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A Tornado At Sea
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Preservation Of Nine Men In A Small Boat Surrounded By Islands Of Ice
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Moby Dick






Melville's exciting sea-tale relates the adventures of the Pequod, a
Nantucket whaler, in pursuit of the great white whale, Moby Dick, the
terror of the sea. Ahab, the captain of the Pequod, a grim and
grizzled old fellow, was half crazy with rage against the monster, who
in a previous voyage had shorn off his leg at the knee. On each side
of the Pequod's deck an auger-hole was bored, where the skipper could
steady his artificial leg of whale ivory. At the beginning of the
voyage Ahab nailed to the mast a Spanish gold doubloon, promising it
to the man who should raise "a white-headed whale with a wrinkled brow
and crooked jaw, with three harpoon holes punctured in the starboard
fluke." Ahab's three mates, Starbuck, Stubb and Flask, were Nantucket
whalers. But the rest of the crew obeying this crazy captain was a
miscellaneous collection of half-savages. Three chief harpooners were
Tashtego, an American Indian, Daggoo, a gigantic coal-black negro, and
Fedallah, a mysterious East Indian. The Pequod sailed from Nantucket,
rounding Cape Horn to the Pacific, where Captain Ahab expected to meet
his enemy somewhere in his favorite feeding-grounds along the Equator.
They killed many whales, and had many wild adventures; but they were
continually on the watch for Moby Dick, and sought tidings of the
monster from every ship they met. Gradually the news became more
definite and recent, until they met a whaler which on the previous day
had encountered the great white whale, losing five good men thereby.
Immediately Captain Ahab became wild with excitement, and ordered
everyone to keep constant lookout. The story of "The Chase" begins at
this point.





Next: The Chase

Previous: The Club-hauling Of The Diomede



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