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Entering that gable-ended Spouter-Inn, you found yourself
in a wide, low, straggling entry with old-fashioned wainscots,
reminding one of the bulwarks of some condemned old craft.
On one side hung a very large oil-painting so thoroughly besmoked,
and every way defaced, that in the unequal cross-lights
by which you viewed it, it was only by diligent study and a
series of systematic visits to it, and careful inquiry of the neighbors,
that you could any way arrive at an understanding of its
purpose. Such unaccountable masses of shades and shadows,
that at first you almost thought some ambitious young artist,
in the time of the New England hags, had endeavored to delineate
chaos bewitched. But by dint of much and earnest


Page 12
contemplation, and oft repeated ponderings, and especially by
throwing open the little window towards the back of the entry,
you at last come to the conclusion that such an idea, however
wild, might not be altogether unwarranted.

But what most puzzled and confounded you was a long,
limber, portentous, black mass of something hovering in the
centre of the picture over three blue, dim, perpendicular lines
floating in a nameless yeast. A boggy, soggy, squitchy picture
truly, enough to drive a nervous man distracted. Yet was
there a sort of indefinite, half-attained, unimaginable sublimity
about it that fairly froze you to it, till you involuntarily took an
oath with yourself to find out what that marvellous painting
meant. Ever and anon a bright, but, alas, deceptive idea would
dart you through.—It's the Black Sea in a midnight gale.—It's
the unnatural combat of the four primal elements.—It's a
blasted heath.—It's a Hyperborean winter scene.—It's the
breaking-up of the ice-bound stream of Time. But at last all
these fancies yielded to that one portentous something in the
picture's midst. That once found out, and all the rest were
plain. But stop; does it not bear a faint resemblance to a
gigantic fish? even the great leviathan himself?

In fact, the artist's design seemed this: a final theory of my
own, partly based upon the aggregated opinions of many aged
persons with whom I conversed upon the subject. The picture
represents a Cape-Horner in a great hurricane; the half-foundered
ship weltering there with its three dismantled masts
alone visible; and an exasperated whale, purposing to spring
clean over the craft, is in the enormous act of impaling himself
upon the three mast-heads.

The opposite wall of this entry was hung all over with a
heathenish array of monstrous clubs and spears. Some were
thickly set with glittering teeth resembling ivory saws; others
were tufted with knots of human hair; and one was sickle-shaped,
with a vast handle sweeping round like the segment made in


Page 13
the new-mown grass by a long-armed mower. You shuddered
as you gazed, and wondered what monstrous cannibal and
savage could ever have gone a death-harvesting with such a
hacking, horrifying implement. Mixed with these were rusty
old whaling lances and harpoons all broken and deformed.
Some were storied weapons. With this once long lance, now
wildly elbowed, fifty years ago did Nathan Swain kill fifteen
whales between a sunrise and a sunset. And that harpoon—so
like a corkscrew now—was flung in Javan seas, and run away
with by a whale, years afterwards slain off the Cape of Blanco.
The original iron entered nigh the tail, and, like a restless needle
sojourning in the body of a man, travelled full forty feet, and
at last was found imbedded in the hump.

Crossing this dusky entry, and on through yon low-arched
way—cut through what in old times must have been a great
central chimney with fire-places all round—you enter the public
room. A still duskier place is this, with such low ponderous
beams above, and such old wrinkled planks beneath, that you
would almost fancy you trod some old craft's cockpits, especially
of such a howling night, when this corner-anchored old
ark rocked so furiously. On one side stood a long, low, shelf-like
table covered with cracked glass cases, filled with dusty
rarities gathered from this wide world's remotest nooks. Projecting
from the further angle of the room stands a dark-looking
den—the bar—a rude attempt at a right whale's head.
Be that how it may, there stands the vast arched bone of the
whale's jaw, so wide, a coach might almost drive beneath it.
Within are shabby shelves, ranged round with old decanters,
bottles, flasks; and in those jaws of swift destruction, like another
cursed Jonah (by which name indeed they called him),
bustles a little withered old man, who, for their money, dearly
sells the sailors deliriums and death.

