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whale 7
blubber 7
over 6
one 6
windlass 6
strip 5
mass 4
end 4
every 4
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long 4
great 4
main 4
called 4
hole 4
ship 4
lower 4
while 3
heaving 3
first 3
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two 3
tackles 3
mates 3
hook 3
her 3
body 3
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side 3
cutting 3
spades 2
block 2
mast 2
semicircular 2
sabbath 2
sky 2
heave 2
stubb 2
precisely 2
heads 2
stripped 2
she 2
line 2
just 2
starbuck 2
through 2
above 2
simultaneously 2
orange 2
till 2

Chapter 67: Cutting In.


It was a Saturday night, and such a Sabbath as followed! Ex officio
professors of Sabbath breaking are all whalemen. The ivory Pequod was
turned into what seemed a shamble; every sailor a butcher. You would
have thought we were offering up ten thousand red oxen to the sea gods.

In the first place, the enormous cutting tackles, among other ponderous
things comprising a cluster of blocks generally painted green, and which
no single man can possibly lift--this vast bunch of grapes was swayed up
to the main-top and firmly lashed to the lower mast-head, the strongest
point anywhere above a ship's deck. The end of the hawser-like rope
winding through these intricacies, was then conducted to the windlass,
and the huge lower block of the tackles was swung over the whale; to
this block the great blubber hook, weighing some one hundred pounds, was
attached. And now suspended in stages over the side, Starbuck and Stubb,
the mates, armed with their long spades, began cutting a hole in the
body for the insertion of the hook just above the nearest of the two
side-fins. This done, a broad, semicircular line is cut round the hole,
the hook is inserted, and the main body of the crew striking up a wild
chorus, now commence heaving in one dense crowd at the windlass. When
instantly, the entire ship careens over on her side; every bolt in
her starts like the nail-heads of an old house in frosty weather; she
trembles, quivers, and nods her frighted mast-heads to the sky. More
and more she leans over to the whale, while every gasping heave of the
windlass is answered by a helping heave from the billows; till at last,
a swift, startling snap is heard; with a great swash the ship rolls
upwards and backwards from the whale, and the triumphant tackle rises
into sight dragging after it the disengaged semicircular end of the
first strip of blubber. Now as the blubber envelopes the whale precisely
as the rind does an orange, so is it stripped off from the body
precisely as an orange is sometimes stripped by spiralizing it. For the
strain constantly kept up by the windlass continually keeps the whale
rolling over and over in the water, and as the blubber in one strip
uniformly peels off along the line called the "scarf," simultaneously
cut by the spades of Starbuck and Stubb, the mates; and just as fast as
it is thus peeled off, and indeed by that very act itself, it is all the
time being hoisted higher and higher aloft till its upper end grazes the
main-top; the men at the windlass then cease heaving, and for a moment
or two the prodigious blood-dripping mass sways to and fro as if let
down from the sky, and every one present must take good heed to dodge
it when it swings, else it may box his ears and pitch him headlong

One of the attending harpooneers now advances with a long, keen weapon
called a boarding-sword, and watching his chance he dexterously slices
out a considerable hole in the lower part of the swaying mass. Into this
hole, the end of the second alternating great tackle is then hooked
so as to retain a hold upon the blubber, in order to prepare for what
follows. Whereupon, this accomplished swordsman, warning all hands to
stand off, once more makes a scientific dash at the mass, and with a few
sidelong, desperate, lunging slicings, severs it completely in twain;
so that while the short lower part is still fast, the long upper strip,
called a blanket-piece, swings clear, and is all ready for lowering.
The heavers forward now resume their song, and while the one tackle is
peeling and hoisting a second strip from the whale, the other is slowly
slackened away, and down goes the first strip through the main hatchway
right beneath, into an unfurnished parlor called the blubber-room. Into
this twilight apartment sundry nimble hands keep coiling away the long
blanket-piece as if it were a great live mass of plaited serpents.
And thus the work proceeds; the two tackles hoisting and lowering
simultaneously; both whale and windlass heaving, the heavers singing,
the blubber-room gentlemen coiling, the mates scarfing, the ship
straining, and all hands swearing occasionally, by way of assuaging the
general friction.