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Chapter 27 Knights and Squires

  • Stubb was the second mate. He was a native of Cape Cod; and hence, accordin_o local usage, was called a Cape-Cod-man. A happy-go-lucky; neither crave_or valiant; taking perils as they came with an indifferent air; and whil_ngaged in the most imminent crisis of the chase, toiling away, calm an_ollected as a journeyman joiner engaged for the year. Good-humored, easy, an_areless, he presided over his whaleboat as if the most deadly encounter wer_ut a dinner, and his crew all invited guests. He was as particular about th_omfortable arrangements of his part of the boat, as an old stage-driver i_bout the snugness of his box. When close to the whale, in the very death-loc_f the fight, he handled his unpitying lance coolly and off-handedly, as _histling tinker his hammer. He would hum over his old rigadig tunes whil_lank and flank with the most exasperated monster. Long usage had, for thi_tubb, converted the jaws of death into an easy chair. What he thought o_eath itself, there is no telling. Whether he ever thought of it at all, migh_e a question; but, if he ever did chance to cast his mind that way after _omfortable dinner, no doubt, like a good sailor, he took it to be a sort o_all of the watch to tumble aloft, and bestir themselves there, abou_omething which he would find out when he obeyed the order, and not sooner.
  • What, perhaps, with other things, made Stubb such an easy-going, unfearin_an, so cheerily trudging off with the burden of life in a world full of grav_eddlers, all bowed to the ground with their packs; what helped to bring abou_hat almost impious good-humor of his; that thing must have been his pipe.
  • For, like his nose, his short, black little pipe was one of the regula_eatures of his face. You would almost as soon have expected him to turn ou_f his bunk without his nose as without his pipe. He kept a whole row of pipe_here ready loaded, stuck in a rack, within easy reach of his hand; and,
  • whenever he turned in, he smoked them all out in succession, lighting one fro_he other to the end of the chapter; then loading them again to be i_eadiness anew. For, when Stubb dressed, instead of first putting his leg_nto his trowsers, he put his pipe into his mouth.
  • I say this continual smoking must have been one cause, at least of hi_eculiar disposition; for every one knows that this earthly air, whethe_shore or afloat, is terribly infected with the nameless miseries of th_umberless mortals who have died exhaling it; and as in time of the cholera,
  • some people go about with a camphorated handkerchief to their mouths; so,
  • likewise, against all mortal tribulations, Stubb’s tobacco smoke might hav_perated as a sort of disinfecting agent.
  • The third mate was Flask, a native of Tisbury, in Martha’s Vineyard. A short,
  • stout, ruddy young fellow, very pugnacious concerning whales, who someho_eemed to think that the great Leviathans had personally and hereditaril_ffronted him; and therefore it was a sort of point of honor with him, t_estroy them whenever encountered. So utterly lost was he to all sense o_everence for the many marvels of their majestic bulk and mystic ways; and s_ead to anything like an apprehension of any possible danger from encounterin_hem; that in his poor opinion, the wondrous whale was but a species o_agnified mouse, or at least water-rat, requiring only a little circumventio_nd some small application of time and trouble in order to kill and boil. Thi_gnorant, unconscious fearlessness of his made him a little waggish in th_atter of whales; he followed these fish for the fun of it; and a three years’
  • voyage round Cape Horn was only a jolly joke that lasted that length of time.
  • As a carpenter’s nails are divided into wrought nails and cut nails; s_ankind may be similarly divided. Little Flask was one of the wrought ones;
  • made to clinch tight and last long. They called him King-Post on board of th_equod; because, in form, he could be well likened to the short, square timbe_nown by that name in Arctic whalers; and which by the means of many radiatin_ide timbers inserted into it, serves to brace the ship against the ic_oncussions of those battering seas.
  • Now these three mates—Starbuck, Stubb and Flask, were momentous men. They i_as who by universal prescription commanded three of the Pequod’s boats a_eadsmen. In that grand order of battle in which Captain Ahab would probabl_arshal his forces to descend on the whales, these three headsmen were a_aptains of companies. Or, being armed with their long keen whaling spears,
  • they were as a picked trio of lancers; even as the harpooneers were flinger_f javelins.
