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  Herman Melville
1819 - 1891

M o b y   D i c k ,
o r ,   t h e   W h a l e

1 8 5 1


C h a p t e r   4 3
H a r k !

    "HIST! Did you hear that noise, Cabaco?"
     It was the middle-watch; a fair moonlight; the seamen were standing in a cordon, extending from one of the fresh-water butts in the waist, to the scuttle-butt near the taffrail. In this manner, they passed the buckets to fill the scuttle-butt. Standing, for the most part, on the hallowed precincts of the quarter-deck, they were careful not to speak or rustle their feet. From hand to hand, the buckets went in the deepest silence, only broken by the occasional flap of a sail, and the steady hum of the unceasingly advancing keel.
     It was in the midst of this repose, that Archy, one of the cordon, whose post was near the after-hatches, whispered to his neighbor, a Cholo, the words above.
     "Hist! did you hear that noise, Cabaco?"
     "Take the bucket, will ye, Archy? what noise d'ye mean?"
     "There it is again – under the hatches – don't you hear it – a cough – it sounded like a cough."
     "Cough be damned! Pass along that return bucket."
     "There again – there it is! – it sounds like two or three sleepers turning over, now!"
     "Caramba! have done, shipmate, will ye? It's the three soaked biscuits ye eat for supper turning over inside of ye – nothing else. Look to the bucket!"
     "Say what ye will, shipmate; I've sharp ears."
     "Aye, you are the chap, ain't ye, that heard the hum of the old Quakeress's knitting-needles fifty miles at sea from Nantucket; you're the chap."
     "Grin away; we'll see what turns up. Hark ye, Cabaco, there is somebody down in the after-hold that has not yet been seen on deck; and I suspect our old Mogul knows something of it too. I heard Stubb tell Flask, one morning watch, that there was something of that sort in the wind."
     "Tish! the bucket!"