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The Sea Wolf 114

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Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf

He was but two paces behind when I tumbled into the boat, and as I shoved off with an oar his teeth crunched down upon the blade. The stout wood was crushed like an egg-shell. Maud and I were astounded. A moment later he had dived under the boat, seized the keel in his mouth, and was shaking the boat violently. "My!" said Maud. "Lets go back." I shook my head. "I can do what other men have done, and I know that other men have clubbed seals. But I think Ill leave the bulls alone next time." "I wish you wouldnt," she said. "Now dont say, Please, please," I cried, half angrily, I do believe. She made no reply, and I knew my tone must have hurt her. "I beg your pardon," I said, or shouted, rather, in order to make myself heard above the roar of the rookery. "If you say so, Ill turn and go back; but honestly, Id rather stay." "Now dont say that this is what you get for bringing a woman along," she said. She smiled at me whimsically, gloriously, and I knew there was no need for forgiveness. I rowed a couple of hundred feet along the beach so as to recover my nerves, and then stepped ashore again. "Do be cautious," she called after me. I nodded my head and proceeded to make a flank attack on the nearest harem. All went well until I aimed a blow at an outlying cowls head and fell short. She snorted and tried to scramble away. I ran in close and struck another blow, hitting the shoulder instead of the head. "Watch out!" I heard Maud scream. In my excitement I had not been taking notice of other things, and I looked up to see the lord of the harem charging down upon me. Again I fled to the boat, hotly pursued; but this time Maud made no suggestion of turning back. "It would be better, I imagine, if you let harems alone and devoted your attention to lonely and inoffensive-looking seals," was what she said. "I think I have read something about them. Dr. Jordans book, I believe. They are the young bulls, not old enough to have harems of their own. He called them the holluschickie, or something like that. It seems to me if we find where they haul out--" "It seems to me that your fighting instinct is aroused," I laughed. She flushed quickly and prettily. "Ill admit I dont like defeat any more than you do, or any more than I like the idea of killing such pretty, inoffensive creatures." "Pretty!" I sniffed. "I failed to mark anything pre-eminently pretty about those foamy-mouthed beasts that raced me." "Your point of view," she laughed. "You lacked perspective. Now if you did not have to get so close to the subject--" "The very thing!" I cried. "What I need is a longer club. And theres that broken oar ready to hand." "It just comes to me," she said, "that Captain Larsen was telling me how the men raided the rookeries. They drive the seals, in small herds, a short distance inland before they kill them." "I dont care to undertake the herding of one of those harems," I objected. "But there are the holluschickie," she said. "The holluschickie haul out by themselves, and Dr. Jordan says that paths are left between the harems, and that as long as the holluschickie keep strictly to the path they are unmolested by the masters of the harem." "Theres one now," I said, pointing to a young bull in the water. "Lets watch him, and follow him if he hauls out." He swam directly to the beach and clambered out into a small opening between two harems, the masters of which made warning noises but did not attack him. We watched him travel slowly inward, threading about among the harems along what must have been the path. "Here goes," I said, stepping out; but I confess my heart was in my mouth as I thought of going through the heart of that monstrous herd. "It would be wise to make the boat fast," Maud said. She had stepped out beside me, and I regarded her with wonderment. She nodded her head determinedly. "Yes, Im going with you, so you may as well secure the boat and arm me with a club." "Lets go back," I said dejectedly. "I think tundra grass, will do, after all." "You

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