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queequeg 13
up 12
arm 9
bed 9
over 8
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himself 6
could 6
room 6
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lay 6
one 5
time 5
little 5
last 5
out 5
myself 5
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under 4
made 4
hat 4
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counterpane 4
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sun 3
away 3
slowly 3
still 3
harpoon 3
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eyes 3
well 3
house 3
hours 3
back 3
day 3
civilized 3
tell 3
worse 3
possible 3
feeling 3

Chapter 4: The Counterpane.


Upon waking next morning about daylight, I found Queequeg's arm thrown
over me in the most loving and affectionate manner. You had almost
thought I had been his wife. The counterpane was of patchwork, full of
odd little parti-coloured squares and triangles; and this arm of his
tattooed all over with an interminable Cretan labyrinth of a figure,
no two parts of which were of one precise shade--owing I suppose to
his keeping his arm at sea unmethodically in sun and shade, his shirt
sleeves irregularly rolled up at various times--this same arm of his, I
say, looked for all the world like a strip of that same patchwork quilt.
Indeed, partly lying on it as the arm did when I first awoke, I could
hardly tell it from the quilt, they so blended their hues together; and
it was only by the sense of weight and pressure that I could tell that
Queequeg was hugging me.

My sensations were strange. Let me try to explain them. When I was a
child, I well remember a somewhat similar circumstance that befell me;
whether it was a reality or a dream, I never could entirely settle.
The circumstance was this. I had been cutting up some caper or other--I
think it was trying to crawl up the chimney, as I had seen a little
sweep do a few days previous; and my stepmother who, somehow or other,
was all the time whipping me, or sending me to bed supperless,--my
mother dragged me by the legs out of the chimney and packed me off to
bed, though it was only two o'clock in the afternoon of the 21st June,
the longest day in the year in our hemisphere. I felt dreadfully. But
there was no help for it, so up stairs I went to my little room in the
third floor, undressed myself as slowly as possible so as to kill time,
and with a bitter sigh got between the sheets.

I lay there dismally calculating that sixteen entire hours must elapse
before I could hope for a resurrection. Sixteen hours in bed! the
small of my back ached to think of it. And it was so light too; the
sun shining in at the window, and a great rattling of coaches in the
streets, and the sound of gay voices all over the house. I felt worse
and worse--at last I got up, dressed, and softly going down in my
stockinged feet, sought out my stepmother, and suddenly threw myself
at her feet, beseeching her as a particular favour to give me a good
slippering for my misbehaviour; anything indeed but condemning me to lie
abed such an unendurable length of time. But she was the best and most
conscientious of stepmothers, and back I had to go to my room. For
several hours I lay there broad awake, feeling a great deal worse than I
have ever done since, even from the greatest subsequent misfortunes. At
last I must have fallen into a troubled nightmare of a doze; and slowly
waking from it--half steeped in dreams--I opened my eyes, and the before
sun-lit room was now wrapped in outer darkness. Instantly I felt a shock
running through all my frame; nothing was to be seen, and nothing was
to be heard; but a supernatural hand seemed placed in mine. My arm hung
over the counterpane, and the nameless, unimaginable, silent form
or phantom, to which the hand belonged, seemed closely seated by my
bed-side. For what seemed ages piled on ages, I lay there, frozen with
the most awful fears, not daring to drag away my hand; yet ever thinking
that if I could but stir it one single inch, the horrid spell would be
broken. I knew not how this consciousness at last glided away from me;
but waking in the morning, I shudderingly remembered it all, and for
days and weeks and months afterwards I lost myself in confounding
attempts to explain the mystery. Nay, to this very hour, I often puzzle
myself with it.

