"Come back here, cook; — here, hand me those tongs; — now take that bit of steak there, and tell me if you think that steak cooked as it should be? Take it, I say" — holding the tongs towards him — "take it, and taste it."
Faintly smacking his withered lips over it for a moment, the old negro muttered, "Best cooked 'teak I eber taste; joosy, berry joosy."
"Cook," said Stubb, squaring himself once more; "do you belong to the church?"
"Passed one once in Cape-Down," said the old man sullenly.
"And you have once in your life passed a holy church in Cape-Town, where you doubtless overheard a holy parson addressing his hearers as his beloved fellow-creatures, have you, cook! And yet you come here, and tell me such a dreadful lie as you did just now, eh?" said Stubb. "Where do you expect to go to, cook?"
"Go to bed berry soon," he mumbled, half-turning as he spoke.
"Avast! heave to! I mean when you die, cook. It's an awful question. Now what's your answer?"
"When dis old brack man dies," said the negro slowly, changing his whole air and demeanor, "he hisself won't go nowhere; but some bressed angel will come and fetch him."
"Fetch him? How? In a coach and four, as they fetched Elijah? And fetch him where?"
"Up dere," said Fleece, holding his tongs straight over his head, and keeping it there very solemnly.
"So, then, you expect to go up into our main-top, do you, cook, when you are dead? But don't you know the higher you climb, the colder it gets? Main-top, eh?"
"Didn't say dat t'all," said Fleece, again in the sulks.
"You said up there, didn't you? and now look yourself, and see where your tongs are pointing. But, perhaps you expect to get into heaven by crawling through the lubber's hole, cook; but, no, no, cook, you don't get there, except you go the regular way, round by the rigging. It's a ticklish business, but must be done, or else it's no go. But none of us are in heaven yet. Drop your tongs, cook, and hear my orders. Do ye hear? Hold your hat in one hand, and clap t'other a'top of your heart, when I'm giving my orders, cook. What! that your heart, there? — that's your gizzard! Aloft! aloft! — that's it — now you have it. Hold it there now, and pay attention."
"All 'dention," said the old black, with both hands placed as desired, vainly wriggling his grizzled head, as if to get both ears in front at one and the same time.
"Well then, cook, you see this whale-steak of yours was so very bad, that I have put it out of sight as soon as possible; you see that, don't you? Well, for the future, when you cook another whale-steak for my private table here, the capstan, I'll tell you what to do so as not to spoil it by overdoing. Hold the steak in one hand, and show a live coal to it with the other; that done, dish it; d'ye hear? And now to-morrow, cook, when we are cutting in the fish, be sure you stand by to get the tips of his fins; have them put in pickle. As for the ends of the flukes, have them soused, cook. There, now ye may go."
But Fleece had hardly got three paces off, when he was recalled.
"Cook, give me cutlets for supper to-morrow night in the mid-watch. D'ye hear? away you sail, then. — Halloa! stop! make a bow before you go. — Avast heaving again! Whale-balls for breakfast — don't forget."
"Wish, by gor! whale eat him, 'stead of him eat whale. I'm bressed if he ain't more of shark dan Massa Shark hisself," muttered the old man, limping away; with which sage ejaculation he went to his hammock.