menes we put them awey and that is about it. We goe very slowley.

Theres a Cormorant comeing by us off the larbord bow. A black and ragged looking Bird flying bearly above the waive tops. Like som one threw a hand rake. Devilish harty apetites they have. There was a pickture of a Cormorant in a boke I had as a boy. The boke was Millton I beleive and was an Alegory but weather the Cormorant was Christ or the devil I cant recal.      

The Penguine makes a croke.

Hallo I say.

The pore thing chafes at its chane.

He is the propety of our Biscayan a fello named Ineko or similar who got him in New-found-land while hunting Whales he sayes. The Penguine is as big as a goos tho’ like all of us he is Thin. He has the look of a Gillimotte such as we see at Flamboro’. Black and wite and a beke like a Cleaver. He doesnt have a Name. He is onlie the Penguine.

The Biscayan keeps him chaned to an iron Spike drove into the bare Ice out on the Berg. He do not do much axcept say arrk and grrr and other such sad Sounds. I have grone Fond of him I supose.

Tho’ he is not much of a Conversationelist the Penguine is by no means alone in this. Abord our sorry Berg there is a genral lack of social Graces. Y’day I made the acqantance of a very rough fello named Keanes who they say was once a Wressler at Barow and other plaices of Westmorland. A fersome Samson of six feet and more.

He approched as I sat at the stern and sayed, Wat are you done for, young fello?

I darst not lie to such a Titan and besides there are no sekrets at sea so I sayed, Sodomy, sir, and he rored with luaghter, saying Well young fello you kept that Qiet, to which I sayed, A gentelman does not like to Boste, sir.

Well he turned out to be a rough caracter indeed tho’ I have had rougher. Any way I taught him a few holds I’ll waiger he wuold not have seen at Barow.

The sky now is the colur of the flank of a black hors and there is a migty swell rering up about the sides of the Berg. The ropes of the rigging trembel. I trembel myself. We have a deck of sorts and Cabins of sound oke bords to sling are hamoks but it is like Shantie-touwn bilt on a Mountain. Any storm migt sweep us off and then were are we.

Of corse if it was not hazerdus I wuold not be here.

There is snoe on the bitter wind, you can smell it. I pull my Fer Coat titer about me. It is good Otter, buougt at no small price from a Rusian in Murmanx. I think I cut rarther a splendid figgure in it but pheraps the Otter thuougt he did too.

I ougt to retrete to my Cabin and its meager comferts but I will not leave the Penguine out here by Himself. Mrrr, he makes. I say That is about the seize of it, my frend.

All of us on bord are here becuase we did not wont to be Transported. When we think of the warm Sun in Astrauila (a dam place to spel!) we migt wander if we chose rite but here we are after all. So yes we are all Convicks axcept the Penguine and Captein Temmick, tho I beleive the Admirality must have something on oled Temmick or he would not be here nither. Some busines with a Woman pheraps.

Ineko the Biscayan was done I am told for Sedition, he has a Catholick look about him, I shuold not be Surprized. Keanes caused a Riot at Liverpool. Trevagn for all his harty ways killed that fello in Chathum tho they say he had his Reazons. The rest are no beter. We are a Ship of Sinners rite enuogh.

When they brung me in I was all set to be throne in Gaol for what I done but insted the Majestrate sayed, You are a Jack-tar are you not. At ferst I thuogt this was a fraze such as folk use for the like of me e.g Back Gamon Player, Windwerd Pasage, Shiten Prick, ect, but as this semed ruogh talk for a Majestrate I askd him Pardon and he sayed, A Sailer lad, I mean, and I sayed Yes, sire, for was I not brung up in my Father’s cotage not 100 fete from the very North Sea at Britlington? And he semed very hapy to here it so I suposed my litle Lie had pade off.

It was true enuogh about my Father’s cotage but what he does in that cotage is make and mend Clocks, the fello gets Sea-sick in a tin bath. There has not been a Sailer in my famly since Vikeing times and there never wuold have been nither if the Preist had not cort me in the attick with James O’Connell. Dere James shoed a clean pare of heals and got away back to his Rejement but I got collered all rite. So here I am a Jack-tar after all.

