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According to usage they were pumping the ship next
morning; and lo! no inconsiderable oil came up with the water;
the casks below must have sprung a bad leak. Much concern
was shown; and Starbuck went down into the cabin to report
this unfavorable affair.[1]

Now, from the South and West the Pequod was drawing
night to Formosa and the Bashee Isles, between which lies one
of the tropical outlets from the China waters into the Pacific.
And so Starbuck found Ahab with a general chart of the
oriental archipelagoes spread before him; and another separate
one representing the long eastern coasts of the Japanese islands—
Niphon, Matsmai, and Sikoke. With his snow-white new
ivory leg braced against the screwed leg of his table, and with
a long pruning-hook of a jack-knife in his hand, the wondrous
old man, with his back to the gangway door, was wrinkling his
brow, and tracing his old courses again.

“Who's there?” hearing the footstep at the door, but not
turning round to it. “On deck! Begone!”

“Captain Ahab mistakes; it is I. The oil in the hold is
leaking, sir. We must up Burtons and break out.”


Page 527

“Up Burtons and break out? Now that we are nearing
Japan; heave-to here for a week to tinker a parcel of old hoops?”

“Either do that, sir, or waste in one day more oil than we
may make good in a year. What we come twenty thousand
miles to get is worth saving, sir.”

“So it is, so it is; if we get it.”

“I was speaking of the oil in the hold, sir.”

“And I was not speaking or thinking of that at all. Begone!
Let it leak! I'm all aleak myself. Aye! leaks in
leaks! not only full of leaky casks, but those leaky casks are in
a leaky ship; and that's a far worse plight than the Pequod's,
man. Yet I don't stop to plug my leak; for who can find it in
the deep-loaded hull; or how hope to plug it, even if found, in
this life's howling gale? Starbuck! I'll not have the Burtons

“What will the owners say, sir?”

“Let the owners stand on Nantucket beach and outyell the
Typhoons. What cares Ahab? Owners, owners? Thou art
always prating to me, Starbuck, about those miserly owners, as
if the owners were my conscience. But look ye, the only real
owner of anything is its commander; and hark ye, my conscience
is in this ship's keel.—On deck!”

“Captain Ahab,” said the reddening mate, moving further
into the cabin, with a daring so strangely respectful and cautious
that it almost seemed not only every way seeking to avoid the
slightest outward manifestation of itself, but within also seemed
more than half distrustful of itself; “A better man than I might
well pass over in thee what he would quickly enough resent in a
younger man; aye, and in a happier, Captain Ahab.”

“Devils! Dost thou then so much as dare to critically think
of me?—On deck!”

“Nay, sir, not yet; I do entreat. And I do dare, sir—to be
forbearing! Shall we not understand each other better than
hitherto, Captain Ahab?”


Page 528

Ahab seized a loaded musket from the rack (forming part of
most South-Sea-men's cabin furniture), and pointing it towards
Starbuck, exclaimed: “There is one God that is Lord over the
earth, and one Captain that is lord over the Pequod.—On

For an instant in the flashing eyes of the mate, and his fiery
cheeks, you would have almost thought that he had really
received the blaze of the levelled tube. But, mastering his
emotion, he half calmly rose, and as he quitted the cabin, paused
for an instant and said: “Thou hast outraged, not insulted
me, sir; but for that I ask thee not to beware of Starbuck; thou
wouldst but laugh; but let Ahab beware of Ahab; beware
of thyself, old man.”

“He waxes brave, but nevertheless obeys; most careful
bravery that!” murmured Ahab, as Starbuck disappeared.
“What's that he said—Ahab beware of Ahab—there's something
there!” Then unconsciously using the musket for a staff,
with an iron brow he paced to and fro in the little cabin; but
presently the thick plaits of his forehead relaxed, and returning
the gun to the rack, he went to the deck.

“Thou art but too good a fellow, Starbuck,” he said lowly
to the mate; then raising his voice to the crew: “Furl the
t'gallant-sails, and close-reef the top-sails, fore and aft; back the
main-yard; up Burtons, and break out in the main-hold.”

It were perhaps vain to surmise exactly why it was, that as
respecting Starbuck, Ahab thus acted. It may have been a
flash of honesty in him; or mere prudential policy which, under
the circumstance, imperiously forbade the slightest symptom of
open disaffection, however transient, in the important chief officer
of his ship. However it was, his orders were executed; and the
Burtons were hoisted.


In Sperm-whalemen with any considerable quantity of oil on board,
it is a regular semi-weekly duty to conduct a hose into the hold, and
drench the casks with sea-water; which afterwards, at varying intervals,
is removed by the ship's pumps. Hereby the casks are sought to be
kept damply tight; while by the changed character of the withdrawn
water, the mariners readily detect any serious leakage in the precious