Early on in the book, Ishmael is trying to gauge whether it's safe to sleep in the same room as a harpooner. The guy hasn't shown up yet, and Ishmael asks why. The innkeeper tells Ishmael that the harpooner is trying to sell his head, to the increasing frustration of Ishmael. Finally, Ishmael freaks out on the innkeeper, asking him to stop screwing around and tell him where the harpooner really is. The innkeeper tells Ishmael once again—the guy is selling his aboriginal shrunken head. Ishmael feels a little moronic after that.