Moby-Dick/Chapter 120

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Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
Chapter 120: The Deck Toward the End of the First Night Watch
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Ahab standing by the helm.  Starbuck approaching him.

We must send down the main-top-sail yard, sir.  The band is working loose and the lee lift is half-stranded.  Shall I strike it, sir?”

“Strike nothing; lash it.  If I had sky-sail poles, I’d sway them up now.”

“Sir!—in God’s name!—sir?”

“Well.”

“The anchors are working, sir.  Shall I get them inboard?”

“Strike nothing, and stir nothing but lash everything.  The wind rises, but it has not got up to my table-lands yet.  Quick, and see to it.— By masts and keels! he takes me for the hunchbacked skipper of some coasting smack.  Send down my main-top-sail yard!  Ho, gluepots!  Loftiest trucks were made for wildest winds, and this brain-truck of mine now sails amid the cloud-scud.  Shall I strike that?  Oh, none but cowards send down their brain-trucks in tempest time.  What a hooroosh aloft there!  I would e’en take it for sublime, did I not know that the colic is a noisy malady.  Oh, take medicine, take medicine!”