This chapter begins with Ishmael and Queequeg working together to weave a nautical thing called a sword-mat. As they are idly weaving, Ishmael (being an intellectual young man) compares their activity to the Greek myth of the Fates weaving the Loom of Time, in which chance, free will, and necessity all work together to direct human destiny.
These deep thoughts are interrupted by the shouts of the harpooneer Tashtego, "There she blows!" -- meaning he has spotted some whales. The sailors on the Pequod come alive with activity, preparing to pursue the whales. This activity is interrupted by a loud cry. Everyone looks at Captain Ahab, "who was surrounded by five dusky phantoms that seemed fresh formed out of air." What the hell are these phantoms?!
|This is a sword-mat.|