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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesMoby Dick (or The Whale) - Chapter 125 The Log and Line.
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Moby Dick (or The Whale) - Chapter 125 The Log and Line. Post by :Brian_B Category :Long Stories Author :Herman Melville Date :February 2011 Read :841

Click below to download : Moby Dick (or The Whale) - Chapter 125 The Log and Line. (Format : PDF)

Moby Dick (or The Whale) - Chapter 125 The Log and Line.

While now the fated Pequod had been so long afloat this voyage, the
log and line had but very seldom been in use. Owing to a confident
reliance upon other means of determining the vessel's place, some
merchantmen, and many whalemen, especially when cruising, wholly
neglect to heave the log; though at the same time, and frequently
more for form's sake than anything else, regularly putting down upon
the customary slate the course steered by the ship, as well as the
presumed average rate of progression every hour. It had been thus
with the Pequod. The wooden reel and angular log attached hung, long
untouched, just beneath the railing of the after bulwarks. Rains and
spray had damped it; sun and wind had warped it; all the elements
had combined to rot a thing that hung so idly. But heedless of all
this, his mood seized Ahab, as he happened to glance upon the reel,
not many hours after the magnet scene, and he remembered how his
quadrant was no more, and recalled his frantic oath about the level
log and line. The ship was sailing plungingly; astern the billows
rolled in riots.

"Forward, there! Heave the log!"

Two seamen came. The golden-hued Tahitian and the grizzly Manxman.
"Take the reel, one of ye, I'll heave."

They went towards the extreme stern, on the ship's lee side, where
the deck, with the oblique energy of the wind, was now almost dipping
into the creamy, sidelong-rushing sea.

The Manxman took the reel, and holding it high up, by the projecting
handle-ends of the spindle, round which the spool of line revolved,
so stood with the angular log hanging downwards, till Ahab advanced
to him.

Ahab stood before him, and was lightly unwinding some thirty or forty
turns to form a preliminary hand-coil to toss overboard, when the old
Manxman, who was intently eyeing both him and the line, made bold to

"Sir, I mistrust it; this line looks far gone, long heat and wet have
spoiled it."

"'Twill hold, old gentleman. Long heat and wet, have they spoiled
thee? Thou seem'st to hold. Or, truer perhaps, life holds thee;
not thou it."

"I hold the spool, sir. But just as my captain says. With these
grey hairs of mine 'tis not worth while disputing, 'specially with a
superior, who'll ne'er confess."

"What's that? There now's a patched professor in Queen Nature's
granite-founded College; but methinks he's too subservient. Where
wert thou born?"

"In the little rocky Isle of Man, sir."

"Excellent! Thou'st hit the world by that."

"I know not, sir, but I was born there."

"In the Isle of Man, hey? Well, the other way, it's good. Here's a
man from Man; a man born in once independent Man, and now unmanned of
Man; which is sucked in--by what? Up with the reel! The dead, blind
wall butts all inquiring heads at last. Up with it! So."

The log was heaved. The loose coils rapidly straightened out in a
long dragging line astern, and then, instantly, the reel began to
whirl. In turn, jerkingly raised and lowered by the rolling billows,
the towing resistance of the log caused the old reelman to stagger

"Hold hard!"

Snap! the overstrained line sagged down in one long festoon; the
tugging log was gone.

"I crush the quadrant, the thunder turns the needles, and now the mad
sea parts the log-line. But Ahab can mend all. Haul in here,
Tahitian; reel up, Manxman. And look ye, let the carpenter make
another log, and mend thou the line. See to it."

"There he goes now; to him nothing's happened; but to me, the skewer
seems loosening out of the middle of the world. Haul in, haul in,
Tahitian! These lines run whole, and whirling out: come in broken,
and dragging slow. Ha, Pip? come to help; eh, Pip?"

"Pip? whom call ye Pip? Pip jumped from the whale-boat. Pip's
missing. Let's see now if ye haven't fished him up here, fisherman.
It drags hard; I guess he's holding on. Jerk him, Tahiti! Jerk him
off; we haul in no cowards here. Ho! there's his arm just breaking
water. A hatchet! a hatchet! cut it off--we haul in no cowards here.
Captain Ahab! sir, sir! here's Pip, trying to get on board again."

"Peace, thou crazy loon," cried the Manxman, seizing him by the arm.
"Away from the quarter-deck!"

"The greater idiot ever scolds the lesser," muttered Ahab, advancing.
"Hands off from that holiness! Where sayest thou Pip was, boy?

"Astern there, sir, astern! Lo! lo!"

"And who art thou, boy? I see not my reflection in the vacant pupils
of thy eyes. Oh God! that man should be a thing for immortal souls
to sieve through! Who art thou, boy?"

"Bell-boy, sir; ship's-crier; ding, dong, ding! Pip! Pip! Pip! One
hundred pounds of clay reward for Pip; five feet high--looks
cowardly--quickest known by that! Ding, dong, ding! Who's seen Pip
the coward?"

"There can be no hearts above the snow-line. Oh, ye frozen heavens!
look down here. Ye did beget this luckless child, and have abandoned
him, ye creative libertines. Here, boy; Ahab's cabin shall be Pip's
home henceforth, while Ahab lives. Thou touchest my inmost centre,
boy; thou art tied to me by cords woven of my heart-strings. Come,
let's down."

"What's this? here's velvet shark-skin," intently gazing at Ahab's
hand, and feeling it. "Ah, now, had poor Pip but felt so kind a
thing as this, perhaps he had ne'er been lost! This seems to me,
sir, as a man-rope; something that weak souls may hold by. Oh, sir,
let old Perth now come and rivet these two hands together; the black
one with the white, for I will not let this go."

"Oh, boy, nor will I thee, unless I should thereby drag thee to worse
horrors than are here. Come, then, to my cabin. Lo! ye believers in
gods all goodness, and in man all ill, lo you! see the omniscient
gods oblivious of suffering man; and man, though idiotic, and knowing
not what he does, yet full of the sweet things of love and gratitude.
Come! I feel prouder leading thee by thy black hand, than though I
grasped an Emperor's!"

"There go two daft ones now," muttered the old Manxman. "One daft
with strength, the other daft with weakness. But here's the end of
the rotten line--all dripping, too. Mend it, eh? I think we had
best have a new line altogether. I'll see Mr. Stubb about it."

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Steering now south-eastward by Ahab's levelled steel, and herprogress solely determined by Ahab's level log and line; the Pequodheld on her path towards the Equator. Making so long a passagethrough such unfrequented waters, descrying no ships, and ere long,sideways impelled by unvarying trade winds, over waves monotonouslymild; all these seemed the strange calm things preluding some riotousand desperate scene.At last, when the ship drew near to the outskirts, as it were, of theEquatorial fishing-ground, and in the deep darkness that goes beforethe dawn, was sailing by a cluster of rocky islets; the watch--thenheaded by Flask--was startled by a cry so

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Next morning the not-yet-subsided sea rolled in long slow billows ofmighty bulk, and striving in the Pequod's gurgling track, pushed heron like giants' palms outspread. The strong, unstaggering breezeabounded so, that sky and air seemed vast outbellying sails; thewhole world boomed before the wind. Muffled in the full morninglight, the invisible sun was only known by the spread intensity ofhis place; where his bayonet rays moved on in stacks. Emblazonings,as of crowned Babylonian kings and queens, reigned over everything.The sea was as a crucible of molten gold, that bubblingly leaps withlight and heat.Long maintaining an enchanted silence, Ahab