-chapter 59.squid. slowly wading through the meadows of brit,the pequod still held on her way north- eastward towards the island of java; agentle air impelling her keel, so that in the surrounding serenity her three tall tapering masts mildly waved to that languidbreeze, as three mild palms on a plain. and still, at wide intervals in the silverynight, the lonely, alluring jet would be seen. but one transparent blue morning, when astillness almost preternatural spread over the sea, however unattended with anystagnant calm; when the long burnished sun-
glade on the waters seemed a golden finger laid across them, enjoining some secrecy;when the slippered waves whispered together as they softly ran on; in this profoundhush of the visible sphere a strange spectre was seen by daggoo from the main-mast-head. in the distance, a great white mass lazilyrose, and rising higher and higher, and disentangling itself from the azure, atlast gleamed before our prow like a snow- slide, new slid from the hills. thus glistening for a moment, as slowly itsubsided, and sank. then once more arose, and silently gleamed.it seemed not a whale; and yet is this moby
dick? thought daggoo. again the phantom went down, but on re-appearing once more, with a stiletto-like cry that startled every man from his nod,the negro yelled out--"there! there again! there she breaches! right ahead! the white whale, the white whale!"upon this, the seamen rushed to the yard- arms, as in swarming-time the bees rush tothe boughs. bare-headed in the sultry sun, ahab stoodon the bowsprit, and with one hand pushed far behind in readiness to wave his ordersto the helmsman, cast his eager glance in the direction indicated aloft by theoutstretched motionless arm of daggoo.
whether the flitting attendance of the onestill and solitary jet had gradually worked upon ahab, so that he was now prepared toconnect the ideas of mildness and repose with the first sight of the particular whale he pursued; however this was, orwhether his eagerness betrayed him; whichever way it might have been, no soonerdid he distinctly perceive the white mass, than with a quick intensity he instantlygave orders for lowering. the four boats were soon on the water;ahab's in advance, and all swiftly pulling towards their prey. soon it went down, and while, with oarssuspended, we were awaiting its
reappearance, lo! in the same spot where itsank, once more it slowly rose. almost forgetting for the moment allthoughts of moby dick, we now gazed at the most wondrous phenomenon which the secretseas have hitherto revealed to mankind. a vast pulpy mass, furlongs in length andbreadth, of a glancing cream-colour, lay floating on the water, innumerable longarms radiating from its centre, and curling and twisting like a nest of anacondas, as if blindly to clutch at any hapless objectwithin reach. no perceptible face or front did it have;no conceivable token of either sensation or instinct; but undulated there on thebillows, an unearthly, formless, chance-
like apparition of life. as with a low sucking sound it slowlydisappeared again, starbuck still gazing at the agitated waters where it had sunk, witha wild voice exclaimed--"almost rather had i seen moby dick and fought him, than tohave seen thee, thou white ghost!" "what was it, sir?" said flask. "the great live squid, which, they say, fewwhale-ships ever beheld, and returned to their ports to tell of it." but ahab said nothing; turning his boat, hesailed back to the vessel; the rest as silently following.
whatever superstitions the sperm whalemenin general have connected with the sight of this object, certain it is, that a glimpseof it being so very unusual, that circumstance has gone far to invest it withportentousness. so rarely is it beheld, that though one andall of them declare it to be the largest animated thing in the ocean, yet very fewof them have any but the most vague ideas concerning its true nature and form; notwithstanding, they believe it to furnishto the sperm whale his only food. for though other species of whales findtheir food above water, and may be seen by man in the act of feeding, the spermacetiwhale obtains his whole food in unknown
zones below the surface; and only by inference is it that any one can tell ofwhat, precisely, that food consists. at times, when closely pursued, he willdisgorge what are supposed to be the detached arms of the squid; some of themthus exhibited exceeding twenty and thirty feet in length. they fancy that the monster to which thesearms belonged ordinarily clings by them to the bed of the ocean; and that the spermwhale, unlike other species, is supplied with teeth in order to attack and tear it. there seems some ground to imagine that thegreat kraken of bishop pontoppodan may
ultimately resolve itself into squid. the manner in which the bishop describesit, as alternately rising and sinking, with some other particulars he narrates, in allthis the two correspond. but much abatement is necessary withrespect to the incredible bulk he assigns it. by some naturalists who have vaguely heardrumors of the mysterious creature, here spoken of, it is included among the classof cuttle-fish, to which, indeed, in certain external respects it would seem tobelong, but only as the anak of the tribe. chapter 60.the line.
