Meanwhile, all the boats tore on. The repeated specific allusions of Flask to "that whale," as he called the fictitious monster which he declared to be incessantly tantalizing his boat's bow with its tail- these allusions of his were at times so vivid and life-like, that they would cause some one or two of his men to snatch a fearful look over his shoulder. But this was against all rule; for the oarsmen must put out their eyes, and ram a skewer through their necks; usages announcing that they must have no organs but ears; and no limbs but arms, in these critical moments.
It was a sight full of quick wonder and awe! The
vast swells of the omnipotent sea; the surging, hollow roar they made,
as they rolled along the eight gunwales, like gigantic bowls in a
boundless bowling-green; the brief suspended agony of the boat, as it
would tip for an instant on the knife-like edge of the sharper waves,
that almost seemed threatening to cut it in two; the sudden profound dip
into the watery glens and hollows; the keen spurrings and goadings to
gain the top of the opposite hill; the headlong, sled-like slide down
its other side;- all these, with the cries of the headsmen and
harpooneers, and the shuddering gasps of the oarsmen, with the wondrous
sight of the ivory Pequod bearing down upon her boats with outstretched
sails, like a wild hen after her screaming brood;- all this was
thrilling. Not the raw recruit, marching from the bosom of his wife into
the fever heat of his first battle; not the dead man's host
encountering the first unknown phantom in the other world;- neither of
these can feel stranger and stronger emotions than that man does, who
for the first time finds himself pulling into the charmed, churned
circle of the hunted sperm whale.
The dancing white water made by
the chase was now becoming more and more visible, owing to the
increasing darkness of the dun cloud-shadows flung upon the sea. The
jets of vapor no longer blended, but tilted everywhere to right and
left; the whales seemed separating their wakes. The boats were pulled
more apart; Starbuck giving chase to three whales running dead to
leeward. Our sail was now set, and, with the still rising wind, we
rushed along; the boat going with such madness through the water, that
the lee oars could scarcely be worked rapidly enough to escape being
torn from the row-locks.
Soon we were running through a suffusing wide veil of mist; neither ship nor boat to be seen.
way, men," whispered Starbuck, drawing still further aft the sheet of
his sail; "there is time to kill a fish yet before the squall comes.
There's white water again!- close to! Spring!"
Soon after, two
cries in quick succession on each side of us denoted that the other
boats had got fast; but hardly were they overheard, when with a
lightning-like hurtling whisper Starbuck said: "Stand up!" and Queequeg,
harpoon in hand, sprang to his feet.
Though not one of the
oarsmen was then facing the life and death peril so close to them ahead,
yet with their eyes on the intense countenance of the mate in the stern
of the boat, they knew that the imminent instant had come; they heard,
too, an enormous wallowing sound as of fifty elephants stirring in their
litter. Meanwhile the boat was still booming through the mist, the
waves curling and hissing around us like the erected crests of enraged
"That's his hump. There, there, give it to him!" whispered Starbuck.
short rushing sound leaped out of the boat; it was the darted iron of
Queequeg. Then all in one welded commotion came an invisible push from
astern, while forward the boat seemed striking on a ledge; the sail
collapsed and exploded; a gush of scalding vapor shot up near by;
something rolled and tumbled like an earthquake beneath us. The whole
crew were half suffocated as they were tossed helter-skelter into the
white curdling cream of the squall. Squall, whale, and harpoon had all
blended together; and the whale, merely grazed by the iron, escaped.
completely swamped, the boat was nearly unharmed. Swimming round it we
picked up the floating oars, and lashing them across the gunwale,
tumbled back to our places. There we sat up to our knees in the sea, the
water covering every rib and plank, so that to our downward gazing eyes
the suspended craft seemed a coral boat grown up to us from the bottom
of the ocean.
The wind increased to a howl; the waves dashed their
bucklers together; the whole squall roared, forked, and crackled around
us like a white fire upon the prairie, in which unconsumed, we were
burning; immortal in these jaws of death! In vain we hailed the other
boats; as well roar to the live coals down the chimney of a flaming
furnace as hail those boats in that storm. Meanwhile the driving scud,
rack, and mist, grew darker with the shadows of night; no sign of the
ship could be seen. The rising sea forbade all attempts to bale out the
boat. The oars were useless as propellers, performing now the office of
life-preservers. So, cutting the lashing of the waterproof match keg,
after many failures Starbuck contrived to ignite the lamp in the
lantern; then stretching it on a waif pole, handed it to Queequeg as the
standard-bearer of this forlorn hope. There, then, he sat, holding up
that imbecile candle in the heart of that almighty forlornness. There,
then, he sat, the sign and symbol of a man without faith, hopelessly
holding up hope in the midst of despair.
