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CHAPTER 108: Ahab and the Carpenter.
The Deck--First Night Watch.
(CARPENTER STANDING BEFORE HIS VICE-BENCH, AND BY THE LIGHT OF TWO LANTERNS BUSILY FILING THE IVORY JOIST FOR THE LEG, WHICH JOIST IS FIRMLY FIXED IN THE VICE. SLABS OF IVORY, LEATHER STRAPS, PADS, SCREWS, AND VARIOUS TOOLS OF ALL SORTS LYING ABOUT THE BENCH. FORWARD, THE RED FLAME OF THE FORGE IS SEEN, WHERE THE BLACKSMITH IS AT WORK.)
Drat the file, and drat the bone! That is hard which should be soft, and that is soft which should be hard. So we go, who file old jaws and shinbones. Let's try another. Aye, now, this works better (SNEEZES). Halloa, this bone dust is (SNEEZES)--why it's (SNEEZES)--yes it's (SNEEZES)--bless my soul, it won't let me speak! This is what an old fellow gets now for working in dead lumber. Saw a live tree, and you don't get this dust; amputate a live bone, and you don't get it (SNEEZES). Come, come, you old Smut, there, bear a hand, and let's have that ferule and buckle-screw; I'll be ready for them presently. Lucky now (SNEEZES) there's no knee-joint to make; that might puzzle a little; but a mere shinbone--why it's easy as making hop-poles; only I should like to put a good finish on. Time, time; if I but only had the time, I could turn him out as neat a leg now as ever (SNEEZES) scraped to a lady in a parlor. Those buckskin legs and calves of legs I've seen in shop windows wouldn't compare at all. They soak water, they do; and of course get rheumatic, and have to be doctored (SNEEZES) with washes and lotions, just like live legs. There; before I saw it off, now, I must call his old Mogulship, and see whether the length will be all right; too short, if anything, I guess. Ha! that's the heel; we are in luck; here he comes, or it's somebody else, that's certain.
(DURING THE ENSUING SCENE, THE CARPENTER CONTINUES SNEEZING AT TIMES)
Just in time, sir. If the captain pleases, I will now mark the length. Let me measure, sir.
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