But the soft bread, sugar, and bottled cider, Captain Delano would have given the whites alone, and in chief Don Benito; but the latter objected; which disinterestedness not a little pleased the American; and so mouthfuls all around were given alike to whites and blacks; excepting one bottle of cider, which Babo insisted upon setting aside for his master. A Note on the Text, Appendix A: Representations of Slave Revolt and the Slave Trade, Appendix B: Herman Melville on Race, Slavery, Colonialism, and Violence, Appendix C: The Haitian Revolution and the Black Legend, Appendix D: Anti-Slavery Rhetoric and Poetry, Appendix E: Melville and the Theory of Short Fiction. “The Broadview Press edition of Herman Melville’s ‘Benito Cereno’ is vital for teaching, research, and exploring the power of American short fiction. One extended arm of the ghost seemed beckoning the whites to avenge it.
As yet he has not. Good fellows, thought Captain Delano, a little training would make fine sailors of them. Weighing their remonstrances a moment, Captain Delano felt bound to remain; appointing his chief mate–an athletic and resolute man, who had been a privateer’s-man–to head the party. But the first idea, though it might naturally have occurred to an indifferent observer, and, in some respect, had not hitherto been wholly a stranger to Captain Delano’s mind, yet, now that, in an incipient way, he began to regard the stranger’s conduct something in the light of an intentional affront, of course the idea of lunacy was virtually vacated. Skip to content Of him Captain Delano sought permission to serve out the water, so that all might share alike, and none injure themselves by unfair excess. But while this was being done, the American observed that, though his original offer of assistance had been hailed with hectic animation, yet now when it was reduced to a business transaction, indifference and apathy were betrayed. “For some one else to undo,” muttered back the old man, plying his fingers harder than ever, the knot being now nearly completed. Such discretion was here evinced as quite wiped away, in the visitor’s eyes, any blemish of impropriety which might have attached to the attendant, from the indecorous conferences before mentioned; showing, too, that if the servant were to blame, it might be more the master’s fault than his own, since, when left to himself, he could conduct thus well. But if not a lunatic, what then?
Availability: Worldwide. As the three passed aft, the American could not but think it another strange instance of his host’s capriciousness, this being shaved with such uncommon punctuality in the middle of the day. When Don Benito returned, the American was pained to observe that his hopefulness, like the sudden kindling in his cheek, was but febrile and transient. Among others, four curious points recurred: First, the affair of the Spanish lad assailed with a knife by the slave boy; an act winked at by Don Benito.
“Ah–yes,” answered the Spaniard, starting, as from dreams into realities; then turning upon Captain Delano, he said that ere long he would resume the conversation. Captain Delano would have supported him, but the servant was more alert, who, with one hand sustaining his master, with the other applied the cordial.
Not that Captain Delano had entirely credited such things. “This is an uncommonly intelligent fellow of yours, Don Benito,” whispered Captain Delano across the table. The absence of the water-pipes now proved as fatal to life as before their presence had menaced it.
Loved each and every part of this book. But, as if not equally obtuse, three sailors, from three different and distant parts of the ship, splashed into the sea, swimming after their captain, as if intent upon his rescue. “Doubtless, doubtless,” muttered Don Benito. Well, well; these long calms have a morbid effect on the mind, I’ve often heard, though I never believed it before. But in many of its details, especially in reference to the more calamitous parts, such as the fatalities among the seamen, the consequent prolonged beating about, the past sufferings from obstinate calms, and still continued suffering from thirst; in all these points, as well as others, Don Benito’s story had corroborated not only the wailing ejaculations of the indiscriminate multitude, white and black, but likewise–what seemed impossible to be counterfeit–by the very expression and play of every human feature, which Captain Delano saw. It sets her the other way, too, for the time. When at last they had worked round into the Pacific, their spars and sails were so damaged, and so inadequately handled by the surviving mariners, most of whom were become invalids, that, unable to lay her northerly course by the wind, which was powerful, the unmanageable ship, for successive days and nights, was blown northwestward, where the breeze suddenly deserted her, in unknown waters, to sultry calms. The visitor’s curiosity was roused to learn the particulars of those mishaps which had brought about such absenteeism, with its consequences; because, though deriving some inkling of the voyage from the wails which at the first moment had greeted him, yet of the details no clear understanding had been had. But plucking up courage, he at last accosted Don Benito, renewing the expression of his benevolent interest, adding, that did he (Captain Delano) but know the particulars of the ship’s misfortunes, he would, perhaps, be better able in the end to relieve them. At this moment the young sailor’s eye was again fixed on the whisperers, and Captain Delano thought he observed a lurking significance in it, as if silent signs, of some Freemason sort, had that instant been interchanged. Viewing him in this light, it seemed but a natural token of the perverse habit induced by a long course of such hard self-restraint, that, notwithstanding the present condition of his ship, the Spaniard should still persist in a demeanor, which, however harmless, or, it may be, appropriate, in a well-appointed vessel, such as the San Dominick might have been at the outset of the voyage, was anything but judicious now. Coupling these points, they seemed somewhat contradictory. “And now, Don Amasa, please go on with your talk about the gale, and all that; master can hear, and, between times, master can answer.”, “Ah yes, these gales,” said Captain Delano; “but the more I think of your voyage, Don Benito, the more I wonder, not at the gales, terrible as they must have been, but at the disastrous interval following them. Why decline the invitation to visit the sealer that evening? James Russell Lowell, “The Present Crisis” (1844), 5. Herman Melville’s 1855 novella Benito Cereno, based on a real-life event, follows Captain Amasa Delano’s discovery of a ship on which a slave revolt has taken place. “Ah, I thought so. Tattered sails and warped yards were soon brought into some trim. From Frederick Douglass, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” (5 July 1852), 3. From opposite sides, there were, beneath the poop, two approaches to the cabin; one further forward than the other, and consequently communicating with a longer passage. For a time, the attack wavered; the negroes wedging themselves to beat it back; the half-repelled sailors, as yet unable to gain a footing, fighting as troopers in the saddle, one leg sideways flung over the bulwarks, and one without, plying their cutlasses like carters’ whips. However, no guns were seen. But the weapon was wrenched away, and the assailant dashed down into the bottom of the boat, which now, with disentangled oars, began to speed through the sea. Possibly, the vexation might have been something different, were it not for the brisk confidence inspired by the breeze. Turning, he saw Babo, now for the time acting, under the pilot, his original part of captain of the slaves. By way of keeping his mind out of mischief till the boat should arrive, he tried to occupy it with turning over and over, in a purely speculative sort of way, some lesser peculiarities of the captain and crew. But see, your steward here has features more regular than King George’s of England; and yet there he nods, and bows, and smiles; a king, indeed–the king of kind hearts and polite fellows. Yes, she has fallen afoul of the bubbling tide-rip there. At present neither men nor cannon were seen, though huge ring-bolts and other rusty iron fixtures of the wood-work hinted of twenty-four-pounders. Would that, in both respects, it was so ever, and with all men.”, “You generalize, Don Benito; and mournfully enough. Again his mind wandered; but he rallied, and less obscurely proceeded. Introduction But the pale sailors’ teeth were set; not a word was spoken; and, in five minutes more, the ship was won. Meantime, the whole host of negroes, as if inflamed at the sight of their jeopardized captain, impended in one sooty avalanche over the bulwarks.
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