Moby Dick: or, the White Whale eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 623 pages of information about Moby Dick.
God forbid!—­ But is there no other way? no lawful way?—­Make him a prisoner to be taken home?  What! hope to wrest this old man’s living power from his own living hands?  Only a fool would try it.  Say he were pinioned even; knotted all over with ropes and hawsers; chained down to ring-bolts on this cabin floor; he would be more hideous than a caged tiger, then.  I could not endure the sight; could not possibly fly his howlings; all comfort, sleep itself, inestimable reason would leave me on the long intolerable voyage.  What, then, remains?  The land is hundreds of leagues away, and locked Japan the nearest.  I stand alone here upon an open sea, with two oceans and a whole continent between me and law.—­Aye, aye, ’tis so.—­ Is heaven a murderer when its lightning strikes a would-be murderer in his bed, tindering sheets and skin together?—­ And would I be a murderer, then, if”—­and slowly, stealthily, and half sideways looking, he placed the loaded musket’s end against the door.

“On this level, Ahab’s hammock swings within; his head this way.  A touch, and Starbuck may survive to hug his wife and child again.—­ Oh Mary!  Mary!—­boy! boy! boy!—­But if I wake thee not to death, old man, who can tell to what unsounded deeps Starbuck’s body this day week may sink, with all the crew!  Great God, where art Thou?  Shall I? shall I?—­The wind has gone down and shifted, sir; the fore and main topsails are reefed and set! she heads her course.”

“Stern all!  Oh Moby Dick, I clutch thy heart at last!”

Such were the sounds that now came hurtling from out the old man’s tormented sleep, as if Starbuck’s voice had caused the long dumb dream to speak.

The yet levelled musket shook like a drunkard’s arm against the panel; Starbuck seemed wrestling with an angel, but turning from the door, he placed the death-tube in its rack, and left the place.

“He’s too sound asleep, Mr. Stubb; go thou down, and wake him, and tell him.  I must see to the deck here.  Thou know’st what to say.”

CHAPTER 124

The Needle

Next morning the not-yet-subsided sea rolled in long slow billows of mighty bulk, and striving in the Pequod’s gurgling track, pushed her on like giants’ palms outspread.  The strong unstaggering breeze abounded so, that sky and air seemed vast outbellying sails; the whole world boomed before the wind.  Muffled in the full morning light, the invisible sun was only known by the spread intensity of his place; where his bayonet rays moved on in stacks.  Emblazonings, as of crowned Babylonian kings and queens, reigned over everything.  The sea was as a crucible of molten gold, that bubblingly leaps with light and heat.

Long maintaining an enchanted silence, Ahab stood apart; and every time the teetering ship loweringly pitched down her bowsprit, he turned to eye the bright sun’s rays produced ahead; and when she profoundly settled by the stern, he turned behind, and saw the sun’s rearward place, and how the same yellow rays were blending with his undeviating wake.

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