21 Going Aboard
It was nearly six o’clock, but only grey imperfect misty dawn, when we drew nigh the wharf.
“There are some sailors running ahead there, if I see right,” said I to Queequeg, “it can’t be shadows; she’s off by sunrise, I guess; come on!”
“Avast!” cried a voice, whose owner at the same time coming close behind us, laid a handlaid a hand upon both our shoulders: But on p. 99 Elijah implies that his left arm is crippled. upon both our shoulders, and then insinuating himself between us, stood stooping forward a little, in the uncertain twilight, strangely peering from Queequeg to me. It was Elijah.
“Hands off, will you,” said I.
“Lookee here,” said Queequeg, shaking himself, “go ’way!”
“Aint going aboard, then?”
“Yes, we are,” said I, “but what business is that of yours? Do you know, Mr. Elijah, that I consider you a little impertinent?”
“No, no, no; I wasn’t aware of that,” said Elijah, slowly and wonderingly looking from me to Queequeg, with the most unaccountable glances.
“Elijah,” said I, “you will oblige my friend and me by withdrawing. We are going to the Indian and Pacific Oceansto the Indian and Pacific Oceans: That is, around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope. Melville's own whaling years took him around South America's Cape Horn, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and never into the Indian Ocean., and would prefer not to be detained.”
“Ye be, be ye? Coming back afore breakfast?”
“He’s cracked, Queequeg,” said I, “come on.”
“Holloa!” cried stationary Elijah, hailing us when we had removed a few paces.
“Never mind him,” said I, “Queequeg, come on.”
But he stole up to us again, and suddenly clapping his hand on my shoulder, said—“Did ye see anything looking like men going towards that ship a while ago?”
Struck by this plain matter-of-fact question, I answered, saying “Yes, I thought I did see four or five men; but it was too dim to be sure.”
“Very dim, very dim,” said Elijah. “Morning to ye.”
Once more we quitted him; but once more he came softly after us; and touching my shoulder again, said, “See if you can find ’em now, will ye?”
“Morning to ye! morning to ye!” he rejoined, again moving off. “Oh! I was going to warn ye against—but never mind, never mind—it’s all one, all in the family too;—sharp frost this morning, ain’t it? Good bye to ye. Shan’t see ye again very soon, I guess; unless it’s before the Grand Jurybefore the Grand Jury: at the Last Judgment..” And with these cracked words he finally departed, leaving me, for the moment, in no small wonderment at his frantic impudence.
At last, stepping on board the Pequod, we found everything in profound quiet, not a soul moving. The cabin entrance was locked within; the hatches were all on, and lumbered with coils of rigging. Going forward to the forecastle, we found the slide of the scuttlescuttle: entrance to a stairway leading below. open. Seeing a light, we went down, and found only an old rigger there, wrapped in a tattered pea-jacket. He was thrown at whole length upon two chests, his face downwards and inclosed in his folded arms. The profoundest slumber slept upon himREVISION NARRATIVE: slumber slept upon him // Melville's phrasing plays on biblical redundancies such as “yet a little sleep, a little slumber” (Proverbs 6:10, 24:33). However, the British edition removes the possibly intended redundancy by revising to “slumber was upon him.” Either Melville or an editor could have made this revision. To compare American and British pages, click the thumbnails in the right margin..
“Those sailors we saw, Queequeg, where can they have gone to?” said I, looking dubiously at the sleeper. But it seemed that, when on the wharf, Queequeg had not at all noticed what I now alluded to; hence I would have thought myself to have been optically deceived in that matter, were it not for Elijah’s otherwise inexplicable question. But I beat the thing down; and again marking the sleeper, jocularly hinted to Queequeg that perhaps we had best sit up with the bodysit up with the body: Joking that the sleeper is dead, Ishmael suggests the then-current ritual of sitting awake with the body through the night.; telling him to establish himself accordingly. He put his hand upon the sleeper’s rear, as though feeling if it was soft enough; and then, without more ado, sat quietly down there.
