This is Moby Dick Chapter 19: The Prophet (summary)
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Previous Chapter: Chapter 18: His Mark (summary)
Queegqueg and Ishmael had just left the Pequod, when a stranger asked if they had shipped in the Pequod. This stranger wore a shabby jacket, patched trousers, and a rag of a black handkerchief around his neck. Moreover, his face was full of small-pox.
Ishmael asked the stranger back, to buy some time to have an uninterrupted look at the stranger. Then, the stranger again asked them the same question about sailing the ship. In response, they answered affirmatively.
Next, the stranger kept jabbering about something and somebody they don’t know. So they tried to depart from him, but the stranger stopped them, and asked if they had met Old Thunder—Captain Ahab.
This interested Ishmael. The stranger asked Ishmael about what he knows of Captain Ahab. In reply, he said that they hadn’t met him yet, but people say that Ahab is a good whaler and a good captain. The stranger says that both are true enough, but said that he needs to jump when Ahab gives an order.
Then, the stranger related things that they didn’t know. For instance, the time when Ahab played dead for three days and three nights; the time when he fought with the Spaniard before the altar in Santa; the time when he spat on a silver calabash; and lastly, the time when a whale took Ahab’s one leg off.
After the stranger had told them all these stories, Ishmael frankly told him that he’s crazy, speaking all this gibberish. Finally, the stranger began to say goodbye to them. But before he’s gone, Ishmael told him that if he has anything important to say to them, then say it to them. But if he just wants to bamboozle them, they won’t have it. Then, he asked the stranger’s name. It was Elijah.
While walking away, Ishmael glimpsed Elijah following them at a distance; he didn’t tell Queegqueg about this. When they turned on a corner, Elijah did so, too. He persistently followed them on all streets and corners. Consequently, it made Ishmael think about many things in connection with the Pequod and with Captain Ahab.
After a while, Elijah failed to notice and follow them, which relieved Ishmael. Then Ishmael convincingly pronounced in his heart, that the stranger, Elijah, is nothing but a humbug.
End of Moby Dick Chapter 19: The Prophet (summary)