A week ago, I got a long-standing (sic) ligament tear in my left knee fixed - two year old football injury. Since I obviously had to spend time in hospital I took "Moby Dick" along, the book I had been reading on and off and had still not finished. After the operation, I realized the conincidence. The one-legged captain Ahab going tock-tock-tock with his ivory leg on the deck of his ship, and me limping with the walker going tock-tock. An omen and a portent, Ishmael would have said. Had I not read the book almost as long as I had had the injury? In any case, with my one leg immobilized and in pain, I did feel more sympathetic towards Ahab than I would have otherwise.
(Ahab having worn out his ivory leg, is waiting for the ship's carpenter to make him another out of a whale's jaw bone. He soliloquizes)
Oh, Life! Here I am, proud as a Greek god, and yet standing debtor to this blockhead (the carpenter) for a bone to stand on! Cursed be the mortal inter-indebtedness which will not do away with ledgers. I would be free as air; and I'm down in the whole world's books. I am so rich, I could have given bid for bid with the wealthiest Praetorians at the auction of the Roman empire; and yet I owe for the flesh in the tongue I brag with. By heavens! I'll get a crucible, and into it, and dissolve myself down to one small, compendious vertebra. So.