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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 623 pages of information about Moby Dick.
from Queequeg that perhaps it were best to strike a light, seeing that we were so wide awake; and besides he felt a strong desire to have a few quiet puffs from his Tomahawk.  Be it said, that though I had felt such a strong repugnance to his smoking in the bed the night before, yet see how elastic our stiff prejudices grow when love once comes to bend them.  For now I liked nothing better than to have Queequeg smoking by me, even in bed, because he seemed to be full of such serene household joy then.  I no more felt unduly concerned for the landlord’s policy of insurance.  I was only alive to the condensed confidential comfortableness of sharing a pipe and a blanket with a real friend.  With our shaggy jackets drawn about our shoulders, we now passed the Tomahawk from one to the other, till slowly there grew over us a blue hanging tester of smoke, illuminated by the flame of the new-lit lamp.

Whether it was that this undulating tester rolled the savage away to far distant scenes, I know not, but he now spoke of his native island; and, eager to hear his history, I begged him to go on and tell it.  He gladly complied.  Though at the time I but ill comprehended not a few of his words, yet subsequent disclosures, when I had become more familiar with his broken phraseology, now enable me to present the whole story such as it may prove in the mere skeleton I give.

CHAPTER 12

Biographical

Queequeg was a native of Kokovoko, an island far away to the West and South.  It is not down on any map; true places never are.

When a new-hatched savage running wild about his native woodlands in a grass clout, followed by the nibbling goats, as if he were a green sapling; even then, in Queequeg’s ambitious soul, lurked a strong desire to see something more of Christendom than a specimen whaler or two.  His father was a High Chief, a King; his uncle a High Priest; and on the maternal side he boasted aunts who were the wives of unconquerable warriors.  There was excellent blood in his veins—­royal stuff; though sadly vitiated, I fear, by the cannibal propensity he nourished in his untutored youth.

A Sag Harbor ship visited his father’s bay, and Queequeg sought a passage to Christian lands.  But the ship, having her full complement of seamen, spurned his suit; and not all the King his father’s influence could prevail.  But Queequeg vowed a vow.  Alone in his canoe, he paddled off to a distant strait, which he knew the ship must pass through when she quitted the island.  On one side was a coral reef; on the other a low tongue of land, covered with mangrove thickets that grew out into the water.  Hiding his canoe, still afloat, among these thickets, with its prow seaward, he sat down in the stern, paddle low in hand; and when the ship was gliding by, like a flash he darted out; gained her side; with one backward dash of his foot capsized and sank his canoe; climbed up the chains; and throwing himself at full length upon the deck, grappled a ring-bolt there, and swore not to let it go, though hacked in pieces.

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