Wet, drenched through,
and shivering cold, despairing of ship or boat, we lifted up our eyes as
the dawn came on. The mist still spread over the sea, the empty lantern
lay crushed in the bottom of the boat. Suddenly Queequeg started to his
feet, hollowing his hand to his ear. We all heard a faint creaking, as
of ropes and yards hitherto muffled by the storm. The sound came nearer
and nearer; the thick mists were dimly parted by a huge, vague form.
Affrighted, we all sprang into the sea as the ship at last loomed into
view, bearing right down upon us within a distance of not much more than
Floating on the waves we saw the abandoned boat, as
for one instant it tossed and gaped beneath the ship's bows like a chip
at the base of a cataract; and then the vast hull rolled over it, and it
was seen no more till it came up weltering astern. Again we swam for
it, were dashed against it by the seas, and were at last taken up and
safely landed on board. Ere the squall came close to, the other boats
had cut loose from their fish and returned to the ship in good time. The
ship had given us up, but was still cruising, if haply it might light
upon some token of our perishing,- an oar or a lance pole.
Starbuck's boat and crew are swamped by tail and back and storm. It's a violent confrontation between nature and harpoon and oar. They cling to their vessel, hoping that, somehow, they will be saved. Queequeg is the light-bearer, holding up the lantern on top of a pole. There they sit, surrounded by mist and wave and wind and whale, hoping for a miracle.
I am at home with my son in the middle of the day. I got a phone call at work about an hour-and-a-half ago from the school nurse, saying that he wasn't feeling well. Stomach ache and headache. I couldn't explain to the nurse in great detail the fight my son put up this morning. He didn't want to go to school. Refused to get dressed or take his ADHD medications. He knocked over a chair, broke an alarm clock. Then, for good measure, he started swearing and threw a shoe at my wife.
These outbursts have been happening with less frequency, but it's really difficult to control him when he's in the middle of one of them. Nothing calms him down. It's like his brain--the one that he uses to get A's on spelling and math and science tests--hops on an airplane and leaves. What's left behind is all instinct and anger. There's no reasoning with him at all.
So, that happened this morning. My son eventually got to school. Around 11:30 a.m., the school nurse called to say that my son was not feeling well. I gave my permission for her to administer some Tylenol, hoping that would handle his headache. It didn't. Ten minutes later, my son phoned me, and he asked if he could go home.
That's why I'm in my living room in the middle of the day. typing this blog post. My son is in his bedroom because I told him he couldn't play on his laptop today as punishment for his behavior this morning. I also told him that he might have to pay for the alarm clock he broke and needed to apologize to his mother for directing a few F-bombs at her.
I sometimes get so tired of these episodes. Mind you, I understand that there's brain chemistry that accounts for much of my son's behavior. I'm not discounting that. However, my wife and I have been dealing with this since my son was in kindergarten. That's five years of meetings with the principal and teachers and guidance counselor. In-school detentions and playground battles.
I was speaking with a coworker this morning. Her son has had ADHD since he was a child. He's now 17-years-old. My coworker says he's been on all kinds of medications, and, when I gave her a quick synopsis of my son's history, she nodded and said, "I hear ya." This past Christmas, my coworker had to call the police because her son got so out-of-control. I think she was trying to make me feel better. It didn't work.
At the moment, it's quiet in my son's room. He's not crying anymore. Perhaps he's fallen asleep. I'm not going to check on him. He could probably use a nap. I know that I could. My wife will be coming home soon. She's as much at her wit's end as I am. This Wednesday, my son is going to see his psychiatrist. I'm sure today's outburst is going to be the topic of conversation.
I love my son. Would do anything for him. However, I'm tired. I feel like Starbuck, stranded in the middle of the ocean, holding up a lantern. Hoping to be rescued.
Saint Marty is thankful today for patience and compassion.