A day or two passed, and there was great activity aboard the Pequod. Not onl_ere the old sails being mended, but new sails were coming on board, and bolt_f canvas, and coils of rigging; in short, everything betokened that th_hip’s preparations were hurrying to a close. Captain Peleg seldom or neve_ent ashore, but sat in his wigwam keeping a sharp look-out upon the hands:
Bildad did all the purchasing and providing at the stores; and the me_mployed in the hold and on the rigging were working till long after night-
On the day following Queequeg’s signing the articles, word was given at al_he inns where the ship’s company were stopping, that their chests must be o_oard before night, for there was no telling how soon the vessel might b_ailing. So Queequeg and I got down our traps, resolving, however, to slee_shore till the last. But it seems they always give very long notice in thes_ases, and the ship did not sail for several days. But no wonder; there was _ood deal to be done, and there is no telling how many things to be though_f, before the Pequod was fully equipped.
Every one knows what a multitude of things—beds, sauce-pans, knives and forks,
shovels and tongs, napkins, nut-crackers, and what not, are indispensable t_he business of housekeeping. Just so with whaling, which necessitates _hree-years’ housekeeping upon the wide ocean, far from all grocers,
costermongers, doctors, bakers, and bankers. And though this also holds tru_f merchant vessels, yet not by any means to the same extent as with whalemen.
For besides the great length of the whaling voyage, the numerous article_eculiar to the prosecution of the fishery, and the impossibility of replacin_hem at the remote harbors usually frequented, it must be remembered, that o_ll ships, whaling vessels are the most exposed to accidents of all kinds, an_specially to the destruction and loss of the very things upon which th_uccess of the voyage most depends. Hence, the spare boats, spare spars, an_pare lines and harpoons, and spare everythings, almost, but a spare Captai_nd duplicate ship.
At the period of our arrival at the Island, the heaviest storage of the Pequo_ad been almost completed; comprising her beef, bread, water, fuel, and iro_oops and staves. But, as before hinted, for some time there was a continua_etching and carrying on board of divers odds and ends of things, both larg_nd small.
Chief among those who did this fetching and carrying was Captain Bildad’_ister, a lean old lady of a most determined and indefatigable spirit, bu_ithal very kindhearted, who seemed resolved that, if she could help it,
nothing should be found wanting in the Pequod, after once fairly getting t_ea. At one time she would come on board with a jar of pickles for th_teward’s pantry; another time with a bunch of quills for the chief mate’_esk, where he kept his log; a third time with a roll of flannel for the smal_f some one’s rheumatic back. Never did any woman better deserve her name,
which was Charity—Aunt Charity, as everybody called her. And like a sister o_harity did this charitable Aunt Charity bustle about hither and thither,
ready to turn her hand and heart to anything that promised to yield safety,
comfort, and consolation to all on board a ship in which her beloved brothe_ildad was concerned, and in which she herself owned a score or two of well-
But it was startling to see this excellent hearted Quakeress coming on board,
as she did the last day, with a long oil-ladle in one hand, and a still longe_haling lance in the other. Nor was Bildad himself nor Captain Peleg at al_ackward. As for Bildad, he carried about with him a long list of the article_eeded, and at every fresh arrival, down went his mark opposite that articl_pon the paper. Every once in a while Peleg came hobbling out of his whalebon_en, roaring at the men down the hatchways, roaring up to the riggers at th_ast-head, and then concluded by roaring back into his wigwam.
During these days of preparation, Queequeg and I often visited the craft, an_s often I asked about Captain Ahab, and how he was, and when he was going t_ome on board his ship. To these questions they would answer, that he wa_etting better and better, and was expected aboard every day; meantime, th_wo Captains, Peleg and Bildad, could attend to everything necessary to fi_he vessel for the voyage. If I had been downright honest with myself, I woul_ave seen very plainly in my heart that I did but half fancy being committe_his way to so long a voyage, without once laying my eyes on the man who wa_o be the absolute dictator of it, so soon as the ship sailed out upon th_pen sea. But when a man suspects any wrong, it sometimes happens that if h_e already involved in the matter, he insensibly strives to cover up hi_uspicions even from himself. And much this way it was with me. I sai_othing, and tried to think nothing.
At last it was given out that some time next day the ship would certainl_ail. So next morning, Queequeg and I took a very early start.