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CHAPTER 127: The Deck.
THE COFFIN LAID UPON TWO LINE-TUBS, BETWEEN THE VICE-BENCH AND THE OPEN HATCHWAY; THE CARPENTER CAULKING ITS SEAMS; THE STRING OF TWISTED OAKUM SLOWLY UNWINDING FROM A LARGE ROLL OF IT PLACED IN THE BOSOM OF HIS FROCK.--AHAB COMES SLOWLY FROM THE CABIN-GANGWAY, AND HEARS PIP FOLLOWING HIM.
Back, lad; I will be with ye again presently. He goes! Not this hand complies with my humor more genially than that boy.--Middle aisle of a church! What's here?"
"Life-buoy, sir. Mr. Starbuck's orders. Oh, look, sir! Beware the hatchway!"
"Thank ye, man. Thy coffin lies handy to the vault."
"Sir? The hatchway? oh! So it does, sir, so it does."
"Art not thou the leg-maker? Look, did not this stump come from thy shop?"
"I believe it did, sir; does the ferrule stand, sir?"
"Well enough. But art thou not also the undertaker?"
"Aye, sir; I patched up this thing here as a coffin for Queequeg; but they've set me now to turning it into something else."
"Then tell me; art thou not an arrant, all-grasping, intermeddling, monopolising, heathenish old scamp, to be one day making legs, and the next day coffins to clap them in, and yet again life-buoys out of those same coffins? Thou art as unprincipled as the gods, and as much of a jack-of-all-trades."
"But I do not mean anything, sir. I do as I do."
"The gods again. Hark ye, dost thou not ever sing working about a coffin? The Titans, they say, hummed snatches when chipping out the craters for volcanoes; and the grave-digger in the play sings, spade in hand. Dost thou never?"
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