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Chapter 54 The Town-Ho’s Story

  • (As told at the Golden Inn)
  • The Cape of Good Hope, and all the watery region round about there, is muc_ike some noted four corners of a great highway, where you meet mor_ravellers than in any other part.
  • It was not very long after speaking the Goney that another homeward-boun_haleman, the Town-Ho,[[8]](footnotes.xml#footnote_8) was encountered. She wa_anned almost wholly by Polynesians. In the short gam that ensued she gave u_trong news of Moby Dick. To some the general interest in the White Whale wa_ow wildly heightened by a circumstance of the Town-Ho’s story, which seeme_bscurely to involve with the whale a certain wondrous, inverted visitation o_ne of those so called judgments of God which at times are said to overtak_ome men. This latter circumstance, with its own particular accompaniments, forming what may be called the secret part of the tragedy about to b_arrated, never reached the ears of Captain Ahab or his mates. For that secre_art of the story was unknown to the captain of the Town-Ho himself. It wa_he private property of three confederate white seamen of that ship, one o_hom, it seems, communicated it to Tashtego with Romish injunctions o_ecrecy, but the following night Tashtego rambled in his sleep, and reveale_o much of it in that way, that when he was wakened he could not well withhol_he rest. Nevertheless, so potent an influence did this thing have on thos_eamen in the Pequod who came to the full knowledge of it, and by such _trange delicacy, to call it so, were they governed in this matter, that the_ept the secret among themselves so that it never transpired abaft th_equod’s main-mast. Interweaving in its proper place this darker thread wit_he story as publicly narrated on the ship, the whole of this strange affair _ow proceed to put on lasting record.
  • For my humor’s sake, I shall preserve the style in which I once narrated it a_ima, to a lounging circle of my Spanish friends, one saint’s eve, smokin_pon the thick-gilt tiled piazza of the Golden Inn. Of those fine cavaliers, the young Dons, Pedro and Sebastian, were on the closer terms with me; an_ence the interluding questions they occasionally put, and which are dul_nswered at the time.
  • “Some two years prior to my first learning the events which I am abou_ehearsing to you, gentlemen, the Town-Ho, Sperm Whaler of Nantucket, wa_ruising in your Pacific here, not very many days’ sail eastward from th_aves of this good Golden Inn. She was somewhere to the northward of the Line.
  • One morning upon handling the pumps according to daily usage, it was observe_hat she made more water in her hold than common. They supposed a sword-fis_ad stabbed her, gentlemen. But the captain, having some unusual reason fo_elieving that rare good luck awaited him in those latitudes; and therefor_eing very averse to quit them, and the leak not being then considered at al_angerous, though, indeed, they could not find it after searching the hold a_ow down as was possible in rather heavy weather, the ship still continued he_ruisings, the mariners working at the pumps at wide and easy intervals; bu_o good luck came; more days went by and not only was the leak ye_ndiscovered, but it sensibly increased. So much so, that now taking som_larm, the captain, making all sail, stood away for the nearest harbor amon_he islands, there to have his hull hove out and repaired.
  • “Though no small passage was before her, yet, if the commonest chanc_avoured, he did not at all fear that his ship would founder by the way, because his pumps were of the best, and being periodically relieved at them, those six-and-thirty men of his could easily keep the ship free; never mind i_he leak should double on her. In truth, well nigh the whole of this passag_eing attended by very prosperous breezes, the Town-Ho had all but certainl_rrived in perfect safety at her port without the occurrence of the leas_atality, had it not been for the brutal overbearing of Radney, the mate, _ineyarder, and the bitterly provoked vengeance of Steelkilt, a Lakeman an_esperado from Buffalo.
  • “‘Lakeman!—Buffalo! Pray, what is a Lakeman, and where is Buffalo?’ said Do_ebastian, rising in his swinging mat of grass.
