The Project Gutenberg ebook of Moby Dick; or The Whale, by Herman Melville



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there is no telling how many things to be thought of, before the Pequod

was fully equipped.
Every one knows what a multitude of things--beds, sauce-pans, knives

and forks, shovels and tongs, napkins, nut-crackers, and what not, are

indispensable to the business of housekeeping. Just so with whaling,

which necessitates a three-years' housekeeping upon the wide ocean,

far from all grocers, costermongers, doctors, bakers, and bankers. And

though this also holds true of merchant vessels, yet not by any means

to the same extent as with whalemen. For besides the great length of the

whaling voyage, the numerous articles peculiar to the prosecution of the

fishery, and the impossibility of replacing them at the remote harbors

usually frequented, it must be remembered, that of all ships, whaling

vessels are the most exposed to accidents of all kinds, and especially

to the destruction and loss of the very things upon which the success of

the voyage most depends. Hence, the spare boats, spare spars, and spare

lines and harpoons, and spare everythings, almost, but a spare Captain

and duplicate ship.
At the period of our arrival at the Island, the heaviest storage of the

Pequod had been almost completed; comprising her beef, bread, water,

fuel, and iron hoops and staves. But, as before hinted, for some time

there was a continual fetching and carrying on board of divers odds and

ends of things, both large and small.
Chief among those who did this fetching and carrying was Captain

Bildad's sister, a lean old lady of a most determined and indefatigable

spirit, but withal very kindhearted, who seemed resolved that, if SHE

could help it, nothing should be found wanting in the Pequod, after once

fairly getting to sea. At one time she would come on board with a jar

of pickles for the steward's pantry; another time with a bunch of quills

for the chief mate's desk, where he kept his log; a third time with a

roll of flannel for the small of some one's rheumatic back. Never did

any woman better deserve her name, which was Charity--Aunt Charity, as

everybody called her. And like a sister of charity did this charitable

Aunt Charity bustle about hither and thither, ready to turn her hand

and heart to anything that promised to yield safety, comfort, and

consolation to all on board a ship in which her beloved brother

Bildad was concerned, and in which she herself owned a score or two of

well-saved dollars.
But it was startling to see this excellent hearted Quakeress coming on

board, as she did the last day, with a long oil-ladle in one hand, and

a still longer whaling lance in the other. Nor was Bildad himself nor

Captain Peleg at all backward. As for Bildad, he carried about with him

a long list of the articles needed, and at every fresh arrival, down

went his mark opposite that article upon the paper. Every once in a

while Peleg came hobbling out of his whalebone den, roaring at the men

down the hatchways, roaring up to the riggers at the mast-head, and then

concluded by roaring back into his wigwam.
During these days of preparation, Queequeg and I often visited the

craft, and as often I asked about Captain Ahab, and how he was, and when

he was going to come on board his ship. To these questions they would

answer, that he was getting better and better, and was expected aboard

every day; meantime, the two captains, Peleg and Bildad, could attend

to everything necessary to fit the vessel for the voyage. If I had been

downright honest with myself, I would have seen very plainly in my heart

that I did but half fancy being committed this way to so long a voyage,

without once laying my eyes on the man who was to be the absolute

dictator of it, so soon as the ship sailed out upon the open sea.

But when a man suspects any wrong, it sometimes happens that if he be

already involved in the matter, he insensibly strives to cover up his

suspicions even from himself. And much this way it was with me. I said

nothing, and tried to think nothing.


At last it was given out that some time next day the ship would

certainly sail. So next morning, Queequeg and I took a very early start.


CHAPTER 21. Going Aboard.

It was nearly six o'clock, but only grey imperfect misty dawn, when we

drew nigh the wharf.


"There are some sailors running ahead there, if I see right," said I to

Queequeg, "it can't be shadows; she's off by sunrise, I guess; come on!"


"Avast!" cried a voice, whose owner at the same time coming close behind

us, laid a hand upon both our shoulders, and then insinuating himself

between us, stood stooping forward a little, in the uncertain twilight,

strangely peering from Queequeg to me. It was Elijah.


