Chapter 13 Wheelbarrow

        Ishmael pays Peter Coffin, the landlord, for his and Queequeg's bill at the Spouter-Inn, using the 30 silver dollars that the Pagan insisted on sharing with the Christian. (Note the biblical reference -- Judas betrayed Jesus for "30 pieces of silver" -- is Melville suggesting that Ishmael has done the same?). The odd couple then borrow a wheelbarrow and wheel their belongings to "The Moss", a little Nantucket schooner at the New Bedford Wharf on the Acushnet River.

        Queequeg tells Ishmael that the first time he had "used" a wheelbarrow, he didn't know what it was, so he put his stuff in it and carried it, wheelbarrow and all, to the Inn, amidst the laughter of the Yankees at such a green "coof". Then he told Ishmael of an incident when the laugh was on a Yankee captain at a Kokovoko feast. The savages had a good laugh when the captain mistook a punch bowl for a finger bowl and washed his hands in holy water to be ceremoniously imbibed! "What you tink now? Didn't our people laugh?"

        As they glide down the Acushnet river to the sea, heading toward Nantucket, the sounds of ship-fitting and ship-riggers prompt Melville to comment wearily, "one most perilous and long voyage ended, only begins a second, only begins a third, and so on, for ever and for aye. Such is the endlessness, yea, the intolerableness of all EARTHLY effort." The author then proposes the open sea as a refuge: "How I spurned that turnpike earth!" Ishmael extolls "the magnanimity of the SEA which will permit no records."

        The passengers aboard "The Moss" commence to jeer at the odd couple, provoking Queequeg to toss bodily one lubber-like boobie high into the air, and "then slightly tapping his stern in mid-somerset, the fellow landed with bursting lungs upon his feet." The bumpkin yelled, "Capting, Capting, here's the devil." The captain remonstrates with Queequeg, who responds, "Queequeg no kill-e so small-e fish-e. Queequeg kill-e big whale."

        The outraged captain threatens Queequeg with, "I'll kill-e you, you cannibal, if you try any more of your tricks aboard here" -- whereupon, like a Deus ex machina, the boom of the sail breaks loose in the wind, knocking the little land-lubber overboard, while causing complete chaos and bedlam among the passengers and crew of the panic-stricken little sailing vessel. Who comes to the rescue? Like a comic-book superman, Queequeg lassoes the flailing boom, lashes it down, dives into the water, and rescues the bumpkin, who by that time had sunk deep, deep under water.

        Whew! "All hands voted Queequeg a noble trump; the captain begged his pardon. From that hour I [Ishmael] clove to Queequeg like a barnacle; yea, till poor Queequeg took his last long dive. Melville suggests that, in such a situation, a pagan like our kanaka hero would be thinking, "It's a mutual, joint-stock world, in all meridians. We cannibals must help these Christians." The author makes no secret of his partiality to the Noble Savage concept.