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Page 390


The predestinated day arrived, and we duly met the ship
Jungfrau, Derick De Deer, master, of Bremen.

At one time the greatest whaling people in the world, the
Dutch and Germans are now among the least; but here and
there at very wide intervals of latitude and longitude, you still
occasionally meet with their flag in the Pacific.

For some reason, the Jungfrau seemed quite eager to pay
her respects. While yet some distance from the Pequod, she
rounded to, and dropping a boat, her captain was impelled
towards us, impatiently standing in the bows instead of the

“What has he in his hand there?” cried Starbuck, pointing
to something wavingly held by the German. “Impossible!—
a lamp-feeder!”

“Not that,” said Stubb, “no, no, it's a coffee-pot, Mr. Starbuck;
he's coming off to make us our coffee, is the Yarman;
don't you see that big tin can there alongside of him?—that's
his boiling water. Oh! he's all right, is the Yarman.”

“Go along with you,” cried Flask, “it's a lamp-feeder and
an oil-can. He's out of oil, and has come a-begging.”

However curious it may seem for an oil-ship to be borrowing
oil on the whale-ground, and however much it may invertedly
contradict the old proverb about carrying coals to Newcastle,
yet sometimes such a thing really happens; and in the present
case Captain Derick De Deer did indubitably conduct a lamp-feeder
as Flask did declare.

As he mounted the deck, Ahab abruptly accosted him, without
at all heeding what he had in his hand; but in his broken


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lingo, the German soon evinced his complete ignorance of the
White Whale; immediately turning the conversation to his
lamp-feeder and oil can, with some remarks touching his having
to turn into his hammock at night in profound darkness—
his last drop of Bremen oil being gone, and not a single flying-fish
yet captured to supply the deficiency; concluding by
hinting that his ship was indeed what in the Fishery is technically
called a clean one (that is, an empty one), well deserving
the name of Jungfrau or the Virgin.

His necessities supplied, Derick departed; but he had not
gained his ship's side, when whales were almost simultaneously
raised from the mast-heads of both vessels; and so eager for
the chase was Derick, that without pausing to put his oil-can
and lamp-feeder aboard, he slewed round his boat and made
after the leviathan lamp-feeders.

Now, the game having risen to leeward, he and the other
three German boats that soon followed him, had considerably
the start of the Pequod's keels. There were eight whales, an
average pod. Aware of their danger, they were going all
abreast with great speed straight before the wind, rubbing
their flanks as closely as so many spans of horses in harness.
They left a great, wide wake, as though continually unrolling a
great wide parchment upon the sea.

Full in this rapid wake, and many fathoms in the rear, swam
a huge, humped old bull, which by his comparatively slow
progress, as well as by the unusual yellowish incrustations overgrowing
him, seemed afflicted with the jaundice, or some other
infirmity. Whether this whale belonged to the pod in
advance, seemed questionable; for it is not customary for such
venerable leviathans to be at all social. Nevertheless, he stuck
to their wake, though indeed their back water must have
retarded him, because the white-bone or swell at his broad
muzzle was a dashed one, like the swell formed when two hostile
currents meet. His spout was short, slow, and laborious;


Page 392
coming forth with a choking sort of gush, and spending itself
in torn shreds, followed by strange subterranean commotions in
him, which seemed to have egress at his other buried extremity,
causing the waters behind him to upbubble.

“Who's got some paregoric?” said Stubb, “he has the
stomach-ache, I'm afraid. Lord, think of having half an acre
of stomach-ache! Adverse winds are holding mad Christmas
in him, boys. It's the first foul wind I ever knew to blow from
astern; but look, did ever whale yaw so before? it must be, he's
lost his tiller.”

As an overladen Indiaman bearing down the Hindostan
coast with a deck load of frightened horses, careens, buries,
rolls, and wallows on her way; so did this old whale heave his
aged bulk, and now and then partly turning over on his cumbrous
rib-ends, expose the cause of his devious wake in the
unnatural stump of his starboard fin. Whether he had lost
that fin in battle, or had been born without it, it were hard to

“Only wait a bit, old chap, and I'll give ye a sling for that
wounded arm,” cried cruel Flask, pointing to the whale-line
near him.

“Mind he don't sling thee with it,” cried Starbuck. “Give
way, or the German will have him.”

