The four whales slain that evening had died wide apart; one, far to windward;
one less distant, to leeward; one ahead; one astern. These last three wer_rought alongside ere nightfall; but the windward one could not be reache_ill morning; and the boat that had killed it lay by its side all night; an_hat boat was Ahab’s.
The waif-pole was thrust upright into the dead whale’s spout-hole; and th_antern hanging from its top, cast a troubled flickering glare upon the black,
glossy back, and far out upon the midnight waves, which gently chafed th_hale’s broad flank, like soft surf upon a beach.
Ahab and all his boat’s crew seemed asleep but the Parsee; who crouching i_he bow, sat watching the sharks, that spectrally played round the whale, an_apped the light cedar planks with their tails. A sound like the moaning i_quadrons over Asphaltites of unforgiven ghosts of Gomorrah, ran shudderin_hrough the air.
Started from his slumbers, Ahab, face to face, saw the Parsee; and hoope_ound by the gloom of the night they seemed the last men in a flooded world.
“I have dreamed it again,” said he.
“Of the hearses? Have I not said, old man, that neither hearse nor coffin ca_e thine?”
“And who are hearsed that die on the sea?”
“But I said, old man, that ere thou couldst die on this voyage, two hearse_ust verily be seen by thee on the sea; the first not made by mortal hands;
and the visible wood of the last one must be grown in America.”
“Aye, aye! a strange sight that, Parsee!—a hearse and its plumes floating ove_he ocean with the waves for the pall-bearers. Ha! Such a sight we shall no_oon see.”
“Believe it or not, thou canst not die till it be seen, old man.”
“And what was that saying about thyself?”
“Though it come to the last, I shall still go before thee thy pilot.”
“And when thou art so gone before—if that ever befall—then ere
I can follow, thou must still appear to me, to pilot me still?—
Was it not so? Well, then, did I believe all ye say, oh my pilot!
I have here two pledges that I shall yet slay Moby Dick and survive it.”
“Take another pledge, old man,” said the Parsee, as his eyes lighted up lik_ire-flies in the gloom—“Hemp only can kill thee.”
“The gallows, ye mean.—I am immortal then, on land and on sea,” cried Ahab,
with a laugh of derision;—“Immortal on land and on sea!”
Both were silent again, as one man. The grey dawn came on, and the slumberin_rew arose from the boat’s bottom, and ere noon the dead whale was brought t_he ship.