In bed we concocted our plans for the morrow. But to my surprise and no smal_oncern, Queequeg now gave me to understand, that he had been diligentl_onsulting Yojo—the name of his black little god— and Yojo had told him two o_hree times over, and strongly insisted upon it everyway, that instead of ou_oing together among the whaling-fleet in harbor, and in concert selecting ou_raft; instead of this, I say, Yojo earnestly enjoined that the selection o_he ship should rest wholly with me, inasmuch as Yojo purposed befriending us; and, in order to do so, had already pitched upon a vessel, which, if left t_yself, I, Ishmael, should infallibly light upon, for all the world as thoug_t had turned out by chance; and in that vessel I must immediately shi_yself, for the present irrespective of Queequeg.
I have forgotten to mention that, in many things, Queequeg placed grea_onfidence in the excellence of Yojo’s judgment and surprising forecast o_hings; and cherished Yojo with considerable esteem, as a rather good sort o_od, who perhaps meant well enough upon the whole, but in all cases did no_ucceed in his benevolent designs.
Now, this plan of Queequeg’s or rather Yojo’s, touching the selection of ou_raft; I did not like that plan at all. I had not a little relied o_ueequeg’s sagacity to point out the whaler best fitted to carry us and ou_ortunes securely. But as all my remonstrances produced no effect upo_ueequeg, I was obliged to acquiesce; and accordingly prepared to set abou_his business with a determined rushing sort of energy and vigor, that shoul_uickly settle that trifling little affair. Next morning early, leavin_ueequeg shut up with Yojo in our little bedroom—for it seemed that it wa_ome sort of Lent or Ramadan, or day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer wit_ueequeg and Yojo that day; how it was I never could find out, for, though _pplied myself to it several times, I never could master his liturgies an_XXIX Articles— leaving Queequeg, then, fasting on his tomahawk pipe, and Yoj_arming himself at his sacrificial fire of shavings, I sallied out among th_hipping. After much prolonged sauntering, and many random inquiries, I learn_hat 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 i_bvious; Pequod you will no doubt remember, was the name of a celebrated trib_f Massachusetts Indians; now extinct as the ancient Medes. I peered and prye_bout the Devil-Dam; from her, hopped over to the Tit-bit; and finally, goin_n board the Pequod, looked around her for a moment, and then decided tha_his 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 rar_ld Pequod. She was a ship of the old school, rather small if anything; wit_n old-fashioned claw-footed look about her. Long seasoned and weather-staine_n the typhoons and calms of all four oceans, her old hull’s complexion wa_arkened 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 o_apan, where her original ones were lost overboard in a gale—her masts stoo_tiffly up like the spines of the three old kings of Cologne. Her ancien_ecks were worn and wrinkled, like the pilgrim-worshipped flag-stone i_anterbury Cathedral where Beckett bled. But to all these her old antiquities, were added new and marvellous features, pertaining to the wild business tha_or more than half a century she had followed. Old Captain Peleg, many year_er chief-mate, before he commanded another vessel of his own, and now _etired seaman, and one of the principal owners of the Pequod,—this old Peleg, during the term of his chief-mateship, had built upon her origina_rotesqueness, and inlaid it, all over, with a quaintness both of material an_evice, unmatched by anything except it be Thorkill-Hake’s carved buckler o_edstead. She was apparelled like any barbaric Ethiopian emperor, his nec_eavy with pendants of polished ivory. She was a thing of trophies. A canniba_f a craft, tricking herself forth in the chased bones of her enemies. Al_ound, her unpanelled, open bulwarks were garnished like one continuous jaw, with the long sharp teeth of the sperm whale, inserted there for pins, t_asten her old hempen thews and tendons to. Those thews ran not through bas_locks of land wood, but deftly travelled over sheaves of sea-ivory. Scornin_ turnstile wheel at her reverend helm, she sported there a tiller; and tha_iller was in one mass, curiously carved from the long narrow lower jaw of he_ereditary foe. The helmsman who steered by that tiller in a tempest, fel_ike the Tartar, when he holds back his fiery steed by clutching its jaw. _oble craft, but somehow a most melancholy! All noble things are touched wit_hat.
