Moby Dick HTML version

22. Merry Christmas
At length, towards noon, upon the final dismissal of the ship's riggers, and after the
Pequod had been hauled out from the wharf, and after the ever-thoughtful Charity had
come off in a whale-boat, with her last gift--a night-cap for Stubb, the second mate, her
brother-in-law, and a spare Bible for the steward--after all this, the two Captains, Peleg
and Bildad, issued from the cabin, and turning to the chief mate, Peleg said:
"Now, Mr. Starbuck, are you sure everything is right? Captain Ahab is all ready--just
spoke to him--nothing more to be got from shore, eh? Well, call all hands, then. Muster
'em aft here--blast 'em!"
"No need of profane words, however great the hurry, Peleg," said Bildad, "but away with
thee, friend Starbuck, and do our bidding."
How now! Here upon the very point of starting for the voyage, Captain Peleg and
Captain Bildad were going it with a high hand on the quarter-deck, just as if they were to
be joint-commanders at sea, as well as to all appearances in port. And, as for Captain
Ahab, no sign of him was yet to be seen; only, they said he was in the cabin. But then,
the idea was, that his presence was by no means necessary in getting the ship under
weigh, and steering her well out to sea. Indeed, as that was not at all his proper
business, but the pilot's; and as he was not yet completely recovered--so they said--
therefore, Captain Ahab stayed below. And all this seemed natural enough; especially
as in the merchant service many captains never show themselves on deck for a
considerable time after heaving up the anchor, but remain over the cabin table, having a
farewell merry-making with their shore friends, before they quit the ship for good with
the pilot.
But there was not much chance to think over the matter, for Captain Peleg was now all
alive. He seemed to do most of the talking and commanding, and not Bildad.
"Aft here, ye sons of bachelors," he cried, as the sailors lingered at the main-mast. "Mr.
Starbuck, drive'em aft."
"Strike the tent there!"--was the next order. As I hinted before, this whalebone marquee
was never pitched except in port; and on board the Pequod, for thirty years, the order to
strike the tent was well known to be the next thing to heaving up the anchor.
"Man the capstan! Blood and thunder!--jump!"--was the next command, and the crew
sprang for the handspikes.
Now in getting under weigh, the station generally occupied by the pilot is the forward
part of the ship. And here Bildad, who, with Peleg, be it known, in addition to his other
officers, was one of the licensed pilots of the port--he being suspected to have got