Chapter 121: Midnight — The Forcastle Bulwarks

Yes, when a fellow’s soaked through, it’s hard to be sensible, that’s a fact. And I am about drenched with this spray.

Stubb and Flask are soaking wet, adding lashings to the anchors in the bulwarks during a storm. Moments earlier, Ahab, frenzied, grabbed the lightning rod during a rant to the crew and dared the lightning to strike. Flask is shaken. Stubb is not.

Stubb (sensibly) explains to Flask about probabilities: “Don’t you see, you timber-head, that no harm can come to the holder of the rod, unless the mast is first struck?” Furthermore, Stubb notes that most ships don’t run with lightning rods at all, so Ahab was in no more danger than any other man at sea in a storm — grabbing the rods was actually a fairly safe affect, in the end.

How has Stubb remained so sensible through all this tumult? In speaking to Flask, Stubb draws a parallel between remaining sensible in trying situations and staying dry in a storm. So how does Stubb stay dry in a storm? With coat-tails and cocked hats, of course. These items of outerwear channel the storm down and away from oneself. Perhaps in drawing this parallel, Stubb implies that a certain degree of manners or gentility go a long way in sheltering (or distancing) a person from the world’s roughness. Or perhaps Stubb is Stubb, and that’s all it takes to keep himself dry.

Chapter 121: Midnight — The Forecastle Bulwarks

I take a turn on the floor
To lash the anchors once more.
I don a gentleman’s hat
And the coattails to match
‘Cause they channel the storm.

And so I keep myself dry
But when the lightning comes by
It don’t give me no pause
‘Cause I’ve counted those odds
Like a sensible man.

And my flesh ain’t the same as yesterday,
My mind’s the same,
It never stays in the place I started from.

I’m a sensible man.
I’m a sensible man.
I see the cards in my hand,
And play them out as I can.

I’m a sensible man.
I’m a sensible man.
Don’t waste my time with a plan,
But see the truth as it stands.

(c) and (p) 2010 Patrick Shea
Words and music written by Patrick Shea August 3, 2010
All parts performed, arranged, and recorded by Patrick Shea March 12, 2011