Now when I looked about the quarter-deck, for some one having authority, i_rder to propose myself as a candidate for the voyage, at first I saw nobody; but I could not well overlook a strange sort of tent, or rather wigwam, pitched a little behind the main-mast. It seemed only a temporary erectio_sed in port. It was of a conical shape, some ten feet high; consisting of th_ong, huge slabs of limber black bone taken from the middle and highest par_f the jaws of the right-whale. Planted with their broad ends on the deck, _ircle of these slabs laced together, mutually sloped towards each other, an_t the apex united in a tufted point, where the loose hairy fibres waved t_nd fro like a top-knot on some old Pottowotamie Sachem’s head. A triangula_pening faced towards the bows of the ship, so that the insider commanded _omplete view forward.
And half concealed in this queer tenement, I at length found one who by hi_spect seemed to have authority; and who, it being noon, and the ship’s wor_uspended, was now enjoying respite from the burden of command. He was seate_n an old-fashioned oaken chair, wriggling all over with curious carving; an_he bottom of which was formed of a stout interlacing of the same elasti_tuff of which the wigwam was constructed.
There was nothing so very particular, perhaps, about the appearance of th_lderly man I saw; he was brown and brawny, like most old seamen, and heavil_olled up in blue pilot-cloth, cut in the Quaker style; only there was a fin_nd almost microscopic net-work of the minutest wrinkles interlacing round hi_yes, which must have arisen from his continual sailings in many hard gales, and always looking to windward;— for this causes the muscles about the eyes t_ecome pursed together. Such eye-wrinkles are very effectual in a scowl.
“Is this the Captain of the Pequod?” said I, advancing to the door of th_ent.
“Supposing it be the Captain of the Pequod, what dost thou want of him?” h_emanded.
“I was thinking of shipping.”
“Thou wast, wast thou? I see thou art no Nantucketer— ever been in a stov_oat?”
“No, Sir, I never have.”
“Dost know nothing at all about whaling, I dare say—eh?
“Nothing, Sir; but I have no doubt I shall soon learn.
I’ve been several voyages in the merchant service, and I think that-”
“Merchant service be damned. Talk not that lingo to me. Dost see tha_eg?—I’ll take that leg away from thy stern, if ever thou talkest of th_erchant service to me again. Marchant service indeed! I suppose now ye fee_onsiderable proud of having served in those marchant ships. But flukes! man, what makes thee want to go a whaling, eh?—it looks a little suspicious, don’_t, eh?—Hast not been a pirate, hast thou?— Didst not rob thy last Captain, didst thou?—Dost not think of murdering the officers when thou gettest t_ea?”
I protested my innocence of these things. I saw that under the mask of thes_alf humorous innuendoes, this old seaman, as an insulated Quakeris_antucketer, was full of his insular prejudices, and rather distrustful of al_liens, unless they hailed from Cape Cod or the Vineyard.
“But what takes thee a-whaling? I want to know that before I think of shippin_e.”
“Well, sir, I want to see what whaling is. I want to see the world.”
“Want to see what whaling is, eh? Have ye clapped eye on Captain Ahab?”
“Who is Captain Ahab, sir?”
“Aye, aye, I thought so. Captain Ahab is the Captain of this ship.”
“I am mistaken then. I thought I was speaking to the Captain himself.”
“Thou art speaking to Captain Peleg—that’s who ye are speaking to, young man.
It belongs to me and Captain Bildad to see the Pequod fitted out for th_oyage, and supplied with all her needs, including crew. We are part owner_nd agents. But as I was going to say, if thou wantest to know what whalin_s, as thou tellest ye do, I can put ye in a way of finding it out before y_ind yourself to it, past backing out. Clap eye on Captain Ahab, young man, and thou wilt find that he has only one leg.”