Abominable are the tumblers into which he pours his poison.
Though true cylinders without—within, the villanous green


Page 14
goggling glasses deceitfully tapered downwards to a cheating
bottom. Parallel meridians rudely pecked into the glass, surround
these footpads' goblets. Fill to this mark, and your
charge is but a penny; to this a penny more; and so on to the
full glass—the Cape Horn measure, which you may gulph down
for a shilling.

Upon entering the place I found a number of young seamen
gathered about a table, examining by a dim light divers specimens
of skrimshander. I sought the landlord, and telling him
I desired to be accommodated with a room, received for answer
that his house was full—not a bed unoccupied. “But avast,”
he added, tapping his forehead, “you haint no objections to
sharing a harpooneer's blanket, have ye? I s'pose you are goin'
a whalin', so you'd better get used to that sort of thing.”

I told him that I never liked to sleep two in a bed; that if I
should ever do so, it would depend upon who the harpooneer
might be, and that if he (the landlord) really had no other
place for me, and the harpooneer was not decidedly objectionable,
why rather than wander further about a strange town on so
bitter a night, I would put up with the half of any decent man's

“I thought so. All right; take a seat. Supper?—you
want supper? Supper 'll be ready directly.”

I sat down on an old wooden settle, carved all over like
a bench on the Battery. At one end a ruminating tar was still
further adorning it with his jack-knife, stooping over and diligently
working away at the space between his legs. He was
trying his hand at a ship under full sail, but he didn't make
much headway, I thought.

At last some four or five of us were summoned to our meal
in an adjoining room. It was cold as Iceland—no fire at all
—the landlord said he couldn't afford it. Nothing but two dismal
tallow candles, each in a winding sheet. We were fain to button
up our monkey jackets, and hold to our lips cups of scalding


Page 15
tea with our half frozen fingers. But the fare was of the most
substantial kind—not only meat and potatoes, but dumplings;
good heavens! dumplings for supper! One young fellow in a
green box coat, addressed himself to these dumplings in a most
direful manner.

“My boy,” said the landlord, “you'll have the nightmare
to a dead sartainty.”

“Landlord,” I whispered, “that aint the harpooneer, is it?”

“Oh, no,” said he, looking a sort of diabolically funny, “the
harpooner is a dark complexioned chap. He never eats dumplings,
he don't—he eats nothing but steaks, and likes 'em

“The devil he does,” says I. “Where is that harpooneer? Is
he here?”

“He'll be here afore long,” was the answer.

I could not help it, but I began to feel suspicious of this
“dark complexioned” harpooneer. At any rate, I made up my
mind that if it so turned out that we should sleep together, he
must undress and get into bed before I did.

Supper over, the company went back to the bar-room, when,
knowing not what else to do with myself, I resolved to spend the
rest of the evening as a looker on.

Presently a rioting noise was heard without. Starting up,
the landlord cried, “That's the Grampus's crew. I seed her
reported in the offing this morning; a three years' voyage, and
a full ship. Hurrah, boys; now we'll have the latest news from
the Feegees.”

A tramping of sea boots was heard in the entry; the door
was flung open, and in rolled a wild set of mariners enough.
Enveloped in their shaggy watch coats, and with their heads
muffled in woollen comforters, all bedarned and ragged, and
their beards stiff with icicles, they seemed an eruption of bears
from Labrador. They had just landed from their boat, and this
was the first house they entered. No wonder, then, that they


Page 16
made a straight wake for the whale's mouth—the bar—when
the wrinkled little old Jonah, there officiating, soon poured
them out brimmers all round. One complained of a bad cold
in his head, upon which Jonah mixed him a pitch-like potion of
gin and molasses, which he swore was a sovereign cure for
all colds and catarrhs whatsoever, never mind of how long standing,
or whether caught off the coast of Labrador, or on the weather
side of an ice-island.

The liquor soon mounted into their heads, as it generally does
even with the arrantest topers newly landed from sea, and they
began capering about most obstreperously.

