Moby Dick: or, the White Whale eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 623 pages of information about Moby Dick.

“Water!” cried the captain; “he never drinks it; it’s a sort of fits to him; fresh water throws him into the hydrophobia; but go on—­go on with the arm story.”

“Yes, I may as well,” said the surgeon, coolly.  “I was about observing, sir, before Captain Boomer’s facetious interruption, that spite of my best and severest endeavors, the wound kept getting worse and worse; the truth was, sir, it was as ugly gaping wound as surgeon ever saw; more than two feet and several inches long.  I measured it with the lead line.  In short, it grew black; I knew what was threatened, and off it came.  But I had no hand in shipping that ivory arm there; that thing is against all rule”—­ pointing at it with the marlingspike—­“that is the captain’s work, not mine; he ordered the carpenter to make it; he had that club-hammer there put to the end, to knock some one’s brains out with, I suppose, as he tried mine once.  He flies into diabolical passions sometimes.  Do ye see this dent, sir”—­removing his hat, and brushing aside his hair, and exposing a bowl-like cavity in his skull, but which bore not the slightest scarry trace, or any token of ever having been a wound—­ “Well, the captain there will tell you how that came there; he knows.”

“No, I don’t,” said the captain, “but his mother did; he was born with it.  Oh, you solemn rogue, you—­you Bunger! was there ever such another Bunger in the watery world?  Bunger, when you die, you ought to die in pickle, you dog; you should be preserved to future ages, you rascal.”

“What became of the White Whale?” now cried Ahab, who thus far had been impatiently listening to this byeplay between the two Englishmen.

“Oh!” cried the one-armed captain, Oh, yes!  Well; after he sounded, we didn’t see him again for some time; in fact, as I before hinted, I didn’t then know what whale it was that had served me such a trick, till some time afterwards, when coming back to the Line, we heard about Moby Dick—­as some call him—­and then I knew it was he.”

“Did’st thou cross his wake again?”


“But could not fasten?”

“Didn’t want to try to; ain’t one limb enough?  What should I do without this other arm?  And I’m thinking Moby Dick doesn’t bite so much as he swallows.”

“Well, then,” interrupted Bunger, “give him your left arm for bait to get the right.  Do you know, gentlemen”—­very gravely and mathematically bowing to each Captain in succession—­“Do you know, gentlemen, that the digestive organs of the whale are so inscrutably constructed by Divine Providence, that it is quite impossible for him to completely digest even a man’s arm?  And he knows it too.  So that what you take for the White Whale’s malice is only his awkwardness.  For he never means to swallow a single limb; he only thinks to terrify by feints.  But sometimes he is like the old juggling fellow, formerly a patient of mine in Ceylon, that making believe swallow jack-knives, once

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