While the two headsmen were engaged in making fast cords to his flukes, and in other ways getting the mass in readiness for towing, some conversation ensued between them.
“Wants with it?” said Flask, coiling some spare line in the boat’s bow, “did you never hear that the ship which but once has a Sperm Whale's head hoisted on her starboard side, and at the same time a Right Whale’s on the larboard; did you never hear, Stubb, that that ship can never afterwards capsize?”
I don’t know, but I heard that gamboge ghost of a Fedallah saying so, and he seems to know all about ships’ charms. But I sometimes think he’ll charm the ship to no good at last. I don’t half like that chap, Stubb. Did you ever notice how that tusk of his is a sort of carved into a snake’s head, Stubb?”
Sink him! I never look at him at all; but if ever I get a chance of a dark night, and he standing hard by the bulwarks, and no one by; look down there, Flask—pointing into the sea with a peculiar motion of both hands—Aye, will I! Flask, I take that Fedallah to be the devil in disguise. Do you believe that cock and bull story about his having been stowed away on board ship? He’s the devil, I say. The reason why you don’t see his tail, is because he tucks it up out of sight; he carries it coiled away in his pocket, I guess. Blast him! now that I think of it, he’s always wanting oakum to stuff into the toes of his boots.
He sleeps in his boots, don’t he? He hasn’t got any hammock; but I’ve seen him lay of nights in a coil of rigging.
No doubt, and it’s because of his cursed tail; he coils it down, do ye see, in the eye of the rigging. Because he tucks it up out of sight; he carries it coiled away in his pocket, I guess. Blast him! now that I think of it, he’s always wanting oakum to stuff into the toes of his boots."
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