  • And since in this famous fishery, each mate or headsman, like a Gothic Knigh_f old, is always accompanied by his boat-steerer or harpooneer, who i_ertain conjunctures provides him with a fresh lance, when the former one ha_een badly twisted, or elbowed in the assault; and moreover, as ther_enerally subsists between the two, a close intimacy and friendliness; it i_herefore but meet, that in this place we set down who the Pequod’_arpooneers were, and to what headsman each of them belonged.
  • First of all was Queequeg, whom Starbuck, the chief mate, had selected for hi_quire. But Queequeg is already known.
  • Next was Tashtego, an unmixed Indian from Gay Head, the most westerl_romontory of Martha’s Vineyard, where there still exists the last remnant o_ village of red men, which has long supplied the neighboring island o_antucket with many of her most daring harpooneers. In the fishery, the_sually go by the generic name of Gay-Headers. Tashtego’s long, lean, sabl_air, his high cheek bones, and black rounding eyes—for an Indian, Oriental i_heir largeness, but Antarctic in their glittering expression—all thi_ufficiently proclaimed him an inheritor of the unvitiated blood of thos_roud warrior hunters, who, in quest of the great New England moose, ha_coured, bow in hand, the aboriginal forests of the main. But no longe_nuffing in the trail of the wild beasts of the woodland, Tashtego now hunte_n the wake of the great whales of the sea; the unerring harpoon of the so_itly replacing the infallible arrow of the sires. To look at the tawny braw_f his lithe snaky limbs, you would almost have credited the superstitions o_ome of the earlier Puritans and half-believed this wild Indian to be a son o_he Prince of the Powers of the Air. Tashtego was Stubb the second mate’_quire.
  • Third among the harpooneers was Daggoo, a gigantic, coal-black negro-savage,
  • with a lion-like tread—an Ahasuerus to behold. Suspended from his ears wer_wo golden hoops, so large that the sailors called them ringbolts, and woul_alk of securing the top-sail halyards to them. In his youth Daggoo ha_oluntarily shipped on board of a whaler, lying in a lonely bay on his nativ_oast. And never having been anywhere in the world but in Africa, Nantucket,
  • and the pagan harbors most frequented by the whalemen; and having now led fo_any years the bold life of the fishery in the ships of owners uncommonl_eedful of what manner of men they shipped; Daggoo retained all his barbari_irtues, and erect as a giraffe, moved about the decks in all the pomp of si_eet five in his socks. There was a corporeal humility in looking up at him;
  • and a white man standing before him seemed a white flag come to beg truce of _ortress. Curious to tell, this imperial negro, Ahasuerus Daggoo, was th_quire of little Flask, who looked like a chess-man beside him. As for th_esidue of the Pequod’s company, be it said, that at the present day not on_n two of the many thousand men before the mast employed in the American whal_ishery, are Americans born, though pretty nearly all the officers are. Herei_t is the same with the American whale fishery as with the American army an_ilitary and merchant navies, and the engineering forces employed in th_onstruction of the American Canals and Railroads. The same, I say, because i_ll these cases the native American liberally provides the brains, the rest o_he world as generously supplying the muscles. No small number of thes_haling seamen belong to the Azores, where the outward bound Nantucket whaler_requently touch to augment their crews from the hardy peasants of those rock_hores. In like manner, the Greenland whalers sailing out of Hull or London,
  • put in at the Shetland Islands, to receive the full complement of their crew.
  • Upon the passage homewards, they drop them there again. How it is, there is n_elling, but Islanders seem to make the best whalemen. They were nearly al_slanders in the Pequod, Isolatoes too, I call such, not acknowledging th_ommon continent of men, but each Isolato living on a separate continent o_is own. Yet now, federated along one keel, what a set these Isolatoes were!
  • An Anacharsis Clootz deputation from all the isles of the sea, and all th_nds of the earth, accompanying Old Ahab in the Pequod to lay the world’_rievances before that bar from which not very many of them ever come back.
  • Black Little Pip— he never did—oh, no! he went before. Poor Alabama boy! O_he grim Pequod’s forecastle, ye shall ere long see him, beating hi_ambourine; prelusive of the eternal time, when sent for, to the grea_uarter-deck on high, he was bid strike in with angels, and beat hi_ambourine in glory; called a coward here, hailed a hero there!