Deborah Hauser

Self inflicted Gaunt spare laid bare

Reading Moby-Dick Chapter 43

Chapter 43 Hark! 

A sailor named Archy  on the middle-watch  hears something and warns that there is someone down in the after-hold that has yet to be seen on deck.  Cue the spooky music.

The sailors are filling the scuttle-butt.  Now most frequently used to mean rumor or gossip, scuttle-butt was originally a term for a water butt on the deck of a ship, providing drinking water. Butt: a cask used for wine, ale, or water; a liquid measure equal to 2 hogsheads or 126 gallons. Hogsheads? Yuck! My etymological inquiry ends here.


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