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We had lain thus in bed, chatting and napping at short
intervals, and Queequeg now and then affectionately throwing


Page 59
his brown tattooed legs over mine, and then drawing them back;
so entirely sociable and free and easy were we; when, at last,
by reason of our confabulations, what little nappishness remained
in us altogether departed, and we felt like getting up again,
though day-break was yet some way down the future.

Yes, we became very wakeful; so much so that our recumbent
position began to grow wearisome, and by little and little
we found ourselves sitting up; the clothes well tucked around
us, leaning against the head-board with our four knees drawn
up close together, and our two noses bending over them, as if
our knee-pans were warming-pans. We felt very nice and snug,
the more so since it was so chilly out of doors; indeed out of
bed-clothes too, seeing that there was no fire in the room. The
more so, I say, because truly to enjoy bodily warmth, some
small part of you must be cold, for there is no quality in this
world that is not what it is merely by contrast. Nothing exists
in itself. If you flatter yourself that you are all over comfortable,
and have been so a long time, then you cannot be said to
be comfortable any more. But if, like Queequeg and me in the
bed, the tip of your nose or the crown of your head be slightly
chilled, why then, indeed, in the general consciousness you feel
most delightfully and unmistakably warm. For this reason a
sleeping apartment should never be furnished with a fire, which
is one of the luxurious discomforts of the rich. For the height
of this sort of deliciousness is to have nothing but the blanket
between you and your snugness and the cold of the outer air.
Then there you lie like the one warm spark in the heart of an
arctic crystal.

We had been sitting in this crouching manner for some time,
when all at once I thought I would open my eyes; for when
between sheets, whether by day or by night, and whether asleep
or awake, I have a way of always keeping my eyes shut, in order
the more to concentrate the snugness of being in bed. Because
no man can ever feel his own identity aright except his eyes be


Page 60
closed; as if darkness were indeed the proper element of our
essences, though light be more congenial to our clayey part.
Upon opening my eyes then, and coming out of my own pleasant
and self-created darkness into the imposed and coarse outer
gloom of the unilluminated twelve-o'clock-at-night, I experienced
a disagreeable revulsion. Nor did I at all object to the
hint from Queequeg that perhaps it were best to strike a light,
seeing that we were so wide awake; and besides he felt a strong
desire to have a few quiet puffs from his Tomahawk. Be it
said, that though I had felt such a strong repugnance to his smoking
in the bed the night before, yet see how elastic our stiff prejudices
grow when love once comes to bend them. For now
I liked nothing better than to have Queequeg smoking by me,
even in bed, because he seemed to be full of such serene household
joy then. I no more felt unduly concerned for the land-lord's
policy of insurance. I was only alive to the condensed
confidential comfortableness of sharing a pipe and a blanket with
a real friend. With our shaggy jackets drawn about our
shoulders, we now passed the Tomahawk from one to the other,
till slowly there grew over us a blue hanging tester of smoke,
illuminated by the flame of the new-lit lamp.

Whether it was that this undulating tester rolled the savage
away to far distant scenes, I know not, but he now spoke of his
native island; and, eager to hear his history, I begged him to
go on and tell it. He gladly complied. Though at the time I
but ill comprehended not a few of his words, yet subsequent
disclosures, when I had become more familiar with his broken
phraseology, now enable me to present the whole story such as
it may prove in the mere skeleton I give.