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,[](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.”