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Chapter 125 The Log and Line

  • While now the fated Pequod had been so long afloat this voyage, the log an_ine had but very seldom been in use. Owing to a confident reliance upon othe_eans of determining the vessel’s place, some merchantmen, and many whalemen,
  • especially when cruising, wholly neglect to heave the log; though at the sam_ime, and frequently more for form’s sake than anything else, regularl_utting down upon the customary slate the course steered by the ship, as wel_s the presumed average rate of progression every hour. It had been thus wit_he Pequod. The wooden reel and angular log attached hung, long untouched,
  • just beneath the railing of the after bulwarks. Rains and spray had damped it;
  • the sun and wind had warped it; all the elements had combined to rot a thin_hat hung so idly. But heedless of all this, his mood seized Ahab, as h_appened to glance upon the reel, not many hours after the magnet scene, an_e remembered how his quadrant was no more, and recalled his frantic oat_bout the level log and line. The ship was sailing plungingly; astern th_illows rolled in riots.
  • “Forward, there! Heave the log!”
  • Two seamen came. The golden-hued Tahitian and the grizzly Manxman. “Take th_eel, one of ye, I’ll heave.”
  • They went towards the extreme stern, on the ship’s lee side, where the deck,
  • with the oblique energy of the wind, was now almost dipping into the creamy,
  • sidelong-rushing sea.
  • The Manxman took the reel, and holding it high up, by the projecting handle-
  • ends of the spindle, round which the spool of line revolved, so stood with th_ngular log hanging downwards, till Ahab advanced to him.
  • Ahab stood before him, and was lightly unwinding some thirty or forty turns t_orm a preliminary hand-coil to toss overboard, when the old Manxman, who wa_ntently eyeing both him and the line, made bold to speak.
  • “Sir, I mistrust it; this line looks far gone, long heat and wet have spoile_t.”
  • “‘Twill hold, old gentleman. Long heat and wet, have they spoiled thee? Tho_eem’st to hold. Or, truer perhaps, life holds thee; not thou it.”
  • “I hold the spool, sir. But just as my captain says. With these grey hairs o_ine ’tis not worth while disputing, ‘specially with a superior, who’ll ne’e_onfess.”
  • “What’s that? There now’s a patched professor in Queen Nature’s granite-
  • founded College; but methinks he’s too subservient. Where wert thou born?”
  • “In the little rocky Isle of Man, sir.”
  • “Excellent! Thou’st hit the world by that.”
  • “I know not, sir, but I was born there.”
  • “In the Isle of Man, hey? Well, the other way, it’s good. Here’s a man fro_an; a man born in once independent Man, and now unmanned of Man; which i_ucked in—by what? Up with the reel! The dead, blind wall butts all inquirin_eads at last. Up with it! So.”
  • The log was heaved. The loose coils rapidly straightened out in a lon_ragging line astern, and then, instantly, the reel began to whirl. In turn,
  • jerkingly raised and lowered by the rolling billows, the towing resistance o_he log caused the old reelman to stagger strangely.
  • “Hold hard!”
  • Snap! the overstrained line sagged down in one long festoon; the tugging lo_as gone.
  • “I crush the quadrant, the thunder turns the needles, and now the mad se_arts the log-line. But Ahab can mend all. Haul in here, Tahitian; reel up,
  • Manxman. And look ye, let the carpenter make another log, and mend thou th_ine. See to it.”
  • “There he goes now; to him nothing’s happened; but to me, the skewer seem_oosening out of the middle of the world. Haul in, haul in, Tahitian! Thes_ines run whole, and whirling out: come in broken, and dragging slow. Ha, Pip?
  • come to help; eh, Pip?”
  • “Pip? whom call ye Pip? Pip jumped from the whaleboat. Pip’s missing. Let’_ee now if ye haven’t fished him up here, fisherman. It drags hard; I gues_e’s holding on. Jerk him, Tahiti! Jerk him off we haul in no cowards here.
  • Ho! there’s his arm just breaking water. A hatchet! a hatchet! cut it off—w_aul in no cowards here. Captain Ahab! sir, sir! here’s Pip, trying to get o_oard again.”
  • “Peace, thou crazy loon,” cried the Manxman, seizing him by the arm. “Awa_rom the quarter-deck!”
  • “The greater idiot ever scolds the lesser,” muttered Ahab, advancing. “Hand_ff from that holiness! Where sayest thou Pip was, boy?
  • “Astern there, sir, astern! Lo! lo!”
  • “And who art thou, boy? I see not my reflection in the vacant pupils of th_yes. Oh God! that man should be a thing for immortal souls to sieve through!
  • Who art thou, boy?”
  • “Bell-boy, sir; ship’s-crier; ding, dong, ding! Pip! Pip! Pip! One hundre_ounds of clay reward for Pip; five feet high—looks cowardly— quickest know_y that! Ding, dong, ding! Who’s seen Pip the coward?”
  • “There can be no hearts above the snow-line. Oh, ye frozen heavens! look dow_ere. Ye did beget this luckless child, and have abandoned him, ye creativ_ibertines. Here, boy; Ahab’s cabin shall be Pip’s home henceforth, while Aha_ives. Thou touchest my inmost centre, boy; thou art tied to me by cords wove_f my heart-strings. Come, let’s down.”
  • “What’s this? here’s velvet shark-skin,” intently gazing at Ahab’s hand, an_eeling it. “Ah, now, had poor Pip but felt so kind a thing as this, perhap_e had ne’er been lost! This seems to me, sir, as a man-rope; something tha_eak souls may hold by. Oh, sir, let old Perth now come and rivet these tw_ands together; the black one with the white, for I will not let this go.”
  • “Oh, boy, nor will I thee, unless I should thereby drag thee to worse horror_han are here. Come, then, to my cabin. Lo! ye believers in gods all goodness,
  • and in man all ill, lo you! see the omniscient gods oblivious of sufferin_an; and man, though idiotic, and knowing not what he does, yet full of th_weet things of love and gratitude. Come! I feel prouder leading thee by th_lack hand, than though I grasped an Emperor’s!”
  • “There go two daft ones now,” muttered the old Manxman.
  • “One daft with strength, the other daft with weakness.
  • But here’s the end of the rotten line—all dripping, too.
  • Mend it, eh? I think we had best have a new line altogether.
  • I’ll see Mr. Stubb about it.”