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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesMoby Dick (or The Whale) - Chapter 95 The Cassock.
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Moby Dick (or The Whale) - Chapter 95 The Cassock. Post by :Stockman Category :Long Stories Author :Herman Melville Date :February 2011 Read :1725

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Moby Dick (or The Whale) - Chapter 95 The Cassock.

Had you stepped on board the Pequod at a certain juncture of this
post-mortemizing of the whale; and had you strolled forward nigh the
windlass, pretty sure am I that you would have scanned with no small
curiosity a very strange, enigmatical object, which you would have
seen there, lying along lengthwise in the lee scuppers. Not the
wondrous cistern in the whale's huge head; not the prodigy of his
unhinged lower jaw; not the miracle of his symmetrical tail; none of
these would so surprise you, as half a glimpse of that unaccountable
cone,--longer than a Kentuckian is tall, nigh a foot in diameter at
the base, and jet-black as Yojo, the ebony idol of Queequeg. And an
idol, indeed, it is; or, rather, in old times, its likeness was.
Such an idol as that found in the secret groves of Queen Maachah in
Judea; and for worshipping which, King Asa, her son, did depose her,
and destroyed the idol, and burnt it for an abomination at the brook
Kedron, as darkly set forth in the 15th chapter of the First Book of
Kings.

Look at the sailor, called the mincer, who now comes along, and
assisted by two allies, heavily backs the grandissimus, as the
mariners call it, and with bowed shoulders, staggers off with it as
if he were a grenadier carrying a dead comrade from the field.
Extending it upon the forecastle deck, he now proceeds cylindrically
to remove its dark pelt, as an African hunter the pelt of a boa.
This done he turns the pelt inside out, like a pantaloon leg; gives
it a good stretching, so as almost to double its diameter; and at
last hangs it, well spread, in the rigging, to dry. Ere long, it is
taken down; when removing some three feet of it, towards the pointed
extremity, and then cutting two slits for arm-holes at the other end,
he lengthwise slips himself bodily into it. The mincer now stands
before you invested in the full canonicals of his calling.
Immemorial to all his order, this investiture alone will adequately
protect him, while employed in the peculiar functions of his office.

That office consists in mincing the horse-pieces of blubber for the
pots; an operation which is conducted at a curious wooden horse,
planted endwise against the bulwarks, and with a capacious tub
beneath it, into which the minced pieces drop, fast as the sheets
from a rapt orator's desk. Arrayed in decent black; occupying a
conspicuous pulpit; intent on bible leaves; what a candidate for an
archbishopric, what a lad for a Pope were this mincer!*


*Bible leaves! Bible leaves! This is the invariable cry from the
mates to the mincer. It enjoins him to be careful, and cut his work
into as thin slices as possible, inasmuch as by so doing the business
of boiling out the oil is much accelerated, and its quantity
considerably increased, besides perhaps improving it in quality.

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