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At length, towards noon, upon the final dismissal of the ship's
riggers, and after the Pequod had been hauled out from the
wharf, and after the ever-thoughtful Charity had come off in a
whaleboat, with her last gift—a night-cap for Stubb, the second
mate, her brother-in-law, and a spare Bible for the steward—
after all this, the two captains, Peleg and Bildad, issued from
the cabin, and turning to the chief mate, Peleg said:

“Now, Mr. Starbuck, are you sure everything is right?
Captain Ahab is all ready—just spoke to him—nothing more to
be got from shore, eh? Well, call all hands, then. Muster
'em aft here—blast 'em!”

“No need of profane words, however great the hurry, Peleg,”
said Bildad, “but away with thee, friend Starbuck, and do our

How now! Here upon the very point of starting for the


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voyage, Captain Peleg and Captain Bildad were going it with
a high hand on the quarter-deck, just as if they were to be
joint-commanders at sea, as well as to all appearances in port.
And, as for Captain Ahab, no sign of him was yet to be seen;
only, they said he was in the cabin. But then, the idea was,
that his presence was by no means necessary in getting the ship
under weigh, and steering her well out to sea. Indeed, as that
was not at all his proper business, but the pilot's; and as he was
not yet completely recovered—so they said—therefore, Captain
Ahab stayed below. And all this seemed natural enough;
especially as in the merchant service many captains never show
themselves on deck for a considerable time after heaving up the
anchor, but remain over the cabin table, having a farewell
merry-making with their shore friends, before they quit the ship
for good with the pilot.

But there was not much chance to think over the matter, for
Captain Peleg was now all alive. He seemed to do most of
the talking and commanding, and not Bildad.

“Aft here, ye sons of bachelors,” he cried, as the sailors
lingered at the main-mast. “Mr. Starbuck, drive 'em aft.”

“Strike the tent there!”—was the next order. As I hinted
before, this whalebone marquee was never pitched except in
port; and on board the Pequod, for thirty years, the order to
strike the tent was well known to be the next thing to heaving
up the anchor.

“Man the capstan! Blood and thunder!—jump!”—was the
next command, and the crew sprang for the handspikes.

Now, in getting under weigh, the station generally occupied
by the pilot is the forward part of the ship. And here Bildad,
who, with Peleg, be it known, in addition to his other offices,
was one of the licensed pilots of the port—he being suspected
to have got himself made a pilot in order to save the Nantucket
pilot-fee to all the ships he was concerned in, for he never
piloted any other craft—Bildad, I say, might now be seen actively


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engaged in looking over the bows for the approaching
anchor, and at intervals singing what seemed a dismal stave of
psalmody, to cheer the hands at the windlass, who roared forth
some sort of a chorus about the girls in Booble Alley, with
hearty good will. Nevertheless, not three days previous, Bildad
had told them that no profane songs would be allowed on board
the Pequod, particularly in getting under weigh; and Charity,
his sister, had placed a small choice copy of Watts in each
seaman's berth.

Meantime, overseeing the other part of the ship, Captain
Peleg ripped and swore astern in the most frightful manner.
I almost thought he would sink the ship before the anchor could
be got up; involuntarily I paused on my handspike, and told
Queequeg to do the same, thinking of the perils we both ran,
in starting on the voyage with such a devil for a pilot. I was
comforting myself, however, with the thought that in pious
Bildad might be found some salvation, spite of his seven hundred
and seventy-seventh lay; when I felt a sudden sharp poke
in my rear, and turning round, was horrified at the apparition of
Captain Peleg in the act of withdrawing his leg from my immediate
vicinity. That was my first kick.

“Is that the way they heave in the marchant service?” he
roared. “Spring, thou sheep-head; spring, and break thy back-bone!
Why don't ye spring, I say, all of ye—spring! Quohag!
spring, thou chap with the red whiskers; spring there,
Scotch-cap; spring, thou green pants. Spring, I say, all of ye,
and spring your eyes out!” And so saying, he moved along
the windlass, here and there using his leg very freely, while imperturbable
Bildad kept leading off with his psalmody. Thinks
I, Captain Peleg must have been drinking something to-day.

