Strange Bedfellows

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A peddler of heads too—perhaps the heads of his own brothers.

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He might take a fancy to mine—heavens! Look at that tomahawk! But there was no time for shuddering, for now the savage went about something that completely fascinated my attention, and convinced me that he must indeed be a heathen. Remembering the embalmed head, at first I almost thought that this black manikin was a real baby preserved in some similar manner. But seeing that it was not at all limber, and that it glistened a good deal like polished ebony, I concluded that it must be nothing but a wooden idol, which indeed it proved to be.

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For now the savage goes up to the empty fireplace, and removing the papered fireboard, sets up this little hunchbacked image, like a tenpin, between the andirons. The chimney jambs and all the bricks inside were very sooty, so that I thought this fireplace made a very appropriate little shrine or chapel for his Congo idol.

All these queer proceedings increased my uncomfortableness, and seeing him now exhibiting strong symptoms of concluding his business operations, and jumping into bed with me, I thought it was high time, now or never, before the light was put out, to break the spell in which I had so long been bound.

Children are all foreigners. We treat them as such. But the interval I spent in deliberating what to say was a fatal one. Taking up his tomahawk from the table, he examined the head of it for an instant, and then holding it to the light, with his mouth at the handle, he puffed out great clouds of tobacco smoke. The next moment the light was extinguished, and this wild cannibal, tomahawk between his teeth, sprang into bed with me.

I sang out, I could not help it now; and giving a sudden grunt of astonishment he began feeling me. Stammering out something, I knew not what, I rolled away from him against the wall, and then conjured him, whoever or whatever he might be, to keep quiet, and let me get up and light the lamp again.

But his guttural responses satisfied me at once that he but ill comprehended my meaning. Tell-ee me who-ee be, or dam-me, I kill-e! But thank heaven, at that moment the landlord came into the room light in hand, and leaping from the bed I ran up to him. Queequeg, look here—you sabbee me, I sabbee you—this man sleepe you—you sabbee?

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He really did this in not only a civil but a really kind and charitable way. I stood looking at him a moment.

For all his tattooings he was on the whole a clean, comely looking cannibal. Better sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunken Christian. From Moby Dick. After writing two successful adventure novels, Typee and Omoo , based on his experiences as a sailor, Melville published the more allegorical Mardi in ; it did not sell well.

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He wrote a letter to author and attorney Richard Henry Dana Jr. Are the values espoused by Somali pirates so very different from those upon which America was founded?

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