  • “On the eastern shore of our Lake Erie, Don; but—I crave your courtesy—may be, you shall soon hear further of all that. Now, gentlemen, in square-sail brig_nd three-masted ships, well nigh as large and stout as any that ever saile_ut of your old Callao to far Manilla; this Lakeman, in the land-locked hear_f our America, had yet been nurtured by all those agrarian freebootin_mpressions popularly connected with the open ocean. For in their interflowin_ggregate, those grand fresh-water seas of ours,—Erie, and Ontario, and Huron, and Superior, and Michigan,— possess an ocean-like expansiveness, with many o_he ocean’s noblest traits; with many of its rimmed varieties of races and o_limes. They contain round archipelagoes of romantic isles, even as th_olynesian waters do; in large part, are shored by two great contrastin_ations, as the Atlantic is; they furnish long maritime approaches to ou_umerous territorial colonies from the East, dotted all round their banks; here and there are frowned upon by batteries, and by the goat-like craggy gun_f lofty Mackinaw; they have heard the fleet thunderings of naval victories; at intervals, they yield their beaches to wild barbarians, whose red painte_aces flash from out their peltry wigwams; for leagues and leagues are flanke_y ancient and unentered forests, where the gaunt pines stand like serrie_ines of kings in Gothic genealogies; those same woods harboring wild Afri_easts of prey, and silken creatures whose exported furs give robes to Tarta_mperors; they mirror the paved capitals of Buffalo and Cleveland, as well a_innebago villages; they float alike the full-rigged merchant ship, the arme_ruiser of the State, the steamer, and the beech canoe; they are swept b_orean and dismasting blasts as direful as any that lash the salted wave; the_now what shipwrecks are, for out of sight of land, however inland, they hav_rowned full many a midnight ship with all its shrieking crew. Thus, gentlemen, though an inlander, Steelkilt was wild-ocean born, and wild-ocea_urtured; as much of an audacious mariner as any. And for Radney, though i_is infancy he may have laid him down on the lone Nantucket beach, to nurse a_is maternal sea; though in after life he had long followed our auster_tlantic and your contemplative Pacific; yet was he quite as vengeful and ful_f social quarrel as the backwoods seaman, fresh from the latitudes o_uckhorn handled Bowie-knives. Yet was this Nantucketer a man with some good- hearted traits; and this Lakeman, a mariner, who though a sort of devi_ndeed, might yet by inflexible firmness, only tempered by that common decenc_f human recognition which is the meanest slave’s right; thus treated, thi_teelkilt had long been retained harmless and docile. At all events, he ha_roved so thus far; but Radney was doomed and made mad, and Steelkilt—but, gentlemen, you shall hear.
  • “It was not more than a day or two at the furthest after pointing her prow fo_er island haven, that the Town-Ho’s leak seemed again increasing, but only s_s to require an hour or more at the pumps every day. You must know that in _ettled and civilized ocean like our Atlantic, for example, some skipper_hink little of pumping their whole way across it; though of a still, sleep_ight, should the officer of the deck happen to forget his duty in tha_espect, the probability would be that he and his shipmates would never agai_emember it, on account of all hands gently subsiding to the bottom. Nor i_he solitary and savage seas far from you to the westward, gentlemen, is i_ltogether unusual for ships to keep clanging at their pump-handles in ful_horus even for a voyage of considerable length! that is, if it lie along _olerably accessible coast, or if any other reasonable retreat is afforde_hem. It is only when a leaky vessel is in some very out of the way part o_hose waters, some really landless latitude, that her captain begins to feel _ittle anxious.
  • “Much this way had it been with the Town-Ho; so when her leak was foun_aining once more, there was in truth some small concern manifested by severa_f her company; especially by Radney the mate. He commanded the upper sails t_e well hoisted, sheeted home anew, and every way expanded to the breeze. No_his Radney, I suppose, was as little of a coward, and as little inclined t_ny sort of nervous apprehensiveness touching his own person as any fearless, unthinking creature on land or on sea that you can conveniently imagine, gentlemen. Therefore when he betrayed this imagine, solicitude about th_afety of the ship, some of the seamen declared that it was only on account o_is being a part owner in her. So when they were working that evening at th_umps, there was on this head no small gamesomeness slily going on among them, as they stood with their feet continually overflowed by the rippling clea_ater; clear as any mountain spring, gentlemen—that bubbling from the pump_an across the deck, and poured itself out in steady spouts at the le_cupper-holes.
  • “Now, as you well know, it is not seldom the case in this conventional worl_f ours—watery or otherwise; that when a person placed in command over hi_ellow-men finds one of them to be very significantly his superior in genera_ride of manhood, straightway against that man he conceives an unconquerabl_islike and bitterness; and if he had a chance he will pull down and pulveriz_hat subaltern’s tower, and make a little heap of dust of it. Be this concei_f mine as it may, gentlemen, at all events Steelkilt was a tall and nobl_nimal with a head like a Roman, and a flowing golden beard like the tassele_ousings of your last viceroy’s snorting charger; and a brain, and a heart, and a soul in him, gentlemen, which had made Steelkilt Charlemagne, had h_een born son to Charlemagne’s father. But Radney, the mate, was ugly as _ule; yet as hardy, as stubborn, as malicious. He did not love Steelkilt, an_teelkilt knew it.
  • “Espying the mate drawing near as he was toiling at the pump with the rest, the Lakeman affected not to notice him, but unawed, went on with his ga_anterings.
  • “‘Aye, aye, my merry lads, it’s a lively leak this; hold a cannikin, one o_e, and let’s have a taste. By the Lord, it’s worth bottling! I tell ye what, men, old Rad’s investment must go for it! he had best cut away his part of th_ull and tow it home. The fact is, boys, that sword-fish only began the job; he’s come back again with a gang of ship-carpenters, saw-fish, and file-fish, and what not; and the whole posse of ’em are now hard at work cutting an_lashing at the bottom; making improvements, I suppose. If old Rad were her_ow, I’d tell him to jump overboard and scatter ’em. They’re playing the devi_ith his estate, I can tell him. But he’s a simple old soul,—Rad, and a beaut_oo. Boys, they say the rest of his property is invested in looking-glasses. _onder if he’d give a poor devil like me the model of his nose.’
  • “‘Damn your eyes! what’s that pump stopping for?’ roared Radney, pretendin_ot to have heard the sailors’ talk. ‘Thunder away at it!’
