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The Sea Wolf 101







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The Sea Wolf




his life. It must have occurred before he received the knife-thrust, which made only a superficial wound. You must have seen what happened." She shook her head. "I saw nothing. It is just as mysterious to me. He suddenly released me and staggered away. But what shall we do? What shall I do?" "If you will wait, please, until I come back," I answered. I went on deck. Louis was at the wheel. "You may go forard and turn in," I said, taking it from him. He was quick to obey, and I found myself alone on the deck of the Ghost. As quietly as was possible, I clewed up the topsails, lowered the flying jib and staysail, backed the jib over, and flattened the mainsail. Then I went below to Maud. I placed my finger on my lips for silence, and entered Wolf Larsens room. He was in the same position in which I had left him, and his head was rocking--almost writhing--from side to side. "Anything I can do for you?" I asked. He made no reply at first, but on my repeating the question he answered, "No, no; Im all right. Leave me alone till morning." But as I turned to go I noted that his head had resumed its rocking motion. Maud was waiting patiently for me, and I took notice, with a thrill of joy, of the queenly poise of her head and her glorious, calm eyes. Calm and sure they were as her spirit itself. "Will you trust yourself to me for a journey of six hundred miles or so?" I asked. "You mean--?" she asked, and I knew she had guessed aright. "Yes, I mean just that," I replied. "There is nothing left for us but the open boat." "For me, you mean," she said. "You are certainly as safe here as you have been." "No, there is nothing left for us but the open boat," I iterated stoutly. "Will you please dress as warmly as you can, at once, and make into a bundle whatever you wish to bring with you." "And make all haste," I added, as she turned toward her state-room. The lazarette was directly beneath the cabin, and, opening the trap-door in the floor and carrying a candle with me, I dropped down and began overhauling the ships stores. I selected mainly from the canned goods, and by the time I was ready, willing hands were extended from above to receive what I passed up. We worked in silence. I helped myself also to blankets, mittens, oilskins, caps, and such things, from the slop-chest. It was no light adventure, this trusting ourselves in a small boat to so raw and stormy a sea, and it was imperative that we should guard ourselves against the cold and wet. We worked feverishly at carrying our plunder on deck and depositing it amidships, so feverishly that Maud, whose strength was hardly a positive quantity, had to give over, exhausted, and sit on the steps at the break of the poop. This did not serve to recover her, and she lay on her back, on the hard deck, arms stretched out, and whole body relaxed. It was a trick I remembered of my sister, and I knew she would soon be herself again. I knew, also, that weapons would not come in amiss, and I re-entered Wolf Larsens state-room to get his rifle and shot-gun. I spoke to him, but he made no answer, though his head was still rocking from side to side and he was not asleep. "Good-bye, Lucifer," I whispered to myself as I softly closed the door. Next to obtain was a stock of ammunition,--an easy matter, though I had to enter the steerage companion-way to do it. Here the hunters stored the ammunition-boxes they carried in the boats, and here, but a few feet from their noisy revels, I took possession of two boxes. Next, to lower a boat. Not so simple a task for one man. Having cast off the lashings, I hoisted first on the forward tackle, then on the aft, till the boat cleared the rail, when I lowered away, one tackle and then the other, for a couple of feet, till it hung snugly, above the water, against the schooners side. I made certain that it contained the proper equipment of oars, rowlocks, and sail. Water was a consideration, and I robbed every

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