Monday, November 12, 2012

Whale Tales

A friend of mine and I have been discussing Jonah.  The Bible is a wealth of information, but there's a serious lack of detail in the whole Jonah and the whale story.  What happened between, "Get thee to Ninevah." and being tossed overboard from Tarshish and subsequently swallowed and hacked up again three days later?

I recalled a story my middle older brother Bob had told me ages ago, about one of our ancestors being swallowed by a whale.  I emailed him and this is what he sent back:

Tully Clark

And I took it upon mself to look for other whale mishaps, and I found this entertaining one:

Bartley and the Star of the East

In the late winter of 1891, the whale-ship Star of the East was in the vicinity of the
Falkland Islands when it came within sight of a whale. Two boats were dispatched with harpoons to snare and kill the beast, but the lashing of its tail capsized one of the launches, spilling the crew into the sea. All were accounted for except for a single sailor, James Bartley.

Ultimately the whale was killed and the carcass drawn aboard the vessel to begin the process of salvaging valuable resources. By the next day good progress had been made in removing the layers of blubber from the beast, so a tackle was attached to its stomach to hoist it on deck. Sailors were startled by spasmodic life within the belly of the whale, and upon further inspection the missing sailor was found.

Bartley was quite mad for two weeks, but upon recovering his senses he recounted what little he could recall of being dragged under the water. Struggling for his life he had been drawn into darkness within which he felt a terrible and oppressive heat. He found slimy walls that gave slightly to his touch, but could find no exit. When his situation finally dawned on him Bartley lost his senses completely and lapsed into a state of catatonia.

During his time inside the whale the gastric juices affected his exposed skin. His face, neck and hands were bleached a deathly white with a texture like parchment, a condition from which the skin never recovered. Bartley believed that he would probably have lived inside his house of flesh until he starved, as breathing was not a problem.

This Whale Tale has been determined to be just that - a tall tale.  But a fun one to read, nevertheless!

Sleep well, everyone.


Louise Plummer said...

Moby Dick has a chapter where a priest tells the story of Jonah and the Whale, only it is much longer than the original and more entertaining.

twebsterarmstrong said...

That entry is one of my all-time-favorites of Moby Dick! And Moby Dick is one of my all-time-favorites of literature! It ranks right up there with my tippy-top maritime story: Old Man and the Sea.

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