At last the anchor was up, the sails were set, and off we
glided. It was a short, cold Christmas; and as the short northern
day merged into night, we found ourselves almost broad upon
the wintry ocean, whose freezing spray cased us in ice, as in


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polished armor. The long rows of teeth on the bulwarks
glistened in the moonlight; and like the white ivory tusks of
some huge elephant, vast curving icicles depended from the

Lank Bildad, as pilot, headed the first watch, and ever and
anon, as the old craft deep dived into the green seas, and sent
the shivering frost all over her, and the winds howled, and the
cordage rang, his steady notes were heard,—

“Sweet fields beyond the swelling flood,
Stand dressed in living green.
So to the Jews old Canaan stood,
While Jordan rolled between.”

Never did those sweet words sound more sweetly to me than
then. They were full of hope and fruition. Spite of this
frigid winter night in the boisterous Atlantic, spite of my wet
feet and wetter jacket, there was yet, it then seemed to me,
many a pleasant haven in store; and meads and glades so
eternally vernal, that the grass shot up by the spring, untrodden,
unwilted, remains at midsummer.

At last we gained such an offing, that the two pilots were
needed no longer. The stout sail-boat that had accompanied
us began ranging alongside.

It was curious and not unpleasing, how Peleg and Bildad
were affected at this juncture, especially Captain Bildad. For
loath to depart, yet; very loath to leave, for good, a ship bound
on so long and perilous a voyage—beyond both stormy Capes;
a ship in which some thousands of his hard earned dollars were
invested; a ship, in which an old shipmate sailed as captain; a
man almost as old as he, once more starting to encounter all the
terrors of the pitiless jaw; loath to say good-bye to a thing so
every way brimful of every interest to him,—poor old Bildad
lingered long; paced the deck with anxious strides; ran down
into the cabin to speak another farewell word there; again came


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on deck, and looked to windward; looked towards the wide and
endless waters, only bounded by the far-off unseen Eastern
Continents; looked towards the land; looked aloft; looked right
and left; looked everywhere and nowhere; and at last, mechanically
coiling a rope upon its pin, convulsively grasped stout
Peleg by the hand, and holding up a lantern, for a moment
stood gazing heroically in his face, as much as to say, “Nevertheless,
friend Peleg, I can stand it; yes, I can.”

As for Peleg himself, he took it more like a philosopher; but
for all his philosophy, there was a tear twinkling in his eye,
when the lantern came too near. And he, too, did not a little
run from cabin to deck—now a word below, and now a word
with Starbuck, the chief mate.

But, at last, he turned to his comrade, with a final sort of look
about him—“Captain Bildad—come, old shipmate, we must go.
Back the main-yard there! Boat ahoy! Stand by to come
close alongside, now! Careful, careful!—come, Bildad, boy—
say your last. Luck to ye, Starbuck—luck to ye, Mr. Stubb—
luck to ye, Mr. Flask—good-bye, and good luck to ye all—and
this day three years I'll have a hot supper smoking for ye in old
Nantucket. Hurrah and away!”

“God bless ye, and have ye in His holy keeping, men,” murmured
old Bildad, almost incoherently. “I hope ye'll have fine
weather now, so that Captain Ahab may soon be moving among
ye—a pleasant sun is all he needs, and ye'll have plenty of them
in the tropic voyage ye go. Be careful in the hunt, ye mates.
Don't stave the boats needlessly, ye harpooneers; good white
cedar plank is raised full three per cent. within the year. Don't
forget your prayers, either. Mr. Starbuck, mind that cooper
don't waste the spare staves. Oh! the sail-needles are in the green
locker! Don't whale it too much a' Lord's days, men; but
don't miss a fair chance either, that's rejecting Heaven's good
gifts. Have an eye to the molasses tierce, Mr. Stubb; it was
a little leaky, I thought. If ye touch at the islands, Mr. Flask,


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beware of fornication. Good-bye, good-bye! Don't keep that
cheese too long down in the hold, Mr. Starbuck; it'll spoil.
Be careful with the butter—twenty cents the pound it was, and
mind ye, if—”

“Come, come, Captain Bildad; stop palavering,—away!”
and with that, Peleg hurried him over the side, and both dropt
into the boat.

Ship and boat diverged; the cold, damp night breeze blew
between; a screaming gull flew overhead; the two hulls
wildly rolled; we gave three heavy-hearted cheers, and blindly
plunged like fate into the lone Atlantic.