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The Sea Wolf 124

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Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf

vision. It was uncanny. I felt myself a ghost, what of my invisibility. I waved my hand back and forth, of course without effect; but when the moving shadow fell across his face I saw at once that he was susceptible to the impression. His face became more expectant and tense as he tried to analyze and identify the impression. He knew that he had responded to something from without, that his sensibility had been touched by a changing something in his environment; but what it was he could not discover. I ceased waving my hand, so that the shadow remained stationary. He slowly moved his head back and forth under it and turned from side to side, now in the sunshine, now in the shade, feeling the shadow, as it were, testing it by sensation. I, too, was busy, trying to reason out how he was aware of the existence of so intangible a thing as a shadow. If it were his eyeballs only that were affected, or if his optic nerve were not wholly destroyed, the explanation was simple. If otherwise, then the only conclusion I could reach was that the sensitive skin recognized the difference of temperature between shade and sunshine. Or, perhaps,--who can tell?--it was that fabled sixth sense which conveyed to him the loom and feel of an object close at hand. Giving over his attempt to determine the shadow, he stepped on deck and started forward, walking with a swiftness and confidence which surprised me. And still there was that hint of the feebleness of the blind in his walk. I knew it now for what it was. To my amused chagrin, he discovered my shoes on the forecastle head and brought them back with him into the galley. I watched him build the fire and set about cooking food for himself; then I stole into the cabin for my marmalade and underclothes, slipped back past the galley, and climbed down to the beach to deliver my barefoot report.


"Its too bad the Ghost has lost her masts. Why we could sail away in her. Dont you think we could, Humphrey?" I sprang excitedly to my feet. "I wonder, I wonder," I repeated, pacing up and down. Mauds eyes were shining with anticipation as they followed me. She had such faith in me! And the thought of it was so much added power. I remembered Michelets "To man, woman is as the earth was to her legendary son; he has but to fall down and kiss her breast and he is strong again." For the first time I knew the wonderful truth of his words. Why, I was living them. Maud was all this to me, an unfailing, source of strength and courage. I had but to look at her, or think of her, and be strong again. "It can be done, it can be done," I was thinking and asserting aloud. "What men have done, I can do; and if they have never done this before, still I can do it." "What? for goodness sake," Maud demanded. "Do be merciful. What is it you can do?" "We can do it," I amended. "Why, nothing else than put the masts back into the Ghost and sail away." "Humphrey!" she exclaimed. And I felt as proud of my conception as if it were already a fact accomplished. "But how is it possible to be done?" she asked. "I dont know," was my answer. "I know only that I am capable of doing anything these days." I smiled proudly at her--too proudly, for she dropped her eyes and was for the moment silent. "But there is Captain Larsen," she objected. "Blind and helpless," I answered promptly, waving him aside as a straw. "But those terrible hands of his! You know how he leaped across the opening of the lazarette." "And you know also how I crept about and avoided him," I contended gaily. "And lost your shoes." "Youd hardly expect them to avoid Wolf Larsen without my feet inside of them." We both laughed, and then went seriously to work constructing the plan whereby we were to step the masts of the Ghost and return to the world. I remembered hazily the physics of my school days, while the last few months had given me practical experience with mechanical purchases. I must say, though, when we walked down to the Ghost to inspect more closely the

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