I observed, however, that one of them held somewhat aloof,
and though he seemed desirous not to spoil the hilarity of his
shipmates by his own sober face, yet upon the whole he refrained
from making as much noise as the rest. This man interested
me at once; and since the sea-gods had ordained that he should
soon become my shipmate (though but a sleeping-partner one,
so far as this narrative is concerned), I will here venture upon a
little description of him. He stood full six feet in height, with
noble shoulders, and a chest like a coffer-dam. I have seldom
seen such brawn in a man. His face was deeply brown and
burnt, making his white teeth dazzling by the contrast; while
in the deep shadows of his eyes floated some reminiscences that
did not seem to give him much joy. His voice at once
announced that he was a Southerner, and from his fine stature,
I thought he must be one of those tall mountaineers from the
Alleganian Ridge in Virginia. When the revelry of his companions
had mounted to its height, this man slipped away unobserved,
and I saw no more of him till he became my comrade
on the sea. In a few minutes, however, he was missed by his
shipmates, and being, it seems, for some reason a huge favorite
with them, they raised a cry of “Bulkington! Bulkington! where's
Bulkington?” and darted out of the house in pursuit of him.

It was now about nine o'clock, and the room seeming almost


Page 17
supernaturally quiet after these orgies, I began to congratulate
myself upon a little plan that had occurred to me just previous
to the entrance of the seamen.

No man prefers to sleep two in a bed. In fact, you would a
good deal rather not sleep with your own brother. I don't
know how it is, but people like to be private when they are
sleeping. And when it comes to sleeping with an unknown
stranger, in a strange inn, in a strange town, and that stranger
a harpooneer, then your objections indefinitely multiply. Nor
was there any earthly reason why I as a sailor should sleep two
in a bed, more than anybody else; for sailors no more sleep
two in a bed at sea, than bachelor Kings do ashore. To be
sure they all sleep together in one apartment, but you have
your own hammock, and cover yourself with your own
blanket, and sleep in your own skin.

The more I pondered over this harpooneer, the more I
abominated the thought of sleeping with him. It was fair to
presume that being a harpooneer, his linen or woollen, as the
case might be, would not be of the tidiest, certainly none of the
finest. I began to twitch all over. Besides, it was getting late,
and my decent harpooneer ought to be home and going bedwards.
Suppose now, he should tumble in upon me at midnight
—how could I tell from what vile hole he had been coming?

“Landlord! I've changed my mind about that harpooneer.
—I shan't sleep with him. I'll try the bench here.”

“Just as you please; I'm sorry I cant spare ye a table-cloth
for a mattress, and it's a plaguy rough board here”—
feeling of the knots and notches. “But wait a bit, Skrimshander;
I've got a carpenter's plane there in the bar—wait, I say, and
I'll make ye snug enough.” So saying he procured the plane;
and with his old silk handkerchief first dusting the bench,
vigorously set to planing away at my bed, the while grinning
like an ape. The shavings flew right and left; till at last the
plane-iron came bump against an indestructible knot. The


Page 18
landlord was near spraining his wrist, and I told him for
heaven's sake to quit—the bed was soft enough to suit me, and
I did not know how all the planing in the world could make
eider down of a pine plank. So gathering up the shavings with
another grin, and throwing them into the great stove in the
middle of the room, he went about his business, and left me in
a brown study.

I now took the measure of the bench, and found that it was
a foot too short; but that could be mended with a chair. But
it was a foot too narrow, and the other bench in the room was
about four inches higher than the planed one—so there was no
yoking them. I then placed the first bench lengthwise along
the only clear space against the wall, leaving a little interval
between, for my back to settle down in. But I soon found that
there came such a draught of cold air over me from under the
sill of the window, that this plan would never do at all,
especially as another current from the rickety door met the
one from the window, and both together formed a series of
small whirlwinds in the immediate vicinity of the spot where I
had thought to spend the night.

The devil fetch that harpooneer, thought I, but stop, couldn't
I steal a march on him—bolt his door inside, and jump into
his bed, not to be wakened by the most violent knockings? It
seemed no bad idea; but upon second thoughts I dismissed it.
For who could tell but what the next morning, so soon as I
popped out of the room, the harpooneer might be standing in
the entry, all ready to knock me down!