with reference to the whaling scene shortlyto be described, as well as for the better understanding of all similar sceneselsewhere presented, i have here to speak of the magical, sometimes horrible whale-line. the line originally used in the fishery wasof the best hemp, slightly vapoured with tar, not impregnated with it, as in thecase of ordinary ropes; for while tar, as ordinarily used, makes the hemp more pliable to the rope-maker, and also rendersthe rope itself more convenient to the sailor for common ship use; yet, not onlywould the ordinary quantity too much stiffen the whale-line for the close
coiling to which it must be subjected; butas most seamen are beginning to learn, tar in general by no means adds to the rope'sdurability or strength, however much it may give it compactness and gloss. of late years the manilla rope has in theamerican fishery almost entirely superseded hemp as a material for whale-lines; for,though not so durable as hemp, it is stronger, and far more soft and elastic; and i will add (since there is anaesthetics in all things), is much more handsome and becoming to the boat, thanhemp. hemp is a dusky, dark fellow, a sort ofindian; but manilla is as a golden-haired
circassian to behold.the whale-line is only two-thirds of an inch in thickness. at first sight, you would not think it sostrong as it really is. by experiment its one and fifty yarns willeach suspend a weight of one hundred and twenty pounds; so that the whole rope willbear a strain nearly equal to three tons. in length, the common sperm whale-linemeasures something over two hundred fathoms. towards the stern of the boat it isspirally coiled away in the tub, not like the worm-pipe of a still though, but so asto form one round, cheese-shaped mass of
densely bedded "sheaves," or layers of concentric spiralizations, without anyhollow but the "heart," or minute vertical tube formed at the axis of the cheese. as the least tangle or kink in the coilingwould, in running out, infallibly take somebody's arm, leg, or entire body off,the utmost precaution is used in stowing the line in its tub. some harpooneers will consume almost anentire morning in this business, carrying the line high aloft and then reeving itdownwards through a block towards the tub, so as in the act of coiling to free it fromall possible wrinkles and twists.
in the english boats two tubs are usedinstead of one; the same line being continuously coiled in both tubs. there is some advantage in this; becausethese twin-tubs being so small they fit more readily into the boat, and do notstrain it so much; whereas, the american tub, nearly three feet in diameter and of proportionate depth, makes a rather bulkyfreight for a craft whose planks are but one half-inch in thickness; for the bottomof the whale-boat is like critical ice, which will bear up a considerable distributed weight, but not very much of aconcentrated one.
when the painted canvas cover is clapped onthe american line-tub, the boat looks as if it were pulling off with a prodigious greatwedding-cake to present to the whales. both ends of the line are exposed; thelower end terminating in an eye-splice or loop coming up from the bottom against theside of the tub, and hanging over its edge completely disengaged from everything. this arrangement of the lower end isnecessary on two accounts. first: in order to facilitate the fasteningto it of an additional line from a neighboring boat, in case the strickenwhale should sound so deep as to threaten to carry off the entire line originallyattached to the harpoon.
in these instances, the whale of course isshifted like a mug of ale, as it were, from the one boat to the other; though the firstboat always hovers at hand to assist its consort. second: this arrangement is indispensablefor common safety's sake; for were the lower end of the line in any way attachedto the boat, and were the whale then to run the line out to the end almost in a single, smoking minute as he sometimes does, hewould not stop there, for the doomed boat would infallibly be dragged down after himinto the profundity of the sea; and in that case no town-crier would ever find heragain.