"Going aboard?"
"Hands off, will you," said I.
"Lookee here," said Queequeg, shaking himself, "go 'way!"
"Ain't going aboard, then?"
"Yes, we are," said I, "but what business is that of yours? Do you know,

Mr. Elijah, that I consider you a little impertinent?"


"No, no, no; I wasn't aware of that," said Elijah, slowly and

wonderingly looking from me to Queequeg, with the most unaccountable

glances.
"Elijah," said I, "you will oblige my friend and me by withdrawing. We

are going to the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and would prefer not to be

detained."
"Ye be, be ye? Coming back afore breakfast?"
"He's cracked, Queequeg," said I, "come on."
"Holloa!" cried stationary Elijah, hailing us when we had removed a few

paces.
"Never mind him," said I, "Queequeg, come on."


But he stole up to us again, and suddenly clapping his hand on my

shoulder, said--"Did ye see anything looking like men going towards that

ship a while ago?"
Struck by this plain matter-of-fact question, I answered, saying, "Yes,

I thought I did see four or five men; but it was too dim to be sure."


"Very dim, very dim," said Elijah. "Morning to ye."
Once more we quitted him; but once more he came softly after us; and

touching my shoulder again, said, "See if you can find 'em now, will ye?


"Find who?"
"Morning to ye! morning to ye!" he rejoined, again moving off. "Oh! I

was going to warn ye against--but never mind, never mind--it's all one,

all in the family too;--sharp frost this morning, ain't it? Good-bye to

ye. Shan't see ye again very soon, I guess; unless it's before the Grand

Jury." And with these cracked words he finally departed, leaving me, for

the moment, in no small wonderment at his frantic impudence.


At last, stepping on board the Pequod, we found everything in profound

quiet, not a soul moving. The cabin entrance was locked within; the

hatches were all on, and lumbered with coils of rigging. Going forward

to the forecastle, we found the slide of the scuttle open. Seeing a

light, we went down, and found only an old rigger there, wrapped in a

tattered pea-jacket. He was thrown at whole length upon two chests, his

face downwards and inclosed in his folded arms. The profoundest slumber

slept upon him.


"Those sailors we saw, Queequeg, where can they have gone to?" said I,

looking dubiously at the sleeper. But it seemed that, when on the wharf,

Queequeg had not at all noticed what I now alluded to; hence I would

have thought myself to have been optically deceived in that matter,

were it not for Elijah's otherwise inexplicable question. But I beat the

thing down; and again marking the sleeper, jocularly hinted to Queequeg

that perhaps we had best sit up with the body; telling him to establish

himself accordingly. He put his hand upon the sleeper's rear, as though

feeling if it was soft enough; and then, without more ado, sat quietly

down there.


"Gracious! Queequeg, don't sit there," said I.
"Oh! perry dood seat," said Queequeg, "my country way; won't hurt him

face."
"Face!" said I, "call that his face? very benevolent countenance then;

but how hard he breathes, he's heaving himself; get off, Queequeg, you

are heavy, it's grinding the face of the poor. Get off, Queequeg! Look,

he'll twitch you off soon. I wonder he don't wake."
Queequeg removed himself to just beyond the head of the sleeper, and

lighted his tomahawk pipe. I sat at the feet. We kept the pipe passing

over the sleeper, from one to the other. Meanwhile, upon questioning him

in his broken fashion, Queequeg gave me to understand that, in his

land, owing to the absence of settees and sofas of all sorts, the king,

chiefs, and great people generally, were in the custom of fattening some

of the lower orders for ottomans; and to furnish a house comfortably in

that respect, you had only to buy up eight or ten lazy fellows, and lay

them round in the piers and alcoves. Besides, it was very convenient on

an excursion; much better than those garden-chairs which are convertible

into walking-sticks; upon occasion, a chief calling his attendant, and

desiring him to make a settee of himself under a spreading tree, perhaps

in some damp marshy place.
While narrating these things, every time Queequeg received the tomahawk

from me, he flourished the hatchet-side of it over the sleeper's head.