“Gracious! Queequeg, don’t sit there,” said I.
“Oh! perry dood seat,” said Queequeg, “my country waymy country way: As reported in Omoo, one custom of island monarchs was to use people as sofas.; won’t hurt him face.”
“Face!” said I, “call that his face? very benevolent countenance then; but how hard he breathes, he’s heaving himself; get off, Queequeg, you are heavy, it’s grinding the face of the poorit’s grinding the face of the poor: Joking for his own benefit, Ishmael quotes Isaiah 3.15, “What mean ye that ye beat my people to pieces and grind the faces of the poor?”. Get off, Queequeg! Look, he’ll twitch you off soon. I wonder he don’t wake.”
Queequeg removed himself to just beyond the head of the sleeper, and lighted his tomahawk pipe. I sat at the feet. We kept the pipe passing over the sleeper, from one to the other. Meanwhile, upon questioning him in his broken fashion, Queequeg gave me to understandREVISION NARRATIVE: upon questioning him in his broken fashion, Queequeg gave me to understand // The placement of the comma affects meaning. The British edition repositioned it after “him,” thus making Queequeg speak in his own “fashion” rather than have Ishmael adopt Queequeg’s manner and question him in the Polynesian’s “broken” way. This revision perpetuates one grammatical problem while creating another, both related to misplaced modifiers. To begin with, Melville’s phrase “upon questioning him” (typical of his dangling modifiers) is positioned to modify Queequeg although it is clearly intended to modify Ishmael (who is doing the questioning), but this problem cannot be solved by comma placement. The repositioning of the comma, in fact, creates a second problem because it places the modifier “in his broken fashion” in front of “Queequeg,” whereas we might expect such a phrase to come after. Melville or an editor may have made this problematic revision. The editors of the NN Moby-Dick adopt the British repositioning; MEL makes no change.To compare American and British pages, click the thumbnails in the right margin. that, in his land, owing to the absence of settees and sofas of all sorts, the king, chiefs, and great people generally, were in the custom of fattening some of the lower orders for ottomans; and to furnish a house comfortably in that respect, you had only to buy up eight or ten lazy fellows, and lay them round in the pierspiers: parts of walls between doors or windows. and alcoves. Besides, it was very convenient on an excursion; much better than those garden-chairs which are convertible into walking-sticks; upon occasion, a chief calling his attendant, and desiring him to make a settee of himself under a spreading tree, perhaps in some damp marshy place.
While narrating these things, every time Queequeg received the tomahawk from me, he flourished the hatchet-side of it over the sleeper’s head.
“What’s that for, Queequeg?”
“Perry easy, kill-e; oh! perry easy!”
He was going on with some wild reminiscences about his tomahawk-pipe, which, it seemed, had in its two uses both brained his foes and soothed his soul, when we were directly attracted to the sleeping rigger. The strong vapor now completely filling the contracted hole, it began to tell upon him. He breathed with a sort of muffledness; then seemed troubled in the nose; then revolved over once or twice; then sat up and rubbed his eyes.
“Holloa!” he breathed at last, “who be ye smokers?”
“Shipped menShipped men: those signed up for the voyage.,” answered I, “when does she sail?”
“Aye, aye, ye are going in her, be ye? She sails to-day. The Captain came aboard last night.”
“Who but him indeed?”
I was going to ask him some further questions concerning Ahab, when we heard a noise on deck.
“Holloa! Starbuck’s astir,” said the rigger. “He’s a lively chief mate, that; good man, and a pious; but all alive now, I must turn to.” And so saying he went on deck, and we followed.
It was now clear sunrise. Soon the crew came on board in twos and threes; the riggers bestirred themselves; the mates were actively engaged; and several of the shore people were busy in bringing various last things on board. Meanwhile Captain Ahab remained invisibly enshrined within his cabin.