before lowering the boat for the chase, theupper end of the line is taken aft from the tub, and passing round the loggerheadthere, is again carried forward the entire length of the boat, resting crosswise upon the loom or handle of every man's oar, sothat it jogs against his wrist in rowing; and also passing between the men, as theyalternately sit at the opposite gunwales, to the leaded chocks or grooves in the extreme pointed prow of the boat, where awooden pin or skewer the size of a common quill, prevents it from slipping out. from the chocks it hangs in a slightfestoon over the bows, and is then passed
inside the boat again; and some ten ortwenty fathoms (called box-line) being coiled upon the box in the bows, it continues its way to the gunwale still alittle further aft, and is then attached to the short-warp--the rope which isimmediately connected with the harpoon; but previous to that connexion, the short-warp goes through sundry mystifications tootedious to detail. thus the whale-line folds the whole boat inits complicated coils, twisting and writhing around it in almost everydirection. all the oarsmen are involved in itsperilous contortions; so that to the timid
eye of the landsman, they seem as indianjugglers, with the deadliest snakes sportively festooning their limbs. nor can any son of mortal woman, for thefirst time, seat himself amid those hempen intricacies, and while straining his utmostat the oar, bethink him that at any unknown instant the harpoon may be darted, and all these horrible contortions be put in playlike ringed lightnings; he cannot be thus circumstanced without a shudder that makesthe very marrow in his bones to quiver in him like a shaken jelly. yet habit--strange thing! what cannot habitaccomplish?--gayer sallies, more merry
mirth, better jokes, and brighterrepartees, you never heard over your mahogany, than you will hear over the half- inch white cedar of the whale-boat, whenthus hung in hangman's nooses; and, like the six burghers of calais before kingedward, the six men composing the crew pull into the jaws of death, with a halteraround every neck, as you may say. perhaps a very little thought will nowenable you to account for those repeated whaling disasters--some few of which arecasually chronicled--of this man or that man being taken out of the boat by theline, and lost. for, when the line is darting out, to beseated then in the boat, is like being
seated in the midst of the manifoldwhizzings of a steam-engine in full play, when every flying beam, and shaft, andwheel, is grazing you. it is worse; for you cannot sit motionlessin the heart of these perils, because the boat is rocking like a cradle, and you arepitched one way and the other, without the slightest warning; and only by a certain self-adjusting buoyancy andsimultaneousness of volition and action, can you escape being made a mazeppa of, andrun away with where the all-seeing sun himself could never pierce you out. again: as the profound calm which onlyapparently precedes and prophesies of the
storm, is perhaps more awful than the stormitself; for, indeed, the calm is but the wrapper and envelope of the storm; and contains it in itself, as the seeminglyharmless rifle holds the fatal powder, and the ball, and the explosion; so thegraceful repose of the line, as it silently serpentines about the oarsmen before being brought into actual play--this is a thingwhich carries more of true terror than any other aspect of this dangerous affair.but why say more? all men live enveloped in whale-lines. all are born with halters round theirnecks; but it is only when caught in the
swift, sudden turn of death, that mortalsrealize the silent, subtle, ever-present perils of life. and if you be a philosopher, though seatedin the whale-boat, you would not at heart feel one whit more of terror, than thoughseated before your evening fire with a poker, and not a harpoon, by your side. chapter 61.stubb kills a whale. if to starbuck the apparition of the squidwas a thing of portents, to queequeg it was quite a different object. "when you see him 'quid," said the savage,honing his harpoon in the bow of his
hoisted boat, "then you quick see him 'parmwhale." the next day was exceedingly still andsultry, and with nothing special to engage them, the pequod's crew could hardly resistthe spell of sleep induced by such a vacant sea. for this part of the indian ocean throughwhich we then were voyaging is not what whalemen call a lively ground; that is, itaffords fewer glimpses of porpoises, dolphins, flying-fish, and other vivacious denizens of more stirring waters, thanthose off the rio de la plata, or the in- shore ground off peru.
it was my turn to stand at the foremast-head; and with my shoulders leaning against the slackened royal shrouds, to and fro iidly swayed in what seemed an enchanted air. no resolution could withstand it; in thatdreamy mood losing all consciousness, at last my soul went out of my body; though mybody still continued to sway as a pendulum will, long after the power which firstmoved it is withdrawn. ere forgetfulness altogether came over me,i had noticed that the seamen at the main and mizzen-mast-heads were already drowsy. so that at last all three of us lifelesslyswung from the spars, and for every swing
that we made there was a nod from belowfrom the slumbering helmsman. the waves, too, nodded their indolentcrests; and across the wide trance of the sea, east nodded to west, and the sun overall. suddenly bubbles seemed bursting beneath myclosed eyes; like vices my hands grasped the shrouds; some invisible, graciousagency preserved me; with a shock i came back to life. and lo! close under our lee, not fortyfathoms off, a gigantic sperm whale lay rolling in the water like the capsized hullof a frigate, his broad, glossy back, of an ethiopian hue, glistening in the sun's rayslike a mirror.
but lazily undulating in the trough of thesea, and ever and anon tranquilly spouting his vapoury jet, the whale looked like aportly burgher smoking his pipe of a warm afternoon. but that pipe, poor whale, was thy last. as if struck by some enchanter's wand, thesleepy ship and every sleeper in it all at once started into wakefulness; and morethan a score of voices from all parts of the vessel, simultaneously with the three notes from aloft, shouted forth theaccustomed cry, as the great fish slowly and regularly spouted the sparkling brineinto the air.
