In a small New England fishing town, the sailors have gathered at the local tavern to commiserate after a hard day of fishing. They watch a ship sailing by and note that the captain is likely to sink his ship. A local fortuneteller, Abner Suggs, predicts the future and says the ship is doomed. The town doctor, Mordecai Nichols, asks if he ever predicts anything but disaster, and Suggs says he can only see what the cards tell. He offers to tell the doctor’s fortune in return for a brandy...Read the full recap
Captain Lindemann: Mr. Suggs, I have to live with the fog because it’s Hell’s blanket and it creeps up through the earth to bedevil seamen like me. There’s nothing I can do about that. And I I have to seal that leaky rat-catcher of mine because there’s not a damn thing on Heaven or Earth that can change that. And I’ll go out every freezing morning and come back every wind-screaming night with just enough in my net to keep me alive. Now all of that is my miserable lot, Mr. Suggs, and will be until God turns my sail into a shroud and throws me back into the sea. But what I don’t have to do is come in here night after night and look at that wormy little face of yours, and listen to all this bile of potions, palms, and tea leaves!
Nichols: Human? Three nights ago you said she was a finned and scaled nightmare, a monster. I'll tell you something, Captain, she's a little of both. But I'll tell you what she isn't: she's not a companion to man--any man. Give her back to the sea.
Suggs says that it's two bells, and that by seven bells, a miracle will occur. He then says that it will take five hours. A bell in nautical terms does not equate to an hour. There are eight bells, one each half-hour, during a four-hour standard watch.