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Introduction

One morning, when Gre­gor Sam­sa woke from trou­bled dreams, he found him­s­elf trans­for­med in his bed into a hor­ri­ble ver­min. He lay on his armour-like back, and if he lifted his head a litt­le he could see his brown bel­ly, slight­ly domed and divi­ded by arches into stiff sec­tions. The bed­ding was hard­ly able to cover it and see­med ready to sli­de off any moment. His many legs, piti­ful­ly thin com­pa­red with the size of the rest of him, waved about hel­pless­ly as he loo­ked. “What’s hap­pen­ed to me?” he thought. It wasn’t a dream. His room, a pro­per human room alt­hough a litt­le too small, lay peace­ful­ly bet­ween its four fami­li­ar walls.

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But huma­ne Star­buck was too late. At the instant of the dart an ulce­rous jet shot from this cru­el wound, and goa­ded by it into more than suf­fera­ble anguish, the wha­le now spou­ting thick blood, with swift fury blind­ly dar­ted at the craft, bespat­te­ring them and their glo­ry­ing crews all over with show­ers of gore, cap­si­zing Flask’s boat and mar­ring the bows. It was his death stro­ke. For, by this time, so spent was he by loss of blood, that he hel­pless­ly rol­led away from the wreck he had made; lay pan­ting on his side, impot­ent­ly flap­ped with his stum­ped fin, then over and over slow­ly revol­ved like a waning world; tur­ned up the white secrets of his bel­ly; lay like a log, and died. It was most piteous, that last expi­ring spout. As when by unse­en hands the water is gra­dual­ly drawn off from some migh­ty foun­tain, and with half-stif­led melan­cho­ly gurg­lings the spray-column lowers and lowers to the ground—so the last long dying spout of the wha­le.

 

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Soon, while the crews were awai­ting the arri­val of the ship, the body show­ed sym­ptoms of sin­king with all its trea­su­res unrif­led. Imme­dia­te­ly, by Starbuck’s orders, lines were secu­red to it at dif­fe­rent points, so that ere long every boat was a buoy; the sun­ken wha­le being sus­pen­ded a few inches bene­ath them by the cords. By very heed­ful manage­ment, when the ship drew nigh, the wha­le was trans­fer­red to her side, and was stron­gly secu­red the­re by the stif­fest flu­ke-chains, for it was plain that unless arti­fi­ci­al­ly upheld, the body would at once sink to the bot­tom.

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