"clear away the boats! luff!" cried ahab.and obeying his own order, he dashed the helm down before the helmsman could handlethe spokes. the sudden exclamations of the crew musthave alarmed the whale; and ere the boats were down, majestically turning, he swamaway to the leeward, but with such a steady tranquillity, and making so few ripples as he swam, that thinking after all he mightnot as yet be alarmed, ahab gave orders that not an oar should be used, and no manmust speak but in whispers. so seated like ontario indians on thegunwales of the boats, we swiftly but
silently paddled along; the calm notadmitting of the noiseless sails being set. presently, as we thus glided in chase, themonster perpendicularly flitted his tail forty feet into the air, and then sank outof sight like a tower swallowed up. "there go flukes!" was the cry, anannouncement immediately followed by stubb's producing his match and ignitinghis pipe, for now a respite was granted. after the full interval of his sounding hadelapsed, the whale rose again, and being now in advance of the smoker's boat, andmuch nearer to it than to any of the others, stubb counted upon the honour ofthe capture. it was obvious, now, that the whale had atlength become aware of his pursuers.
all silence of cautiousness was thereforeno longer of use. paddles were dropped, and oars came loudlyinto play. and still puffing at his pipe, stubbcheered on his crew to the assault. yes, a mighty change had come over thefish. all alive to his jeopardy, he was going"head out"; that part obliquely projecting from the mad yeast which he brewed.* *it will be seen in some other place ofwhat a very light substance the entire interior of the sperm whale's enormous headconsists. though apparently the most massive, it isby far the most buoyant part about him.
so that with ease he elevates it in theair, and invariably does so when going at his utmost speed. besides, such is the breadth of the upperpart of the front of his head, and such the tapering cut-water formation of the lowerpart, that by obliquely elevating his head, he thereby may be said to transform himself from a bluff-bowed sluggish galliot into asharppointed new york pilot-boat. "start her, start her, my men! don't hurry yourselves; take plenty oftime--but start her; start her like thunder-claps, that's all," cried stubb,spluttering out the smoke as he spoke.
"start her, now; give 'em the long andstrong stroke, tashtego. start her, tash, my boy--start her, all;but keep cool, keep cool--cucumbers is the word--easy, easy--only start her like grimdeath and grinning devils, and raise the buried dead perpendicular out of theirgraves, boys--that's all. start her!""woo-hoo! wa-hee!" screamed the gay-header in reply,raising some old war-whoop to the skies; as every oarsman in the strained boatinvoluntarily bounced forward with the one tremendous leading stroke which the eagerindian gave. but his wild screams were answered byothers quite as wild.
