Moby Dick: or, the White Whale eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 623 pages of information about Moby Dick.
myself to it several times, I never could master his liturgies and XXXIX Articles—­ leaving Queequeg, then, fasting on his tomahawk pipe, and Yojo warming himself at his sacrificial fire of shavings, I sallied out among the shipping.  After much prolonged sauntering, and many random inquiries, I learnt that there were three ships up for three-years’ voyages—­The Devil-Dam the Tit-bit, and the Pequod.  Devil-dam, I do not know the origin of; Tit-bit is obvious; Pequod you will no doubt remember, was the name of a celebrated tribe of Massachusetts Indians; now extinct as the ancient Medes.  I peered and pryed about the Devil-Dam; from her, hopped over to the Tit-bit; and finally, going on board the Pequod, looked around her for a moment, and then decided that this was the very ship for us.

You may have seen many a quaint craft in your day, for aught I know;—­ square-toed luggers; mountainous Japanese junks; butter-box galliots, and what not; but take my word for it, you never saw such a rare old craft as this same rare old Pequod.  She was a ship of the old school, rather small if anything; with an old-fashioned claw-footed look about her.  Long seasoned and weather-stained in the typhoons and calms of all four oceans, her old hull’s complexion was darkened like a French grenadier’s, who has alike fought in Egypt and Siberia.  Her venerable bows looked bearded.  Her masts—­cut somewhere on the coast of Japan, where her original ones were lost overboard in a gale—­her masts stood stiffly up like the spines of the three old kings of Cologne.  Her ancient decks were worn and wrinkled, like the pilgrim-worshipped flag-stone in Canterbury Cathedral where Beckett bled.  But to all these her old antiquities, were added new and marvellous features, pertaining to the wild business that for more than half a century she had followed.  Old Captain Peleg, many years her chief-mate, before he commanded another vessel of his own, and now a retired seaman, and one of the principal owners of the Pequod,—­this old Peleg, during the term of his chief-mateship, had built upon her original grotesqueness, and inlaid it, all over, with a quaintness both of material and device, unmatched by anything except it be Thorkill-Hake’s carved buckler or bedstead.  She was apparelled like any barbaric Ethiopian emperor, his neck heavy with pendants of polished ivory.  She was a thing of trophies.  A cannibal of a craft, tricking herself forth in the chased bones of her enemies.  All round, her unpanelled, open bulwarks were garnished like one continuous jaw, with the long sharp teeth of the sperm whale, inserted there for pins, to fasten her old hempen thews and tendons to.  Those thews ran not through base blocks of land wood, but deftly travelled over sheaves of sea-ivory.  Scorning a turnstile wheel at her reverend helm, she sported there a tiller; and that tiller was in one mass, curiously carved from the long narrow lower jaw of her hereditary foe.  The helmsman who steered by that tiller in a tempest, felt like the Tartar, when he holds back his fiery steed by clutching its jaw.  A noble craft, but somehow a most melancholy!  All noble things are touched with that.

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