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Next morning, Monday, after disposing of the embalmed head
to a barber, for a block, I settled my own and comrade's bill;
using, however, my comrade's money. The grinning landlord,
as well as the boarders, seemed amazingly tickled at the sudden


Page 64
friendship which had sprung up between me and Queequeg—
especially as Peter Coffin's cock and bull stories about him had
previously so much alarmed me concerning the very person
whom I now companied with.

We borrowed a wheelbarrow, and embarking our things, including
my own poor carpet-bag, and Queequeg's canvas sack
and hammock, away we went down to “the Moss,” the little
Nantucket packet schooner moored at the wharf. As we were
going along the people stared; not at Queequeg so much—
for they were used to seeing cannibals like him in their streets,
—but at seeing him and me upon such confidential terms.
But we heeded them not, going along wheeling the barrow by
turns, and Queequeg now and then stopping to adjust the
sheath on his harpoon barbs. I asked him why he carried
such a troublesome thing with him ashore, and whether all
whaling ships did not find their own harpoons. To this, in
substance, he replied, that though what I hinted was true
enough, yet he had a particular affection for his own harpoon,
because it was of assured stuff, well tried in many a mortal
combat, and deeply intimate with the hearts of whales. In short,
like many inland reapers and mowers, who go into the
farmers' meadows armed with their own scythes—though in no
wise obliged to furnish them—even so, Queequeg, for his own
private reasons, preferred his own harpoon.

Shifting the barrow from my hand to his, he told me a funny
story about the first wheelbarrow he had ever seen. It was in
Sag Harbor. The owners of his ship, it seems, had lent him
one, in which to carry his heavy chest to his boarding house.
Not to seem ignorant about the thing—though in truth he was
entirely so, concerning the precise way in which to manage the
barrow—Queequeg puts his chest upon it; lashes it fast; and
then shoulders the barrow and marches up the wharf. “Why,”
said I, “Queequeg, you might have known better than that,
one would think. Didn't the people laugh?”


Page 65

Upon this, he told me another story. The people of his
island of Rokovoko, it seems, at their wedding feasts express
the fragrant water of young cocoanuts into a large stained
calabash like a punchbowl; and this punchbowl always
forms the great central ornament on the braided mat where the
feast is held. Now a certain grand merchant ship once touched
at Rokovoko, and its commander—from all accounts, a very
stately punctilious gentleman, at least for a sea captain—this
commander was invited to the wedding feast of Queequeg's
sister, a pretty young princess just turned of ten. Well; when
all the wedding guests were assembled at the bride's bamboo
cottage, this Captain marches in, and being assigned the post
of honor, placed himself over against the punchbowl, and between
the High Priest and his majesty the King, Queequeg's
father. Grace being said,—for those people have their grace
as well as we—though Queequeg told me that unlike us, who
at such times look downwards to our platters, they, on the
contrary, copying the ducks, glance upwards to the great Giver
of all feasts—Grace, I say, being said, the High Priest opens
the banquet by the immemorial ceremony of the island; that is,
dipping his consecrated and consecrating fingers into the
bowl before the blessed beverage circulates. Seeing himself
placed next the Priest, and noting the ceremony, and thinking
himself—being Captain of a ship—as having plain precedence
over a mere island King, especially in the King's own house—
the Captain coolly proceeds to wash his hands in the punch
bowl;—taking it I suppose for a huge finger-glass. “Now,”
said Queequeg, “what you tink now?—Didn't our people

At last, passage paid, and luggage safe, we stood on board
the schooner. Hoisting sail, it glided down the Acushnet
river. On one side, New Bedford rose in terraces of streets,
their ice-covered trees all glittering in the clear, cold air.
Huge hills and mountains of casks on casks were piled upon her


Page 66
wharves, and side by side the world-wandering whale ships
lay silent and safely moored at last; while from others came
a sound of carpenters and coopers, with blended noises of fires
and forges to melt the pitch, all betokening that new
cruises were on the start; that one most perilous and long
voyage ended, only begins a second; and a second ended, only
begins a third, and so on, for ever and for aye. Such is the
endlessness, yea, the intolerableness of all earthly effort.

Gaining the more open water, the bracing breeze waxed
fresh; the little Moss tossed the quick foam from her bows, as
a young colt his snortings. How I snuffed that Tartar air!
—how I spurned that turnpike earth!—that common highway
all over dented with the marks of slavish heels and hoofs; and
turned me to admire the magnanimity of the sea which will
permit no records.

