Chapter 21 Going Aboard

        "Avast!" cried a voice. It was Elijah. In a "grey imperfect misty dawn" our newly shipped pair made for the wharf.

        "Going aboard?"

        "Lookee here, " said Queequeg, "go 'way!"

        "Hands off, " said Ishmael, "we are going to the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and would prefer not to be detained."

        But Elijah clapped his hand on Ishmael's shoulder and said -- "Did ye see anything like men going toward that ship a while ago?"

        Ishmael allowed as how he had seen what may have been men -- or shadows in the mist.

        "See if you can find 'em now, will ye?"

        "Find who?"

        "Oh! I was going to warn ye against - - but never mind, never mind. Goodbye to ye. Shan't see ye again very soon, I guess; unless it's before the Grand Jury. Morning to ye."

        And with these cracked words, he finally departed, leaving Ishmael "in no small wonderment at his frantic impudence."

        Ishmael and Queequeg go on board the Pequod and see no sailors, to Ishmael's surprise -- just an old rigger asleep, face down, below deck in the forecastle. To Ishmael's chagrin, Queequeg sits down on the sleeper's rear end! This, he explained, was a custom in his land -- "great people" used others as pillows to sit on. Then, waving his tomahawk pipe over the sleeper's head he said, "Perry easy, kill-e; oh! perry easy!" This led to an explanation that his tomahawk had "brained his foes" and "soothed his soul".

        With this repelling glimpse of the untamed, savage side of Queequeg's personality, we will leave further intimacies between the Christian narrator and the Pagan harpooneer behind. Melville has been criticized by commentators for dropping the Ishmael-Queequeg friendship and never resuming it to the degree seen heretofore in the first 20 chapters. But Melville has other characters coming up that will serve him just as well in illustrating his displeasure with, and indictment of the way white Christian whalers behaved towards the other many and varied races and ethnics bound for their appointment with Moby Dick in the Pacific Ocean.

        The old rigger woke up, learned that his forecastle company were "shipped men", and proceeded to disembark the Pequod, saying "She sails today, and Starbuck's astir. He's a lively chief mate, that; good man, and a pious."

        "Soon the crew came on board in twos and threes; the mates were actively engaged; and several of the shore people were busy bringing various last things on board. Meanwhile Captain AHAB remained invisibly enshrined within his cabin."