Moby Dick: or, the White Whale eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 623 pages of information about Moby Dick.
revealing his brawny shoulders through the freezing foam.  I looked at the grand and glorious fellow, but saw no one to be saved.  The greenhorn had gone down.  Shooting himself perpendicularly from the water, Queequeg, now took an instant’s glance around him, and seeming to see just how matters were, dived down and disappeared.  A few minutes more, and he rose again, one arm still striking out, and with the other dragging a lifeless form.  The boat soon picked them up.  The poor bumpkin was restored.  All hands voted Queequeg a noble trump; the captain begged his pardon.  From that hour I clove to Queequeg like a barnacle; yea, till poor Queequeg took his last long dive.

Was there ever such unconsciousness?  He did not seem to think that he at all deserved a medal from the Humane and Magnanimous Societies.  He only asked for water—­fresh water—­something to wipe the brine off; that done, he put on dry clothes, lighted his pipe, and leaning against the bulwarks, and mildly eyeing those around him, seemed to be saying to himself—­“It’s a mutual, joint-stock world, in all meridians.  We cannibals must help these Christians.”

CHAPTER 14

Nantucket

Nothing more happened on the passage worthy the mentioning; so, after a fine run, we safely arrived in Nantucket.

Nantucket!  Take out your map and look at it.  See what a real corner of the world it occupies; how it stands there, away off shore, more lonely than the Eddystone lighthouse.  Look at it—­ a mere hillock, and elbow of sand; all beach, without a background.  There is more sand there than you would use in twenty years as a substitute for blotting paper.  Some gamesome wights will tell you that they have to plant weeds there, they don’t grow naturally; that they import Canada thistles; that they have to send beyond seas for a spile to stop a leak in an oil cask; that pieces of wood in Nantucket are carried about like bits of the true cross in Rome; that people there plant toadstools before their houses, to get under the shade in summer time; that one blade of grass makes an oasis, three blades in a day’s walk a prairie; that they wear quicksand shoes, something like Laplander snow-shoes; that they are so shut up, belted about, every way inclosed, surrounded, and made an utter island of by the ocean, that to their very chairs and tables small clams will sometimes be found adhering as to the backs of sea turtles.  But these extravaganzas only show that Nantucket is no Illinois.

Look now at the wondrous traditional story of how this island was settled by the red-men.  Thus goes the legend.  In olden times an eagle swooped down upon the New England coast and carried off an infant Indian in his talons.  With loud lament the parents saw their child borne out of sight over the wide waters.  They resolved to follow in the same direction.  Setting out in their canoes, after a perilous passage they discovered the island, and there they found an empty ivory casket,—­ the poor little Indian’s skeleton.

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