Blubbering gold

…in Northern Norway for some reason.


Life consists of stories. Science is part of life. Don’t deny that. Enjoy it. 🙂


No, these waters were not the home of ​The​ ​Lulling Lullaby​. No, not at all. Its narrow, rather smallish deck had but one cabin in the back, its high-rising rump got whipped by the Arctic sea like an insolent dog.

Something banged furiously.

In the silence that followed, only the rain hammered its incessant little sounds into the consciousness of all present. Apart from one, they all held themselves at loops of rope dangling from the low ceiling.

Another bang. Captain Blackpants, steam rising from under his hat, glared at his right hand which looked swollen and red. His eyes turned to the group of men in front of him.

“You were saying, Ralphie?”

A broad-shouldered man took a step forward, cap in hand.

“​Again, sir, we think, we may have steered off course.”
“What makes you think that?”
“Well, captain, we are too far to the East. I can see it on our instruments. Svalbard is this way. Besides, I would like to point out that we seem to not be equipped with the right clothes for the particular climate outside this cabin. Really, why are we here, Captain? It’s freezing.”

At this, the group of seamen behind Ralphie started murmuring in agreement. They stopped when they saw rum and spit trickling out from between Captain Blackpants’ trembling lips. Even a piece of chewed flesh found its way out and down into the man’s beard. Captain Blackpants swallowed.

“So, he began slowly. ​you think I done made a mistake, matey?”
“​Well, sir, you do not seem to heed the advice of the compass. It​ does​ show us where North is.”

Captain Blackpants stood up slowly, supporting his bulk on two plate-like hands. His panting filled the cabin with the stink of rum and meat. He got right into Ralphie’s face.

“That’s all good and well, but I sees with me own eyes the Duck’s Head yonder. Eyes or instruments? Why are you not at the wheel? You freeze, that’s why! Standing here like a pack of dogs.”

Captain Blackpants marched through his crew and left the cabin. The crew listened to his footsteps as he
climbed onto the aft deck on top of the cabin and placed himself behind the steering wheel. Slowly they crept after him with their heads bowed. One or two of them cast a disappointed look at Ralphie but no one said anything.

They saw their captain standing at the wheel on top of the cabin. He held it steady with one hand and looked through a glass in his other.

“​Arr!”​ he grunted as they approached.

Ralphie drew himself up.

“​Captain.”​ he began.
“​Svalbard’s that way, lads. Me’s not want to hear any more of the nonsense. Here comes the trader. Get ready!”

A dozen heads turned and stared into the distance.

“Let’s gets us some blubbering gold!”

The crew continued staring. Captain Blackpants sighed, then shouted.

“​Whale oil, idiots! A pound of it is worth more than all of you together! Dem’s makin’ it out of the blubber!”

He watched his crew thinking.

“​Will you get yourself ready to enter, for heaven’s sake?!”

Enter. That word, they understood. Ralphie was first to draw his knife. He looked at his captain.

“That’s why…”
“​Yep, Ralphie, that’s why. Don’t care about your compass, me. Now, get going, will you?”

As the ​Lulling Lullaby​ prepared to enter the trader in the distance, the men each took a draught of rum, got their weapons, and started singing expectantly:

“​Fat belly trader, fat belly trader, sing your lulling lullaby…!”

Ralphie did not sing. He simply stood waiting, staring at his compass, pondering.


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