I quickly followed suit, and descending into the bar-room accosted the grinning landlord
very pleasantly. I cherished no malice towards him, though he had been skylarking with
me not a little in the matter of my bedfellow.
However, a good laugh is a mighty good thing, and rather too scarce a good thing; the
more's the pity. So, if any one man, in his own proper person, afford stuff for a good
joke to anybody, let him not be backward, but let him cheerfully allow himself to spend
and be spent in that way. And the man that has anything bountifully laughable about
him, be sure there is more in that man than you perhaps think for.
The bar-room was now full of the boarders who had been dropping in the night
previous, and whom I had not as yet had a good look at. They were nearly all
whalemen; chief mates, and second mates, and third mates, and sea carpenters, and
sea coopers, and sea blacksmiths, and harpooneers, and ship keepers; a brown and
brawny company, with bosky beards; an unshorn, shaggy set, all wearing monkey
jackets for morning gowns.
You could pretty plainly tell how long each one had been ashore. This young fellow's
healthy cheek is like a sun-toasted pear in hue, and would seem to smell almost as
musky; he cannot have been three days landed from his Indian voyage. That man next
him looks a few shades lighter; you might say a touch of satin wood is in him. In the
complexion of a third still lingers a tropic tawn, but slightly bleached withal; HE
doubtless has tarried whole weeks ashore. But who could show a cheek like
Queequeg? which, barred with various tints, seemed like the Andes' western slope, to
show forth in one array, contrasting climates, zone by zone.
"Grub, ho!" now cried the landlord, flinging open a door, and in we went to breakfast.
They say that men who have seen the world, thereby become quite at ease in manner,
quite self-possessed in company. Not always, though: Ledyard, the great New England
traveller, and Mungo Park, the Scotch one; of all men, they possessed the least
assurance in the parlor. But perhaps the mere crossing of Siberia in a sledge drawn by
dogs as Ledyard did, or the taking a long solitary walk on an empty stomach, in the
negro heart of Africa, which was the sum of poor Mungo's performances--this kind of
travel, I say, may not be the very best mode of attaining a high social polish. Still, for the
most part, that sort of thing is to be had anywhere.
These reflections just here are occasioned by the circumstance that after we were all
seated at the table, and I was preparing to hear some good stories about whaling; to my
no small surprise, nearly every man maintained a profound silence. And not only that,
but they looked embarrassed. Yes, here were a set of sea-dogs, many of whom without
the slightest bashfulness had boarded great whales on the high seas--entire strangers