“What do you mean, sir? Was the other one lost by a whale?”
“Lost by a whale! Young man, come nearer to me: it was devoured, chewed up, crunched by the monstrousest parmacetty that ever chipped a boat!—ah, ah!”
I was a little alarmed by his energy, perhaps also a little touched at th_earty grief in his concluding exclamation, but said as calmly as I could, “What you say is no doubt true enough, sir; but how could I know there was an_eculiar ferocity in that particular whale, though indeed I might hav_nferred as much from the simple fact of the accident.”
“Look ye now, young man, thy lungs are a sort of soft, d’ye see; thou dost no_alk shark a bit. Sure, ye’ve been to sea before now; sure of that?”
“Sir,” said I, “I thought I told you that I had been four voyages in th_erchant-”
“Hard down out of that! Mind what I said about the marchant service— don’_ggravate me—I won’t have it. But let us understand each other. I have give_hee a hint about what whaling is! do ye yet feel inclined for it?”
“I do, sir.”
“Very good. Now, art thou the man to pitch a harpoon down a live whale’_hroat, and then jump after it? Answer, quick!”
“I am, sir, if it should be positively indispensable to do so; not to be go_id of, that is; which I don’t take to be the fact.”
“Good again. Now then, thou not only wantest to go a-whaling, to find out b_xperience what whaling is, but ye also want to go in order to see the world?
Was not that what ye said? I thought so. Well then, just step forward there, and take a peep over the weather bow, and then back to me and tell me what y_ee there.”
For a moment I stood a little puzzled by this curious request, not knowin_xactly how to take it, whether humorously or in earnest. But concentratin_ll his crow’s feet into one scowl, Captain Peleg started me on the errand.
Going forward and glancing over the weather bow, I perceived that the shi_winging to her anchor with the flood-tide, was now obliquely pointing toward_he open ocean. The prospect was unlimited, but exceedingly monotonous an_orbidding; not the slightest variety that I could see.
“Well, what’s the report?” said Peleg when I came back; “what did ye see?”
“Not much,” I replied—“nothing but water; considerable horizon though, an_here’s a squall coming up, I think.”
“Well, what dost thou think then of seeing the world? Do ye wish to go roun_ape Horn to see any more of it, eh? Can’t ye see the world where you stand?”
I was a little staggered, but go a-whaling I must, and I would; and the Pequo_as as good a ship as any—I thought the best— and all this I now repeated t_eleg. Seeing me so determined, he expressed his willingness to ship me.
“And thou mayest as well sign the papers right off,” he added—“come along wit_e.” And so saying, he led the way below deck into the cabin.
Seated on the transom was what seemed to me a most uncommon and surprisin_igure. It turned out to be Captain Bildad who along with Captain Peleg wa_ne of the largest owners of the vessel; the other shares, as is sometimes th_ase in these ports, being held by a crowd of old annuitants; widows, fatherless children, and chancery wards; each owning about the value of _imber head, or a foot of plank, or a nail or two in the ship. People i_antucket invest their money in whaling vessels, the same way that you d_ours in approved state stocks bringing in good interest.
Now, Bildad, like Peleg, and indeed many other Nantucketers, was a Quaker, th_sland having been originally settled by that sect; and to this day it_nhabitants in general retain in an uncommon measure the peculiarities of th_uaker, only variously and anomalously modified by things altogether alien an_eterogeneous. For some of these same Quakers are the most sanguinary of al_ailors and whale-hunters. They are fighting Quakers; they are Quakers with _engeance.
So that there are instances among them of men, who, named with Scriptur_ames—a singularly common fashion on the island— and in childhood naturall_mbibing the stately dramatic thee and thou of the Quaker idiom; still, fro_he audacious, daring, and boundless adventure of their subsequent lives, strangely blend with these unoutgrown peculiarities, a thousand bold dashes o_haracter, not unworthy a Scandinavian sea-king, or a poetical Pagan Roman.
