Moby Dick Chapter 49 - 51
Chapter 49 - 51
The Hyena/Ahab's Boat and Crew. Fedallah/The Spirit-Spout
Ishmael can't help but laugh at his near-death experience. He asks Queequeg, Stubb, and Flask if this sort of thing happens often, and they all say it does. Realizing what a dangerous profession he's gotten himself into, he decides to make a draft of a will, a common past time among sailors.
"Now then, thought I, unconsciously rolling up the sleeves of my frock, here goes for a cool, collected dive at death and destruction, and the devil fetch the hindmost." Chapter 49, pg. 193
Stubb is amazed that Ahab would go out on a whaling boat with his lack of leg. Flask is not as impressed, because he still has one knee, and a good part of the other one.
"'I don't know that, my little man; I never yet say him kneel.'" Chapter 50, pg. 194
It is a matter of some debate whether or not a whaling captain should risk himself in the actual chase; with Ahab, this seems even more dangerous, because of his handicap. Knowing this, he hired a crew for his own boat without telling the owners of the Pequod, or the men of the ship.
The shock of the new men soon passes, but Fedallah fails to fit in with everyone else. He has a mysterious air about him.
Weeks pass, and the Pequod sails through many cruising grounds. One night, Fedellah spots a jet of water spouting up, and the men are excited by his shout. They take after the spout, and Ahab paces back and forth on the deck:
"And had you watched Ahab's face that night, you would have thought that in him also two different things were warring. While his one live long made lively echoes along the deck, every stroke of his dead limb sounded like a coffin-tap. On life and death this old man walked." Chapter 51, pg. 197
But although the ship moves quickly, and the men are eager to find the whale making the spout, they are unable to see it again.
Days later, the spout is seen again, and again the Pequod chases after it, with the same results. It begins to happen every few nights, seemingly pulling the ship on after it. Some of the men begin to think that it is Moby-Dick, luring them on to attack them in the remotest seas. But when the ship turns east towards the Cape of Good Hope, the spout disappears. The weather worsens, and the sea becomes more and more violent, but Ahab remains on deck as much as ever.