"When Stubb had departed, Ahab stood for a while leaning over the bulwarks [the side railing or parapet of the ship]; and then, as had been usual with him of late, calling a sailor of the watch, he sent him below for his ivory stool, and also his pipe. Lighting the pipe at the binnacle lamp [the binnacle is the pedestal that holds the ship's compass and is located right in front of the helm -- the steering wheel -- but in the case of the Pequod, the helm is a tiller -- a lever of whalebone], and planting the stool on the weather side of the deck [the windward side], he sat and smoked.
"In old Norse times, the thrones of the sea-loving Danish kings were fabricated (saith tradition) of the tusks of the narwhale [a large fish with a unicorn-like, long sharp twisted tusk sticking out of his head]. How could one look at Ahab then, seated on that tripod of bones, without bethinking him of the royalty it symbolized? For a Khan of the plank, and a king of the sea, and a great lord of Leviathans [the biblical name for whales] was Ahab.
"Some moments passed, during which the thick vapor came from his mouth in quick and constant puffs, which blew back again into his face. 'How now,' he soliloqized at last, withdrawing the tube, 'this smoking no longer soothes. Oh my pipe! hard it must go with me if thy charm be gone! Here I have been unconsciously toiling, not pleasuring, -- aye, and ignorantly smoking to windward all the while; to windward, and with such nervous whiffs, like the dying whale, my final jets were the strongest and fullest of trouble. [It could be that Ahab's conscience bothers him after insulting Stubb.] What business have I with this pipe? This thing that is meant for sereneness, to send up mild white vapors among mild white hairs, not among torn iron-grey locks like mine. I'll smoke no more --'
"He tossed the still lighted pipe into the sea. The fire hissed in the waves; the same instant the ship shot by the bubble the sinking pipe made. With slouched hat, Ahab lurchingly paced the planks."
[This is more serious than regret and a guilty conscience for insulting old Stubb. Melville certainly means this as a portent and symbol of Ahab's renunciation of any worldly pleasure that will cool his fury for revenge. Further, the reference to white smoke and white hair as being mild proves unpalatable to Ahab, for Melville later makes the argument that whiteness can provoke revulsion, fear, and disgust -- surely an arguable contention. But Moby Dick is a WHITE whale.]