With one intent all the combined rival boats were pointed
for this one fish, because not only was he the largest, and therefore
the most valuable whale, but he was nearest to them, and
the other whales were going with such great velocity, moreover,
as almost to defy pursuit for the time. At this juncture, the
Pequod's keels had shot by the three German boats last lowered;
but from the great start he had had, Derick's boat still
led the chase, though every moment neared by his foreign
rivals. The only thing they feared, was, that from being
already so nigh to his mark, he would be enabled to dart his
iron before they could completely overtake and pass him. As


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for Derick, he seemed quite confident that this would be the
case, and occasionally with a deriding gesture shook his lamp-feeder
at the other boats.

“The ungracious and ungrateful dog!” cried Starbuck; “he
mocks and dares me with the very poor-box I filled for him not
five minutes ago!”—then in his old intense whisper—“give
way, greyhounds! Dog to it!”

“I tell ye what it is, men”—cried Stubb to his crew—“It's
against my religion to get mad; but I'd like to eat that villanous
Yarman—Pull—wont ye? Are ye going to let that rascal
beat ye? Do ye love brandy? A hogshead of brandy, then,
to the best man. Come, why don't some of ye burst a blood-vessel?
Who's that been dropping an anchor overboard—we
don't budge an inch—we're becalmed. Halloo, here's grass
growing in the boat's bottom—and by the Lord, the mast
there's budding. This won't do, boys. Look at that Yarman!
The short and long of it is, men, will ye spit fire or not?”

“Oh! see the suds he makes!” cried Flask, dancing up and
down—“What a hump—Oh, do pile on the beef—lays like a
log! Oh! my lads, do spring—slap-jacks and quohogs for supper,
you know, my lads—baked clams and muffins—oh, do, do,
spring—he's a hundred barreler—don't lose him now—don't,
oh, don't!—see that Yarman—Oh! won't ye pull for your duff,
my lads—such a sog! such a sogger! Don't ye love sperm?
There goes three thousand dollars, men!—a bank!—a whole
bank! The bank of England!—Oh, do, do, do!—What's that
Yarman about now?”

At this moment Derick was in the act of pitching his lamp-feeder
at the advancing boats, and also his oil-can; perhaps with
the double view of retarding his rivals' way, and at the same time
economically accelerating his own by the momentary impetus
of the backward toss.

“The unmannerly Dutch dogger!” cried Stubb. “Pull now,
men, like fifty thousand line-of-battle-ship loads of red-haired


Page 394
devils. What d'ye say, Tashtego; are you the man to snap
your spine in two-and-twenty pieces for the honor of old Gayhead?
What d'ye say?”

“I say, pull like god-dam,”—cried the Indian.

Fiercely, but evenly incited by the taunts of the German, the
Pequod's three boats now began ranging almost abreast; and, so
disposed, momentarily neared him. In that fine, loose, chivalrous
attitude of the headsman when drawing near to his prey,
the three mates stood up proudly, occasionally backing the after
oarsman with an exhilarating cry of, “There she slides, now!
Hurrah for the white-ash breeze! Down with the Yarman!
Sail over him!”

But so decided an original start had Derick had, that spite
of all their gallantry, he would have proved the victor in this
race, had not a righteous judgment descended upon him in a
crab which caught the blade of his midship oarsman. While
this clumsy lubber was striving to free his white-ash, and while,
in consequence, Derick's boat was nigh to capsizing, and he
thundering away at his men in a mighty rage;—that was a
good time for Starbuck, Stubb, and Flask. With a shout, they
took a mortal start forwards, and slantingly ranged up on the
German's quarter. An instant more, and all four boats were
diagonically in the whale's immediate wake, while stretching
from them, on both sides, was the foaming swell that he made.

It was a terrific, most pitiable, and maddening sight. The
whale was now going head out, and sending his spout before
him in a continual tormented jet; while his one poor fin beat
his side in an agony of fright. Now to this hand, now to that,
he yawed in his faltering flight, and still at every billow that he
broke, he spasmodically sank in the sea, or sideways rolled
towards the sky his one beating fin. So have I seen a bird with
clipped wing, making affrighted broken circles in the air, vainly
striving to escape the piratical hawks. But the bird has a
voice, and with plaintive cries will make known her fear; but


Page 395
the fear of this vast dumb brute of the sea, was chained up and
enchanted in him; he had no voice, save that choking respiration
through his spiracle, and this made the sight of him
unspeakably pitiable; while still, in his amazing bulk, portcullis
jaw, and omnipotent tail, there was enough to appal the
stoutest man who so pitied.

