"'Man my boat!' cried Ahab, impetuously. 'Stand by to lower!'" Ahab had never set foot on board of any vessel at sea except his own, and when his boat got to the Enderby, they had to hoist him on board by means of the great tackle and blubber-hook. Ahab was in a rare mood, having found a whaling captain who had encountered Moby Dick and lost a limb to him -- a kindred spirit to be sure. Quite out of character, Ahab greeted Captain Boomer by sticking out his ivory peg-leg and crossing it with Boomer's ivory arm, saying. "Aye, aye, hearty! let us shake bones together! -- an arm and a leg! -- an arm that can never shrink, d'ye see; and a leg that never can run. Where didst thou see the White Whale? -- how long ago?"
Captain Boomer says he saw him "on the Line (equator), last season."
"'And he took that arm off, did he?' asked Ahab. 'Spin me the yarn; how was it?'"
It seems that Captain Boomer's boat was fastened to a whale that was swimming round and round in a circle, when up breaches a bouncing great whale, with a milky-white head and hump, all crow s feet and wrinkles, and harpoons sticking in near his starboard fin.
"'Aye, aye -- they were mine -- my irons,' cried Ahab, exultingly -- 'but on!'"
Boomer tells Ahab that the White Whale tries to bite the line connecting the boat to the harpooned whale.
"'Aye, I see! -- wanted to part it; free the fast fish -- an old trick -- I know him.'"
Moby Dick got the line caught in his teeth and caused the harpooned whale to get free. Then he smashed the whaleboat in two, and when Boomer was in the water, he was dragged under by a loose harpoon attached to the rope in Moby Dick's mouth. The point of the harpoon caught him in the upper arm and tore the flesh from shoulder to wrist before coming out.
The yarn is now taken up by Dr. Bunger, the ship's surgeon, who eventually was obliged to amputate his Captain's arm. There ensued a humorous exchange between the captain and the doctor that went on and on and got sillier and sillier, until . . .
"'What became of the White Whale?' now cried Ahab [who's been doing nothing but crying up to now], impatiently listening to this bye-play between the two Englishmen."
"'Oh, yes! After he sounded [dived] we didn't see him again for quite some time. I didn't know what whale it was until we heard about Moby Dick -- as some call him -- and then I knew it was he. But hark ye, he's best left alone; don't you think so, Captain?' -- glancing at Ahab's ivory leg."
"'How long since thou saw'st him last? Which way heading?'"
"'Bring the thermometer! This man's blood is at the boiling point'" yelled Bunger.
"'Avast!' roared Ahab, dashing him against the bulwarks. 'Which way heading?'"
"'Good God! What's the matter? East, I think.' To Fedallah, 'Is your captain crazy?'"
Ahab commanded the sailors to lower him to his boat, and he made directly for the Pequod.