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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesMoby Dick (or The Whale) - Chapter 67 Cutting In.
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Moby Dick (or The Whale) - Chapter 67 Cutting In. Post by :younbglivingjl Category :Long Stories Author :Herman Melville Date :February 2011 Read :1378

Click below to download : Moby Dick (or The Whale) - Chapter 67 Cutting In. (Format : PDF)

Moby Dick (or The Whale) - Chapter 67 Cutting In.

It was a Saturday night, and such a Sabbath as followed! Ex officio
professors of Sabbath breaking are all whalemen. The ivory Pequod
was turned into what seemed a shamble; every sailor a butcher. You
would have thought we were offering up ten thousand red oxen to the
sea gods.

In the first place, the enormous cutting tackles, among other
ponderous things comprising a cluster of blocks generally painted
green, and which no single man can possibly lift--this vast bunch of
grapes was swayed up to the main-top and firmly lashed to the lower
mast-head, the strongest point anywhere above a ship's deck. The end
of the hawser-like rope winding through these intricacies, was then
conducted to the windlass, and the huge lower block of the tackles
was swung over the whale; to this block the great blubber hook,
weighing some one hundred pounds, was attached. And now suspended in
stages over the side, Starbuck and Stubb, the mates, armed with their
long spades, began cutting a hole in the body for the insertion of
the hook just above the nearest of the two side-fins. This done, a
broad, semicircular line is cut round the hole, the hook is inserted,
and the main body of the crew striking up a wild chorus, now commence
heaving in one dense crowd at the windlass. When instantly, the
entire ship careens over on her side; every bolt in her starts like
the nail-heads of an old house in frosty weather; she trembles,
quivers, and nods her frighted mast-heads to the sky. More and more
she leans over to the whale, while every gasping heave of the
windlass is answered by a helping heave from the billows; till at
last, a swift, startling snap is heard; with a great swash the ship
rolls upwards and backwards from the whale, and the triumphant tackle
rises into sight dragging after it the disengaged semicircular end of
the first strip of blubber. Now as the blubber envelopes the whale
precisely as the rind does an orange, so is it stripped off from the
body precisely as an orange is sometimes stripped by spiralizing it.
For the strain constantly kept up by the windlass continually keeps
the whale rolling over and over in the water, and as the blubber in
one strip uniformly peels off along the line called the "scarf,"
simultaneously cut by the spades of Starbuck and Stubb, the mates;
and just as fast as it is thus peeled off, and indeed by that very
act itself, it is all the time being hoisted higher and higher aloft
till its upper end grazes the main-top; the men at the windlass then
cease heaving, and for a moment or two the prodigious blood-dripping
mass sways to and fro as if let down from the sky, and every one
present must take good heed to dodge it when it swings, else it may
box his ears and pitch him headlong overboard.

One of the attending harpooneers now advances with a long, keen
weapon called a boarding-sword, and watching his chance he
dexterously slices out a considerable hole in the lower part of the
swaying mass. Into this hole, the end of the second alternating
great tackle is then hooked so as to retain a hold upon the blubber,
in order to prepare for what follows. Whereupon, this accomplished
swordsman, warning all hands to stand off, once more makes a
scientific dash at the mass, and with a few sidelong, desperate,
lunging slicings, severs it completely in twain; so that while the
short lower part is still fast, the long upper strip, called a
blanket-piece, swings clear, and is all ready for lowering. The
heavers forward now resume their song, and while the one tackle is
peeling and hoisting a second strip from the whale, the other is
slowly slackened away, and down goes the first strip through the main
hatchway right beneath, into an unfurnished parlor called the
blubber-room. Into this twilight apartment sundry nimble hands keep
coiling away the long blanket-piece as if it were a great live mass
of plaited serpents. And thus the work proceeds; the two tackles
hoisting and lowering simultaneously; both whale and windlass
heaving, the heavers singing, the blubber-room gentlemen coiling, the
mates scarfing, the ship straining, and all hands swearing
occasionally, by way of assuaging the general friction.

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