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The Sea Wolf 120

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Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf

had backed away from him, almost weeping at my inability to shoot him, but not fool enough to put down the gun. I hoped, desperately, that he might commit some hostile act, attempt to strike me or choke me; for in such way only I knew I could be stirred to shoot. "This is Endeavour Island," I said. "Never heard of it," he broke in. "At least, thats our name for it," I amended. "Our?" he queried. "Whos our?" "Miss Brewster and myself. And the Ghost is lying, as you can see for yourself, bow on to the beach." "There are seals here," he said. "They woke me up with their barking, or Id be sleeping yet. I heard them when I drove in last night. They were the first warning that I was on a lee shore. Its a rookery, the kind of a thing Ive hunted for years. Thanks to my brother Death, Ive lighted on a fortune. Its a mint. Whats its bearings?" "Havent the least idea," I said. "But you ought to know quite closely. What were your last observations?" He smiled inscrutably, but did not answer. "Well, wheres all hands?" I asked. "How does it come that you are alone?" I was prepared for him again to set aside my question, and was surprised at the readiness of his reply. "My brother got me inside forty-eight hours, and through no fault of mine. Boarded me in the night with only the watch on deck. Hunters went back on me. He gave them a bigger lay. Heard him offering it. Did it right before me. Of course the crew gave me the go-by. That was to be expected. All hands went over the side, and there I was, marooned on my own vessel. It was Deaths turn, and its all in the family anyway." "But how did you lose the masts?" I asked. "Walk over and examine those lanyards," he said, pointing to where the mizzen-rigging should have been. "They have been cut with a knife!" I exclaimed. "Not quite," he laughed. "It was a neater job. Look again." I looked. The lanyards had been almost severed, with just enough left to hold the shrouds till some severe strain should be put upon them "Cooky did that," he laughed again. "I know, though I didnt spot him at it. Kind of evened up the score a bit." "Good for Mugridge!" I cried. "Yes, thats what I thought when everything went over the side. Only I said it on the other side of my mouth." "But what were you doing while all this was going on?" I asked. "My best, you may be sure, which wasnt much under the circumstances." I turned to re-examine Thomas Mugridges work. "I guess Ill sit down and take the sunshine," I heard Wolf Larsen saying. There was a hint, just a slight hint, of physical feebleness in his voice, and it was so strange that I looked quickly at him. His hand was sweeping nervously across his face, as though he were brushing away cobwebs. I was puzzled. The whole thing was so unlike the Wolf Larsen I had known. "How are your headaches?" I asked. "They still trouble me," was his answer. "I think I have one coming on now." He slipped down from his sitting posture till he lay on the deck. Then he rolled over on his side, his head resting on the biceps of the under arm, the forearm shielding his eyes from the sun. I stood regarding him wonderingly. "Nows your chance, Hump," he said. "I dont understand," I lied, for I thoroughly understood. "Oh, nothing," he added softly, as if he were drowsing; "only youve got me where you want me." "No, I havent," I retorted; "for I want you a few thousand miles away from here." He chuckled, and thereafter spoke no more. He did not stir as I passed by him and went down into the cabin. I lifted the trap in the floor, but for some moments gazed dubiously into the darkness of the lazarette beneath. I hesitated to descend. What if his lying down were a ruse? Pretty, indeed, to be caught there like a rat. I crept softly up the companion-way and peeped at him. He was lying as I had left him. Again I went below; but before I dropped into the lazarette I took the precaution

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