Seeing now that but a very few moments more would give
the Pequod's boats the advantage, and rather than be thus
foiled of his game, Derick chose to hazard what to him must
have seemed a most unusually long dart, ere the last chance
would for ever escape.

But no sooner did his harpooneer stand up for the stroke,
than all three tigers—Queequeg, Tashtego, Daggoo—instinctively
sprang to their feet, and standing in a diagonal row,
simultaneously pointed their barbs; and darted over the head of
the German harpooneer, their three Nantucket irons entered the
whale. Blinding vapors of foam and white-fire! The three
boats, in the first fury of the whale's headlong rush, bumped the
German's aside with such force, that both Derick and his
baffled harpooneer were spilled out, and sailed over by the three
flying keels.

“Don't be afraid, my butter-boxes,” cried Stubb, casting a
passing glance upon them as he shot by; “ye'll be picked up
presently—all right—I saw some sharks astern—St. Bernard's
dogs, you know—relieve distressed travellers. Hurrah! this is
the way to sail now. Every keel a sun-beam! Hurrah!—
Here we go like three tin kettles at the tail of a mad cougar!
This puts me in mind of fastening to an elephant in a tilbury
on a plain—makes the wheel-spokes fly, boys, when you fasten
to him that way; and there's danger of being pitched out too,
when you strike a hill. Hurrah! this is the way a fellow feels
when he's going to Davy Jones—all a rush down an endless
inclined plane! Hurrah! this whale carries the everlasting


Page 396

But the monster's run was a brief one. Giving a sudden
gasp, he tumultuously sounded. With a grating rush, the
three lines flew round the loggerheads with such a force as to
gouge deep grooves in them; while so fearful were the harpooneers
that this rapid sounding would soon exhaust the lines, that
using all their dexterous might, they caught repeated smoking
turns with the rope to hold on; till at last—owing to the perpendicular
strain from the lead-lined chocks of the boats, whence
the three ropes went straight down into the blue—the gunwales
of the bows were almost even with the water, while the three
sterns tilted high in the air. And the whale soon ceasing to
sound, for some time they remained in that attitude, fearful of
expending more line, though the position was a little ticklish.
But though boats have been taken down and lost in this way,
yet it is this “holding on,” as it is called; this hooking up by
the sharp barbs of his live flesh from the back; this it is that
often torments the Leviathan into soon rising again to meet the
sharp lance of his foes. Yet not to speak of the peril of the
thing, it is to be doubted whether this course is always the best;
for it is but reasonable to presume, that the longer the stricken
whale stays under water, the more he is exhausted. Because,
owing to the enormous surface of him—in a full grown sperm
whale something less than 2000 square feet—the pressure of the
water is immense. We all know what an astonishing atmospheric
weight we ourselves stand up under; even here, aboveground,
in the air; how vast, then, the burden of a whale, bearing
on his back a column of two hundred fathoms of ocean!
It must at least equal the weight of fifty atmospheres. One
whaleman has estimated it at the weight of twenty line-of-battle
ships, with all their guns, and stores, and men on board.

As the three boats lay there on that gently rolling sea, gazing
down into its eternal blue noon; and as not a single groan or
ery of any sort, nay, not so much as a ripple or a bubble came
up from its depths; what landsman would have thought, that


Page 397
beneath all that silence and placidity, the utmost monster of the
seas was writhing and wrenching in agony! Not eight inches
of perpendicular rope were visible at the bows. Seems it credible
that by three such thin threads the great Leviathan was
suspended like the big weight to an eight day clock. Suspended?
and to what? To three bits of board. Is this the
creature of whom it was once so triumphantly said—“Canst
thou fill his skin with barbed irons? or his head with fish-spears?
The sword of him that layeth at him cannot hold,
the spear, the dart, nor the habergeon: he esteemeth iron as
straw; the arrow cannot make him flee; darts are counted as
stubble; he laugheth at the shaking of a spear!” This the
creature? this he? Oh! that unfulfilments should follow the
prophets. For with the strength of a thousand thighs in his
tail, Leviathan had run his head under the mountains of the
sea, to hide him from the Pequod's fish-spears!

In that sloping afternoon sunlight, the shadows that the three
boats sent down beneath the surface, must have been long
enough and broad enough to shade half Xerxes' army. Who
can tell how appalling to the wounded whale must have been
such huge phantoms flitting over his head!

