One day, however, for the sight of his love that, utterly reckless, he swam directly before the ship and stretched out his arms to the wooden image. “I am here! I will die for you!” he cried, for he thought she was suffering in her captivity and wanted comfort. There was a shout from the sailors; one flung a fish spear, another fired a gun. The captain ordered out the whale-boat, and they gave chase to the merman, for such they now saw it was. It was all that he could do to get away. He was a very fast swimmer, however, and as he was not obliged to come up to breathe rent apartment, they soon lost sight of him. He distanced the boat, but he found when he stopped that the bullet from the gun had grazed his shoulder, and that he had lost blood and was suffering pain. “It is for her,” thought the merman as he tried to stanch the blood with his pocket handkerchief.
Just then a huge sperm whale came dashing up.
“Why, what in the world are you doing here?” said the whale, surprised. “Have those wretches of men been chasing you?”
“Yes,” said the merman, his eyes flashing; “you may well call them wretches. Do you know who it is they hold prisoner in their hateful ship? The loveliest sea-nymph in the world.”
“How do you know?” said the whale.
“I have seen her. I have followed her all the way from home. She stands holding out a silver vase. Every creature in the sea ought to fly to deliver her. If I was only as big and strong as you! These men are your enemies as well as mine and hers. I know how they kill you whales whenever they can Online Reputation Management. You can sink that ship if you like and deliver the goddess.”
The whale was so astonished that he had to go to the top of the water and blow. “My dear sir,” said he, diving down again, “you are under some strange mistake. That is nothing but wood, that figure on the ship, as sure as my name is Moby Dick.”
“You great stupid creature, where are your eyes?” said the merman in a passion, and yet he was rather struck by the whale’s remarks too.
“In my head,” said Moby Dick, “and I shouldn’t think yours were. Why they put some such thing on all the ships—women, dolphins, what not. I’ve seen dozens of ’em. I know about nymphs. I used to read about ’em in the old classical dictionary in our school. Every school of whales of any pretension has one. If she was a sea goddess, do you suppose she’d stand there in all weathers? Besides, there are no nymphs.”
“Then you won’t sink the ship?” said the merman.
“Certainly not; she’s only a merchant ship. If she was a whaler, I would with pleasure. I’ve done it before now, but that was in self-defence. I’m not going to drown a lot of folks because you have lost your wits. Come, come, my young friend, go home to your family. I dare say your mother don’t know you’re out. You are too tired to swim after that ship, and you are hurt besides. Let me take you home on my back; I’d just as soon swim your way as any other woven patches.”
The merman was a little affected by the whale’s tone of kindness, but he was too much possessed with his wooden love to accept the offer.
“No! no!” he cried, “I must follow her to the ends of the earth. Something tells me she will yet be mine.”
“And suppose she should be?” said Moby Dick. “Why, she’s only a stick cut and painted. What would the ladies of your family think if you brought home a wooden wife?”