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The Sea Wolf 100

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Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf

I drew the knife at my hip and sprang forward a second time. But something had happened. They were reeling apart. I was close upon him, my knife uplifted, but I withheld the blow. I was puzzled by the strangeness of it. Maud was leaning against the wall, one hand out for support; but he was staggering, his left hand pressed against his forehead and covering his eyes, and with the right he was groping about him in a dazed sort of way. It struck against the wall, and his body seemed to express a muscular and physical relief at the contact, as though he had found his bearings, his location in space as well as something against which to lean. Then I saw red again. All my wrongs and humiliations flashed upon me with a dazzling brightness, all that I had suffered and others had suffered at his hands, all the enormity of the mans very existence. I sprang upon him, blindly, insanely, and drove the knife into his shoulder. I knew, then, that it was no more than a flesh wound,--I had felt the steel grate on his shoulder-blade,-- and I raised the knife to strike at a more vital part. But Maud had seen my first blow, and she cried, "Dont! Please dont!" I dropped my arm for a moment, and a moment only. Again the knife was raised, and Wolf Larsen would have surely died had she not stepped between. Her arms were around me, her hair was brushing my face. My pulse rushed up in an unwonted manner, yet my rage mounted with it. She looked me bravely in the eyes. "For my sake," she begged. "I would kill him for your sake!" I cried, trying to free my arm without hurting her. "Hush!" she said, and laid her fingers lightly on my lips. I could have kissed them, had I dared, even then, in my rage, the touch of them was so sweet, so very sweet. "Please, please," she pleaded, and she disarmed me by the words, as I was to discover they would ever disarm me. I stepped back, separating from her, and replaced the knife in its sheath. I looked at Wolf Larsen. He still pressed his left hand against his forehead. It covered his eyes. His head was bowed. He seemed to have grown limp. His body was sagging at the hips, his great shoulders were drooping and shrinking forward. "Van, Weyden!" he called hoarsely, and with a note of fright in his voice. "Oh, Van Weyden! where are you?" I looked at Maud. She did not speak, but nodded her head. "Here I am," I answered, stepping to his side. "What is the matter?" "Help me to a seat," he said, in the same hoarse, frightened voice. "I am a sick man; a very sick man, Hump," he said, as he left my sustaining grip and sank into a chair. His head dropped forward on the table and was buried in his hands. From time to time it rocked back and forward as with pain. Once, when he half raised it, I saw the sweat standing in heavy drops on his forehead about the roots of his hair. "I am a sick man, a very sick man," he repeated again, and yet once again. "What is the matter?" I asked, resting my hand on his shoulder. "What can I do for you?" But he shook my hand off with an irritated movement, and for a long time I stood by his side in silence. Maud was looking on, her face awed and frightened. What had happened to him we could not imagine. "Hump," he said at last, "I must get into my bunk. Lend me a hand. Ill be all right in a little while. Its those damn headaches, I believe. I was afraid of them. I had a feeling--no, I dont know what Im talking about. Help me into my bunk." But when I got him into his bunk he again buried his face in his hands, covering his eyes, and as I turned to go I could hear him murmuring, "I am a sick man, a very sick man." Maud looked at me inquiringly as I emerged. I shook my head, saying: "Something has happened to him. What, I dont know. He is helpless, and frightened, I imagine, for the first time in

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