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Chapter 96 The Try-Works The American whaleship is outfitted with a brick fireplace or furnace built on its deck between the foremast and mainmast Within the brickwork are situated two very large kettles -- try-pots as they are called This construct is called the try-works because the operation it performs is called trying-out the whales blubber which amounts to boiling the oil out of it In some cases this try-works is broken down and thrown overboard after the hold is full of whale oil the kettles are kept of course One may identify a whaleship -- nowadays it amounts to identifying a model -- by this brickwork on deck together with the five or so whaleboats suspended from davits cranes -- all quite visible Melville tells us that the insides of the try-pots are kept clean and polished But never satisfied with dull and matter-of-fact description he shows off his school-masterly knowledge of mathematical theorems It was in the left-hand try-pot of the Pequod with the soapstone diligently circling round me that I was first indirectly struck by the remarkable fact that in geometry all bodies gliding along the cycloid my soapstone for example will descend from any one point in precisely the same time Showing off again eh Mr Melville We learn that the try works is temporarily affixed to the deck by iron knees and that a reservoir of water under the bricks keeps the heat from burning the wood of the deck The first fire is fed with wood but after the trying-out is under way tried-out scraps of blubber are used for fuel Like a plethoric full of blood burning martyr or a self-consuming misanthrope hater of human kind once ignited the whale supplies his own fuel and burns by his own body Would that he consumed his own smoke
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