And when these things unite in a man of greatly superior natural force, with _lobular brain and a ponderous heart; who has also by the stillness an_eclusion of many long night-watches in the remotest waters, and beneat_onstellations never seen here at the north, been led to think untraditionall_nd independently; receiving all nature’s sweet or savage impressions fres_rom her own virgin voluntary and confiding breast, and thereby chiefly, bu_ith some help from accidental advantages, to learn a bold and nervous loft_anguage—that man makes one in a whole nation’s census— a mighty pagean_reature, formed for noble tragedies. Nor will it at all detract from him, dramatically regarded, if either by birth or other circumstances, he have wha_eems a half wilful overruling morbidness at the bottom of his nature. For al_en tragically great are made so through a certain morbidness. Be sure o_his, O young ambition, all mortal greatness is but disease. But, as yet w_ave not to do with such an one, but with quite another; and still a man, who, if indeed peculiar, it only results again from another phase of the Quaker, modified by individual circumstances.
Like Captain Peleg, Captain Bildad was a well-to-do, retired whaleman. Bu_nlike Captain Peleg—who cared not a rush for what are called serious things, and indeed deemed those self-same serious things the veriest of al_rifles—Captain Bildad had not only been originally educated according to th_trictest sect of Nantucket Quakerism, but all his subsequent ocean life, an_he sight of many unclad, lovely island creatures, round the Horn—all that ha_ot moved this native born Quaker one single jot, had not so much as altere_ne angle of his vest. Still, for all this immutableness, was there some lac_f common consistency about worthy Captain Bildad. Though refusing, fro_onscientious scruples, to bear arms against land invaders, yet himself ha_llimitably invaded the Atlantic and Pacific; and though a sworn foe to huma_loodshed, yet had he in his straight-bodied coat, spilled tuns upon tuns o_eviathan gore. How now in the contemplative evening of his days, the piou_ildad reconciled these things in the reminiscence, I do not know; but it di_ot seem to concern him much, and very probably he had long since come to th_age and sensible conclusion that a man’s religion is one thing, and thi_ractical world quite another. This world pays dividends. Rising from a littl_abin boy in short clothes of the drabbest drab, to a harpooneer in a broa_had-bellied waistcoat; from that becoming boat-header, chief mate, an_aptain, and finally a shipowner; Bildad, as I hinted before, had conclude_is adventurous career by wholly retiring from active life at the goodly ag_f sixty, and dedicating his remaining days to the quiet receiving of hi_ell-earned income.
Now, Bildad, I am sorry to say, had the reputation of being an incorrigibl_ld hunks, and in his sea-going days, a bitter, hard task-master. They told m_n Nantucket, though it certainly seems a curious story, that when he saile_he old Categut whaleman, his crew, upon arriving home, were mostly al_arried ashore to the hospital, sore exhausted and worn out. For a pious man, especially for a Quaker, he was certainly rather hard-hearted, to say th_east. He never used to swear, though, at his men, they said; but somehow h_ot an inordinate quantity of cruel, unmitigated hard work out of them. Whe_ildad was a chief-mate, to have his drab-colored eye intently looking at you, made you feel completely nervous, till you could clutch something—a hammer o_ marling-spike, and go to work like mad, at something or other, never min_hat. Indolence and idleness perished from before him. His own person was th_xact embodiment of his utilitarian character. On his long, gaunt body, h_arried no spare flesh, no superfluous beard, his chin having a soft, economical nap to it, like the worn nap of his broad-brimmed hat.
Such, then, was the person that I saw seated on the transom when I followe_aptain Peleg down into the cabin. The space between the decks was small; an_here, bolt upright, sat old Bildad, who always sat so, and never leaned, an_his to save his coat-tails. His broad-brim was placed beside him; his leg_ere stiffly crossed; his drab vesture was buttoned up to his chin; an_pectacles on nose, he seemed absorbed in reading from a ponderous volume.
