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It was nearly six o'clock, but only grey imperfect misty
dawn, when we drew nigh the wharf.

“There are some sailors running ahead there, if I see right,”


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said I to Queequeg, “it can't be shadows; she's off by sunrise,
I guess; come on!”

“Avast!” cried a voice, whose owner at the same time
coming close behind us, laid a hand upon both our shoulders,
and then insinuating himself between us, stood stooping forward
a little, in the uncertain twilight, strangely peering from Queequeg
to me. It was Elijah.

“Going aboard?”

“Hands off, will you,” said I.

“Lookee here,” said Queequeg, shaking himself, “go 'way!”

“Aint going aboard, then?”

“Yes, we are,” said I, “but what business is that of yours?
Do you know, Mr. Elijah, that I consider you a little impertinent?”

“No, no, no; I wasn't aware of that,” said Elijah, slowly
and wonderingly looking from me to Queequeg, with the most
unaccountable glances.

“Elijah,” said I, “you will oblige my friends and me by withdrawing.
We are going to the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and
would prefer not to be detained.”

“Ye be, be ye? Coming back afore breakfast?”

“He's cracked, Queequeg,” said I, “come on.”

“Holloa!” cried stationary Elijah, hailing us when we had
removed a few paces.

“Never mind him,” said I, “Queequeg, come on.”

But he stole up to us again, and suddenly clapping his hand
on my shoulder, said—“Did ye see anything looking like men
going towards that ship a while ago?”

Struck by this plain matter-of-fact question, I answered, saying
“Yes, I thought I did see four or five men; but it was
too dim to be sure.”

“Very dim, very dim,” said Elijah. “Morning to ye.”

Once more we quitted him; but once more he came softly
after us; and touching my shoulder again, said, “See if you
can find 'em now, will ye?”


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“Find who?”

“Morning to ye! morning to ye!” he rejoined, again
moving off. “Oh! I was going to warn ye against—but never
mind, never mind—it's all one, all in the family too;—sharp
frost this morning, ain't it? Good bye to ye. Shan't see ye
again very soon, I guess; unless it's before the Grand Jury.”
And with these cracked words he finally departed, leaving me,
for the moment, in no small wonderment at his frantic impudence.

At last, stepping on board the Pequod, we found everything
in profound quiet, not a soul moving. The cabin entrance was
locked within; the hatches were all on, and lumbered with coils
of rigging. Going forward to the forecastle, we found the slide
of the scuttle open. Seeing a light, we went down, and found
only an old rigger there, wrapped in a tattered pea-jacket.
He was thrown at whole length upon two chests, his face downwards
and inclosed in his folded arms. The profoundest slumber
slept upon him.

“Those sailors we saw, Queequeg, where can they have gone
to?” said I, looking dubiously at the sleeper. But it seemed
that, when on the wharf, Queequeg had not at all noticed what
I now alluded to; hence I would have thought myself to have
been optically deceived in that matter, were it not for Elijah's
otherwise inexplicable question. But I beat the thing down;
and again marking the sleeper, jocularly hinted to Queequeg
that perhaps we had best sit up with the body; telling him to
establish himself accordingly. He put his hand upon the
sleeper's rear, as though feeling if it was soft enough; and
then, without more ado, sat quietly down there.

“Gracious! Queequeg, don't sit there,” said I.

“Oh! perry dood seat,” said Queequeg, “my country way;
won't hurt him face.”

“Face!” said I, “call that his face? very benevolent countenance
then; but how hard he breathes, he's heaving himself;
get off, Queequeg, you are heavy, it's grinding the face


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of the poor. Get off, Queequeg! Look, he'll twitch you
off soon. I wonder he don't wake.”

Queequeg removed himself to just beyond the head of the
sleeper, and lighted his tomahawk pipe. I sat at the feet.
We kept the pipe passing over the sleeper, from one to the
other. Meanwhile, upon questioning him in his broken fashion,
Queequeg gave me to understand that, in his land, owing
to the absence of settees and sofas of all sorts, the king,
chiefs, and great people generally, were in the custom of fattening
some of the lower orders for ottomans; and to furnish
a house comfortably in that respect, you had only to buy up
eight or ten lazy fellows, and lay them round in the piers and
alcoves. Besides, it was very convenient on an excursion;
much better than those garden-chairs which are convertible
into walking-sticks; upon occasion, a chief calling his attendant,
and desiring him to make a settee of himself under a
spreading tree, perhaps in some damp marshy place.

While narrating these things, every time Queequeg received
the tomahawk from me, he flourished the hatchet-side of it
over the sleeper's head.

“What's that for, Queequeg?”

“Perry easy, kill-e; oh! perry easy!”

He was going on with some wild reminiscences about his
tomahawk-pipe, which, it seemed, had in its two uses both
brained his foes and soothed his soul, when we were directly
attracted to the sleeping rigger. The strong vapor now completely
filling the contracted hole, it began to tell upon him.
He breathed with a sort of muffledness; then seemed troubled
in the nose; then revolved over once or twice; then sat up and
rubbed his eyes.

“Holloa!” he breathed at last, “who be ye smokers?”

“Shipped men,” answered I, “when does she sail?”

“Aye, aye, ye are going in her, be ye? She sails to-day.
The Captain came aboard last night.”


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“What Captain?—Ahab?”

“Who but him indeed?”

I was going to ask him some further questions concerning
Ahab, when we heard a noise on deck.

“Holloa! Starbuck's astir,” said the rigger. “He's a lively
chief mate, that; good man, and a pious; but all alive now,
I must turn to.” And so saying he went on deck, and we

It was now clear sunrise. Soon the crew came on board in
twos and threes; the riggers bestirred themselves; the mates
were actively engaged; and several of the shore people were
busy in bringing various last things on board. Meanwhile
Captain Ahab remained invisibly enshrined within his cabin.