  • ‘Aye, aye, sir,’ said Steelkilt, merry as a cricket. ‘Lively, boys, lively, now!’ And with that the pump clanged like fifty fire-engines; the men tosse_heir hats off to it, and ere long that peculiar gasping of the lungs wa_eard which denotes the fullest tension of life’s utmost energies.
  • “Quitting the pump at last, with the rest of his band, the Lakeman wen_orward all panting, and sat himself down on the windlass; his face fiery red, his eyes bloodshot, and wiping the profuse sweat from his brow. Now wha_ozening fiend it was, gentlemen, that possessed Radney to meddle with such _an in that corporeally exasperated state, I know not; but so it happened.
  • Intolerably striding along the deck, the mate commanded him to get a broom an_weep down the planks, and also a shovel, and remove some offensive matter_onsequent upon allowing a pig to run at large.
  • “Now, gentlemen, sweeping a ship’s deck at sea is a piece of household wor_hich in all times but raging gales is regularly attended to every evening; i_as been known to be done in the case of ships actually foundering at th_ime. Such, gentlemen, is the inflexibility of sea-usages and the instinctiv_ove of neatness in seamen; some of whom would not willingly drown withou_irst washing their faces. But in all vessels this broom business is th_rescriptive province of the boys, if boys there be aboard. Besides, it wa_he stronger men in the Town-Ho that had been divided into gangs, taking turn_t the pumps; and being the most athletic seaman of them all, Steelkilt ha_een regularly assigned captain of one of the gangs; consequently he shoul_ave been freed from any trivial business not connected with truly nautica_uties, such being the case with his comrades. I mention all these particular_o that you may understand exactly how this affair stood between the two men.
  • “But there was more than this: the order about the shovel was almost a_lainly meant to sting and insult Steelkilt, as though Radney had spat in hi_ace. Any man who has gone sailor in a whale-ship will understand this; an_ll this and doubtless much more, the Lakeman fully comprehended when the mat_ttered his command. But as he sat still for a moment, and as he steadfastl_ooked into the mate’s malignant eye and perceived the stacks of powder-cask_eaped up in him and the slow-match silently burning along towards them; as h_nstinctively saw all this, that strange forbearance and unwillingness to sti_p the deeper passionateness in any already ireful being—a repugnance mos_elt, when felt at all, by really valiant men even when aggrieved— thi_ameless phantom feeling, gentlemen, stole over Steelkilt.
  • “Therefore, in his ordinary tone, only a little broken by the bodil_xhaustion he was temporarily in, he answered him saying that sweeping th_eck was not his business, and he would not do it. And then, without at al_lluding to the shovel, he pointed to three lads, as the customary sweepers; who, not being billeted at the pumps, had done little or nothing all day. T_his, Radney replied, with an oath, in a most domineering and outrageou_anner unconditionally reiterating his command; meanwhile advancing upon th_till seated Lakeman, with an uplifted cooper’s club hammer which he ha_natched from a cask near by.
  • “Heated and irritated as he was by his spasmodic toil at the pumps, for al_is first nameless feeling of forbearance the sweating Steelkilt could but il_rook this bearing in the mate; but somehow still smothering the conflagratio_ithin him, without speaking he remained doggedly rooted to his seat, till a_ast the incensed Radney shook the hammer within a few inches of his face, furiously commanding him to do his bidding.
  • “Steelkilt rose, and slowly retreating round the windlass, steadily followe_y the mate with his menacing hammer, deliberately repeated his intention no_o obey. Seeing, however, that his forbearance had not the slightest effect, by an awful and unspeakable intimation with his twisted hand he warned off th_oolish and infatuated man; but it was to no purpose. And in this way the tw_ent once slowly round the windlass; when, resolved at last no longer t_etreat, bethinking him that he had now forborne as much as comported with hi_umor, the Lakeman paused on the hatches and thus spoke to the officer:
  • “‘Mr. Radney, I will not obey you. Take that hammer away, or look t_ourself.’ But the predestinated mate coming still closer to him, where th_akeman stood fixed, now shook the heavy hammer within an inch of his teeth; meanwhile repeating a string of insufferable maledictions. Retreating not th_housandth part of an inch; stabbing him in the eye with the unflinchin_oniard of his glance, Steelkilt, clenching his right hand behind him an_reepingly drawing it back, told his persecutor that if the hammer but graze_is cheek he (Steelkilt) would murder him. But, gentlemen, the fool had bee_randed for the slaughter by the gods. Immediately the hammer touched th_heek; the next instant the lower jaw of the mate was stove in his head; h_ell on the hatch spouting blood like a whale.
  • “Ere the cry could go aft Steelkilt was shaking one of the backstays leadin_ar aloft to where two of his comrades were standing their mastheads. The_ere both Canallers.
  • “‘Canallers!’ cried Don Pedro. ‘We have seen many whaleships in our harbors, but never heard of your Canallers. Pardon: who and what are they?’
  • “‘Canallers, Don, are the boatmen belonging to our grand Erie Canal. You mus_ave heard of it.’
  • “‘Nay, Senor; hereabouts in this dull, warm, most lazy, and hereditary land, we know but little of your vigorous North.’
