Moby Dick: or, the White Whale eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 623 pages of information about Moby Dick.
he looked so scornful at me!  I’m a sort of strange-thoughted sometimes, they say; but that’s only haphazard-like.  Then, a short, little old body like me, should never undertake to wade out into deep waters with tall, heron-built captains; the water chucks you under the chin pretty quick, and there’s a great cry for life-boats.  And here’s the heron’s leg! long and slim, sure enough!  Now, for most folks one pair of legs lasts a lifetime, and that must be because they use them mercifully, as a tender-hearted old lady uses her roly-poly old coach-horses.  But Ahab; oh he’s a hard driver.  Look, driven one leg to death, and spavined the other for life, and now wears out bone legs by the cord.  Halloa, there, you Smut! bear a hand there with those screws, and let’s finish it before the resurrection fellow comes a-calling with his horn for all legs, true or false, as brewery men go round collecting old beer barrels, to fill ’em up again.  What a leg this is!  It looks like a real live leg, filed down to nothing but the core; he’ll be standing on this to-morrow; he’ll be taking altitudes on it.  Halloa!  I almost forgot the little oval slate, smoothed ivory, where he figures up the latitude.  So, so; chisel, file, and sand-paper, now!

CHAPTER 109

Ahab and Starbuck in the Cabin

According to usage they were pumping the ship next morning; and lo! no inconsiderable oil came up with the water; the casks below must have sprung a bad leak.  Much concern was shown; and Starbuck went down into the cabin to report this unfavorable affair.*

In Sperm-whalemen with any considerable quantity of oil on board, it is a regular semiweekly duty to conduct a hose into the hold, and drench the casks with sea-water; which afterwards, at varying intervals, is removed by the ship’s pumps.  Hereby the casks are sought to be kept damply tight; while by the changed character of the withdrawn water, the mariners readily detect any serious leakage in the precious cargo.

Now, from the South and West the Pequod was drawing nigh to Formosa and the Bashee Isles, between which lies one of the tropical outlets from the China waters into the Pacific.  And so Starbuck found Ahab with a general chart of the oriental archipelagoes spread before him; and another separate one representing the long eastern coasts of the Japanese islands—­Niphon, Matsmai, and Sikoke.  With his snow-white new ivory leg braced against the screwed leg of his table, and with a long pruning-hook of a jack-knife in his hand, the wondrous old man, with his back to the gangway door, was wrinkling his brow, and tracing his old courses again.

“Who’s there?” hearing the footstep at the door, but not turning round to it.  “On deck!  Begone!”

“Captain Ahab mistakes; it is I. The oil in the hold is leaking, sir.  We must up Burtons and break out.”

“Up Burtons and break out?  Now that we are nearing Japan; heave-to here for a week to tinker a parcel of old hoops?”

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