Moby Dick: or, the White Whale eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 623 pages of information about Moby Dick.
a sea captain—­ this commander was invited to the wedding feast of Queequeg’s sister, a pretty young princess just turned of ten.  Well; when all the wedding guests were assembled at the bride’s bamboo cottage, this Captain marches in, and being assigned the post of honor, placed himself over against the punchbowl, and between the High Priest and his majesty the King, Queequeg’s father.  Grace being said,—­for those people have their grace as well as we—­ though Queequeg told me that unlike us, who at such times look downwards to our platters, they, on the contrary, copying the ducks, glance upwards to the great Giver of all feasts—­Grace, I say, being said, the High Priest opens the banquet by the immemorial ceremony of the island; that is, dipping his consecrated and consecrating fingers into the bowl before the blessed beverage circulates.  Seeing himself placed next the Priest, and noting the ceremony, and thinking himself—­being Captain of a ship—­as having plain precedence over a mere island King, especially in the King’s own house—­ the Captain coolly proceeds to wash his hands in the punch bowl;—­ taking it I suppose for a huge finger-glass.  “Now,” said Queequeg, “what you tink now?—­Didn’t our people laugh?”

At last, passage paid, and luggage safe, we stood on board the schooner.  Hoisting sail, it glided down the Acushnet river.  On one side, New Bedford rose in terraces of streets, their ice-covered trees all glittering in the clear, cold air.  Huge hills and mountains of casks on casks were piled upon her wharves, and side by side the world-wandering whale ships lay silent and safely moored at last; while from others came a sound of carpenters and coopers, with blended noises of fires and forges to melt the pitch, all betokening that new cruises were on the start; that one most perilous and long voyage ended, only begins a second; and a second ended, only begins a third, and so on, for ever and for aye.  Such is the endlessness, yea, the intolerableness of all earthly effort.

Gaining the more open water, the bracing breeze waxed fresh; the little Moss tossed the quick foam from her bows, as a young colt his snortings.  How I snuffed that Tartar air!—­how I spurned that turnpike earth!—­ that common highway all over dented with the marks of slavish heels and hoofs; and turned me to admire the magnanimity of the sea which will permit no records.

At the same foam-fountain, Queequeg seemed to drink and reel with me.  His dusky nostrils swelled apart; he showed his filed and pointed teeth.  On, on we flew, and our offing gained, the Moss did homage to the blast; ducked and dived her bows as a slave before the Sultan.  Sideways leaning, we sideways darted; every ropeyarn tingling like a wire; the two tall masts buckling like Indian canes in land tornadoes.  So full of this reeling scene were we, as we stood by the plunging bowsprit, that for some time we did not notice the jeering glances of the passengers, a lubber-like assembly, who marvelled

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