  • “‘Aye? Well then, Don, refill my cup. Your chicha’s very fine; and er_roceeding further I will tell ye what our Canallers are; for such informatio_ay throw side-light upon my story.’
  • “For three hundred and sixty miles, gentlemen, through the entire breadth o_he state of New York; through numerous populous cities and most thrivin_illages; through long, dismal, uninhabited swamps, and affluent, cultivate_ields, unrivalled for fertility; by billiard-room and bar-room; through th_oly-of-holies of great forests; on Roman arches over Indian rivers; throug_un and shade; by happy hearts or broken; through all the wide contrastin_cenery of those noble Mohawk counties; and especially, by rows of snow-whit_hapels, whose spires stand almost like milestones, flows one continual strea_f Venetianly corrupt and often lawless life. There’s your true Ashantee, gentlemen; there howl your pagans; where you ever find them, next door to you; under the long-flung shadow, and the snug patronizing lee of churches. For b_ome curious fatality, as it is often noted of your metropolitan freebooter_hat they ever encamp around the halls of justice, so sinners, gentlemen, mos_bound in holiest vicinities.
  • “‘Is that a friar passing?’ said Don Pedro, looking downwards into the crowde_lazza, with humorous concern.
  • “‘Well for our northern friend, Dame Isabella’s Inquisition wanes in Lima,’ laughed Don Sebastian. ‘Proceed, Senor.’
  • “‘A moment! Pardon!’ cried another of the company. ‘In the name of all u_imeese, I but desire to express to you, sir sailor, that we have by no mean_verlooked your delicacy in not substituting present Lima for distant Venic_n your corrupt comparison. Oh! do not bow and look surprised: you know th_roverb all along this coast—”Corrupt as Lima.” It but bears out your saying, too; churches more plentiful than billiard-tables, and for ever open-and “Corrupt as Lima.” So, too, Venice; I have been there; the holy city of th_lessed evangelist, St. Mark!—St. Dominic, purge it! Your cup! Thanks: here _efill; now, you pour out again.’
  • “Freely depicted in his own vocation, gentlemen, the Canaller would make _ine dramatic hero, so abundantly and picturesquely wicked is he. Like Mar_ntony, for days and days along his green-turfed, flowery Nile, he indolentl_loats, openly toying with his red-cheeked Cleopatra, ripening his aprico_high upon the sunny deck. But ashore, all this effeminacy is dashed. Th_rigandish guise which the Canaller so proudly sports; his slouched and gaily- ribboned hat betoken his grand features. A terror to the smiling innocence o_he villages through which he floats; his swart visage and bold swagger ar_ot unshunned in cities. Once a vagabond on his own canal, I have receive_ood turns from one of these Canallers; I thank him heartily; would fain b_ot ungrateful; but it is often one of the prime redeeming qualities of you_an of violence, that at times he has as stiff an arm to back a poor strange_n a strait, as to plunder a wealthy one. In sum, gentlemen, what the wildnes_f this canal life is, is emphatically evinced by this; that our wild whale- fishery contains so many of its most finished graduates, and that scarce an_ace of mankind, except Sydney men, are so much distrusted by our whalin_aptains. Nor does it at all diminish the curiousness of this matter, that t_any thousands of our rural boys and young men born along its line, th_robationary life of the Grand Canal furnishes the sole transition betwee_uietly reaping in a Christian corn-field, and recklessly ploughing the water_f the most barbaric seas.
  • “‘I see! I see!’ impetuously exclaimed Don Pedro, spilling his chicha upon hi_ilvery ruffles. ‘No need to travel! The world’s one Lima. I had thought, now, that at your temperate North the generations were cold and holy as the hills.— But the story.’
  • “I had left off, gentlemen, where the Lakeman shook the backstay. Hardly ha_e done so, when he was surrounded by the three junior mates and the fou_arpooneers, who all crowded him to the deck. But sliding down the ropes lik_aleful comets, the two Canallers rushed into the uproar, and sought to dra_heir man out of it towards the forecastle. Others of the sailors joined wit_hem in this attempt, and a twisted turmoil ensued; while standing out o_arm’s way, the valiant captain danced up and down with a whale-pike, callin_pon his officers to manhandle that atrocious scoundrel, and smoke him alon_o the quarter-deck. At intervals, he ran close up to the revolving border o_he confusion, and prying into the heart of it with his pike, sought to pric_ut the object of his resentment. But Steelkilt and his desperadoes were to_uch for them all; they succeeded in gaining the forecastle deck, where, hastily slewing about three or four large casks in a line with the windlass, these sea-Parisians entrenched themselves behind the barricade.
  • “‘Come out of that, ye pirates!’ roared the captain, now menacing them with _istol in each hand, just brought to him by the steward. ‘Come out of that, y_ut-throats!’
  • “Steelkilt leaped on the barricade, and striding up and down there, defied th_orst the pistols could do; but gave the captain to understand distinctly, that his (Steelkilt’s) death would be the signal for a murderous mutiny on th_art of all hands. Fearing in his heart lest this might prove but too true, the captain a little desisted, but still commanded the insurgents instantly t_eturn to their duty.
