Moby Dick, or, the whale

Moby Dick, or, the whale

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CHAPTER 3. The Spouter-Inn.
Entering that gable-ended Spouter-Inn, you found yourself in a wide,
low, straggling entry with old-fashioned wainscots, reminding one of
the bulwarks of some condemned old craft. On one side hung a very
oilpainting so thoroughly besmoked, and every way defaced, that in the
unequal crosslights by which you viewed it, it was only by diligent
study and a series of systematic visits to it, and careful inquiry of
the neighbors, that you could any way arrive at an understanding of
purpose. Such unaccountable masses of shades and shadows, that at
you almost thought some ambitious young artist, in the time of the New
England hags, had endeavored to delineate chaos bewitched. But by dint
of much and earnest contemplation, and oft repeated ponderings, and
especially by throwing open the little window towards the back of the
entry, you at last come to the conclusion that such an idea, however
wild, might not be altogether unwarranted.
But what most puzzled and confounded you was a long, limber,
black mass of something hovering in the centre of the picture over
blue, dim, perpendicular lines floating in a nameless yeast. A boggy,
soggy, squitchy picture truly, enough to drive a nervous man
Yet was there a sort of indefinite, half-attained, unimaginable
sublimity about it that fairly froze you to it, till you involuntarily
took an oath with yourself to find out what that marvellous painting
meant. Ever and anon a bright, but, alas, deceptive idea would dart
through.--It's the Black Sea in a midnight gale.--It's the unnatural
combat of the four primal elements.--It's a blasted heath.--It's a
Hyperborean winter scene.--It's the breaking-up of the icebound stream
of Time. But at last all these fancies yielded to that one portentous
something in the picture's midst. THAT once found out, and all the
were plain. But stop; does it not bear a faint resemblance to a
fish? even the great leviathan himself?
In fact, the artist's design seemed this: a final theory of my own,
partly based upon the aggregated opinions of many aged persons with
Page 20
Moby Dick, or, the whale
I conversed upon the subject. The picture represents a Cape-Horner in
great hurricane; the half-foundered ship weltering there with its
dismantled masts alone visible; and an exasperated whale, purposing to
spring clean over the craft, is in the enormous act of impaling
upon the three mast-heads.
The opposite wall of this entry was hung all over with a heathenish
array of monstrous clubs and spears. Some were thickly set with
glittering teeth resembling ivory saws; others were tufted with knots
human hair; and one was sickle-shaped, with a vast handle sweeping
like the segment made in the new-mown grass by a long-armed mower. You
shuddered as you gazed, and wondered what monstrous cannibal and
could ever have gone a death-harvesting with such a hacking,
implement. Mixed with these were rusty old whaling lances and harpoons
all broken and deformed. Some were storied weapons. With this once
lance, now wildly elbowed, fifty years ago did Nathan Swain kill
whales between a sunrise and a sunset. And that harpoon--so like a
corkscrew now--was flung in Javan seas, and run away with by a whale,
years afterwards slain off the Cape of Blanco. The original iron
nigh the tail, and, like a restless needle sojourning in the body of a
man, travelled full forty feet, and at last was found imbedded in the
Crossing this dusky entry, and on through yon low-arched way--cut
through what in old times must have been a great central chimney with
fireplaces all round--you enter the public room. A still duskier place
is this, with such low ponderous beams above, and such old wrinkled
planks beneath, that you would almost fancy you trod some old craft's
cockpits, especially of such a howling night, when this
old ark rocked so furiously. On one side stood a long, low, shelf-like
table covered with cracked glass cases, filled with dusty rarities
gathered from this wide world's remotest nooks. Projecting from the
further angle of the room stands a dark-looking den--the bar--a rude
attempt at a right whale's head. Be that how it may, there stands the
vast arched bone of the whale's jaw, so wide, a coach might almost
beneath it. Within are shabby shelves, ranged round with old
bottles, flasks; and in those jaws of swift destruction, like another
cursed Jonah (by which name indeed they called him), bustles a little

Product Details

BN ID: 2940014476768
Publisher: All classic book warehouse
Publication date: 04/28/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 515
File size: 767 KB
Age Range: 9 - 12 Years

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