Moby Dick: or, the White Whale eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 623 pages of information about Moby Dick.
whale.  So close did the monster come to the hull, that at first it seemed as if he meant it malice; but suddenly going down in a maelstrom, within three rods of the planks, he wholly disappeared from view, as if diving under the keel.  “Cut, cut!” was the cry from the ship to the boats, which, for one instant, seemed on the point of being brought with a deadly dash against the vessel’s side.  But having plenty of line yet in the tubs, and the whale not sounding very rapidly, they paid out abundance of rope, and at the same time pulled with all their might so as to get ahead of the ship.  For a few minutes the struggle was intensely critical; for while they still slacked out the tightened line in one direction, and still plied their oars in another, the contending strain threatened to take them under.  But it was only a few feet advance they sought to gain.  And they stuck to it till they did gain it; when instantly, a swift tremor was felt running like lightning along the keel, as the strained line, scraping beneath the ship, suddenly rose to view under her bows, snapping and quivering; and so flinging off its drippings, that the drops fell like bits of broken glass on the water, while the whale beyond also rose to sight, and once more the boats were free to fly.  But the fagged whale abated his speed, and blindly altering his course, went round the stern of the ship towing the two boats after him, so that they performed a complete circuit.

Meantime, they hauled more and more upon their lines, till close flanking him on both sides, Stubb answered Flask with lance for lance; and thus round and round the Pequod the battle went, while the multitudes of sharks that had before swum round the Sperm Whale’s body, rushed to the fresh blood that was spilled, thirstily drinking at every new gash, as the eager Israelites did at the new bursting fountains that poured from the smitten rock.

At last his spout grew thick, and with a frightful roll and vomit, he turned upon his back a corpse.

While the two headsmen were engaged in making fast cords to his flukes, and in other ways getting the mass in readiness for towing, some conversation ensued between them.

“I wonder what the old man wants with this lump of foul lard,” said Stubb, not without some disgust at the thought of having to do with so ignoble a leviathan.

“Wants with it?” said Flask, coiling some spare line in the boat’s bow, “did you never hear that the ship which but once has a Sperm Whale’s head hoisted on her starboard side, and at the same time a Right Whale’s on the larboard; did you never hear, Stubb, that that ship can never afterwards capsize?”

“Why not?

“I don’t know, but I heard that gamboge ghost of a Fedallah saying so, and he seems to know all about ships’ charms.  But I sometimes think he’ll charm the ship to no good at last.  I don’t half like that chap, Stubb.  Did you ever notice how that tusk of his is a sort of carved into a snake’s head, Stubb?”

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Moby Dick: or, the White Whale from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.