“Bildad,” cried Captain Peleg, “at it again, Bildad, eh? Ye have been studyin_hose Scriptures, now, for the last thirty years, to my certain knowledge. Ho_ar ye got, Bildad?”
As if long habituated to such profane talk from his old shipmate, Bildad, without noticing his present irreverence, quietly looked up, and seeing me, glanced again inquiringly towards Peleg.
“He says he’s our man, Bildad,” said Peleg, “he wants to ship.”
“Dost thee?” said Bildad, in a hollow tone, and turning round to me.
“I dost,” said I unconsciously, he was so intense a Quaker.
“What do ye think of him, Bildad?” said Peleg.
“He’ll do,” said Bildad, eyeing me, and then went on spelling away at his boo_n a mumbling tone quite audible.
I thought him the queerest old Quaker I ever saw, especially as Peleg, hi_riend and old shipmate, seemed such a blusterer. But I said nothing, onl_ooking round me sharply. Peleg now threw open a chest, and drawing forth th_hip’s articles, placed pen and ink before him, and seated himself at a littl_able. I began to think it was high time to settle with myself at what terms _ould be willing to engage for the voyage. I was already aware that in th_haling business they paid no wages; but all hands, including the captain, received certain shares of the profits called lays, and that these lays wer_roportioned to the degree of importance pertaining to the respective dutie_f the ship’s company. I was also aware that being a green hand at whaling, m_wn lay would not be very large; but considering that I was used to the sea, could steer a ship, splice a rope, and all that, I made no doubt that from al_ had heard I should be offered at least the 275th lay—that is, the 275th par_f the clear net proceeds of the voyage, whatever that might eventually amoun_o. And though the 275th lay was what they call a rather long lay, yet it wa_etter than nothing; and if we had a lucky voyage, might pretty nearly pay fo_he clothing I would wear out on it, not to speak of my three years’ beef an_oard, for which I would not have to pay one stiver.
It might be thought that this was a poor way to accumulate a princel_ortune—and so it was, a very poor way indeed. But I am one of those tha_ever take on about princely fortunes, and am quite content if the world i_eady to board and lodge me, while I am putting up at this grim sign of th_hunder Cloud. Upon the whole, I thought that the 275th lay would be about th_air thing, but would not have been surprised had I been offered the 200th, considering I was of a broad-shouldered make.
But one thing, nevertheless, that made me a little distrustful about receivin_ generous share of the profits was this: Ashore, I had heard something o_oth Captain Peleg and his unaccountable old crony Bildad; how that they bein_he principal proprietors of the Pequod, therefore the other and mor_nconsiderable and scattered owners, left nearly the whole management of th_hip’s affairs to these two. And I did not know but what the stingy old Bilda_ight have a mighty deal to say about shipping hands, especially as I no_ound him on board the Pequod, quite at home there in the cabin, and readin_is Bible as if at his own fireside. Now while Peleg was vainly trying to men_ pen with his jack-knife, old Bildad, to my no small surprise, considerin_hat he was such an interested party in these proceedings; Bildad never heede_s, but went on mumbling to himself out of his book, “Lay not up fo_ourselves treasures upon earth, where moth-”
“Well, Captain Bildad,” interrupted Peleg, “what d’ye say, what lay shall w_ive this young man?”
“Thou knowest best,” was the sepulchral reply, “the seven hundred and seventy- seventh wouldn’t be too much, would it?—‘where moth and rust do corrupt, bu_ay-‘”
Lay, indeed, thought I, and such a lay! the seven hundred and seventy-seventh!
Well, old Bildad, you are determined that I, for one, shall not lay up man_ays here below, where moth and rust do corrupt. It was an exceedingly lon_ay that, indeed; and though from the magnitude of the figure it might a_irst deceive a landsman, yet the slightest consideration will show tha_hough seven hundred and seventy-seven is a pretty large number, yet, when yo_ome to make a teenth of it, you will then see, I say, that the seven hundre_nd seventy-seventh part of a farthing is a good deal less than seven hundre_nd seventy-seven gold doubloons; and so I thought at the time.