I askd the Majestrate, am I to be Transported, or Branded on my Thums, or what. He smiled, he was a mery fello, and sayed, Nay, boy, you are to be a Pionear.

Well it was all explaned to me eventrally.

There is a Scolar (in London I supose) named Erasmus Darwen Esq who has devized a Means of cooling the ferce hete of the Tropicks that takes such a hevy Toll on our Merchants, Armeys, Navies, ect, and this Means is Ice-bergs. It semed like Madness to me and by dam it stil does but that is Sience for you. The fello proposes to sale a Fleet of Ice-bergs south from the Poler Region to the Eqator, where they will melt and cool the warm Tropick seas. What a surprize it will be for those black felloes in Dahomey and such like when we turn up and bring a dose of Winter with us. Let us hope they have Cotes and Hats.

We found our Berg in the Sea of Berring and after a troop of hansome Navey carpenters had had there way with it you migt allmost think it really was a Ship of the Line and not a mere block of Ice. Sales and Masts and Rig and Fittings of Oke, it was a fine Site, billoeing on the borial winds. I was sorry to see those carpenters go and not onley because they were a fine Site themselvs. After they were gone we were very Alone. So we have been sinse.

I am sitting here talking companiabley with the Penguine when who shuould appere out here on the bow but a fello named Jenks. This Jenks I am toled is a ferce Radical but for a Radical he has a very kind Face and semes a genorous spirited gentelman. He is tollerably hansome but if I am any juge he is not the sort to go for Boys, even at Sea. I do not beleive he would go much for Girls nither. He is a very bokeish Sort.

Jenks sits himself down beside me and sayes, The bloe will be on us before long. I expres my feres for the safetey of the Penguine but Jenks assores me that the Penguine will be all rite, they are made of Stern Stuff. But he sayes, You shuold not call him a Penguine, young Burke, You shuold call him an Ork, for that is what he is. All perplecksed I say, But the Biscayan sayed he is a Penguine, and Jenks smiles and sayes the Biscayan is no Ornothagist (or som such Word).

Once I askd the Biscayan about the Penguine, saying, Are there a great Many of his sort, at New-found-land?, to wich the Biscayan replyed, Nay, hardly any. Then I asked him about the migty Whales and he sayed, There are not Many of those left nither.

This I narate to Jenks and the clever fello looks sick at Hart.

We sit and watch the Storm-clouds groe dark. After a wile Jenks sayes, I have done som Calcuations, and I fere that this Enterprize is more hazerdous even than we thuogt. At this of corse my stomack gives a great lurch, for tho I am a Bold young Man I am not sure I am a Brave one, and I urge him to explane. Jenks pulls out from his Fer Cote a piece of Paper covered all over with Scribbles. It is to do with Momentem, he sayes, and goes on in such a vane that he must think I am Izak Neuton or som one, leaving me Bewildered. I beg him to talk plane and he sayes, The Berg will never stop, Burke – no pouer in Heaven nor Erth will stop it, he sayes, now it is under Weigh.

To wich I reply, Then we shall get to the Tropicks sooner, compleat are Mision and win are Pardons!, only for this gloomey fello to say, I have done the Calcuations on that too Burke and I fere that Mr Darwins plan is a lot of orful Rot.

Then there is some busines I do not qite folloe about Currents and Tides and oaceanic Temperateurs.

It is a fole’s Errand, Burke, cryes Jenks. The wind whips his Words rite away.

Well I supose in my Hart of Harts I had suspeckted as much.

Feleing very sory for Myself I stare out at the forbiding Sea and think about a thing I was once toled by my Father, back wen I was a Boy. My Father was Apprentised for a time at a Clockmakers in the citty of York, a far biger place than are poor Britlington. He lerned a lot for he was a qick thinking fello tho not much of one for Bokes. But on compleating his App’ship he did not stay in York but reterned Home to the Vilage. Wen I askd him Why, he sayed, I did not enjoie mending Clocks that other men had made.

