Archy & Cabaço

“There again—there it is!—it sounds like two or three sleepers turning over, now!”

“Caramba! have done, shipmate, will ye? It’s the three soaked biscuits ye eat for supper turning over inside of ye—nothing else. Look to the bucket!”

“Say what ye will, shipmate; I’ve sharp ears.”

“Aye, you are the chap, ain’t ye, that heard the hum of the old Quakeress’s knitting-needles fifty miles at sea from Nantucket; you’re the chap.”

“Grin away; we’ll see what turns up. Hark ye, Cabaco, there is somebody down in the after-hold that has not yet been seen on deck; and I suspect our old Mogul knows something of it too. I heard Stubb tell Flask, one morning watch, that there was something of that sort in the wind.”


Forecastlemen. Chapter 43: Hark! introduces us to some typical forecastlemen by the names of Archy and Cabaço. Attending to a late-night duty, Archy swears he hears something like human voices coming from the aft hold, as if there were sleeping men there. It is later revealed that Captain Ahab has kept hidden away a special crew of exotic whaling men, probably from the Philippines, as well as a mystical headsman, the Parsee Fedallah.

Archy’s boast of ‘sharp ears’ was used in the construction of a unique ability, wherein Archy may in effect ‘read the cards’ in a specific situation, and pre-choose, presumably, the lesser of two evils. Çabaco, as foil, doesn’t care a lick for Archy’s predictions, or what he claims to hear—he only wants to finish his shipboard duty, and therefore falls under the fastidious Bildad in boosting oil yield.

(see Bildad & Peleg)

An attempt was made to include the members of Ahab’s ghostly crew as a group of fairly average forecastlemen who, when whaling in the same boat, synergistically enhance each other’s strength. Perhaps this will be revisited in the 2nd Edition, but for now the special power of Ahab’s stowaways is represented in Fedallah’s infernal ability to throw away a faceless crewmate to become FAST in one turn.

(see Fedallah)

Original Images Courtesy of the University of Washington Freshwater and Marine Image Bank (detail).