Study Guide

Moby-Dick Chapter 128: The Pequod meets the Rachel

By Herman Melville

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Chapter 128: The Pequod meets the Rachel

  • The next day, the Pequod meets a ship called the Rachel, which has seen Moby Dick recently and is looking for a lost boat.
  • The captain of the Rachel, who is a Nantucketer, comes on board the Pequod.
  • The Rachel’s captain explains that, yesterday afternoon, three of his boats were hunting a group of whales when Moby Dick was sighted. They lowered their spare boat, which set off in pursuit of Moby Dick.
  • When the other boats went to look for the spare boat, it was nowhere to be seen.
  • The men of the Rachel found white water, suggesting that the whaling boat crew had harpooned Moby Dick, but he dragged them rapidly away.
  • The ship has been on the lookout for its missing boat ever since.
  • The captain of the Rachel asks Captain Ahab if the Pequod will help search for the missing men.
  • Stubb is surprised by the request and whispers a guess to Flask: there was something or someone especially valuable on board that missing boat.
  • The Rachel’s captain admits that his own son is on the missing boat and begs Ahab to help, even just for a day. He offers to charter the ship and pay for their help.
  • Ahab refuses to help the captain of the Rachel, whose name is Captain Gardiner, because he doesn’t want to lose any time in hunting Moby Dick.
  • He goes back into his cabin.
  • Captain Gardiner returns silently to his ship.
  • The men on the Pequod can see the Rachel moving slowly back and forth along the water in the distance, searching for the missing boat.

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