Now, take away the awful fear, and my sensations at feeling the
supernatural hand in mine were very similar, in their strangeness, to
those which I experienced on waking up and seeing Queequeg's pagan
arm thrown round me. But at length all the past night's events soberly
recurred, one by one, in fixed reality, and then I lay only alive to
the comical predicament. For though I tried to move his arm--unlock his
bridegroom clasp--yet, sleeping as he was, he still hugged me tightly,
as though naught but death should part us twain. I now strove to rouse
him--"Queequeg!"--but his only answer was a snore. I then rolled over,
my neck feeling as if it were in a horse-collar; and suddenly felt a
slight scratch. Throwing aside the counterpane, there lay the tomahawk
sleeping by the savage's side, as if it were a hatchet-faced baby. A
pretty pickle, truly, thought I; abed here in a strange house in the
broad day, with a cannibal and a tomahawk! "Queequeg!--in the name of
goodness, Queequeg, wake!" At length, by dint of much wriggling, and
loud and incessant expostulations upon the unbecomingness of his
hugging a fellow male in that matrimonial sort of style, I succeeded in
extracting a grunt; and presently, he drew back his arm, shook himself
all over like a Newfoundland dog just from the water, and sat up in bed,
stiff as a pike-staff, looking at me, and rubbing his eyes as if he
did not altogether remember how I came to be there, though a dim
consciousness of knowing something about me seemed slowly dawning over
him. Meanwhile, I lay quietly eyeing him, having no serious misgivings
now, and bent upon narrowly observing so curious a creature. When, at
last, his mind seemed made up touching the character of his bedfellow,
and he became, as it were, reconciled to the fact; he jumped out upon
the floor, and by certain signs and sounds gave me to understand that,
if it pleased me, he would dress first and then leave me to dress
afterwards, leaving the whole apartment to myself. Thinks I, Queequeg,
under the circumstances, this is a very civilized overture; but, the
truth is, these savages have an innate sense of delicacy, say what
you will; it is marvellous how essentially polite they are. I pay this
particular compliment to Queequeg, because he treated me with so much
civility and consideration, while I was guilty of great rudeness;
staring at him from the bed, and watching all his toilette motions; for
the time my curiosity getting the better of my breeding. Nevertheless,
a man like Queequeg you don't see every day, he and his ways were well
worth unusual regarding.

He commenced dressing at top by donning his beaver hat, a very tall one,
by the by, and then--still minus his trowsers--he hunted up his boots.
What under the heavens he did it for, I cannot tell, but his next
movement was to crush himself--boots in hand, and hat on--under the bed;
when, from sundry violent gaspings and strainings, I inferred he was
hard at work booting himself; though by no law of propriety that I ever
heard of, is any man required to be private when putting on his
boots. But Queequeg, do you see, was a creature in the transition
stage--neither caterpillar nor butterfly. He was just enough civilized
to show off his outlandishness in the strangest possible manners. His
education was not yet completed. He was an undergraduate. If he had not
been a small degree civilized, he very probably would not have troubled
himself with boots at all; but then, if he had not been still a savage,
he never would have dreamt of getting under the bed to put them on. At
last, he emerged with his hat very much dented and crushed down over his
eyes, and began creaking and limping about the room, as if, not
being much accustomed to boots, his pair of damp, wrinkled cowhide
ones--probably not made to order either--rather pinched and tormented
him at the first go off of a bitter cold morning.

Seeing, now, that there were no curtains to the window, and that the
street being very narrow, the house opposite commanded a plain view
into the room, and observing more and more the indecorous figure that
Queequeg made, staving about with little else but his hat and boots on;
I begged him as well as I could, to accelerate his toilet somewhat,
and particularly to get into his pantaloons as soon as possible. He
complied, and then proceeded to wash himself. At that time in the
morning any Christian would have washed his face; but Queequeg, to
my amazement, contented himself with restricting his ablutions to his
chest, arms, and hands. He then donned his waistcoat, and taking up a
piece of hard soap on the wash-stand centre table, dipped it into water
and commenced lathering his face. I was watching to see where he kept
his razor, when lo and behold, he takes the harpoon from the bed corner,
slips out the long wooden stock, unsheathes the head, whets it a little
on his boot, and striding up to the bit of mirror against the wall,
begins a vigorous scraping, or rather harpooning of his cheeks. Thinks
I, Queequeg, this is using Rogers's best cutlery with a vengeance.
Afterwards I wondered the less at this operation when I came to know of
what fine steel the head of a harpoon is made, and how exceedingly sharp
the long straight edges are always kept.

The rest of his toilet was soon achieved, and he proudly marched out of
the room, wrapped up in his great pilot monkey jacket, and sporting his
harpoon like a marshal's baton.