"What's that for, Queequeg?"
"Perry easy, kill-e; oh! perry easy!"
He was going on with some wild reminiscences about his tomahawk-pipe,

which, it seemed, had in its two uses both brained his foes and soothed

his soul, when we were directly attracted to the sleeping rigger. The

strong vapour now completely filling the contracted hole, it began

to tell upon him. He breathed with a sort of muffledness; then seemed

troubled in the nose; then revolved over once or twice; then sat up and

rubbed his eyes.
"Holloa!" he breathed at last, "who be ye smokers?"
"Shipped men," answered I, "when does she sail?"
"Aye, aye, ye are going in her, be ye? She sails to-day. The Captain

came aboard last night."


"What Captain?--Ahab?"
"Who but him indeed?"
I was going to ask him some further questions concerning Ahab, when we

heard a noise on deck.


"Holloa! Starbuck's astir," said the rigger. "He's a lively chief mate,

that; good man, and a pious; but all alive now, I must turn to." And so

saying he went on deck, and we followed.
It was now clear sunrise. Soon the crew came on board in twos and

threes; the riggers bestirred themselves; the mates were actively

engaged; and several of the shore people were busy in bringing various

last things on board. Meanwhile Captain Ahab remained invisibly

enshrined within his cabin.

CHAPTER 22. Merry Christmas.

At length, towards noon, upon the final dismissal of the ship's riggers,

and after the Pequod had been hauled out from the wharf, and after the

ever-thoughtful Charity had come off in a whale-boat, with her last

gift--a night-cap for Stubb, the second mate, her brother-in-law, and a

spare Bible for the steward--after all this, the two Captains, Peleg

and Bildad, issued from the cabin, and turning to the chief mate, Peleg

said:
"Now, Mr. Starbuck, are you sure everything is right? Captain Ahab is

all ready--just spoke to him--nothing more to be got from shore, eh?

Well, call all hands, then. Muster 'em aft here--blast 'em!"
"No need of profane words, however great the hurry, Peleg," said Bildad,

"but away with thee, friend Starbuck, and do our bidding."


How now! Here upon the very point of starting for the voyage, Captain

Peleg and Captain Bildad were going it with a high hand on the

quarter-deck, just as if they were to be joint-commanders at sea, as

well as to all appearances in port. And, as for Captain Ahab, no sign of

him was yet to be seen; only, they said he was in the cabin. But then,

the idea was, that his presence was by no means necessary in getting the

ship under weigh, and steering her well out to sea. Indeed, as that was

not at all his proper business, but the pilot's; and as he was not

yet completely recovered--so they said--therefore, Captain Ahab stayed

below. And all this seemed natural enough; especially as in the merchant

service many captains never show themselves on deck for a considerable

time after heaving up the anchor, but remain over the cabin table,

having a farewell merry-making with their shore friends, before they

quit the ship for good with the pilot.


But there was not much chance to think over the matter, for Captain

Peleg was now all alive. He seemed to do most of the talking and

commanding, and not Bildad.
"Aft here, ye sons of bachelors," he cried, as the sailors lingered at

the main-mast. "Mr. Starbuck, drive'em aft."


"Strike the tent there!"--was the next order. As I hinted before, this

whalebone marquee was never pitched except in port; and on board the

Pequod, for thirty years, the order to strike the tent was well known to

be the next thing to heaving up the anchor.


"Man the capstan! Blood and thunder!--jump!"--was the next command, and

the crew sprang for the handspikes.


Now in getting under weigh, the station generally occupied by the pilot

is the forward part of the ship. And here Bildad, who, with Peleg, be it

known, in addition to his other officers, was one of the licensed pilots

of the port--he being suspected to have got himself made a pilot in

order to save the Nantucket pilot-fee to all the ships he was concerned

in, for he never piloted any other craft--Bildad, I say, might now

be seen actively engaged in looking over the bows for the approaching

anchor, and at intervals singing what seemed a dismal stave of psalmody,

to cheer the hands at the windlass, who roared forth some sort of

a chorus about the girls in Booble Alley, with hearty good will.