  • “‘Will you promise not to touch us, if we do?’ demanded their ringleader.
  • “‘Turn to! turn to!—I make no promise; to your duty! Do you want to sink th_hip, by knocking off at a time like this? Turn to!’ and he once more raised _istol.
  • “‘Sink the ship?’ cried Steelkilt. ‘Aye, let her sink. Not a man of us turn_o, unless you swear not to raise a rope-yarn against us. What say ye, men?’ turning to his comrades. A fierce cheer was their response.
  • “The Lakeman now patrolled the barricade, all the while keeping his eye on th_aptain, and jerking out such sentences as these:— ‘It’s not our fault; w_idn’t want it; I told him to take his hammer away; it was boy’s business; h_ight have known me before this; I told him not to prick the buffalo; _elieve I have broken a finger here against his cursed jaw; ain’t thos_incing knives down in the forecastle there, men? look to those handspikes, m_earties. Captain, by God, look to yourself; say the word; don’t be a fool; forget it all; we are ready to turn to; treat us decently, and we’re your men; but we won’t be flogged.’
  • “‘Turn to! I make no promises, t to, I say!’
  • “‘Look ye, now,’ cried the Lakeman, flinging out his arm towards him, ‘ther_re a few of us here (and I am one of them) who have shipped for the cruise, d’ye see; now as you well know, sir, we can claim our discharge as soon as th_nchor is down; so we don’t want a row; it’s not our interest; we want to b_eaceable; we are ready to work, but we won’t be flogged.’
  • “‘Turn to!’ roared the Captain.
  • “Steelkilt glanced round him a moment, and then said:—‘I tell you what it i_ow, Captain, rather than kill ye, and be hung for such a shabby rascal, w_on’t lift a hand against ye unless ye attack us; but till you say the wor_bout not flogging us, we don’t do a hand’s turn.’
  • “‘Down into the forecastle then, down with ye, I’ll keep ye there till ye’r_ick of it. Down ye go.’
  • “‘Shall we?’ cried the ringleader to his men. Most of them were against it; but at length, in obedience to Steelkilt, they preceded him down into thei_ark den, growlingly disappearing, like bears into a cave.
  • “As the Lakeman’s bare head was just level with the planks, the Captain an_is posse leaped the barricade, and rapidly drawing over the slide of th_cuttle, planted their group of hands upon it, and loudly called for th_teward to bring the heavy brass padlock belonging to the companionway.
  • Then opening the slide a little, the Captain whispered something down th_rack, closed it, and turned the key upon them—ten in number— leaving on dec_ome twenty or more, who thus far had remained neutral.
  • “All night a wide-awake watch was kept by all the officers, forward and aft, especially about the forecastle scuttle and fore hatchway; at which last plac_t was feared the insurgents might emerge, after breaking through the bulkhea_elow. But the hours of darkness passed in peace; the men who still remaine_t their duty toiling hard at the pumps, whose clinking and clanking a_ntervals through the dreary night dismally resounded through the ship.
  • “At sunrise the Captain went forward, and knocking on the deck, summoned th_risoners to work; but with a yell they refused. Water was then lowered dow_o them, and a couple of handfuls of biscuit were tossed after it; when agai_urning the key upon them and pocketing it, the Captain returned to th_uarter-deck. Twice every day for three days this was repeated; but on th_ourth morning a confused wrangling, and then a scuffling was heard, as th_ustomary summons was delivered; and suddenly four men burst up from th_orecastle, saying they were ready to turn to. The fetid closeness of the air, and a famishing diet, united perhaps to some fears of ultimate retribution, had constrained them to surrender at discretion. Emboldened by this, th_aptain reiterated his demand to the rest, but Steelkilt shouted up to him _errific hint to stop his babbling and betake himself where he belonged. O_he fifth morning three others of the mutineers bolted up into the air fro_he desperate arms below that sought to restrain them. Only three were left.
  • “‘Better turn to, now?’ said the Captain with a heartless jeer.
  • “‘Shut us up again, will ye!’ cried Steelkilt.
  • “Oh! certainly,” said the Captain, and the key clicked.
  • “It was at this point, gentlemen, that enraged by the defection of seven o_is former associates, and stung by the mocking voice that had last haile_im, and maddened by his long entombment in a place as black as the bowels o_espair; it was then that Steelkilt proposed to the two Canallers, thus fa_pparently of one mind with him, to burst out of their hole at the nex_ummoning of the garrison; and armed with their keen mincing knives (long, crescentic, heavy implements with a handle at each end) run amuck from th_owsprit to the taffrail; and if by any devilishness of desperation possible, seize the ship. For himself, he would do this, he said, whether they joine_im or not. That was the last night he should spend in that den. But th_cheme met with no opposition on the part of the other two; they swore the_ere ready for that, or for any other mad thing, for anything in short but _urrender. And what was more, they each insisted upon being the first man o_eck, when the time to make the rush should come. But to this their leader a_iercely objected, reserving that priority for himself; particularly as hi_wo comrades would not yield, the one to the other, in the matter; and both o_hem could not be first, for the ladder would but admit one man at a time. An_ere, gentlemen, the foul play of these miscreants must come out.
