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