Category : Various Text files
Archive   : MOBY.ZIP
Filename : MOBY.4

Output of file : MOBY.4 contained in archive : MOBY.ZIP

.. < chapter iv 2 THE COUNTERPANE >

Upon waking next morning about daylight,
I found Queequeg's arm thrown over me in the most loving and affectionate
manner. You had almost thought I had been his wife. The counterpane was of
patchwork, full of odd little parti-colored squares and triangles; and this
arm of his tattooed all over with an interminable Cretan labyrinth of a
figure, no two parts of which were of one precise shade --owing I suppose to
his keeping his arm at sea unmethodically in sun and shade, his shirt
sleeves irregularly rolled up at various times --this same arm of his, I say,
looked for all the world like a strip of that same patchwork quilt. Indeed,
partly lying on it as the arm did when I first awoke, I could hardly tell it
from the quilt, they so blended their hues together; and it was only by the
sense of weight and pressure that I could tell that Queequeg was hugging me.
My sensations were strange. Let me try to explain them. When I was a child,
I well remember a somewhat similar circumstance that befell me; whether it
was a reality or a dream, I never could entirely settle. The circumstance was
this. I had been cutting up some caper or other --I think it was trying to
crawl up the chimney, as i had seen a little sweep do a few days previous;
and my stepmother who, somehow or other, was all the time whipping me, or
sending me to bed supperless, --my mother dragged me by the legs out of the
chimney and packed me off to bed, though it was only two o'clock in the
afternoon of the 21st June, the longest day in the year in our hemisphere. I
felt dreadfully. But there was no help for it, so up stairs I went to my
little room in the third floor, undressed myself as slowly as possible so as
to kill time, and with a bitter sigh got between the sheets. I lay there
dismally calculating that sixteen entire hours must elapse before I could hope
for a resurrection. Sixteen hours in

bed! the small of my back ached to think of it. And it was so light too;
the sun shining in at the window, and a great rattling of coaches in the
streets, and the sound of gay voices all over the house. I felt worse and
worse --at last I got up, dressed, and softly going down in my stockinged
feet, sought out my stepmother, and suddenly threw myself at her feet,
beseeching her as a particular favor to give me a good slippering for my
misbehavior; anything indeed but condemning me to lie abed such an
unendurable length of time. But she was the best and most conscientious of
stepmothers, and back I had to go to my room. For several hours I lay there
broad awake, feeling a great deal worse than I have ever done since, even
from the greatest subsequent misfortunes. At last I must have fallen into a
troubled nightmare of a doze; and slowly waking from it --half steeped in
dreams --I opened my eyes, and the before sun-lit room was now wrapped in outer
darkness. Instantly I felt a shock running through all my frame; nothing was
to be seen, and nothing was to be heard; but a supernatural hand seemed
placed in mine. My arm hung over the counterpane, and the nameless,
unimaginable, silent form or phantom, to which the hand belonged, seemed
closely seated by my bedside. For what seemed ages piled on ages, I lay
there, frozen with the most awful fears, not daring to drag away my hand;
yet ever thinking that if I could but stir it one single inch, the horrid
spell would be broken. I knew not how this consciousness at last glided away
from me; but waking in the morning, I shudderingly remembered it all, and
for days and weeks and months afterwards I lost myself in confounding attempts
to explain the mystery. Nay, to this very hour, I often puzzle myself with
it. Now, take away the awful fear, and my sensations at feeling the
supernatural hand in mine were very similar, in their strangeness, to those
which I experienced on waking up and seeing Queequeg's pagan arm thrown round
me. But at length all the past night's events soberly recurred, one by one,
in fixed reality, and then I lay only alive to the comical predicament. For
though I tried to move his arm --unlock his bridegroom clasp --yet, sleeping
as he was, he still hugged me tightly, as though naught but death should part
us twain. I now strove to rouse him --