"kee-hee! kee-hee!" yelled daggoo, straining forwardsand backwards on his seat, like a pacing tiger in his cage."ka-la! koo-loo!" howled queequeg, as if smackinghis lips over a mouthful of grenadier's steak.and thus with oars and yells the keels cut the sea. meanwhile, stubb retaining his place in thevan, still encouraged his men to the onset, all the while puffing the smoke from hismouth. like desperadoes they tugged and theystrained, till the welcome cry was heard--
"stand up, tashtego!--give it to him!"the harpoon was hurled. "stern all!" the oarsmen backed water; the same momentsomething went hot and hissing along every one of their wrists.it was the magical line. an instant before, stubb had swiftly caughttwo additional turns with it round the loggerhead, whence, by reason of itsincreased rapid circlings, a hempen blue smoke now jetted up and mingled with thesteady fumes from his pipe. as the line passed round and round theloggerhead; so also, just before reaching that point, it blisteringly passed throughand through both of stubb's hands, from
which the hand-cloths, or squares of quilted canvas sometimes worn at thesetimes, had accidentally dropped. it was like holding an enemy's sharp two-edged sword by the blade, and that enemy all the time striving to wrest it out ofyour clutch. "wet the line! wet the line!" cried stubbto the tub oarsman (him seated by the tub) who, snatching off his hat, dashed sea-water into it.* more turns were taken, so that the line began holding its place. the boat now flew through the boiling waterlike a shark all fins. stubb and tashtego here changed places--stem for stern--a staggering business truly
in that rocking commotion. *partly to show the indispensableness ofthis act, it may here be stated, that, in the old dutch fishery, a mop was used todash the running line with water; in many other ships, a wooden piggin, or bailer, isset apart for that purpose. your hat, however, is the most convenient. from the vibrating line extending theentire length of the upper part of the boat, and from its now being more tightthan a harpstring, you would have thought the craft had two keels--one cleaving the water, the other the air--as the boatchurned on through both opposing elements
at once. a continual cascade played at the bows; aceaseless whirling eddy in her wake; and, at the slightest motion from within, evenbut of a little finger, the vibrating, cracking craft canted over her spasmodicgunwale into the sea. thus they rushed; each man with might andmain clinging to his seat, to prevent being tossed to the foam; and the tall form oftashtego at the steering oar crouching almost double, in order to bring down hiscentre of gravity. whole atlantics and pacifics seemed passedas they shot on their way, till at length the whale somewhat slackened his flight.
"haul in--haul in!" cried stubb to thebowsman! and, facing round towards the whale, all hands began pulling the boat upto him, while yet the boat was being towed on. soon ranging up by his flank, stubb, firmlyplanting his knee in the clumsy cleat, darted dart after dart into the flyingfish; at the word of command, the boat alternately sterning out of the way of the whale's horrible wallow, and then rangingup for another fling. the red tide now poured from all sides ofthe monster like brooks down a hill. his tormented body rolled not in brine butin blood, which bubbled and seethed for
furlongs behind in their wake. the slanting sun playing upon this crimsonpond in the sea, sent back its reflection into every face, so that they all glowed toeach other like red men. and all the while, jet after jet of whitesmoke was agonizingly shot from the spiracle of the whale, and vehement puffafter puff from the mouth of the excited headsman; as at every dart, hauling in upon his crooked lance (by the line attached toit), stubb straightened it again and again, by a few rapid blows against the gunwale,then again and again sent it into the whale.
"pull up--pull up!" he now cried to thebowsman, as the waning whale relaxed in his wrath."pull up!--close to!" and the boat ranged along the fish's flank. when reaching far over the bow, stubbslowly churned his long sharp lance into the fish, and kept it there, carefullychurning and churning, as if cautiously seeking to feel after some gold watch that the whale might have swallowed, and whichhe was fearful of breaking ere he could hook it out.but that gold watch he sought was the innermost life of the fish.
and now it is struck; for, starting fromhis trance into that unspeakable thing called his "flurry," the monster horriblywallowed in his blood, overwrapped himself in impenetrable, mad, boiling spray, so that the imperilled craft, instantlydropping astern, had much ado blindly to struggle out from that phrensied twilightinto the clear air of the day. and now abating in his flurry, the whaleonce more rolled out into view; surging from side to side; spasmodically dilatingand contracting his spout-hole, with sharp, cracking, agonized respirations. at last, gush after gush of clotted redgore, as if it had been the purple lees of
red wine, shot into the frighted air; andfalling back again, ran dripping down his motionless flanks into the sea. his heart had burst!"he's dead, mr. stubb," said daggoo. "yes; both pipes smoked out!" andwithdrawing his own from his mouth, stubb scattered the dead ashes over the water;and, for a moment, stood thoughtfully eyeing the vast corpse he had made. chapter 62.the dart. a word concerning an incident in the lastchapter. according to the invariable usage of thefishery, the whale-boat pushes off from the
ship, with the headsman or whale-killer astemporary steersman, and the harpooneer or whale-fastener pulling the foremost oar,the one known as the harpooneer-oar. now it needs a strong, nervous arm tostrike the first iron into the fish; for often, in what is called a long dart, theheavy implement has to be flung to the distance of twenty or thirty feet. but however prolonged and exhausting thechase, the harpooneer is expected to pull his oar meanwhile to the uttermost; indeed,he is expected to set an example of superhuman activity to the rest, not only by incredible rowing, but by repeated loudand intrepid exclamations; and what it is
to keep shouting at the top of one'scompass, while all the other muscles are strained and half started--what that isnone know but those who have tried it. for one, i cannot bawl very heartily andwork very recklessly at one and the same time. in this straining, bawling state, then,with his back to the fish, all at once the exhausted harpooneer hears the excitingcry--"stand up, and give it to him!" he now has to drop and secure his oar, turnround on his centre half way, seize his harpoon from the crotch, and with whatlittle strength may remain, he essays to pitch it somehow into the whale.