  • “Upon hearing the frantic project of their leader, each in his own separat_oul had suddenly lighted, it would seem, upon the same piece of treachery, namely: to be the foremost in breaking out, in order to be the first of th_hree, though the last of the ten, to surrender; and thereby secure whateve_mall chance of pardon such conduct might merit. But when Steelkilt made know_is determination still to lead them to the last, they in some way, by som_ubtle chemistry of villany, mixed their before secret treacheries together; and when their leader fell into a doze, verbally opened their souls to eac_ther in three sentences; and bound the sleeper with cords, and gagged hi_ith cords; and shrieked out for the Captain at midnight.
  • “Thinking murder at hand, and smelling in the dark for the blood, he and al_is armed mates and harpooneers rushed for the forecastle. In a few minute_he scuttle was opened, and, bound hand and foot, the still strugglin_ingleader was shoved up into the air by his perfidious allies, who at onc_laimed the honor of securing a man who had been fully ripe for murder. Bu_ll these were collared, and dragged along the deck like dead cattle; and, side by side, were seized up into the mizzen rigging, like three quarters o_eat, and there they hung till morning. ‘Damn ye,’ cried the Captain, pacin_o and fro before them, ‘the vultures would not touch ye, ye villains!’
  • “At sunrise he summoned all hands; and separating those who had rebelled fro_hose who had taken no part in the mutiny, he told the former that he had _ood mind to flog them all round—thought, upon the while, he would do so—h_ught to—justice demanded it; but for the present, considering their timel_urrender, he would let them go with a reprimand, which he accordingl_dministered in the vernacular.
  • “‘But as for you, ye carrion rogues,’ turning to the three men in th_igging—‘for you, I mean to mince ye up for the try-pots;’ and, seizing _ope, he applied it with all his might to the backs of the two traitors, til_hey yelled no more, but lifelessly hung their heads sideways, as the tw_rucified thieves are drawn.
  • “‘My wrist is sprained with ye!’ he cried, at last; ‘but there is still rop_nough left for you, my fine bantam, that wouldn’t give up. Take that gag fro_is mouth, and let us hear what he can say for himself.’
  • “For a moment the exhausted mutineer made a tremulous motion of his crampe_aws, and then painfully twisting round his head, said in a sort of hiss, ‘What I say is this—and mind it well— if you flog me, I murder you!’
  • “‘Say ye so? then see how ye frighten me’—and the Captain drew off with th_ope to strike.
  • “‘Best not,’ hissed the Lakeman.
  • “‘But I must,’—and the rope was once more drawn back for the stroke.
  • “Steelkilt here hissed out something, inaudible to all but the Captain; who, to the amazement of all hands, started back, paced the deck rapidly two o_hree times, and then suddenly throwing down his rope, said, ‘I won’t d_t—let him go— cut him down: d’ye hear?’
  • But as the junior mates were hurrying to execute the order, a pale man, with _andaged head, arrested them—Radney the chief mate. Ever since the blow, h_ad lain in his berth; but that morning, hearing the tumult on the deck, h_ad crept out, and thus far had watched the whole scene. Such was the state o_is mouth, that he could hardly speak; but mumbling something about his bein_illing and able to do what the captain dared not attempt, he snatched th_ope and advanced to his pinioned foe.
  • “‘You are a coward!’ hissed the Lakeman.
  • “‘So I am, but take that.’ The mate was in the very act of striking, whe_nother hiss stayed his uplifted arm. He paused: and then pausing no more, made good his word, spite of Steelkilt’s threat, whatever that might hav_een. The three men were then cut down, all hands were turned to, and, sullenly worked by the moody seamen, the iron pumps clanged as before.
  • “Just after dark that day, when one watch had retired below, a clamor wa_eard in the forecastle; and the two trembling traitors running up, besiege_he cabin door, saying they durst not consort with the crew. Entreaties, cuffs, and kicks could not drive them back, so at their own instance they wer_ut down in the ship’s run for salvation. Still, no sign of mutiny reappeare_mong the rest. On the contrary, it seemed, that mainly at Steelkilt’_nstigation, they had resolved to maintain the strictest peacefulness, obe_ll orders to the last, and, when the ship reached port, desert her in a body.
  • But in order to insure the speediest end to the voyage, they all agreed t_nother thing—namely, not to sing out for whales, in case any should b_iscovered. For, spite of her leak, and spite of all her other perils, th_own-Ho still maintained her mast-heads, and her captain was just as willin_o lower for a fish that moment, as on the day his craft first struck th_ruising ground; and Radney the mate was quite as ready to change his bert_or a boat, and with his bandaged mouth seek to gag in death the vital jaw o_he whale.
  • “But though the Lakeman had induced the seamen to adopt this sort o_assiveness in their conduct, he kept his own counsel (at least till all wa_ver) concerning his own proper and private revenge upon the man who had stun_im in the ventricles of his heart. He was in Radney the chief mate’s watch; and as if the infatuated man sought to run more than half way to meet hi_oom, after the scene at the rigging, he insisted, against the express counse_f the captain, upon resuming the head of his watch at night. Upon this, an_ne or two other circumstances, Steelkilt systematically built the plan of hi_evenge.
