ambrmerlinus: Portrait of a young white man with a flowing blond mohawk, in profile. (Default)
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This particular update contains A PICTURE of a NAKED man wherein one can view his unobstructed, non-erect PENIS. Consider yourselves warned.

Chapter 77: The Great Heidelburgh Tun is a whole bunch of set-up for the chapter that follows it. It's also really fun to say.

To sum up, the Sperm Whale's head is separated from its body and hung up on the side of the ship, nose-down. The head is suspended by two great big metal hooks in its flesh.Some poor bastard gets the job of walking around on the spongy innards of the decapitated head and poking a hole in it to reach the invaluable spermaceti reserve. Then, a bucket is lowered into the hole and spermaceti is drawn from it bucketful-by-bucketful as though it were a well.

Chapter 78: Cistern and Buckets might be the best chapter in the whole damn book.

The process explained in the last chapter is acted out in this one. Tashtego has the job of hanging out on the whale head and retrieving the spermaceti bucket-by-bucket. Everything's going super fine and dandy until–

pg. 363: but, on a sudden, as the eightieth or ninetieth bucket came suckingly up–my God! poor Tashtego–like the twin reciprocating bucket in a veritable well, dropped head-foremost down into this great Tun of Heidelburgh, and with a horrible oily gurgling, went clean out of sight!

Well, shoot.

Daggoo is the first to notice this problem, shouting "Man overboard!" and preparing to rescue Tashtego from inside the whale's head, when–

pg. 363-364: At this instant, while Daggoo, on the summit of the head, was clearing the whip–which had somehow got foul of the great cutting tackles–a sharp cracking noise was heard; and to the unspeakable horror of all, one of the two enormous hooks suspending the head tore out, and with a vast vibration the enormous mass sideways swung, till the drunk ship reeled and shook as if smitten by an iceberg. The one remaining hook, upon which the entire strain now depended, seemed every instant to be on the point of giving way; an event still more likely from the violent motions of the head.

Okay, so the head is attached to the ship by one hook instead of two. That doesn't sound too bad–

pg. 364: Almost in the same instant, with a thunder-boom, the enormous mass dropped into the sea [...] Daggoo, through a thick mist of spray, was dimly beheld clinging to the pendulous tackles, while poor, buried-alive Tashtego was sinking utterly down to the bottom of the sea

Oh, fuck.

pg. 364: But hardly had the blinding vapor cleared away, when a naked figure with a boarding-sword in its hands, was for one swift moment seen hovering over the bulwarks. The next, a loud splash announced that my brave Queequeg had dived to the rescue.*



pg. 364-365: One packed rush was made to the side, and every eye counted every ripple, as moment followed moment, and no sign of either the sinker or the diver could be seen. Some hands now jumped into a boat alongside, and pushed a little off from the ship.

"Ha! ha!" cried Daggoo, all at once, from this now quiet, swinging perch overhead; and looking further off from the side we saw an arm thrust upright from the blue waves; a sight strange to see, as an arm thrust forth from the grass over a grave.

"Both! both!–it is both!"–cried Daggoo again with a joyful shout; and soon after, Queequeg was seen boldly striking out with one hand, and with the other clutching the long hair of the Indian. Drawn into the waiting boat, they were quickly brought to the deck; but Tashtego was long in coming to, and Queequeg did not look very brisk.

Or, as it probably appeared in Ishmael-o-Vision:

[Image description: Queequeg, a nude, muscular Maori guy covered in tattoos, is standing firmly upright and looking off into the middle distance. Carried bridal-style in his arms is Tashtego, a currently-unconscious Wampanoag man with long black hair wearing just a belt and pants. The entire picture is incredibly heroic but could probably use a background if only the artist could find a whaling ship in the area that didn't cost $30 to board.]

pg. 365: Now, how had this noble rescue been accomplished? Why, diving after the slowly descending head, Queequeg with his keen sword had made side lunges near its bottom, so as to scuttle a large hole there; then dropping his sword, had thrust his long arm far inwards and upwards, and so hauled out our poor Tash by the head. He averred, that upon first thrusting in for him, a leg was presented; but well knowing that this was not as it ought to be and might occasion great trouble;–he had thrust back the leg, and by a dexterous heave and toss, had wrought a somerset upon the Indian so that with the next trial, he came forth in the good old way–head foremost. As for the great head itself, that was doing as well as could be expected.

And thus, through the courage and great skill in obstetrics of Queequeg, the deliverance, or rather, delivery of Tashtego, was successfully accomplished, in the teeth, too, of the most untoward and apparently hopeless impediments; which is a lesson by no means to be forgotten. Midwifery should be taught in the same course with fencing and boxing, riding and rowing.

Best rescue ever? Best rescue ever.

But of course, Ishmael can never end on a high note.

pg. 366: Only one sweeter end can readily be recalled–the delicious death of an Ohio honey-hunter, who seeking honey in the crotch of a hollow tree, found such exceeding store of it, that leaning too far over, it sucked him in, so that he died embalmed.



*Emphasis mine, because seriously, "my brave Queequeg?" And while we're on the subject, where is my brave Queequeg, damnit? :c


For more adventures in Moby Dick, check out the Moby Dick, or The Rant tag. Alternatively, you can start from the beginning.
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ambrmerlinus: Portrait of a young white man with a flowing blond mohawk, in profile. (Default)

February 2012

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