“Why, blast your eyes, Bildad,” cried Peleg, Thou dost not want to swindl_his young man! he must have more than that.”
“Seven hundred and seventy-seventh,” again said Bildad, without lifting hi_yes; and then went on mumbling—“for where your treasure is, there will you_eart be also.”
“I am going to put him down for the three hundredth,” said Peleg, “do ye hea_hat, Bildad! The three hundredth lay, I say.”
Bildad laid down his book, and turning solemnly towards him said, “Captai_eleg, thou hast a generous heart; but thou must consider the duty thou owes_o the other owners of this ship—widows and orphans, many of them— and that i_e too abundantly reward the labors of this young man, we may be taking th_read from those widows and those orphans. The seven hundred and seventy- seventh lay, Captain Peleg.”
“Thou Bildad!” roared Peleg, starting up and clattering about the cabin.
“Blast ye, Captain Bildad, if I had followed thy advice in these matters, _ould afore now had a conscience to lug about that would be heavy enough t_ounder the largest ship that ever sailed round Cape Horn.”
“Captain Peleg,” said Bildad steadily, “thy conscience may be drawing te_nches of water, or ten fathoms, I can’t tell; but as thou art still a_mpenitent man, Captain Peleg, I greatly fear lest thy conscience be but _eaky one; and will in the end sink thee foundering down to the fiery pit, Captain Peleg.”
“Fiery pit! fiery pit! ye insult me, man; past all natural bearing, ye insul_e. It’s an all-fired outrage to tell any human creature that he’s bound t_ell. Flukes and flames! Bildad, say that again to me, and start my soulbolts, but I’ll—I’ll—yes, I’ll swallow a live goat with all his hair and horns on.
Out of the cabin, ye canting, drab-colored son of a wooden gun—a straight wak_ith ye!”
As he thundered out this he made a rush at Bildad, but with a marvellou_blique, sliding celerity, Bildad for that time eluded him.
Alarmed at this terrible outburst between the two principal and responsibl_wners of the ship, and feeling half a mind to give up all idea of sailing i_ vessel so questionably owned and temporarily commanded, I stepped aside fro_he door to give egress to Bildad, who, I made no doubt, was all eagerness t_anish from before the awakened wrath of Peleg. But to my astonishment, he sa_own again on the transom very quietly, and seemed to have not the slightes_ntention of withdrawing. He seemed quite used to impenitent Peleg and hi_ays. As for Peleg, after letting off his rage as he had, there seemed no mor_eft in him, and he, too, sat down like a lamb, though he twitched a little a_f still nervously agitated. “Whew!” he whistled at last—“the squall’s gon_ff to leeward, I think. Bildad, thou used to be good at sharpening a lance, mend that pen, will ye. My jack-knife here needs the grindstone. That’s he; thank ye, Bildad. Now then, my young man, Ishmael’s thy name, didn’t ye say?
Well then, down ye go here, Ishmael, for the three hundredth lay.”
“Captain Peleg,” said I, “I have a friend with me who wants to ship too— shal_ bring him down to-morrow?”
“To be sure,” said Peleg. “Fetch him along, and we’ll look at him.”
“What lay does he want?” groaned Bildad, glancing up from the Book in which h_ad again been burying himself.
“Oh! never thee mind about that, Bildad,” said Peleg. “Has he ever whaled i_ny?” turning to me.
“Killed more whales than I can count, Captain Peleg.”
“Well, bring him along then.”
And, after signing the papers, off I went; nothing doubting but that I ha_one a good morning’s work, and that the Pequod was the identical ship tha_ojo had provided to carry Queequeg and me round the Cape.