  • “During the night, Radney had an unseaman-like way of sitting on the bulwark_f the quarterdeck, and leaning his arm upon the gunwale of the boat which wa_oisted up there, a little above the ship’s side. In this attitude, it wa_ell known, he sometimes dozed. There was a considerable vacancy between th_oat and the ship, and down between this was the sea. Steelkilt calculated hi_ime, and found that his next trick at the helm would come round at tw_’clock, in the morning of the third day from that in which he had bee_etrayed. At his leisure, he employed the interval in braiding something ver_arefully in his watches below.
  • “‘What are you making there?’ said a shipmate.
  • “‘What do you think? what does it look like?’
  • “‘Like a lanyard for your bag; but it’s an odd one, seems to me.’
  • ‘Yes, rather oddish,’ said the Lakeman, holding it at arm’s length before him; ‘but I think it will answer. Shipmate, I haven’t enough twine,—have you any?’
  • “But there was none in the forecastle.
  • “‘Then I must get some from old Rad;’ and he rose to go aft.
  • “‘You don’t mean to go a begging to him!’ said a sailor.
  • “‘Why not? Do you think he won’t do me a turn, when it’s to help himself i_he end, shipmate?’ and going to the mate, he looked at him quietly, and aske_im for some twine to mend his hammock. It was given him—neither twine no_anyard were seen again; but the next night an iron ball, closely netted, partly rolled from the pocket of the Lakeman’s monkey jacket, as he wa_ucking the coat into his hammock for a pillow. Twenty-four hours after, hi_rick at the silent helm— nigh to the man who was apt to doze over the grav_lways ready dug to the seaman’s hand—that fatal hour was then to come; and i_he fore-ordaining soul of Steelkilt, the mate was already stark and stretche_s a corpse, with his forehead crushed in.
  • “But, gentlemen, a fool saved the would-be murderer from the bloody deed h_ad planned. Yet complete revenge he had, and without being the avenger. Fo_y a mysterious fatality, Heaven itself seemed to step in to take out of hi_ands into its own the damning thing he would have done.
  • “It was just between daybreak and sunrise of the morning of the second day, when they were washing down the decks, that a stupid Teneriffe man, drawin_ater in the main-chains, all at once shouted out, ‘There she rolls! there sh_olls!’ Jesu, what a whale! It was Moby Dick.
  • “‘Moby Dick!’ cried Don Sebastian; ‘St. Dominic! Sir sailor, but do whale_ave christenings? Whom call you Moby Dick?’
  • “‘A very white, and famous, and most deadly immortal monster, Don;— but tha_ould be too long a story.’
  • “‘How? how?’ cried all the young Spaniards, crowding.
  • “‘Nay, Dons, Dons—nay, nay! I cannot rehearse that now.
  • Let me get more into the air, Sirs.’
  • “‘The chicha! the chicha!’ cried Don Pedro; ‘our vigorous friend look_aint;—fill up his empty glass!’
  • “No need, gentlemen; one moment, and I proceed.—Now, gentlemen, so suddenl_erceiving the snowy whale within fifty yards of the ship— forgetful of th_ompact among the crew—in the excitement of the moment, the Teneriffe man ha_nstinctively and involuntarily lifted his voice for the monster, though fo_ome little time past it had been plainly beheld from the three sullen mast- heads. All was now a phrensy. ‘The White Whale—the White Whale!’ was the cr_rom captain, mates, and harpooneers, who, undeterred by fearful rumours, wer_ll anxious to capture so famous and precious a fish; while the dogged cre_yed askance, and with curses, the appalling beauty of the vast milky mass, that lit up by a horizontal spangling sun, shifted and glistened like a livin_pal in the blue morning sea. Gentlemen, a strange fatality pervades the whol_areer of these events, as if verily mapped out before the world itself wa_harted. The mutineer was the bowsman of the mate, and when fast to a fish, i_as his duty to sit next him, while Radney stood up with his lance in th_row, and haul in or slacken the line, at the word of command. Moreover, whe_he four boats were lowered, the mate’s got the start; and none howled mor_iercely with delight than did Steelkilt, as he strained at his oar. After _tiff pull, their harpooneer got fast, and, spear in hand, Radney sprang t_he bow. He was always a furious man, it seems, in a boat. And now hi_andaged cry was, to beach him on the whale’s topmost back. Nothing loath, hi_owsman hauled him up and up, through a blinding foam that blent tw_hitenesses together; till of a sudden the boat struck as against a sunke_edge, and keeling over, spilled out the standing mate. That instant, as h_ell on the whale’s slippery back, the boat righted, and was dashed aside b_he swell, while Radney was tossed over into the sea, on the other flank o_he whale. He struck out through the spray, and, for an instant, was diml_een through that veil, wildly seeking to remove himself from the eye of Mob_ick. But the whale rushed round in a sudden maelstrom; seized the swimme_etween his jaws; and rearing high up with him, plunged headlong again, an_ent down.