no wonder, taking the whole fleet ofwhalemen in a body, that out of fifty fair chances for a dart, not five aresuccessful; no wonder that so many hapless harpooneers are madly cursed and disrated; no wonder that some of them actually bursttheir blood-vessels in the boat; no wonder that some sperm whalemen are absent fouryears with four barrels; no wonder that to many ship owners, whaling is but a losing concern; for it is the harpooneer thatmakes the voyage, and if you take the breath out of his body how can you expectto find it there when most wanted! again, if the dart be successful, then atthe second critical instant, that is, when
the whale starts to run, the boatheader andharpooneer likewise start to running fore and aft, to the imminent jeopardy ofthemselves and every one else. it is then they change places; and theheadsman, the chief officer of the little craft, takes his proper station in the bowsof the boat. now, i care not who maintains the contrary,but all this is both foolish and unnecessary. the headsman should stay in the bows fromfirst to last; he should both dart the harpoon and the lance, and no rowingwhatever should be expected of him, except under circumstances obvious to anyfisherman.
i know that this would sometimes involve aslight loss of speed in the chase; but long experience in various whalemen of more thanone nation has convinced me that in the vast majority of failures in the fishery, it has not by any means been so much thespeed of the whale as the before described exhaustion of the harpooneer that hascaused them. to insure the greatest efficiency in thedart, the harpooneers of this world must start to their feet from out of idleness,and not from out of toil. chapter 63.the crotch. out of the trunk, the branches grow; out ofthem, the twigs.
so, in productive subjects, grow thechapters. the crotch alluded to on a previous pagedeserves independent mention. it is a notched stick of a peculiar form,some two feet in length, which is perpendicularly inserted into the starboardgunwale near the bow, for the purpose of furnishing a rest for the wooden extremity of the harpoon, whose other naked, barbedend slopingly projects from the prow. thereby the weapon is instantly at hand toits hurler, who snatches it up as readily from its rest as a backwoodsman swings hisrifle from the wall. it is customary to have two harpoonsreposing in the crotch, respectively called
the first and second irons. but these two harpoons, each by its owncord, are both connected with the line; the object being this: to dart them both, ifpossible, one instantly after the other into the same whale; so that if, in the coming drag, one should draw out, the othermay still retain a hold. it is a doubling of the chances. but it very often happens that owing to theinstantaneous, violent, convulsive running of the whale upon receiving the first iron,it becomes impossible for the harpooneer, however lightning-like in his movements, topitch the second iron into him.
nevertheless, as the second iron is alreadyconnected with the line, and the line is running, hence that weapon must, at allevents, be anticipatingly tossed out of the boat, somehow and somewhere; else the mostterrible jeopardy would involve all hands. tumbled into the water, it accordingly isin such cases; the spare coils of box line (mentioned in a preceding chapter) makingthis feat, in most instances, prudently practicable. but this critical act is not alwaysunattended with the saddest and most fatal casualties. furthermore: you must know that when thesecond iron is thrown overboard, it
thenceforth becomes a dangling, sharp-edgedterror, skittishly curvetting about both boat and whale, entangling the lines, or cutting them, and making a prodigioussensation in all directions. nor, in general, is it possible to secureit again until the whale is fairly captured and a corpse. consider, now, how it must be in the caseof four boats all engaging one unusually strong, active, and knowing whale; whenowing to these qualities in him, as well as to the thousand concurring accidents of such an audacious enterprise, eight or tenloose second irons may be simultaneously
dangling about him. for, of course, each boat is supplied withseveral harpoons to bend on to the line should the first one be ineffectuallydarted without recovery. all these particulars are faithfullynarrated here, as they will not fail to elucidate several most important, howeverintricate passages, in scenes hereafter to be painted.