But I had not proceeded far, when I began to bethink me that the Captain wit_hom I was to sail yet remained unseen by me; though, indeed, in many cases, _hale-ship will be completely fitted out, and receive all her crew on board, ere the captain makes himself visible by arriving to take command; fo_ometimes these voyages are so prolonged, and the shore intervals at home s_xceedingly brief, that if the captain have a family, or any absorbin_oncernment of that sort, he does not trouble himself much about his ship i_ort, but leaves her to the owners till all is ready for sea. However, it i_lways as well to have a look at him before irrevocably committing yoursel_nto his hands. Turning back I accosted Captain Peleg, inquiring where Captai_hab was to be found.
“And what dost thou want of Captain Ahab? It’s all right enough; thou ar_hipped.”
“Yes, but I should like to see him.”
“But I don’t think thou wilt be able to at present. I don’t know exactl_hat’s the matter with him; but he keeps close inside the house; a sort o_ick, and yet he don’t look so. In fact, he ain’t sick; but no, he isn’t wel_ither. Any how, young man, he won’t always see me, so I don’t suppose he wil_hee. He’s a queer man, Captain Ahab— so some think—but a good one. Oh, thou’lt like him well enough; no fear, no fear. He’s a grand, ungodly, god- like man, Captain Ahab; doesn’t speak much; but, when he does speak, then yo_ay well listen. Mark ye, be forewarned; Ahab’s above the common; Ahab’s bee_n colleges, as well as ‘mong the cannibals; been used to deeper wonders tha_he waves; fixed his fiery lance in mightier, stranger foes than whales. Hi_ance! aye, the keenest and the surest that out of all our isle! Oh! he ain’_aptain Bildad; no, and he ain’t Captain Peleg; he’s Ahab, boy; and Ahab o_ld, thou knowest, was a crowned king!”
“And a very vile one. When that wicked king was slain, the dogs, did they no_ick his blood?”
“Come hither to me—hither, hither,” said Peleg, with a significance in his ey_hat almost startled me. “Look ye, lad; never say that on board the Pequod.
Never say it anywhere. Captain Ahab did not name himself .’Twas a foolish, ignorant whim of his crazy, widowed mother, who died when he was only _welvemonth old. And yet the old squaw Tistig, at Gayhead, said that the nam_ould somehow prove prophetic. And, perhaps, other fools like her may tel_hee the same. I wish to warn thee. It’s a lie. I know Captain Ahab well; I’v_ailed with him as mate years ago; I know what he is— a good man—not a pious, good man, like Bildad, but a swearing good man—something like me—only there’_ good deal more of him. Aye, aye, I know that he was never very jolly; and _now that on the passage home he was a little out of his mind for a spell; bu_t was the sharp shooting pains in his bleeding stump that brought that about, as any one might see. I know, too, that ever since he lost his leg last voyag_y that accursed whale, he’s been a kind of moody— desperate moody, and savag_ometimes; but that will all pass off. And once for all, let me tell thee an_ssure thee, young man, it’s better to sail with a moody good captain than _aughing bad one. So good-bye to thee—and wrong not Captain Ahab, because h_appens to have a wicked name. Besides, my boy, he has a wife—not thre_oyages wedded—a sweet, resigned girl. Think of that; by that sweet girl tha_ld man had a child: hold ye then there can be any utter, hopeless harm i_hab? No, no, my lad; stricken, blasted, if he be, Ahab has his humanities!”
As I walked away, I was full of thoughtfulness; what had been incidentall_evealed to me of Captain Ahab, filled me with a certain wild vagueness o_ainfulness concerning him. And somehow, at the time, I felt a sympathy and _orrow for him, but for I don’t know what, unless it was the cruel loss of hi_eg. And yet I also felt a strange awe of him; but that sort of awe, which _annot at all describe, was not exactly awe; I do not know what it was. But _elt it; and it did not disincline me towards him; though I felt impatience a_hat seemed like mystery in him, so imperfectly as he was known to me then.
However, my thoughts were at length carried in other directions, so that fo_he present dark Ahab slipped my mind.