His meneing, I thuogt, was that in York where there were pheraps 100 Clockmakers a fello might bring you a Clock and bid you ficks it, but on loocking inside you migt find it nothing but a Bodge-job or a piece of Faulty work, and to ficks it wuold be a hary busines, causing much Difficultey and Hartake.

Beter to be the only Clockmaker in Britlington and ficks yore own Clocks.

I think of this as I sit atop are surging Berg becuase what is this Mr Darwens skeme if not a mending of another mans Clock.

I say, We did not make the World Mr Jenks so houw can we expect to ficks it, it semes a Monstruous Prezumption, and he sayes, You are wize beyond yore Years, young Burke.

I had thuogt, I say, that we mite be doing our Country a great Servise.

To wich Jenks replyes, What Servise, poor fello, has your Country ever done you?                                              

My eyes are teribley wet from the ferce Wind. I reche out to take Jenkses hand, meneing it onley in a frendly way, he being pheraps the last Frend I shall make on this Erth, and he does not pul his Hand away, nor do anything but Smile, and saye kindly, Do not abanden Hope just yet, Mr Burke.

The waves now are as highe as Houses if not higher. I am qite Astonishd when I see a Bird no biger than a Starling com flyeing across our starbord side. It shoes no Fear of the Storm.

I saye, I wish I had the Hart of that little fello. He semes not the slitest bit Afeard.

Jenks sayes, It is a Petrol. It is supposed to be an omen of good Luck.

We bothe luagh hartily at that.

I wander what my dere Jimy O’Connell is doing now. If he new what I am doing he wuold be most Surprized I am sure. Pheraps he is som where in those stemey Tropicks with his Rejement, poor fello. I had thuogt we migt help him. But I supose if he do not die from the Heat he wil only die from being Shot so there is nothing to be done axcept are Dutey.

The little Petrol cryes out as he goes by, arook, arook, and we are startled wen the Penguine on his icey precipiece opens his great Beke and cryes out in replie, Aaah, aaah, aiiee aiiee.

You wuold think by God, Jenks sayes, that the Ork is calling for Deliverence.

Agane the Petrol from the waive-tops cryes arook and agane the Penguine on the Berg cryes aiiee.

It is such a pitius sound I am siezed with a suden Courage. I leap to my feet. I am nerly bufeted over by the Wind. The Sales above me rore like Lions. Jenks cryes out, This is follie!, to wich I saye, It is all follie, Jenks, and sieze hold of the rail, and clamber over. I think of our Bill braking his sholder at Flamboro’. He wuold not have qaled at a litle climb like this. It was a great Pity that the injurie took Canker and he died, I was onley six years but I have not forgot him my bruther. Aiiee sayes the Penguine and I crye, Take hart, Penguine, I will free thee.

I cannot call him Ork even tho I knoe now it is his rite name. He has alweys been the Penguine to me and so he must remane.

The ice tho not steep is perilus slippy beneathe the soals of my Boots. I muter a prare and let go the rail. The World semes to spin. For a seckond I think I am certan to fall into the fomeing black Ocean but eventrally I get my ballance. It is not 3 yards to where the Penguine on his chane waves his litle flippers and cryes to me aieee. I slither and slip and slide across the pitching Ice and then I fal on to my Face. My prety Nose takes a thump but it is not the 1st thump it has taken. I reche and grab the Penguine’s Spike but I had not thuogt that my Hands are Bare and the Spike iron. Here at the lattitude of Ice-land the Temperateur is feereful low and the Iron burns like a Flame. It is my tern now to cry aiee. In the ruoghest langage I can Muster I curse the Berg and the lattitude and Ineko the Biscayan and his crule Spike.

The Penguine tugs at his chane. His meneing could not be clerer to me if the poor fello were speacking the King’s english.

I hawl on the Spike with all my migt. I am only a slite fello and the Spike does not bugde an inch. I hawl again until I think my sinyews will brake and my eyes will pop. Som one from the rigging abov is yeling at me, stop, stop, but I wil not stop. They have a beter chance of stoping the Berg than of stoping me and as Jenkses Calcuations have shoune that is no chance at all.

