This is Moby Dick Chapter 3: The Spouter-Inn (summary).
Vocabulary Words found in this chapter: Moby Dick Chapter 3: The Spouter-Inn (Vocabulary Words)

Previous Chapter: Chapter 2: The Carpet-Bag (summary)

Ishmael went inside the ‘Spouter-Inn’. On the interior wall, he saw an old painting. At first sight, the idea of this painting was unclear. But as he looked at it closer, he saw a whale savagely destroying three sea ships. 

On the other interior wall, he saw a collection of broken, old clubs, spears, and ivory saws, along with rusty old whaling lances and harpoons.

That made him recall about Nathan Swain, who fifty years ago killed fifteen whales in only a day. Upon entering a public room, he noticed that the ceiling was low, and that both the ceiling and the flooring were made of ponderous wood. On his side, there was a whale’s jawbone, and near it was a fissured shelf made of glass containing rare items.

Also, he found a group of young seamen gathered around a table. He looked for the landlord and asked for a room for the night. Unfortunately, there was no available room for him. However, the grinning landlord said that he could share a bed with the harpooner. 

Ishmael notices that something’s fishy about that harpooneer the landlord was talking about. But he soon realized that he should never mind about that strange matter in order to avoid looking for another inn in that dreary and strange town again.

They had supper in a room with only two candles lit. The landlord can’t afford a fire, that’s why. Nonetheless, Ishmael was happy with the meal, because they had, not only meat and potatoes for supper, but also dumplings. While eating, the landlord related to Ishmael, that a fellow in a green coat eating with them hates dumplings, and that he only likes steak.

After supper, Ishmael spent the rest of the night as a looker-on. Shortly, a noisy group of mariners, filled with icicles all over their beards and coats, flung the door open. One of them complained about the bad cold on his head.

The landlord gave them liquor to drink. Soon, they were drunk. Interestingly, one of them was not noisy like the others. By the time this chap disappeared in a sudden, his mates panicked and set out to quickly look for him. It seemed like this guy was their favorite. His name was Bulkington. 

Ishmael persistently told the landlord that he doesn’t want to bedroom upstairs, not until he meets the harpooner he’ll be sleeping with. But it was already midnight. Ishmael anxiously demanded from the landlord what kind of person this harpooner really is. 

The landlord grinned. Finally, he stated that the harpooner sells human heads, so he might not be going home tonight. This harpooner was a cannibal! And that made Ishmael very frightened.

The landlord just grinned while repeatedly telling him that he doesn’t need to worry, since this cannibal might not be at home tonight. At last, he had convinced Ishmael to sleep in the harpooneer’s room and accompanied him upstairs. 

The landlord just stayed at the doorstep as he let Ishmael step forward to glance at the room for a second. By the time he turned his back, the landlord had vanished.

But he courageously stayed in the room and began looking around. A shelf there contains fish hooks. And by the wall was a painting of a man striking a whale. There was a large seaman bag by the corner. A tall harpoon stood at the head of the bed. 

Ishmael kept on thinking about this harpooneer for a long time. And because he doesn’t worry anymore, he hopped in bed and slept quite soundly.

But not long after he’s asleep, he hears footsteps of a stranger—it was the harpooner! Ishmael laid perfectly still in bed like a log and quietly observed the harpooneer. The harpooner was dark-complexioned and he is bald. Ishmael believes that this man may be the known white whaleman tanned by the sun.

Anyway, Ishmael thought about jumping out of the window to escape. But that’s just simply impossible. So he thought of bravely talking to this man. But when he saw the black, square tattoos all over his body, he changed his mind. This man’s a savage!

Surprisingly, this harpooner took a little carved image out of his pocket—a Congo idol. That calmed Ishmael down a bit. Besides, the harpooneer hasn’t even noticed him yet.

A Congo idol in Moby Dick Chapter 3: The Spouter-Inn (summary)
A Congo idol.

Now, this savage places his idol over the fireplace. Then he put his hand in his pocket to get some shavings out. He burned these wooden shavings as an offering to his god. After the fire was out, he put his god back into his pocket, lit his tobacco pipe, put the lights out, and then finally hopped on Ishmael.

Ishmael quickly rolled out of bed and cried for the landlord’s help. Immediately, the landlord came. He calmly explained some things to Ishmael concerning the cannibal. Yes, he is a cannibal and a savage, but he will do no harm to anybody friendly. After he had comforted him, Ishmael finally had a peaceful, good night sleep beside the harpooner.

End of Moby Dick Chapter 3: The Spouter-Inn (summary).

Next Chapter: Chapter 4: The Counterpane (summary)

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