Chapter XIII: The Wheelbarrow

Ishmael and Queequeg wheel their gear down to the boat that’ll take them to Nantucket in a wheelbarrow. Queequeg tells a story about how the first time he saw a wheelbarrow, he strapped it to his chest and carried both wheelbarrow and trunk. Then he tells a story about a white naval captain barging into a wedding feast in Queequeg’s village and using the central, honoured drinking bowl as a finger bowl.

On board the ship, “bumpkins” stare and make comments about Ishmael and Queequeg being so companionable. One of them imitates Queequeg behind his back, so Queequeg grabs him, throws him up in the air so as to perform a complete somersault. The man is affronted and complains to the captain. The captain threatens Queequeg. The sails go crazy. The boom crashes back and forth across the deck and knocks the somersaulted bumpkin overboard. Queequeg lassos and secures the boom, dives overboard (it’s cold, December) and rescues the bumpkin, treating it all as if it were no big deal. Ishmael is happy to have such a man as his friend and companion. “From that hour I clove to Queequeg like a barnacle; yeah, till poor Queequeg took his last long dive.”

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