Chapter 64 Stubb's Supper

        The last two chapters were a digression, and now we resume the story of the whale killed by Stubb in Chapter 61. In truth it is the story of the overbearing arrogance and condescension with which the white "Christian" Yankee whalekiller treats a subordinate.

        The whale, quite large even by Nantucket standards, takes the combined efforts of three whaleboats rowing far into the night to tow it back to the Pequod from whence it was dispatched. H.I.M. describes how the whale is tied to the ship in the darkness, preparatory to the process of "cutting in", which must be postponed until daylight. The dead whale becomes a feast for "thousands and thousands of sharks that swarmed round the dead Leviathan, smackingly feasting on its fatness. The few sleepers below in their bunks were often startled by the sharp slappings of their tails against the hull."

        Stubb, flushed with his kill, bellows, "A steak, a steak ere I sleep! You, Daggoo! overboard you go, and cut me one from his small [tapered part next to the tail]."

        "About midnight the steak was cut and cooked; lighted by two lanterns of sperm oil, Stubb stoutly stood up to his spermaceti supper at the capstan head, eating whale steak by whale light." Not satisfied with the bloody rareness of his kill, he decides to bully the poor old darky cook. "Cook, cook! -- where's that old Fleece? he cried. Sail this way, cook!" The old black had been roused from his warm bunk for this midnight culinary performance, and he was grumpy but sullenly obedient. "Cook," said Stubb, "this steak is too tender. Don't I always say that to be good, a whale-steak must be tough? Those sharks now, don't you see they prefer it tough and rare? Cook, go talk to 'em; tell 'em they are welcome to help themselves civilly, and in moderation, but they must keep quiet! Blast me, if I can hear my own voice. Away, cook, deliver my message. Go and preach to 'em!"

        Old Fleece, the cook, took a lantern, sullenly limped to the bulwarks, eyed the congregation of voracious sharks in their feeding-frenzy, and commenced his sermon.

        "Fellow-critters: I'se ordered here to say dat you must stop dat dam noise dare. You hear? Stop dat dam smackin' ob de lip! Massa Stubb say you can fill your dam bellies, but by Gor! you must stop dat dam racket!" "Cook!" here interposed Stubb -- "Cook! why, damn your eyes, you mustn't swear that way when you're preaching, Cook!" "Den preach to him yourself," sullenly turning to go. "No, Cook -- go on, go on!" "Well, den, belubbed fellow-critters, dough you is all sharks, your woraciousness -- 'top dat dam slappin' ob de tail! such a dam slappin' and bitin' dare! --" "Cook! talk to 'em gentlemanly!" 'Fellow-critters, I don't blame ye so much for dat is natur, but don't be tearin' de blubber out your neighbor's mout, I say. Some o' you has berry brig mout. Bite off de blubber for de small fry ob sharks dat can't hep demselves." "Well done, old Fleece!" cried Stubb, "that's Christianity!"

        "Cook, you have lived in this world hard upon one hundred years, and don't know yet how to cook a whale-steak. Take it, I say, and taste it." "Best cooked 'teak I eber taste; joosy, berry joosy." "Well, for the future, hold the steak in one hand, and show a live coal to it with the other; that done, dish it, d'ye hear? Give me cutlets for supper to-morrow night in the mid-watch. Away you sail then. Avast! Make a bow before you go."

        "Wish whale eat him, 'stead of him eat whale," muttered the old man, limping away.