At the same foam-fountain, Queequeg seemed to drink and
reel with me. His dusky nostrils swelled apart; he showed
his filed and pointed teeth. On, on we flew; and our offing
gained, the Moss did homage to the blast; ducked and dived
her brows as a slave before the Sultan. Sideways leaning,
we sideways darted; every ropeyarn tingling like a wire; the
two tall masts buckling like Indian canes in land tornadoes. So
full of this reeling scene were we, as we stood by the plunging
bowsprit, that for some time we did not notice the jeering glances
of the passengers, a lubber-like assembly, who marvelled that
two fellow beings should be so companionable; as though a
white man were anything more dignified than a whitewashed
negro. But there were some boobies and bumpkins there, who,
by their intense greenness, must have come from the heart and
centre of all verdure. Queequeg caught one of these young
saplings mimicking him behind his back. I thought the bumpkin's
hour of doom was come. Dropping his harpoon, the
brawny savage caught him in his arms, and by an almost miraculous
dexterity and strength, sent him high up bodily into the


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air; then slightly tapping his stern in mid-somerset, the fellow
landed with bursting lungs upon his feet, while Queequeg, turning
his back upon him, lighted his tomahawk pipe and passed
it to me for a puff.

“Capting! Capting!” yelled the bumpkin, running towards
that officer; “Capting, Capting, here's the devil.”

“Hallo, you sir,” cried the Captain, a gaunt rib of the sea,
stalking up to Queequeg, “what in thunder do you mean
by that? Don't you know you might have killed that chap?”

“What him say?” said Queequeg, as he mildly turned
to me.

“He say,” said I, “that you came near kill-e that man there,”
pointing to the still shivering greenhorn.

“Kill-e,” cried Queequeg, twisting his tattooed face into an
unearthly expression of disdain, “ah! him bevy small-e fish-e;
Queequeg no kill-e so small-e fish-e; Queequeg kill-e big

“Look you,” roared the Captain, “I'll kill-e you, you cannibal,
if you try any more of your tricks aboard here; so mind
your eye.”

But it so happened just then, that it was high time for the
Captain to mind his own eye. The prodigious strain upon the
main-sail had parted the weather-sheet, and the tremendous
boom was now flying from side to side, completely sweeping
the entire after part of the deck. The poor fellow whom
Queequeg had handled so roughly, was swept overboard; all
hands were in a panic; and to attempt snatching at the boom
to stay it, seemed madness. It flew from right to left, and back
again, almost in one ticking of a watch, and every instant seemed
on the point of snapping into splinters. Nothing was done, and
nothing seemed capable of being done; those on deck rushed
towards the bows, and stood eyeing the boom as if it were the
lower jaw of an exasperated whale. In the midst of this consternation,
Queequeg dropped deftly to his knees, and crawling


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under the path of the boom, whipped hold of a rope, secured
one end to the bulwarks, and then flinging the other like a lasso,
caught it round the boom as it swept over his head, and at the
next jerk, the spar was that way trapped, and all was safe. The
schooner was run into the wind, and while the hands were
clearing away the stern boat, Queequeg, stripped to the waist,
darted from the side with a long living are of a leap. For three
minutes or more he was seen swimming like a dog, throwing
his long arms straight out before him, and by turns revealing
his brawny shoulders through the freezing foam. I looked
at the grand and glorious fellow, but saw no one to be saved.
The greenhorn had gone down. Shooting himself perpendicularly
from the water, Queequeg now took an instant's
glance around him, and seeming to see just how matters were,
dived down and disappeared. A few minutes more, and he
rose again, one arm still striking out, and with the other dragging
a lifeless form. The boat soon picked them up. The poor
bumpkin was restored. All hands voted Queequeg a noble
trump; the captain begged his pardon. From that hour I
clove to Queequeg like a barnacle; yea, till poor Queequeg took
his last long dive.

Was there ever such unconsciousness? He did not seem to
think that he at all deserved a medal from the Humane and
Magnanimous Societies. He only asked for water—fresh water
—something to wipe the brine off; that done, he put on dry
clothes, lighted his pipe, and leaning against the bulwarks, and
mildly eyeing those around him, seemed to be saying to himself
—“It's a mutual, joint-stock world, in all meridians. We cannibals
must help these Christians.”