Moby Dick: or, the White Whale eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 623 pages of information about Moby Dick.

Queequeg removed himself to just beyond the head of the sleeper, and lighted his tomahawk pipe.  I sat at the feet.  We kept the pipe passing over the sleeper, from one to the other.  Meanwhile, upon questioning him in his broken fashion, Queequeg gave me to understand that, in his land, owing to the absence of settees and sofas of all sorts, the king, chiefs, and great people generally, were in the custom of fattening some of the lower orders for ottomans; and to furnish a house comfortably in that respect, you had only to buy up eight or ten lazy fellows, and lay them round in the piers and alcoves.  Besides, it was very convenient on an excursion; much better than those garden-chairs which are convertible into walking sticks; upon occasion, a chief calling his attendant, and desiring him to make a settee of himself under a spreading tree, perhaps in some damp marshy place.

While narrating these things, every time Queequeg received the tomahawk from me, he flourished the hatchet-side of it over the sleeper’s head.

“What’s that for, Queequeg?”

“Perry easy, kill-e; oh! perry easy!

He was going on with some wild reminiscences about his tomahawk-pipe which, it seemed, had in its two uses both brained his foes and soothed his soul, when we were directly attracted to the sleeping rigger.  The strong vapor now completely filling the contracted hole, it began to tell upon him.  He breathed with a sort of muffledness; then seemed troubled in the nose; then revolved over once or twice; then sat up and rubbed his eyes.

“Holloa!” he breathed at last, “who be ye smokers?”

“Shipped men,” answered I, “when does she sail?”

“Aye, aye, ye are going in her, be ye?  She sails to-day.  The Captain came aboard last night.”

“What Captain?—­Ahab?”

“Who but him indeed?”

I was going to ask him some further questions concerning Ahab, when we heard a noise on deck.

“Holloa!  Starbuck’s astir,” said the rigger.  “He’s a lively chief mate that; good man, and a pious; but all alive now, I must turn to.”  And so saying he went on deck, and we followed.

It was now clear sunrise.  Soon the crew came on board in twos and threes; the riggers bestirred themselves; the mates were actively engaged; and several of the shore people were busy in bringing various last things on board.  Meanwhile Captain Ahab remained invisibly enshrined within his cabin.

CHAPTER 22

Merry Christmas

At length, towards noon, upon the final dismissal of the ship’s riggers, and after the Pequod had been hauled out from the wharf, and after the ever-thoughtful Charity had come off in a whale-boat, with her last gift—­ a nightcap for Stubb, the second mate, her brother-in-law, and a spare Bible for the steward—­after all this, the two Captains, Peleg and Bildad, issued from the cabin, and turning to the chief mate, Peleg said: 

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