Heve-ho. The Spike is stuck. The Biscayan must have hamered it a Fathom into the ice. I am tired, sir, I saye to the Penguine. I canot get my Breth and my hands are in Ribons. Aiee, sayes the Penguine.

I look up and I see the bokeish fello Jenks climing over the Rail. By dam the fello moves like a Dancer. He steps daintiley to left and then to rigt as the Berg roles and then makes a great Leap and then of a suden he is neckst to me and placing his gloved Hands over mine.

The swinish Thing is like a Dandelion root, I cry.

He does not speack. His skin is bloched and there is Frost upon his Brows and about his Nose. I supose I must loke much the same, viz a Frite. He grips very titely and begins to rock the Spike to and fro. I soon see this is the way to do it. I wander what Boke the clever fello learnd this from. I throe my meger strenth behind his Eforts and Loe and behold the Spike begins to move.

Jenks sayes, Harder! The Penguine sayes, aiiee.  

From behined the Rail the Biscayan Ineko raines foul Insults down upon us and waives his great Harpone and swears by God he wil take the price of the Penguine from are Pokets.

Despite the Wether it is dam warm work. Side by side we heve and hawl. Our breth makes Rime on the mercyless Iron. But the Ice is yeilding. Our fuor hands fele the Spike shift in its cold Bed.

Jenks cryes in a great Voice, Now pull!, and so we bothe of us pull, and the Spike rores in its soket, and semes almost to leap touwards us. The point brakes free of the Ice. The very Skin is torn from my poor Hands. The chane slips lose. Aiiee, sayes the Penguine, aiiee, grr, aiiee. I wander if one of these Words is thank-ee or if one of them is good-by for it is the last thing he ever sayes to us. Like a Seal he slips to the ege of the Ice and then he is over the ege and then he is Gon.

I wander why he does not Fly.

Jenks lets the Spike clunk to the Ice. I loke at him and he lokes at me. We are bothe on are Back sides and the Berg is pitching like a mad hors and I do not see how we can get back to the Rail. Even if we do the Biscayan will have are Tripes.               

Jenks smiles and sayes, Give me Libertey or give me Death, and I do not qite kno what the fello is about but I am glad of his Companianship at this Moment.

Then there is a migty noyse from the Bowels of the Berg. It shakes my Skeliton like a Dog shakes a Rat. It is like the creke when you stand on a frowzen pond but 1000 times more terible. I look to the Rail to see that Ineko has terned tale and is makeing Haste back to the cabins but I fere it will do him no good.

Jenks points to the hole left by the Biscayan’s Spike. A crack as wide as my Finger has opened on ether side of it. As I watch in horrer the crack becomes as wide as my Rist and before very long if I wishd I cuold fit my hole Arm inside. I loke into the crack and all I see is a glareing Blue and a riseing Black.

I feel the Ice move under my boddy. Jenks clutches my Elbo but I do not here what he sayes. The hole Werld is a fereful Noyse. The Winds howl and the Ice scremes and there is a thunder of braking Timber from abov. Temmick the Dutch falls from the highe rigging. The deck has com lose. The cabins are slideing touwards the black Waives. Men tumbel yeling down the Icy slopes. The Sales are all in Shreds.

Our monstruous Berg is braking into Two. The Main-mast toples. Wen it falls it Crashes rite down upon us. Jenks is torne from me. Ocean rises up. I taste Blood and Snoe. I have no breth. I fancey that a great cold Hand closes tite around my scull.

And now the Berg or its Remnents have left me far behined. There is onley cold Water and strekes of purpel Cloud across a sky of Gold. Splintered timber bobs in the waives. I do not think any one is alive axcept myself. This I think is no loss to the Werld tho I am greavously sorry for Mr Jenks.

I have seen the last of the Penguine too I am certan. I do rarther wish tho he was here in these my finle Moments. I think he was a kind bird tho he cuold onley say, Aiiee, grrr, ahhh.

Pheraps he new that the Werld was not to be mended by Men or pheraps he new no thing. The cold is fereful and I have lost my Otter. I wander will I be found. I wander will I be rememberd. By Jimmy or by my Father or by the Penguine or by any one.

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