“Stand by, men; he stirs,” cried Starbuck, as the three lines
suddenly vibrated in the water, distinctly conducting upwards
to them, as by magnetic wires, the life and death throbs of the
whale, so that every oarsman felt them in his seat. The next
moment, relieved in great part from the downward strain at the
bows, the boats gave a sudden bounce upwards, as a small ice-field
will, when a dense herd of white bears are scared from it
into the sea.

“Haul in! Haul in!” cried Starbuck again; “he's rising.”

The lines, of which, hardly an instant before, not one hand's
breadth could have been gained, were now in long quick coils
flung back all dripping into the boats, and soon the whale broke
water within two ship's lengths of the hunters.


Page 398

His motions plainly denoted his extreme exhaustion. In
most land animals there are certain valves or flood-gates in many
of their veins, whereby when wounded, the blood is in some
degree at least instantly shut off in certain directions. Not so
with the whale; one of whose peculiarities it is, to have an
entire non-valvular structure of the blood-vessels, so that when
pierced even by so small a point as a harpoon, a deadly drain is
at once begun upon his whole arterial system; and when this is
heightened by the extraordinary pressure of water at a great
distance below the surface, his life may be said to pour from him
in incessant streams. Yet so vast is the quantity of blood in
him, and so distant and numerous its interior fountains, that he
will keep thus bleeding and bleeding for a considerable period;
even as in a drought a river will flow, whose source is in the well-springs
of far-off and undiscernible hills. Even now, when
the boats pulled upon this whale, and perilously drew over his
swaying flukes, and the lances were darted into him, they were
followed by steady jets from the new made wound, which kept
continually playing, while the natural spout-hole in his head was
only at intervals, however rapid, sending its affrighted moisture
into the air. From this last vent no blood yet came, because
no vital part of him had thus far been struck. His life, as they
significantly call it, was untouched.

As the boats now more closely surrounded him, the whole
upper part of his form, with much of it that is ordinarily submerged,
was plainly revealed. His eyes, or rather the places
where his eyes had been, were beheld. As strange misgrown
masses gather in the knot-holes of the noblest oaks when prostrate,
so from the points which the whale's eyes had once
occupied, now protruded blind bulbs, horribly pitiable to see.
But pity there was none. For all his old age, and his one arm,
and his blind eyes, he must die the death and be murdered, in
order to light the gay bridals and other merry-makings of men,
and also to illuminate the solemn churches that preach unconditional


Page 399
inoffensiveness by all to all. Still rolling in his blood,
at last he partially disclosed a strangely discolored bunch or
protuberance, the size of a bushel, low down on the flank.

“A nice spot,” cried Flask; “just let me prick him there

“Avast!” cried Starbuck, “there's no need of that!”

But humane Starbuck was too late. At the instant of the
dart an ulcerous jet shot from this cruel wound, and goaded by
it into more than sufferable anguish, the whale now spouting
thick blood, with swift fury blindly darted at the craft, bespattering
them and their glorying crews all over with showers of
gore, capsizing Flask's boat and marring the bows. It was his
death stroke. For, by this time, so spent was he by loss of
blood, that he helplessly rolled away from the wreck he had
made; lay panting on his side, impotently flapped with his
stumped fin, then over and over slowly revolved like a waning
world; turned up the white secrets of his belly; lay like a log,
and died. It was most piteous, that last expiring spout. As
when by unseen hands the water is gradually drawn off from
some mighty fountain, and with half-stifled melancholy gurglings
the spray-column lowers and lowers to the ground—so
the last long dying spout of the whale.

Soon, while the crews were awaiting the arrival of the ship,
the body showed symptoms of sinking with all its treasures
unrifled. Immediately, by Starbuck's orders, lines were secured
to it at different points, so that ere long every boat was a buoy;
the sunken whale being suspended a few inches beneath them
by the cords. By very heedful management, when the ship
drew nigh, the whale was transferred to her side, and was
strongly secured there by the stiffest fluke-chains, for it was
plain that unless artificially upheld, the body would at once
sink to the bottom.

