.. < chapter cxxxi 10 THE PEQUOD MEETS THE DELIGHT >
The intense Pequod
sailed on; the rolling waves and days went by; the life-buoy-coffin still
lightly swung; and another ship, most miserably misnamed the Delight, was
descried. As she drew nigh, all eyes were fixed upon her broad beams,
called shears, which, in some whaling-ships, cross the quarter-deck at the
height of eight or nine feet; serving to carry the spare, unrigged, or
disabled boats. Upon the stranger's shears were beheld the shattered, white
ribs, and some few splintered planks, of what had once been a whale-boat; but
you now saw through this wreck, as plainly as you see through the peeled,
half-unhinged, and bleaching skeleton of a horse. Hast seen the White
Whale? Look! replied the hollow-cheeked captain from his taffrail; and
with his trumpet he pointed to the wreck. Hast killed him? The harpoon is
not yet forged that will ever do that, answered the other, sadly glancing
upon a rounded hammock on the deck, whose gathered sides some noiseless
sailors were busy in sewing together. Not forged! and snatching Perth's
levelled iron from the crotch, Ahab held it out, exclaiming -- Look ye,
here in this hand I hold his death! Tempered in blood, and tempered by
lightning are these barbs; and I swear to temper them triply in that hot
place behind the fin, where the white whale most feels his accursed life!
Then God keep thee, old man --see'st thou that --pointing to the hammock -- I
bury but one of five stout men, who were alive only yesterday; but were dead
ere night. Only that one I bury; the rest were buried before they died;
you sail upon their tomb. Then turning to his crew -- Are ye ready there?
place the plank then on the rail, and lift the body; so, then -- Oh! God
--advancing towards the hammock with uplifted hands -- may the resurrection and
the life-- Brace forward! Up helm! cried Ahab like lightning to his men.
But the suddenly started Pequod was not quick enough to escape the sound of
the splash that the corpse soon made as it struck the sea; not so quick,
indeed, but that some of the flying bubbles might have sprinkled her hull with
their ghostly baptism. As Ahab now glided from the dejected Delight, the
strange life-buoy hanging at the Pequod's stern came into conspicuous relief.
Ha! yonder! look yonder, men! cried a foreboding voice in her wake. In
vain, oh, ye strangers, ye fly our sad burial; ye but turn us your taffrail
to show us your coffin!