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The Sea Wolf 12







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The Sea Wolf




was thrillingly imperative. The boy glowered sullenly, but refused to move. Then came another stirring of Wolf Larsens tremendous strength. It was utterly unexpected, and it was over and done with between the ticks of two seconds. He had sprung fully six feet across the deck and driven his fist into the others stomach. At the same moment, as though I had been struck myself, I felt a sickening shock in the pit of my stomach. I instance this to show the sensitiveness of my nervous organization at the time, and how unused I was to spectacles of brutality. The cabin-boy--and he weighed one hundred and sixty-five at the very least--crumpled up. His body wrapped limply about the fist like a wet rag about a stick. He lifted into the air, described a short curve, and struck the deck alongside the corpse on his head and shoulders, where he lay and writhed about in agony. "Well?" Larsen asked of me. "Have you made up your mind?" I had glanced occasionally at the approaching schooner, and it was now almost abreast of us and not more than a couple of hundred yards away. It was a very trim and neat little craft. I could see a large, black number on one of its sails, and I had seen pictures of pilot-boats. "What vessel is that?" I asked. "The pilot-boat Lady Mine," Wolf Larsen answered grimly. "Got rid of her pilots and running into San Francisco. Shell be there in five or six hours with this wind." "Will you please signal it, then, so that I may be put ashore." "Sorry, but Ive lost the signal book overboard," he remarked, and the group of hunters grinned. I debated a moment, looking him squarely in the eyes. I had seen the frightful treatment of the cabin-boy, and knew that I should very probably receive the same, if not worse. As I say, I debated with myself, and then I did what I consider the bravest act of my life. I ran to the side, waving my arms and shouting: "Lady Mine ahoy! Take me ashore! A thousand dollars if you take me ashore!" I waited, watching two men who stood by the wheel, one of them steering. The other was lifting a megaphone to his lips. I did not turn my head, though I expected every moment a killing blow from the human brute behind me. At last, after what seemed centuries, unable longer to stand the strain, I looked around. He had not moved. He was standing in the same position, swaying easily to the roll of the ship and lighting a fresh cigar. "What is the matter? Anything wrong?" This was the cry from the Lady Mine. "Yes!" I shouted, at the top of my lungs. "Life or death! One thousand dollars if you take me ashore!" "Too much Frisco tanglefoot for the health of my crew!" Wolf Larsen shouted after. "This one"--indicating me with his thumb-- "fancies sea-serpents and monkeys just now!" The man on the Lady Mine laughed back through the megaphone. The pilot-boat plunged past. "Give him hell for me!" came a final cry, and the two men waved their arms in farewell. I leaned despairingly over the rail, watching the trim little schooner swiftly increasing the bleak sweep of ocean between us. And she would probably be in San Francisco in five or six hours! My head seemed bursting. There was an ache in my throat as though my heart were up in it. A curling wave struck the side and splashed salt spray on my lips. The wind puffed strongly, and the Ghost heeled far over, burying her lee rail. I could hear the water rushing down upon the deck. When I turned around, a moment later, I saw the cabin-boy staggering to his feet. His face was ghastly white, twitching with suppressed pain. He looked very sick. "Well, Leach, are you going forard?" Wolf Larsen asked. "Yes, sir," came the answer of a spirit cowed. "And you?" I was asked. "Ill give you a thousand--" I began, but was interrupted. "Stow that! Are you going to take up your duties as cabin-boy? Or do I have to take you in hand?" What was I to do? To be brutally beaten, to be killed perhaps, would not help my case. I looked steadily into the cruel grey eyes. They might have

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