Ishmael goes down to breakfast, exchanging a few words with the landlord.
Ishmael knows the landlord was teasing him with sinister stories about Queequeg before, but he doesn’t hold a grudge − Ishmael likes a good laugh.
The inn is full of different sailors. Ishmael can tell how long they’ve been ashore from their complexions: those who are more tanned and healthy-looking have only come back recently, while those who’ve been on land for a while are pale and sicklier-looking. Queequeg looks healthiest of all – after all, he has the darkest skin.
Ishmael expects breakfast to be fun and jolly and for everyone to tell whaling stories, but instead the meal is silent and everyone seems awkward and embarrassed.
Even though they’re all bold sailors, they’re not the most socially adventurous guys around.
Queequeg isn’t embarrassed − he’s just cool and collected. His table manners are pretty bad, though: he brings his harpoon to breakfast so that he can use it to reach across the table and pick things up, and he only eats rare steak.
After the meal, Queequeg smokes his tomahawk-pipe, and Ishmael goes for a stroll.