upon the unbecomingness of his hugging a fellow male
in that matrimonial sort of style, I succeeded in
extracting a grunt; and presently, he drew back his
arm, shook himself all over like a Newfoundland dog
just from the water, and sat up in bed, stiff as a
pike-staff, looking at me, and rubbing his eyes as
if he did not altogether remember how I came to be
there, though a dim consciousness of knowing something
about me seemed slowly dawning over him. Meanwhile,
I lay quietly eyeing him, having no serious misgivings
now, and bent upon narrowly observing so curious a
creature. When, at last, his mind seemed made
up touching the character of his bedfellow, and he
became, as it were, reconciled to the fact; he jumped
out upon the floor, and by certain signs and sounds
gave me to understand that, if it pleased me, he would
dress first and then leave me to dress afterwards,
leaving the whole apartment to myself. Thinks
I, Queequeg, under the circumstances, this is a very
civilized overture; but, the truth is, these savages
have an innate sense of delicacy, say what you will;
it is marvellous how essentially polite they are.
I pay this particular compliment to Queequeg, because
he treated me with so much civility and consideration,
while I was guilty of great rudeness; staring at him
from the bed, and watching all his toilette motions;
for the time my curiosity getting the better of my
breeding. Nevertheless, a man like Queequeg you
don’t see every day, he and his ways were well
worth unusual regarding.
He commenced dressing at top by donning his beaver
hat, a very tall one, by the by, and then—still
minus his trowsers— he hunted up his boots.
What under the heavens he did it for, I cannot tell,
but his next movement was to crush himself—
boots in hand, and hat on—under the bed;
when, from sundry violent gaspings and strainings,
I inferred he was hard at work booting himself; though
by no law of propriety that I ever heard of, is any
man required to be private when putting on his boots.
But Queequeg, do you see, was a creature in the transition
state— neither caterpillar nor butterfly.
He was just enough civilized to show off his outlandishness
in the strangest possible manner. His education
was not yet completed. He was an undergraduate.
If he had not been a small degree civilized, he very
probably would not have troubled himself with boots
at all; but then, if he had not been still a savage,
he never would have dreamt of getting under the bed
to put them on. At last, he emerged with his
hat very much dented and crushed down over his eyes,
and began creaking and limping about the room, as if,
not being much accustomed to boots, his pair of damp,
wrinkled cowhide ones— probably not made
to order either—rather pinched and tormented
him at the first go off of a bitter cold morning.