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The Sea Wolf 11

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Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf

do you say? And mind you, its for your own souls sake. It will be the making of you. You might learn in time to stand on your own legs, and perhaps to toddle along a bit." But I took no notice. The sails of the vessel I had seen off to the south-west had grown larger and plainer. They were of the same schooner-rig as the Ghost, though the hull itself, I could see, was smaller. She was a pretty sight, leaping and flying toward us, and evidently bound to pass at close range. The wind had been momentarily increasing, and the sun, after a few angry gleams, had disappeared. The sea had turned a dull leaden grey and grown rougher, and was now tossing foaming whitecaps to the sky. We were travelling faster, and heeled farther over. Once, in a gust, the rail dipped under the sea, and the decks on that side were for the moment awash with water that made a couple of the hunters hastily lift their feet. "That vessel will soon be passing us," I said, after a moments pause. "As she is going in the opposite direction, she is very probably bound for San Francisco." "Very probably," was Wolf Larsens answer, as he turned partly away from me and cried out, "Cooky! Oh, Cooky!" The Cockney popped out of the galley. "Wheres that boy? Tell him I want him." "Yes, sir;" and Thomas Mugridge fled swiftly aft and disappeared down another companion-way near the wheel. A moment later he emerged, a heavy-set young fellow of eighteen or nineteen, with a glowering, villainous countenance, trailing at his heels. "Ere e is, sir," the cook said. But Wolf Larsen ignored that worthy, turning at once to the cabin- boy. "Whats your name, boy? "George Leach, sir," came the sullen answer, and the boys bearing showed clearly that he divined the reason for which he had been summoned. "Not an Irish name," the captain snapped sharply. "OToole or McCarthy would suit your mug a damn sight better. Unless, very likely, theres an Irishman in your mothers woodpile." I saw the young fellows hands clench at the insult, and the blood crawl scarlet up his neck. "But let that go," Wolf Larsen continued. "You may have very good reasons for forgetting your name, and Ill like you none the worse for it as long as you toe the mark. Telegraph Hill, of course, is your port of entry. It sticks out all over your mug. Tough as they make them and twice as nasty. I know the kind. Well, you can make up your mind to have it taken out of you on this craft. Understand? Who shipped you, anyway?" "McCready and Swanson." "Sir!" Wolf Larsen thundered. "McCready and Swanson, sir," the boy corrected, his eyes burning with a bitter light. "Who got the advance money?" "They did, sir." "I thought as much. And damned glad you were to let them have it. Couldnt make yourself scarce too quick, with several gentlemen you may have heard of looking for you." The boy metamorphosed into a savage on the instant. His body bunched together as though for a spring, and his face became as an infuriated beasts as he snarled, "Its a--" "A what?" Wolf Larsen asked, a peculiar softness in his voice, as though he were overwhelmingly curious to hear the unspoken word. The boy hesitated, then mastered his temper. "Nothin, sir. I take it back." "And you have shown me I was right." This with a gratified smile. "How old are you?" "Just turned sixteen, sir," "A lie. Youll never see eighteen again. Big for your age at that, with muscles like a horse. Pack up your kit and go forard into the focsle. Youre a boat-puller now. Youre promoted; see?" Without waiting for the boys acceptance, the captain turned to the sailor who had just finished the gruesome task of sewing up the corpse. "Johansen, do you know anything about navigation?" "No, sir," "Well, never mind; youre mate just the same. Get your traps aft into the mates berth." "Ay, ay, sir," was the cheery response, as Johansen started forward. In the meantime the erstwhile cabin-boy had not moved. "What are you waiting for?" Wolf Larsen demanded. "I didnt sign for boat-puller, sir," was the reply. "I signed for cabin-boy. An I dont want no boat-pullin in mine." "Pack up and go forard." This time Wolf Larsens command

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