Moby Dick: or, the White Whale eBook

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

“Either do that, sir, or waste in one day more oil than we may make good in a year.  What we come twenty thousand miles to get is worth saving, sir.”

“So it is, so it is; if we get it.”

“I was speaking of the oil in the hold, sir.”

“And I was not speaking or thinking of that at all.  Begone!  Let it leak!  I’m all aleak myself.  Aye! leaks in leaks! not only full of leaky casks, but those leaky casks are in a leaky ship; and that’s a far worse plight than the Pequod’s, man.  Yet I don’t stop to plug my leak; for who can find it in the deep-loaded hull; or how hope to plug it, even if found, in this life’s howling gale?  Starbuck!  I’ll not have the Burtons hoisted.”

“What will the owners say, sir?”

“Let the owners stand on Nantucket beach and outyell the Typhoons.  What cares Ahab?  Owners, owners?  Thou art always prating to me, Starbuck, about those miserly owners, as if the owners were my conscience.  But look ye, the only real owner of anything is its commander; and hark ye, my conscience is in this ship’s keel.—­On deck!”

“Captain Ahab,” said the reddening mate, moving further into the cabin, with a daring so strangely respectful and cautious that it almost seemed not only every way seeking to avoid the slightest outward manifestation of itself, but within also seemed more than half distrustful of itself; “A better man than I might well pass over in thee what he would quickly enough resent in a younger man; aye, and in a happier, Captain Ahab.”

“Devils!  Dost thou then so much as dare to critically think of me?—­On deck!”

“Nay, sir, not yet; I do entreat.  And I do dare, sir—­to be forbearing!  Shall we not understand each other better than hitherto, Captain Ahab?”

Ahab seized a loaded musket from the rack (forming part of most South-Sea-men’s cabin furniture), and pointing it towards Starbuck, exclaimed:  “There is one God that is Lord over the earth, and one Captain that is lord over the Pequod.—­On deck!”

For an instant in the flashing eyes of the mate, and his fiery cheeks, you would have almost thought that he had really received the blaze of the levelled tube.  But, mastering his emotion, he half calmly rose, and as he quitted the cabin, paused for an instant and said:  “Thou hast outraged, not insulted me, Sir; but for that I ask thee not to beware of Starbuck; thou wouldst but laugh; but let Ahab beware of Ahab; beware of thyself, old man.”

“He waxes brave, but nevertheless obeys; most careful bravery that!” murmured Ahab, as Starbuck disappeared.  “What’s that he said—­Ahab beware of Ahab—­there’s something there!” Then unconsciously using the musket for a staff, with an iron brow he paced to and fro in the little cabin; but presently the thick plaits of his forehead relaxed, and returning the gun to the rack, he went to the deck.

“Thou art but too good a fellow, Starbuck,” he said lowly to the mate; then raising his voice to the crew:  “Furl the t’gallant-sails, and close-reef the top-sails, fore and aft; back the main-yard; up Burtons, and break out in the main-hold.”

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