“Drink, ye harpooneers! drink and swear, ye men that man the deathful whaleboat’s bow — Death to Moby Dick! God hunt us all, if we do not hunt Moby Dick to his death!”
Called me Ishmael.
When I’ve been at sea for a very long time, five years and three months and seventeen days, to be exact, I develop a longing to stand upon terra firma, to drop anchor and go ashore. When the Pequod sank, I was a long way from home and while I certainly had a desire to stop on the next bit of dryness I could set foot upon, I had an even stronger need to get back to where I started from.
When I finally reached New Bedford, the night had grown dark, so I sought a place to sleep and a bowl of chowder. The years that had passed since I had last been in port had wreaked a great many changes both is in the style of merchandise and the purveyors thereof. I had to try three lodging houses before I could be assured of having a harpooneer to bed with and I had to produce an extra piece of silver to secure a cannibal as companion. Although chowder remained a staple of the menus, they also offered meals with hardly any fish in them at all. Strange times we have come to know.
I thought my story would delight and intrigue the people back home but no one listened, no one cared, no one believed a word. They had accepted long ago that the ship was lost with all hands. I became an embarrassment to their sure grasp of the past.
But then one night, sitting cold and damp with a bottle of rum and a table surrounded by scurvy sea dogs, I happened to mention Ahab and the Pequod and our demise at the body blow of the white whale.
“Moby Dick?” one mate queried.
“The same,” I replied.
“That would make you Ishmael?”
“Yes it would.”
“I have a message for you. We ran into that white whale a few months back just after coming past the Cape Horn. He chased us for a hundred leagues and when we gave up he let us go with the words, ‘Tell Ishmael of the Pequod that I’m coming for him. All of Ahab’s spawn must die and he’s the only one left!”
“Shit,” I said. The world’s a big place but so is a whale.