Nor, at any time, by night or day could the mariners now step upon the deck, unless Ahab was before them; either standing in his pivot-hole, or exactly pacing the planks between two undeviating limits,--the main-mast and the mizen; or else they saw him standing in the cabin-scuttle,--his living foot advanced upon the deck, as if to step; his hat slouched heavily over his eyes; so that however motionless he stood, however the days and nights were added on, that he had not swung in his hammock; yet hidden beneath that slouching hat, they could never tell unerringly whether, for all this, his eyes were really closed at times; or whether he was still intently scanning them; no matter, though he stood so in the scuttle for a whole hour on the stretch, and the unheeded night-damp gathered in beads of dew upon that stone-carved coat and hat.
The disclosures before the Parnell Commission, the O'Shea divorce proceedings, the downfall of Mr Parnell and the disruption of the Irish party, assisted him in his task; but the fact remains that by persistent courage and undeviating thoroughness he reduced crime in Ireland to a vanishing point.
Besides, if you regard him very closely, and time him with your watch, you will find that when unmolested, there is an undeviating rhyme between the periods of his jets and the ordinary periods of respiration.
Besides, when making a passage from one feeding-ground to another, the sperm whales, guided by some infallible instinct--say, rather, secret intelligence from the Deity--mostly swim in VEINS, as they are called; continuing their way along a given ocean-line with such undeviating exactitude, that no ship ever sailed her course, by any chart, with one tithe of such marvellous precision.
Long maintaining an enchanted silence, Ahab stood apart; and every time the tetering ship loweringly pitched down her bowsprit, he turned to eye the bright sun's rays produced ahead; and when she profoundly settled by the stern, he turned behind, and saw the sun's rearward place, and how the same yellow rays were blending with his undeviating wake.
The Sperm Whale blows as a clock ticks, with the same undeviating and reliable uniformity.