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Chapter 66 The Shark Massacre

  • When in the Southern Fishery a captured Sperm Whale, after long and wear_oil, is brought alongside late at night, it is not, as a general thing a_east, customary to proceed at once to the business of cutting him in. Fo_hat business is an exceedingly laborious one; is not very soon completed; an_equires all hands to set about it. Therefore, the common usage is to take i_ll sail; lash the helm a’lee; and then send every one below to his hammoc_ill daylight, with the reservation that, until that time, anchor-watche_hall be kept; that is, two and two for an hour, each couple, the crew i_otation shall mount the deck to see that all goes well.
  • But sometimes, especially upon the Line in the Pacific, this plan will no_nswer at all; because such incalculable hosts of sharks gather round th_oored carcase, that were he left so for six hours, say, on a stretch, littl_ore than the skeleton would be visible by morning. In most other parts of th_cean, however, where these fish do not so largely abound, their wondrou_oracity can be at times considerably diminished, by vigorously stirring the_p with sharp whaling-spades, a procedure notwithstanding, which, in som_nstances, only seems to tickle them into still greater activity. But it wa_ot thus in the present case with the Pequod’s sharks; though, to be sure, an_an unaccustomed to such sights, to have looked over her side that night,
  • would have almost thought the whole round sea was one huge cheese, and thos_harks the maggots in it.
  • Nevertheless, upon Stubb setting the anchor-watch after his supper wa_oncluded; and when, accordingly Queequeg and a forecastle seaman came o_eck, no small excitement was created among the sharks; for immediatel_uspending the cutting stages over the side, and lowering three lanterns, s_hat they cast long gleams of light over the turbid sea, these two mariners,
  • darting their long whaling-spades,[[13]](footnotes.xml#footnote_13) kept up a_ncessant murdering of the sharks, by striking the keen steel deep into thei_kulls, seemingly their only vital part. But in the foamy confusion of thei_ixed and struggling hosts, the marksmen could not always hit their mark; an_his brought about new revelations of the incredible ferocity of the foe. The_iciously snapped, not only at each other’s disembowelments, but like flexibl_ows, bent round, and bit their own; till those entrails seemed swallowed ove_nd over again by the same mouth, to be oppositely voided by the gaping wound.
  • Nor was this all. It was unsafe to meddle with the corpses and ghosts of thes_reatures. A sort of generic or Pantheistic vitality seemed to lurk in thei_ery joints and bones, after what might be called the individual life ha_eparted. Killed and hoisted on deck for the sake of his skin, one of thes_harks almost took poor Queequeg’s hand off, when he tried to shut down th_ead lid of his murderous jaw.
  • “Queequeg no care what god made him shark,” said the savage, agonizingl_ifting his hand up and down; “wedder Fejee god or Nantucket god; but de go_at made shark must be one dam Ingin.”