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Chapter Twenty: All Astir is three pages long and devoted to telling the reader exactly what goes in to preparing a ship for a voyage. Ishmael makes a few interesting points, namely that a ship has to stock up on both sailing-specific supplies (spare parts, etc.) and more mundane things (cups, plates, quill pens, and whatnot).

In Chapter Twenty-One: Going Aboard, Ishmael and Queequeg go aboard the Pequod. Shocking, I know.

Before they get there, in the early-morning mist, they see a few mysterious, shadowy figures boarding the ship. This eerie apparition is interrupted by the reappearance of Elijah.

ELIJAH: Avast!
QUEEQUEG: Go away.
ELIJAH: So... still going aboard the Pequod?
ISHMAEL: Why do you care?
ELIJAH: I don't. Will you be back before breakfast?
ISHMAEL: You are insane and I am leaving.
ELIJAH: How 'bout them shadowy figures boarding in the mist and generally looking like portents of doom, eh?
ELIJAH: See you later! Or not!

Ignoring Elijah's general weirdness along with every other sign telling the two of them Do Not Board This Ship, Queequeg and Ishmael finally get on the Pequod. There's almost nobody aboard except for one sailor sleeping belowdecks. (In the "scuttle"? Which is a thing, I guess?)

Ishmael decides that they should sit with the sleeping man while they wait for everyone else to show up. Queequeg takes this to mean they should sit on top of the sleeping man. Wacky hijinks ensue, and by "wacky hijinks" I mean, in the paraphrased words of Sherlock Holmes, "Look at these funny Hindoos, Watson! Shame they can't overcome their instinctive murderous urges and general barbarism!" Or, in Ishmael's words:

pg. 105-106: Meanwhile, upon questioning him in his broken fashion, Queequeg gave me to understand that, in his land, owing to the absence of settees and sofas of all sorts, the kings, 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 piers and alcoves.

Now, granted, I am not an anthropologist, nor am I particularly familiar with the day-to-day life of the Pacific Islanders. But I am also pretty sure that nothing like this has ever happened in the history of ever. I think Queequeg's messing with you, Ishmael.

Ishmael convinces Queequeg not to sleep on top of the guy, and they toke up next to him instead. Conversation takes a turn for the weird.

QUEEQUEG: You know, I could totally kill this guy. Right here, right now. Easily.
ISHMAEL: ...Good for you?

Eventually their smoking wakes up the sleeping man, and everyone else comes on board. Except for Captain Ahab, who has yet to be seen.

Chapter Twenty-Two: Merry Christmas, in which it is apparently Christmas? When did that happen?

Anyway, sure, it's Christmas, why not, and the Pequod is finally setting sail. Ishmael describes some of what that entails in sailing jargon, but it's Captain Bildad and Captain Peleg who provide all of the amusing quotes.

pg. 108: "Aft here, ye sons of bachelors," he cried, as the sailors lingered at the main-mast.

It's such a nice, subtle way of insinuating that one's parentage isn't quite on the up-and-up, much classier than calling someone a "son of a whore" or a straight-up "bastard."

pg. 108: "Man the capstan! Blood and thunder!–jump!"–was the next command, and the crew sprang for the handspikes.

Blood and thunder, victory at sea? (VERY NSFW LINK) Seriously, though, I didn't realize "blood and thunder" was a real thing. It sounds too epic to be true.

Captain Peleg's oaths are so severe that Ishmael is concerned they will sink the ship, to the point that he stops working to put the ship out to sea. This turns out not to be a winning strategy.

pg. 109: ...when I felt a sharp poke in my rear, and turning round, was horrified at the apparition of Captain Peleg in the act of withdrawing his leg from my immediate vicinity. That was my first kick.

"Kick." Right.

Juvenile innuendo aside, it turns out Captain Peleg kicks ass both literally and figuratively. He proceeds to ream the crew out.

pg. 109: "Is that the way they heave in the marchant service?" he roared. "Spring, thou sheep-head; spring, and break they backbone! Why don't ye spring, I say, all of ye–spring! Quohog! spring, thou chap with the red whiskers; spring there, Scotch-cap; spring, thou green pants. Spring, I say, all of ye, and spring your eyes out!" And so saying, he moved along the windlass, here and there using his leg very freely, while imperturbable Bildad kept leading off with this psalmody. Thinks I, Captain Peleg must have been drinking something to-day.

Captain Peleg: drunk, or just awesome? Spring, thou green pants, indeed.

While Peleg gets most of the good lines, Captain Bildad is not left out. When the ship is finally out of the harbor and it comes time for Peleg and Bildad to row themselves back to shore and leave the ship in Ahab's presumably capable hands, Bildad gets a speech worthy of Polonius.

pg. 111: "I hope ye'll have fine weather now, so that Captain Ahab may soon be moving among ye–a pleasant sun is all he needs, and ye'll have plenty of them in the tropic voyage ye go. Be careful in the hunt, ye mates. Don't stave the boats needlessly, ye harpooners; good white cedar plank is raised full three per cent. within the year. Don't forget your prayers, either. Mr. Starbuck, mind that cooper don't waste the spare staves. Oh! the sail-needles are in the green locker! Don't whale it too much a' Lord's days, men; but don't miss a fair chance either, that's rejecting Heaven's good gifts. Have an eye to the molasses tierce, Mr. Stubb; it was a little leaky, I thought. If ye touch at the islands, Mr. Flask, beware of fornication. Good-bye, good-bye! Don't keep that cheese too long down in the hold, Mr. Starbuck; it'll spoil. Be care ful with the butter–twenty cents the pound it was, and mind ye, if–"

What exactly has Mr. Flask done to give himself such a reputation as would make Bildad call him out for whoremongering in front of the whole crew? In related news, Mr. Flask is played by Mr. Gibbs in my brain.

Bildad and Peleg leave at last, and the chapter concludes with the Pequod sailing off for adventures unknown. Still no sign of Ahab.


Other adventures in Moby Dick include:
Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five
Part Six
Part Seven
Part Eight
Part Nine
Part Ten (You Are Here)
Part Eleven
Part Twelve
Part Thirteen
Part Fourteen
Part Fifteen
Part Sixteen
Part Seventeen
Part Eighteen
Part Nineteen
Part Twenty
Part Twenty-One
Part Twenty-Two


ambrmerlinus: Portrait of a young white man with a flowing blond mohawk, in profile. (Default)

February 2012

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