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

“Are these thy Mother Carey’s chickens, Perth? they are always flying in thy wake; birds of good omen, too, but not to all;—­look here, they burn; but thou—­thou liv’st among them without a scorch.”

“Because I am scorched all over, Captain Ahab,” answered Perth, resting for a moment on his hammer; “I am past scorching-, not easily can’st thou scorch a scar.”

“Well, well; no more.  Thy shrunk voice sounds too calmly, sanely woeful to me.  In no Paradise myself, I am impatient of all misery in others that is not mad.  Thou should’st go mad, blacksmith; say, why dost thou not go mad?  How can’st thou endure without being mad?  Do the heavens yet hate thee, that thou can’st not go mad?—­ What wert thou making there?”

“Welding an old pike-head, sir; there were seams and dents in it.”

“And can’st thou make it all smooth again, blacksmith, after such hard usage as it had?”

“I think so, sir.”

“And I suppose thou can’st smoothe almost any seams and dents; never mind how hard the metal, blacksmith?”

“Aye, sir, I think I can; all seams and dents but one.”

“Look ye here then,” cried Ahab, passionately advancing, and leaning with both hands on Perth’s shoulders; “look ye here—­here—­can ye smoothe out a seam like this, blacksmith,” sweeping one hand across his ribbed brow; “if thou could’st, blacksmith, glad enough would I lay my head upon thy anvil, and feel thy heaviest hammer between my eyes.  Answer!  Can’st thou smoothe this seam?”

“Oh! that is the one, sir!  Said I not all seams and dents but one?”

“Aye, blacksmith, it is the one; aye, man, it is unsmoothable; for though thou only see’st it here in my flesh, it has worked down into the bone of my skull—­that is all wrinkles!  But, away with child’s play; no more gaffs and pikes to-day.  Look ye here!” jingling the leathern bag, as if it were full of gold coins.  “I, too, want a harpoon made; one that a thousand yoke of fiends could not part, Perth; something that will stick in a whale like his own fin-bone.  There’s the stuff,” flinging the pouch upon the anvil.  “Look ye, blacksmith, these are the gathered nail-stubbs of the steel shoes of racing horses.”

“Horse-shoe stubbs, sir?  Why, Captain Ahab, thou hast here, then, the best and stubbornest stuff we blacksmiths ever work.”

“I know it, old man; these stubbs will weld together like glue from the melted bones of murderers.  Quick! forge me the harpoon.  And forge me first, twelve rods for its shank; then wind, and twist, and hammer these twelve together like the yarns and strands of a tow-line.  Quick!  I’ll blow the fire.”

When at last the twelve rods were made, Ahab tried them, one by one, by spiralling them, with his own hand, round a long, heavy iron bolt.  “A flaw!” rejecting the last one.  “Work that over again, Perth.”

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