Still, looking round me again, and seeing no possible chance
of spending a sufferable night unless in some other person's bed,
I began to think that after all I might be cherishing unwarrantable
prejudices against this unknown harpooneer. Thinks I,
I'll wait awhile; he must be dropping in before long. I'll have
a good look at him then, and perhaps we may become jolly
good bedfellows after all—there's no telling.


Page 19

But though the other boarders kept coming in by ones, twos,
and threes, and going to bed, yet no sign of my harpooneer.

“Landlord!” said I, “what sort of a chap is he—does he
always keep such late hours?” It was now hard upon twelve

The landlord chuckled again with his lean chuckle, and
seemed to be mightily tickled at something beyond my comprehension.
“No,” he answered, “generally he's an early
bird—airley to bed and airley to rise—yes, he's the bird what
catches the worm.—But to-night he went out a peddling, you
see, and I don't see what on airth keeps him so late, unless, may
be, he can't sell his head.”

“Can't sell his head?—What sort of a bamboozingly story
is this you are telling me?” getting into a towering rage. “Do
you pretend to say, landlord, that this harpooneer is actually
engaged this blessed Saturday night, or rather Sunday morning,
in peddling his head around this town?”

“That's precisely it,” said the landlord, “and I told him he
couldn't sell it here, the market's overstocked.”

“With what?” shouted I.

“With heads to be sure; ain't there too many heads in the

“I tell you what it is, landlord,” said I, quite calmly, “you'd
better stop spinning that yarn to me—I'm not green.”

“May be not,” taking out a stick and whittling a toothpick,
“but I rayther guess you'll be done brown if that ere harpooneer
hears you a slanderin' his head.”

“I'll break it for him,” said I, now flying into a passion again
at this unaccountable farrago of the landlord's.

“It's broke a'ready,” said he.

“Broke,” said I—“broke, do you mean?”

“Sartain, and that's the very reason he can't sell it, I guess.”

“Landlord,” said I, going up to him as cool as Mt. Hecla in
a snow storm,—“landlord, stop whittling. You and I must


Page 20
understand one another, and that too without delay. I come
to your house and want a bed; you tell me you can only give
me half a one; that the other half belongs to a certain harpooneer.
And about this harpooneer, whom I have not yet
seen, you persist in telling me the most mystifying and exasperating
stories, tending to beget in me an uncomfortable feeling
towards the man whom you design for my bedfellow—a sort of
connexion, landlord, which is an intimate and confidential one
in the highest degree. I now demand of you to speak out and
tell me who and what this harpooneer is, and whether I shall be
in all respects safe to spend the night with him. And in the
first place, you will be so good as to unsay that story about selling
his head, which if true I take to be good evidence that this
harpooneer is stark mad, and I've no idea of sleeping with a
madman; and you, sir, you I mean, landlord, you, sir, by trying
to induce me to do so knowingly, would thereby render yourself
liable to a criminal prosecution.”

“Wall,” said the landlord, fetching a long breath, “that's a
purty long sarmon for a chap that rips a little now and then.
But be easy, be easy, this here harpooneer I have been tellin'
you of has just arrived from the south seas, where he bought up
a lot of 'balmed New Zealand heads (great curios, you know),
and he's sold all on 'em but one, and that one he's trying to sell
to-night, cause to-morrow's Sunday, and it would not do to be
sellin' human heads about the streets when folks is goin' to
churches. He wanted to, last Sunday, but I stopped him just
as he was goin' out of the door with four heads strung on a
string, for all the airth like a string of inions.”

This account cleared up the otherwise unaccountable mystery,
and showed that the landlord, after all, had had no idea of fooling
me—but at the same time what could I think of a harpooneer
who stayed out of a Saturday night clean into the holy Sabbath,
engaged in such a cannibal business as selling the heads
of dead idolators?