Nevertheless, not three days previous, Bildad had told them that no

profane songs would be allowed on board the Pequod, particularly in

getting under weigh; and Charity, his sister, had placed a small choice

copy of Watts in each seaman's berth.


Meantime, overseeing the other part of the ship, Captain Peleg ripped

and swore astern in the most frightful manner. I almost thought he would

sink the ship before the anchor could be got up; involuntarily I paused

on my handspike, and told Queequeg to do the same, thinking of the

perils we both ran, in starting on the voyage with such a devil for a

pilot. I was comforting myself, however, with the thought that in pious

Bildad might be found some salvation, spite of his seven hundred and

seventy-seventh lay; when I felt a sudden sharp poke in my rear, and

turning round, was horrified at the apparition of Captain Peleg in the

act of withdrawing his leg from my immediate vicinity. That was my first

kick.
"Is that the way they heave in the marchant service?" he roared.

"Spring, thou sheep-head; spring, and break thy backbone! Why don't ye

spring, I say, all of ye--spring! Quohog! spring, thou chap with the red

whiskers; spring there, Scotch-cap; spring, thou green pants. Spring, I

say, all of ye, and spring your eyes out!" And so saying, he moved

along the windlass, here and there using his leg very freely, while

imperturbable Bildad kept leading off with his psalmody. Thinks I,

Captain Peleg must have been drinking something to-day.


At last the anchor was up, the sails were set, and off we glided. It

was a short, cold Christmas; and as the short northern day merged into

night, we found ourselves almost broad upon the wintry ocean, whose

freezing spray cased us in ice, as in polished armor. The long rows of

teeth on the bulwarks glistened in the moonlight; and like the white

ivory tusks of some huge elephant, vast curving icicles depended from

the bows.
Lank Bildad, as pilot, headed the first watch, and ever and anon, as the

old craft deep dived into the green seas, and sent the shivering frost

all over her, and the winds howled, and the cordage rang, his steady

notes were heard,--


"Sweet fields beyond the swelling flood, Stand dressed in living green.

So to the Jews old Canaan stood, While Jordan rolled between."

Never did those sweet words sound more sweetly to me than then. They

were full of hope and fruition. Spite of this frigid winter night in the

boisterous Atlantic, spite of my wet feet and wetter jacket, there was

yet, it then seemed to me, many a pleasant haven in store; and meads

and glades so eternally vernal, that the grass shot up by the spring,

untrodden, unwilted, remains at midsummer.


At last we gained such an offing, that the two pilots were needed

no longer. The stout sail-boat that had accompanied us began ranging

alongside.
It was curious and not unpleasing, how Peleg and Bildad were affected at

this juncture, especially Captain Bildad. For loath to depart, yet;

very loath to leave, for good, a ship bound on so long and perilous a

voyage--beyond both stormy Capes; a ship in which some thousands of

his hard earned dollars were invested; a ship, in which an old shipmate

sailed as captain; a man almost as old as he, once more starting to

encounter all the terrors of the pitiless jaw; loath to say good-bye to

a thing so every way brimful of every interest to him,--poor old Bildad

lingered long; paced the deck with anxious strides; ran down into the

cabin to speak another farewell word there; again came on deck, and

looked to windward; looked towards the wide and endless waters, only

bounded by the far-off unseen Eastern Continents; looked towards

the land; looked aloft; looked right and left; looked everywhere

and nowhere; and at last, mechanically coiling a rope upon its pin,

convulsively grasped stout Peleg by the hand, and holding up a lantern,

for a moment stood gazing heroically in his face, as much as to say,

"Nevertheless, friend Peleg, I can stand it; yes, I can."
As for Peleg himself, he took it more like a philosopher; but for all

his philosophy, there was a tear twinkling in his eye, when the lantern

came too near. And he, too, did not a little run from cabin to deck--now

a word below, and now a word with Starbuck, the chief mate.


