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Herman Melville: Moby Dick
CHAPTER 115: The Pequod Meets The Bachelor. (continued)
As this glad ship of good luck bore down upon the moody Pequod, the barbarian sound of enormous drums came from her forecastle; and drawing still nearer, a crowd of her men were seen standing round her huge try-pots, which, covered with the parchment-like POKE or stomach skin of the black fish, gave forth a loud roar to every stroke of the clenched hands of the crew. On the quarter-deck, the mates and harpooneers were dancing with the olive-hued girls who had eloped with them from the Polynesian Isles; while suspended in an ornamented boat, firmly secured aloft between the foremast and mainmast, three Long Island negroes, with glittering fiddle-bows of whale ivory, were presiding over the hilarious jig. Meanwhile, others of the ship's company were tumultuously busy at the masonry of the try-works, from which the huge pots had been removed. You would have almost thought they were pulling down the cursed Bastille, such wild cries they raised, as the now useless brick and mortar were being hurled into the sea.
Lord and master over all this scene, the captain stood erect on the ship's elevated quarter-deck, so that the whole rejoicing drama was full before him, and seemed merely contrived for his own individual diversion.
And Ahab, he too was standing on his quarter-deck, shaggy and black, with a stubborn gloom; and as the two ships crossed each other's wakes--one all jubilations for things passed, the other all forebodings as to things to come--their two captains in themselves impersonated the whole striking contrast of the scene.
"Come aboard, come aboard!" cried the gay Bachelor's commander, lifting a glass and a bottle in the air.
"Hast seen the White Whale?" gritted Ahab in reply.
"No; only heard of him; but don't believe in him at all," said the other good-humoredly. "Come aboard!"
"Thou art too damned jolly. Sail on. Hast lost any men?"
"Not enough to speak of--two islanders, that's all;--but come aboard, old hearty, come along. I'll soon take that black from your brow. Come along, will ye (merry's the play); a full ship and homeward-bound."
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