Call me Ishmael. Some years ago I set out to sea, having little money and nothing particularly interesting to do on shore. I thought I would sail around the world. Whenever I feel like a cold, wet November morning, and I start following funerals, then I know it’s time to go back to the wide open sea. It always makes me feel better because the sea is magic — it has always been magic. It is an endless source of life and mystery.
When I go to sea I always go as a simple sailor and never as a passenger. Why should I pay when I can get paid for my work? I certainly don’t mind taking orders from an old sea captain. And if I have to clean the decks, or mend a sail, so what? It’s good, honest work and I don’t mind it.
The men you meet at sea are both good and bad, and I always try to get along with them. It’s wise to be friendly with the people you have to live with on a ship.
But the main reason I want to go to sea is the great whale.
I want to be with those who hunt this mysterious monster.
I put a shirt or two into my bag and left for New Bedford, Massachusetts — that’s where you go to find a whaling ship. I didn’t know much about the town and it was late and cold when I arrived. I walked up and down the dark streets, looking for a place to stay.
Finally I saw a small light near the docks and an old sign swinging back and forth in the cold wind of the night.
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