Page 21

“Depend upon it, landlord, that harpooneer is a dangerous

“He pays reg'lar,” was the rejoinder. “But come, it's getting
dreadful late, you had better be turning flukes—it's a nice bed:
Sall and me slept in that ere bed the night we were spliced.
There's plenty room for two to kick about in that bed; it's an
almighty big bed that. Why, afore we give it up, Sal used to
put our Sam and little Johnny in the foot of it. But I got a
dreaming and sprawling about one night, and somehow, Sam got
pitched on the floor, and came near breaking his arm. Arter
that, Sal said it wouldn't do. Come along here, I'll give ye a
glim in a jiffy;” and so saying he lighted a candle and held it
towards me, offering to lead the way. But I stood irresolute;
when looking at a clock in the corner, he exclaimed “I vum it's
Sunday—you won't see that harpooneer to-night; he's come to
anchor somewhere—come along then; do come; won't ye

I considered the matter a moment, and then up stairs we
went, and I was ushered into a small room, cold as a clam, and
furnished, sure enough, with a prodigious bed, almost big
enough indeed for any four harpooneers to sleep abreast.

“There,” said the landlord, placing the candle on a crazy
old sea chest that did double duty as a wash-stand and centre
table; “there, make yourself comfortable now, and good night
to ye.” I turned round from eyeing the bed, but he had disappeared.

Folding back the counterpane, I stooped over the bed.
Though none of the most elegant, it yet stood the scrutiny
tolerably well. I then glanced round the room; and besides
the bedstead and centre table, could see no other furniture belonging
to the place, but a rude shelf, the four walls, and a
papered fireboard representing a man striking a whale. Of
things not properly belonging to the room, there was a hammock
lashed up, and thrown upon the floor in one corner; also


Page 22
a large seaman's bag, containing the harpooneer's wardrobe, no
doubt in lieu of a land trunk. Likewise, there was a parcel of
outlandish bone fish hooks on the shelf over the fire-place, and
a tall harpoon standing at the head of the bed.

But what is this on the chest? I took it up, and held it
close to the light, and felt it, and smelt it, and tried every
way possible to arrive at some satisfactory conclusion concerning
it. I can compare it to nothing but a large door mat,
ornamented at the edges with little tinkling tags something like
the stained porcupine quills round an Indian moccasin. There
was a hole or slit in the middle of this mat, as you see the same
in South American ponchos. But could it be possible that any
sober harpooneer would get into a door mat, and parade the
streets of any Christian town in that sort of guise? I put it on,
to try it, and it weighed me down like a hamper, being uncommonly
shaggy and thick, and I thought a little damp, as though
this mysterious harpooneer had been wearing it of a rainy day.
I went up in it to a bit of glass stuck against the wall, and I never
saw such a sight in my life. I tore myself out of it in such a
hurry that I gave myself a kink in the neck.

I sat down on the side of the bed, and commenced thinking
about this head-peddling harpooneer, and his door mat. After
thinking some time on the bed-side, I got up and took off my
monkey jacket, and then stood in the middle of the room thinking.
I then took off my coat, and thought a little more in my
shirt sleeves. But beginning to feel very cold now, half undressed
as I was, and remembering what the landlord said
about the harpooneer's not coming home at all that night, it being
so very late, I made no more ado, but jumped out of my pantaloons
and boots, and then blowing out the light tumbled into
bed, and commended myself to the care of heaven.

Whether that mattress was stuffed with corn-cobs or broken
crockery, there is no telling, but I rolled about a good deal, and
could not sleep for a long time. At last I slid off into a light


Page 23
doze, and had pretty nearly made a good offing towards the land
of Nod, when I heard a heavy footfall in the passage, and saw
a glimmer of light come into the room from under the door.

