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It was quite late in the evening when the little Moss came
snugly to anchor, and Queequeg and I went ashore; so we could
attend to no business that day, at least none but a supper and
a bed. The landlord of the Spouter-Inn had recommended us
to his cousin Hosea Hussey of the Try Pots, whom he asserted to
be the proprietor of one of the best kept hotels in all Nantucket,
and moreover he had assured us that cousin Hosea, as he called
him, was famous for his chowders. In short, he plainly hinted
that we could not possibly do better than try pot-luck at the
Try Pots. But the directions he had given us about keeping a
yellow warehouse on our starboard hand till we opened a white
church to the larboard, and then keeping that on the larboard
hand till we made a corner three points to the starboard, and
that done, then ask the first man we met where the place was:
these crooked directions of his very much puzzled us at first,
especially as, at the outset, Queequeg insisted that the yellow
warehouse—our first point of departure—must be left on the larboard


Page 72
hand, whereas I had understood Peter Coffin to say it
was on the starboard. However, by dint of beating about a
little in the dark, and now and then knocking up a peaceable
inhabitant to inquire the way, we at last came to something
which there was no mistaking.

Two enormous wooden pots painted black, and suspended by
asses' ears, swung from the cross-trees of an old top-mast,
planted in front of an old doorway. The horns of the cross-trees
were sawed off on the other side, so that this old top-mast
looked not a little like a gallows. Perhaps I was over sensitive
to such impressions at the time, but I could not help staring
at this gallows with a vague misgiving. A sort of crick was in
my neck as I gazed up to the two remaining horns; yes, two of
them, one for Queequeg, and one for me. It's ominous, thinks
I. A Coffin my Innkeeper upon landing in my first whaling
port; tombstones staring at me in the whalemen's chapel; and
here a gallows! and a pair of prodigious black pots too! Are
these last throwing out oblique hints touching Tophet?

I was called from these reflections by the sight of a freckled
woman with yellow hair and a yellow gown, standing in the
porch of the inn, under a dull red lamp swinging there, that
looked much like an injured eye, and carrying on a brisk scolding
with a man in a purple woollen shirt.

“Get along with ye,” said she to the man, “or I'll be combing

“Come on, Queequeg,” said I, “all right. There's Mrs.

And so it turned out; Mr. Hosea Hussey being from home,
but leaving Mrs. Hussey entirely competent to attend to all his
affairs. Upon making known our desires for a supper and a
bed, Mrs. Hussey, postponing further scolding for the present,
ushered us into a little room, and seating us at a table spread
with the relics of a recently concluded repast, turned round to us
and said—“Clam or Cod?”


Page 73

“What's that about Cods, ma'am?” said I, with much politeness.

“Clam or Cod?” she repeated.

“A clam for supper? a cold clam; is that what you mean,
Mrs. Hussey?” says I; “but that's a rather cold and clammy
reception in the winter time, ain't it, Mrs. Hussey?”

But being in a great hurry to resume scolding the man in the
purple shirt, who was waiting for it in the entry, and seeming
to hear nothing but the word “clam,” Mrs. Hussey hurried
towards an open door leading to the kitchen, and bawling out
“clam for two,” disappeared.

“Queequeg,” said I, “do you think that we can make out a
supper for us both on one clam?”

However, a warm savory steam from the kitchen served to
belie the apparently cheerless prospect before us. But when
that smoking chowder came in, the mystery was delightfully
explained. Oh, sweet friends! hearken to me. It was made of
small juicy clams, scarcely bigger than hazel nuts, mixed with
pounded ship biscuit, and salted pork cut up into little flakes;
the whole enriched with butter, and plentifully seasoned with
pepper and salt. Our appetites being sharpened by the frosty
voyage, and in particular, Queequeg seeing his favorite fishing
food before him, and the chowder being surpassingly excellent, we
despatched it with great expedition: when leaning back a
moment and bethinking me of Mrs. Hussey's clam and cod announcement,
I thought I would try a little experiment. Stepping
to the kitchen door, I uttered the word “cod” with great emphasis,
and resumed my seat. In a few moments the savory
steam came forth again, but with a different flavor, and in good
time a fine cod-chowder was placed before us.

We resumed business; and while plying our spoons in the
bowl, thinks I to myself, I wonder now if this here has any effect
on the head? What's that stultifying saying about chowder-headed
people? “But look, Queequeg, ain't that a live eel in
your bowl? Where's your harpoon?”


Page 74

Fishiest of all fishy places was the Try Pots, which well
deserved its name; for the pots there were always boiling
chowders. Chowder for breakfast, and chowder for dinner, and
chowder for supper, till you began to look for fish-bones coming
through your clothes. The area before the house was paved
with clam-shells. Mrs. Hussey wore a polished necklace of
codfish vertebra; and Hosea Hussey had his account books
bound in superior old shark-skin. There was a fishy flavor to
the milk, too, which I could not at all account for, till one morning
happening to take a stroll along the beach among some
fishermen's boats, I saw Hosea's brindled cow feeding on fish
remnants, and marching along the sand with each foot in a cod's
decapitated head, looking very slip-shod, I assure ye.

Supper concluded, we received a lamp, and directions from
Mrs. Hussey concerning the nearest way to bed; but, as
Queequeg was about to precede me up the stairs, the lady
reached forth her arm, and demanded his harpoon; she allowed
no harpoon in her chambers. “Why not?” said I; “every
true whaleman sleeps with his harpoon—but why not?”
“Because it's dangerous,” says she. “Ever since young Stiggs
coming from that unfort'nt v'y'ge of his, when he was gone
four years and a half, with only three barrels of ile, was found
dead in my first floor back, with his harpoon in his side; ever
since then I allow no boarders to take sich dangerous weepons
in their rooms at night. So, Mr. Queequeg” (for she had learned
his name), “I will just take this here iron, and keep it for you
till morning. But the chowder; clam or cod to-morrow for
breakfast, men?”

“Both,” says I; “and let's have a couple of smoked herring
by way of variety.”