  • “Meantime, at the first tap of the boat’s bottom, the Lakeman had slackene_he line, so as to drop astern from the whirlpool; calmly looking on, h_hought his own thoughts. But a sudden, terrific, downward jerking of th_oat, quickly brought his knife to the line. He cut it; and the whale wa_ree. But, at some distance, Moby Dick rose again, with some tatters o_adney’s red woollen shirt, caught in the teeth that had destroyed him. Al_our boats gave chase again; but the whale eluded them, and finally wholl_isappeared.
  • “In good time, the Town-Ho reached her port—a savage, solitary place— where n_ivilized creature resided. There, headed by the Lakeman, all but five or si_f the foremastmen deliberately deserted among the palms; eventually, as i_urned out, seizing a large double war-canoe of the savages, and setting sai_or some other harbor.
  • “The ship’s company being reduced to but a handful, the captain called upo_he Islanders to assist him in the laborious business of heaving down the shi_o stop the leak. But to such unresting vigilance over their dangerous allie_as this small band of whites necessitated, both by night and by day, and s_xtreme was the hard work they underwent, that upon the vessel being read_gain for sea, they were in such a weakened condition that the captain durs_ot put off with them in so heavy a vessel. After taking counsel with hi_fficers, he anchored the ship as far off shore as possible; loaded and ra_ut his two cannon from the bows; stacked his muskets on the poop; and warnin_he Islanders not to approach the ship at their peril, took one man with him, and setting the sail of his best whale-boat, steered straight before the win_or Tahiti, five hundred miles distant, to procure a reinforcement to hi_rew.
  • “On the fourth day of the sail, a large canoe was descried, which seemed t_ave touched at a low isle of corals. He steered away from it; but the savag_raft bore down on him; and soon the voice of Steelkilt hailed him to heav_o, or he would run him under water. The captain presented a pistol. With on_oot on each prow of the yoked war-canoes, the Lakeman laughed him to scorn; assuring him that if the pistol so much as clicked in the lock, he would bur_im in bubbles and foam.
  • “‘What do you want of me?’ cried the captain.
  • “‘Where are you bound? and for what are you bound?’ demanded Steelkilt; ‘n_ies.’
  • “‘I am bound to Tahiti for more men.’
  • “‘Very good. Let me board you a moment—I come in peace.’ With that he leape_rom the canoe, swam to the boat; and climbing the gunwale, stood face to fac_ith the captain.
  • “‘Cross your arms, sir; throw back your head. Now, repeat after me. As soon a_teelkilt leaves me, I swear to beach this boat on yonder island, and remai_here six days. If I do not, may lightning strike me!’
  • “‘A pretty scholar,’ laughed the Lakeman. ‘Adios, Senor!’ and leaping into th_ea, he swam back to his comrades.
  • “Watching the boat till it was fairly beached, and drawn up to the roots o_he cocoa-nut trees, Steelkilt made sail again, and in due time arrived a_ahiti, his own place of destination. There, luck befriended him; two ship_ere about to sail for France, and were providentially in want of precisel_hat number of men which the sailor headed. They embarked, and so for ever go_he start of their former captain, had he been at all minded to work the_egal retribution.
  • “Some ten days after the French ships sailed, the whale-boat arrived, and th_aptain was forced to enlist some of the more civilized Tahitians, who ha_een somewhat used to the sea. Chartering a small native schooner, he returne_ith them to his vessel; and finding all right there, again resumed hi_ruisings.
  • “Where Steelkilt now is, gentlemen, none know; but upon the island o_antucket, the widow of Radney still turns to the sea which refuses to give u_ts dead; still in dreams sees the awful white whale that destroyed him.
  • “‘Are you through?’ said Don Sebastian, quietly.
  • “‘I am, Don.’
  • “‘Then I entreat you, tell me if to the best of your own convictions, thi_our story is in substance really true? It is so passing wonderful! Did yo_et it from an unquestionable source? Bear with me if I seem to press.’
  • “‘Also bear with all of us, sir sailor; for we all join in Don Sebastian’_uit,’ cried the company, with exceeding interest.
  • “‘Is there a copy of the Holy Evangelists in the Golden Inn, gentlemen?’
  • “‘Nay,’ said Don Sebastian; ‘but I know a worthy priest near by, who wil_uickly procure one for me. I go for it; but are you well advised? this ma_row too serious.’
  • “‘Will you be so good as to bring the priest also, Don?’
  • “‘Though there are no Auto-da-Fe’s in Lima now,’ said one of the company t_nother; ‘I fear our sailor friend runs risks of the archiepiscopacy. Let u_ithdraw more out of the moonlight. I see no need of this.’
  • “‘Excuse me for running after you, Don Sebastian; but may I also beg that yo_ill be particular in procuring the largest sized Evangelists you can.’
  • ‘This is the priest, he brings you the Evangelists,’ said Don Sebastian, gravely, returning with a tall and solemn figure.
  • “‘Let me remove my hat. Now, venerable priest, further into the light, an_old the Holy Book before me that I may touch it.
  • “‘So help me Heaven, and on my honor the story I have told ye, gentlemen, i_n substance and its great items, true. I know it to be true; it happened o_his ball; I trod the ship; I knew the crew; I have seen and talked wit_teelkilt since the death of Radney.”