Though Stubb did not understand the Bouton part of the inscription, yet the word rose, and the bulbous figure-head put together, sufficiently explained the whole to him.
"A wooden rose-bud, eh?" he cried with his hand to his nose, "that will do very well; but how like all creation it smells!"
Now in order to hold direct communication with the people on deck, he had to pull round the bows to the starboard side, and thus come close to the blasted whale; and so talk over it.
Arrived then at this spot, with one hand still to his nose, he bawled- "Bouton-de-Rose, ahoy! are there any of you Bouton-de-Roses that speak English?"
"Yes," rejoined a Guernsey-man from the bulwarks, who turned out to be the chief-mate.
"Well, then, my Bouton-de-Rose-bud, have you seen the White Whale?"
"The White Whale- a Sperm Whale- Moby Dick, have ye seen him?
"Never heard of such a whale. Cachalot Blanche! White Whale- no."
"Very good, then; good bye now, and I'll call again in a minute."
Then rapidly pulling back towards the Pequod, and seeing Ahab leaning over the quarter-deck rail awaiting his report, he moulded his two hands into a trumpet and shouted- "No, Sir! No!" Upon which Ahab retired, and Stubb returned to the Frenchman.
He now perceived that the Guernsey-man, who had just got into the chains, and was using a cutting- spade, had slung his nose in a sort of bag.
"What's the matter with your nose, there?" said Stubb. "Broke it?"
"I wish it was broken, or that I didn't have any nose at all!" answered the Guernsey-man, who did not seem to relish the job he was at very much. "But what are you holding yours for?"
"Oh, nothing! It's a wax nose; I have to hold it on. Fine day, ain't it? Air rather gardenny, I should say; throw us a bunch of posies, will ye, Bouton-de-Rose?"
"What in the devil's name do you want here?" roared the Guernseyman, flying into a sudden passion.
"Oh! keep cool- cool? yes, that's the word! why don't you pack those whales in ice while you're working at 'em? But joking aside, though; do you know, Rose-bud, that it's all nonsense trying to get any oil out of such whales? As for that dried up one, there, he hasn't a gill in his whole carcase."
"I know that well enough; but, d'ye see, the Captain here won't believe it; this is his first voyage; he was a Cologne manufacturer before. But come aboard, and mayhap he'll believe you, if he won't me; and so I'll get out of this dirty scrape."
"Anything to oblige ye, my sweet and pleasant fellow," rejoined Stubb, and with that he soon mounted to the deck. There a queer scene presented itself. The sailors, in tasselled caps of red worsted, were getting the heavy tackles in readiness for the whales. But they worked rather slow and talked very fast, and seemed in anything but a good humor. All their noses upwardly projected from their faces like so many jibbooms. Now and then pairs of them would drop their work, and run up to the mast-head to get some fresh air. Some thinking they would catch the plague, dipped oakum in coal-tar, and at intervals
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