But, at last, he turned to his comrade, with a final sort of look

about him,--"Captain Bildad--come, old shipmate, we must go. Back the

main-yard there! Boat ahoy! Stand by to come close alongside, now!

Careful, careful!--come, Bildad, boy--say your last. Luck to ye,

Starbuck--luck to ye, Mr. Stubb--luck to ye, Mr. Flask--good-bye and

good luck to ye all--and this day three years I'll have a hot supper

smoking for ye in old Nantucket. Hurrah and away!"
"God bless ye, and have ye in His holy keeping, men," murmured old

Bildad, almost incoherently. "I hope ye'll have fine weather now, so

that Captain Ahab may soon be moving among ye--a pleasant sun is all

he needs, and ye'll have plenty of them in the tropic voyage ye go.

Be careful in the hunt, ye mates. Don't stave the boats needlessly,

ye harpooneers; good white cedar plank is raised full three per cent.

within the year. Don't forget your prayers, either. Mr. Starbuck, mind

that cooper don't waste the spare staves. Oh! the sail-needles are in

the green locker! Don't whale it too much a' Lord's days, men; but don't

miss a fair chance either, that's rejecting Heaven's good gifts. Have an

eye to the molasses tierce, Mr. Stubb; it was a little leaky, I thought.

If ye touch at the islands, Mr. Flask, beware of fornication. Good-bye,

good-bye! Don't keep that cheese too long down in the hold, Mr.

Starbuck; it'll spoil. Be careful with the butter--twenty cents the

pound it was, and mind ye, if--"
"Come, come, Captain Bildad; stop palavering,--away!" and with that,

Peleg hurried him over the side, and both dropt into the boat.


Ship and boat diverged; the cold, damp night breeze blew between; a

screaming gull flew overhead; the two hulls wildly rolled; we gave

three heavy-hearted cheers, and blindly plunged like fate into the lone

Atlantic.


CHAPTER 23. The Lee Shore.

Some chapters back, one Bulkington was spoken of, a tall, newlanded

mariner, encountered in New Bedford at the inn.


When on that shivering winter's night, the Pequod thrust her vindictive

bows into the cold malicious waves, who should I see standing at her

helm but Bulkington! I looked with sympathetic awe and fearfulness upon

the man, who in mid-winter just landed from a four years' dangerous

voyage, could so unrestingly push off again for still another

tempestuous term. The land seemed scorching to his feet. Wonderfullest

things are ever the unmentionable; deep memories yield no epitaphs; this

six-inch chapter is the stoneless grave of Bulkington. Let me only say

that it fared with him as with the storm-tossed ship, that miserably

drives along the leeward land. The port would fain give succor; the port

is pitiful; in the port is safety, comfort, hearthstone, supper, warm

blankets, friends, all that's kind to our mortalities. But in that gale,

the port, the land, is that ship's direst jeopardy; she must fly all

hospitality; one touch of land, though it but graze the keel, would make

her shudder through and through. With all her might she crowds all sail

off shore; in so doing, fights 'gainst the very winds that fain would

blow her homeward; seeks all the lashed sea's landlessness again;

for refuge's sake forlornly rushing into peril; her only friend her

bitterest foe!
Know ye now, Bulkington? Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally

intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is but the intrepid

effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while

the wildest winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the

treacherous, slavish shore?
But as in landlessness alone resides highest truth, shoreless,

indefinite as God--so, better is it to perish in that howling infinite,

than be ingloriously dashed upon the lee, even if that were safety!

For worm-like, then, oh! who would craven crawl to land! Terrors of

the terrible! is all this agony so vain? Take heart, take heart,

O Bulkington! Bear thee grimly, demigod! Up from the spray of thy

ocean-perishing--straight up, leaps thy apotheosis!

CHAPTER 24. The Advocate.

As Queequeg and I are now fairly embarked in this business of whaling;

and as this business of whaling has somehow come to be regarded among

landsmen as a rather unpoetical and disreputable pursuit; therefore, I

am all anxiety to convince ye, ye landsmen, of the injustice hereby done

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