It so chanced that almost upon first cutting into him with
the spade, the entire length of a corroded harpoon was found


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imbedded in his flesh, on the lower part of the bunch before described.
But as the stumps of harpoons are frequently found
in the dead bodies of captured whales, with the flesh perfectly
healed around them, and no prominence of any kind to denote
their place; therefore, there must needs have been some other
unknown reason in the present case fully to account for the
ulceration alluded to. But still more curious was the fact of a
lance-head of stone being found in him, not far from the buried
iron, the flesh perfectly firm about it. Who had darted that
stone lance? And when? It might have been darted by some
Nor' West Indian long before America was discovered.

What other marvels might have been rummaged out of this
monstrous cabinet there is no telling. But a sudden stop was
put to further discoveries, by the ship's being unprecedentedly
dragged over sideways to the sea, owing to the body's immensely
increasing tendency to sink. However, Starbuck, who
had the ordering of affairs, hung on to it to the last; hung on
to it so resolutely, indeed, that when at length the ship would
have been capsized, if still persisting in locking arms with the
body; then, when the command was given to break clear from
it, such was the immovable strain upon the timber-heads to
which the fluke-chains and cables were fastened, that it was impossible
to cast them off. Meantime everything in the Pequod
was aslant. To cross to the other side of the deck was like
walking up the steep gabled roof of a house. The ship groaned
and gasped. Many of the ivory inlayings of her bulwarks and
cabins were started from their places, by the unnatural dislocation.
In vain handspikes and crows were brought to bear upon
the immovable fluke-chains, to pry them adrift from the timber-heads;
and so low had the whale now settled that the submerged
ends could not be at all approached, while every moment
whole tons of ponderosity seemed added to the sinking bulk,
and the ship seemed on the point of going over.

“Hold on, hold on, won't ye?” cried Stubb to the body,


Page 401
“don't be in such a devil of a hurry to sink! By thunder,
men, we must do something or go for it. No use prying
there; avast, I say with your handspikes, and run one of ye
for a prayer book and a pen-knife, and cut the big chains.”

“Knife? Aye, aye,” cried Queequeg, and seizing the
carpenter's heavy hatchet, he leaned out of a porthole, and
steel to iron, began slashing at the largest fluke-chains. But a
few strokes, full of sparks, were given, when the exceeding strain
effected the rest. With a terrific snap, every fastening went
adrift; the ship righted, the carcase sank.

Now, this occasional inevitable sinking of the recently killed
Sperm Whale is a very curious thing; nor has any fisherman
yet adequately accounted for it. Usually the dead Sperm
Whale floats with great buoyancy, with its side or belly considerably
elevated above the surface. If the only whales that
thus sank were old, meagre, and broken-hearted creatures, their
pads of lard diminished and all their bones heavy and rheumatic;
then you might with some reason assert that this sinking is
caused by an uncommon specific gravity in the fish so sinking,
consequent upon this absence of buoyant matter in him. But
it is not so. For young whales, in the highest health, and
swelling with noble aspirations, prematurely cut off in the warm
flush and May of life, with all their panting lard about them;
even these brawny, buoyant heroes do sometimes sink.

Be it said, however, that the Sperm Whale is far less liable
to this accident than any other species. Where one of that
sort go down, twenty Right Whales do. This difference in the
species is no doubt imputable in no small degree to the greater
quantity of bone in the Right Whale; his Venetian blinds
alone sometimes weighing more than a ton; from this incumbrance
the Sperm Whale is wholly free. But there are
instances where, after the lapse of many hours or several days, the
sunken whale again rises, more buoyant than in life. But the
reason of this is obvious. Gases are generated in him; he


Page 402
swells to a prodigious magnitude; becomes a sort of animal
balloon. A line-of-battle ship could hardly keep him under
then. In the Shore Whaling, on soundings, among the Bays
of New Zealand, when a Right Whale gives token of sinking,
they fasten buoys to him, with plenty of rope; so that when
the body has gone down, they know where to look for it when
it shall have ascended again.

It was not long after the sinking of the body that a cry was
heard from the Pequod's mast-heads, announcing that the
Jungfrau was again lowering her boats; though the only spout
in sight was that of a Fin-Back, belonging to the species of
uncapturable whales, because of its incredible power of swimming.
Nevertheless, the Fin-Back's spout is so similar to the
Sperm Whale's, that by unskilful fishermen it is often mistaken
for it. And consequently Derick and all his host were now in
valiant chase of this unnearable brute. The Virgin crowding
all sail, made after her four young keels, and thus they all disappeared
far to leeward, still in bold, hopeful chase.

Oh! many are the Fin-Backs, and many are the Dericks, my