Lord save me, thinks I, that must be the harpooneer,
the infernal head-peddler. But I lay perfectly still, and
resolved not to say a word till spoken to. Holding a light
in one hand, and that identical New Zealand head in the
other, the stranger entered the room, and without looking
towards the bed, placed his candle a good way off from me on
the floor in one corner, and then began working away at the
knotted cords of the large bag I before spoke of as being in the
room. I was all eagerness to see his face, but he kept it
averted for some time while employed in unlacing the bag's
mouth. This accomplished, however, he turned round—when,
good heavens! what a sight! Such a face! It was of a dark,
purplish, yellow color, here and there stuck over with large,
blackish looking squares. Yes, it's just as I thought, he's a
terrible bedfellow; he's been in a fight, got dreadfully cut, and
here he is, just from the surgeon. But at that moment he
chanced to turn his face so towards the light, that I plainly saw
they could not be sticking-plasters at all, those black squares on
his cheeks. They were stains of some sort or other. At first
I knew not what to make of this; but soon an inkling of the
truth occurred to me. I remembered a story of a white man
—a whaleman too—who, falling among the cannibals, had been
tattooed by them. I concluded that this harpooneer, in the
course of his distant voyages, must have met with a similar
adventure. And what is it, thought I, after all! It's only his
outside; a man can be honest in any sort of skin. But then,
what to make of his unearthly complexion, that part of it, I
mean, lying round about, and completely independent of the
squares of tattooing. To be sure, it might be nothing but a
good coat of tropical tanning; but I never heard of a hot sun's
tanning a white man into a purplish yellow one. However, I


Page 24
had never been in the South Seas; and perhaps the sun there
produced these extraordinary effects upon the skin. Now, while
all these ideas were passing through me like lightning, this harpooneer
never noticed me at all. But, after some difficulty
having opened his bag, he commenced fumbling in it, and presently
pulled out a sort of tomahawk, and a seal-skin wallet
with the hair on. Placing these on the old chest in the middle
of the room, he then took the New Zealand head—a ghastly
thing enough—and crammed it down into the bag. He now
took off his hat—a new beaver hat—when I came nigh singing
out with fresh surprise. There was no hair on his head—none
to speak of at least—nothing but a small scalp-knot twisted up
on his forehead. His bald purplish head now looked for all
the world like a mildewed skull. Had not the stranger stood
between me and the door, I would have bolted out of it quicker
than ever I bolted a dinner.

Even as it was, I thought something of slipping out of the
window, but it was the second floor back. I am no coward,
but what to make of this head-peddling purple rascal altogether
passed my comprehension. Ignorance is the parent of fear, and
being completely nonplussed and confounded about the stranger,
I confess I was now as much afraid of him as if it was the devil
himself who had thus broken into my room at the dead of
night. In fact, I was so afraid of him that I was not game
enough just then to address him, and demand a satisfactory
answer concerning what seemed inexplicable in him.

Meanwhile, he continued the business of undressing, and at
last showed his chest and arms. As I live, these covered parts
of him were checkered with the same squares as his face; his
back, too, was all over the same dark squares; he seemed to
have been in a Thirty Years' War, and just escaped from it with
a sticking-plaster shirt. Still more, his very legs were marked,
as if a parcel of dark green frogs were running up the trunks
of young palms. It was now quite plain that he must be some


Page 25
abominable savage or other shipped aboard of a whaleman in
the South Seas, and so landed in this Christian country. I
quaked to think of it. A peddler of heads too—perhaps the
heads of his own brothers. He might take a fancy to mine—
heavens! look at that tomahawk!

But there was no time for shuddering, for now the savage
went about something that completely fascinated my attention,
and convinced me that he must indeed be a heathen. Going
to his heavy grego, or wrapall, or dreadnaught, which he had
previously hung on a chair, he fumbled in the pockets, and produced
at length a curious little deformed image with a hunch
on its back, and exactly the color of a three days' old Congo
baby. Remembering the embalmed head, at first I almost
thought that this black manikin was a real baby preserved
in some similar manner. But seeing that it was not at all
limber, and that it glistened a good deal like polished ebony, I
concluded that it must be nothing but a wooden idol, which
indeed it proved to be. For now the savage goes up to the
empty fire-place, and removing the papered fire-board, sets up
this little hunchbacked image, like a tenpin, between the
andirons. The chimney jambs and all the bricks inside were
very sooty, so that I thought this fire-place made a very appropriate
little shrine or chapel for his Congo idol.