Queequeg! --but his only answer was a snore. I then rolled over, my neck
feeling as if it were in a horse-collar; and suddenly felt a slight scratch.
Throwing aside the counterpane, there lay the tomahawk sleeping by the
savage's side, as if it were a hatchet-faced baby. A pretty pickle, truly,
thought I; abed here in a strange house in the broad day, with a cannibal and
a tomahawk! Queequeg! --in the name of goodness, Queequeg, wake! At length,
by dint of much wriggling, and loud and incessant expostulations upon the
unbecomingness of his hugging a fellow male in that matrimonial sort of style,

I succeeded in extracting a grunt; and presently, he drew back his arm,
shook himself all over like a Newfoundland dog just from the water, and sat
up in bed, stiff as a pike-staff, looking at me, and rubbing his eyes as if
he did not altogether remember how I came to be there, though a dim
consciousness of knowing something about me seemed slowly dawning over him.
Meanwhile, I lay quietly eyeing him, having no serious misgivings now, and
bent upon narrowly observing so curious a creature. When, at last, his mind
seemed made up touching the character of his bedfellow, and he became, as it
were, reconciled to the fact; he jumped out upon the floor, and by certain
signs and sounds gave me to understand that, if it pleased me, he would
dress first and then leave me to dress afterwards, leaving the whole
apartment to myself. Thinks I, Queequeg, under the circumstances, this is a
very civilized overture; but, the truth is, these savages have an innate
sense of delicacy, say what you will; it is marvellous how essentially
polite they are. I pay this particular compliment to Queequeg, because he
treated me with so much civility and consideration, while I was guilty of
great rudeness; staring at him from the bed, and watching all his toilette
motions; for the time my curiosity getting the better of my breeding.
Nevertheless, a man like Queequeg you don't see every day, he and his ways
were well worth unusual regarding. He commenced dressing at top by donning his
beaver hat, a very tall one, by the by, and then --still minus his trowsers
-- he hunted up his boots. What under the heavens he did it for, I cannot
tell, but his next movement was to crush himself --boots in hand, and hat on
--under the bed; when, from sundry violent

gaspings and strainings, I inferred he was hard at work booting himself;
though by no law of propriety that I ever heard of, is any man required to be
private when putting on his boots. But Queequeg, do you see, was a creature
in the transition state -- neither caterpillar nor butterfly. He was just
enough civilized to show off his outlandishness in the strangest possible
manner. his education was not yet completed. He was an undergraduate. If he
had not been a small degree civilized, he very probably would not have
troubled himself with boots at all; but then, if he had not been still a
savage, he never would have dreamt of getting under the bed to put them on.
At last, he emerged with his hat very much dented and crushed down over his
eyes, and began creaking and limping about the room, as if, not being much
accustomed to boots, his pair of damp, wrinkled cowhide ones -- probably not
made to order either --rather pinched and tormented him at the first go off of
a bitter cold morning. Seeing, now, that there were no curtains to the window,
and that the street being very narrow, the house opposite commanded a plain
view into the room, and observing more and more the indecorous figure that
Queequeg made, staving about with little else but his hat and boots on; I
begged him as well as I could, to accelerate his toilet somewhat, and
particularly to get into his pantaloons as soon as possible. He complied,
and then proceeded to wash himself. At that time in the morning any
Christian would have washed his face; but Queequeg, to my amazement,
contented himself with restricting his ablutions to his chest, arms, and
hands. He then donned his waistcoat, and taking up a piece of hard soap on
the wash-stand centre-table, dipped it into water and commenced lathering his
face. I was watching to see where he kept his razor, when lo and behold, he
takes the harpoon from the bed corner, slips out the long wooden stock,
unsheathes the head, whets it a little on his boot, and striding up to the
bit of mirror against the wall, begins a vigorous scraping, or rather
harpooning of his cheeks. Thinks I, Queequeg, this is using Rogers's best
cutlery with a vengeance. Afterwards I wondered the less at this operation
when I came to know of what fine steel the head of a harpoon is made, and how
exceedingly sharp the long straight edges are always kept.

the rest of his toilet was soon achieved, and he proudly marched out of the
room, wrapped up in his great pilot monkey jacket, and sporting his harpoon
like a marshal's baton.