And now for the third and final installment of the Town-Ho’s story, as told by Ishmael to a bunch of now very drunk Peruvians. To review, Radney had committed three increasingly egregious offenses against Skeelkilt: ordered him to scoop pig poop, threatened him with a hammer, and flogged him with a rope. So Skeelkilt plots his revenge: He will wait until Radney is asleep and then club him to death like a baby seal.
But who should show up to save him the trouble? Surprise!
The White Whale himself, in his debut performance. One day he is spotted just
fifty yards away from the Town-Ho, and
everyone goes all atwitter, like girls at a Beyoncé concert. “‘The White
Whale—the White Whale!’ was the cry from captain, mates, and harpooneers, who,
undeterred by fearful rumours, were all anxious to capture so famous and
precious a fish.” Moby Dick
The whaleboats were lowered and launched their attack. Radney’s reached the whale first. And with lance in hand "his bandaged cry was to beach him on the whale’s topmost back.” But as soon as Radney was hauled up, as per his instructions, he slid right off “the whale’s slippery back.” (Of course the whale’s back was slippery, what else did he expect?) Radney was “tossed over into the sea” and
ate him. Or as Moby Dick Ishmael put it: “The
whale seized the swimmer between his jaws; and rearing high up with him, plunged
headlong again, and went down.”
No more Radney. Problem solved.
The rest of the Town-Ho’s story is pretty boring actually. It’s hard to top a guy being swallowed in one piece like a sushi roll. The ship sailed on, eventually reaching an island “where no civilized creature resided.” There most of the crew, headed up by Skeelkilt, deserted the Town-Ho, stole a double war-canoe from the island’s “savages,” sailed to Tahiti, and got jobs on a ship headed for France. The end.
Peruvian friends are skeptical. They think he may have just told ’em a big ol’
fish tale. “Did you get it from an unquestionable source?” asks .
Don Sebastian Ishmael swears “so help me in Heaven”
that he did. “I trod the ship; I knew the crew; I have seen and talked with
Skeelkilt since the death of Radney.”
(It is a Saturday morning at a Planet Fitness on
Nantucket. Ishmael walks in just as Skeelkilt is leaving.)
Skeelkilt: Um, I’m sorry, who are you?
Skeelkilt: Oh right, now I remember.
Skeelkilt: Eh, not much. Pumping iron. A little fishing. You?
Skeelkilt: I see. (Yawns.) Hey, who was that guy you used to be with? Quee-something? Are you two still dating?
Skeelkilt: That little jerk? We had a huge fight and then he got eaten by
Skeelkilt: Yeah, but it’s a great story. Let’s go to Starbucks and I’ll tell you all about it.