I now screwed my eyes hard towards the half hidden image,
feeling but ill at ease meantime—to see what was next to
follow. First he takes about a double handful of shavings out
of his grego pocket, and places them carefully before the idol;
then laying a bit of ship biscuit on top and applying the flame
from the lamp, he kindled the shavings into a sacrificial blaze.
Presently, after many hasty snatches into the fire, and still
hastier withdrawals of his fingers (whereby he seemed to be
scorching them badly), he at last succeeded in drawing out the
biscuit; then blowing off the heat and ashes a little, he made a
polite offer of it to the little negro. But the little devil did not


Page 26
seem to fancy such dry sort of fare at all; he never moved his
lips. All these strange antics were accompanied by still
stranger guttural noises from the devotee, who seemed to be
praying in a sing-song or else singing some pagan psalmody or
other, during which his face twitched about in the most
unnatural manner. At last extinguishing the fire, he took the
idol up very unceremoniously, and bagged it again in his grego
pocket as carelessly as if he were a sportsman bagging a dead

All these queer proceedings increased my uncomfortableness,
and seeing him now exhibiting strong symptoms of concluding
his business operations, and jumping into bed with me, I
thought it was high time, now or never, before the light was put
out, to break the spell in which I had so long been bound.

But the interval I spent in deliberating what to say, was a
fatal one. Taking up his tomahawk from the table, he
examined the head of it for an instant, and then holding it to
the light, with his mouth at the handle, he puffed out great
clouds of tobacco smoke. The next moment the light was
extinguished, and this wild cannibal, tomahawk between his
teeth, sprang into bed with me. I sang out, I could not help
it now; and giving a sudden grunt of astonishment he began
feeling me.

Stammering out something, I knew not what, I rolled away
from him against the wall, and then conjured him, whoever or
whatever he might be, to keep quiet, and let me get up and
light the lamp again. But his guttural responses satisfied me
at once that he but ill comprehended my meaning.

“Who-e debel you?”—he at last said—“you no speak-e,
dam-me, I kill-e.” And so saying the lighted tomahawk began
flourishing about me in the dark.

“Landlord, for God's sake, Peter Coffin!” shouted I. “Landlord!
Watch! Coffin! Angels! save me!”

“Speak-e! tell-ee me who-ee be, or dam-me, I kill-e!” again


Page 27
growled the cannibal, while his horrid flourishings of the
tomahawk scattered the hot tobacco ashes about me till I
thought my linen would get on fire. But thank heaven, at
that moment the landlord came into the room light in hand,
and leaping from the bed I ran up to him.

“Don't be afraid now,” said he, grinning again. “Queequeg
here wouldn't harm a hair of your head.”

“Stop your grinning,” shouted I, “and why didn't you tell
me that that infernal harpooneer was a cannibal?”

“I thought ye know'd it;—didn't I tell ye, he was a peddlin'
heads around town?—but turn flukes again and go to sleep.
Queequeg, look here—you sabbee me, I sabbee you—this man
sleepe you—you sabbee?”—

“Me sabbee plenty”—grunted Queequeg, puffing away at his
pipe and sitting up in bed.

“You gettee in,” he added, motioning to me with his tomahawk,
and throwing the clothes to one side. He really did this
in not only a civil but a really kind and charitable way. I
stood looking at him a moment. For all his tattooings he was
on the whole a clean, comely looking cannibal. What's all this
fuss I have been making about, thought I to myself—the man's
a human being just as I am: he has just as much reason to
fear me, as I have to be afraid of him. Better sleep with a
sober cannibal than a drunken Christian.

“Landlord,” said I, “tell him to stash his tomahawk there,
or pipe, or whatever you call it; tell him to stop smoking, in
short, and I will turn in with him. But I don't fancy having a
man smoking in bed with me. It's dangerous. Besides, I aint

This being told to Queequeg, he at once complied, and again
politely motioned me to get into bed—rolling over to one side
as much as to say—I wont touch a leg of ye.

“Good night, landlord,” said I, “you may go.”

I turned in, and never slept better in my life.