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 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 ye!"
"Come on, Queequeg," said I, "all right. There's Mrs. Hussey."
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?"