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The Sea Wolf 126

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Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf

replied. "Good-morning to you." "What are you doing down there?" he demanded. "Trying to scuttle my ship for me?" "Quite the opposite; Im repairing her," was my answer. "But what in thunder are you repairing?" There was puzzlement in his voice. "Why, Im getting everything ready for re-stepping the masts," I replied easily, as though it were the simplest project imaginable. "It seems as though youre standing on your own legs at last, Hump," we heard him say; and then for some time he was silent. "But I say, Hump," he called down. "You cant do it." "Oh, yes, I can," I retorted. "Im doing it now." "But this is my vessel, my particular property. What if I forbid you?" "You forget," I replied. "You are no longer the biggest bit of the ferment. You were, once, and able to eat me, as you were pleased to phrase it; but there has been a diminishing, and I am now able to eat you. The yeast has grown stale." He gave a short, disagreeable laugh. "I see youre working my philosophy back on me for all it is worth. But dont make the mistake of under-estimating me. For your own good I warn you." "Since when have you become a philanthropist?" I queried. "Confess, now, in warning me for my own good, that you are very consistent." He ignored my sarcasm, saying, "Suppose I clap the hatch on, now? You wont fool me as you did in the lazarette." "Wolf Larsen," I said sternly, for the first time addressing him by this his most familiar name, "I am unable to shoot a helpless, unresisting man. You have proved that to my satisfaction as well as yours. But I warn you now, and not so much for your own good as for mine, that I shall shoot you the moment you attempt a hostile act. I can shoot you now, as I stand here; and if you are so minded, just go ahead and try to clap on the hatch." "Nevertheless, I forbid you, I distinctly forbid your tampering with my ship." "But, man!" I expostulated, "you advance the fact that it is your ship as though it were a moral right. You have never considered moral rights in your dealings with others. You surely do not dream that Ill consider them in dealing with you?" I had stepped underneath the open hatchway so that I could see him. The lack of expression on his face, so different from when I had watched him unseen, was enhanced by the unblinking, staring eyes. It was not a pleasant face to look upon. "And none so poor, not even Hump, to do him reverence," he sneered. The sneer was wholly in his voice. His face remained expressionless as ever. "How do you do, Miss Brewster," he said suddenly, after a pause. I started. She had made no noise whatever, had not even moved. Could it be that some glimmer of vision remained to him? or that his vision was coming back? "How do you do, Captain Larsen," she answered. "Pray, how did you know I was here?" "Heard you breathing, of course. I say, Humps improving, dont you think so?" "I dont know," she answered, smiling at me. "I have never seen him otherwise." "You should have seen him before, then." "Wolf Larsen, in large doses," I murmured, "before and after taking." "I want to tell you again, Hump," he said threateningly, "that youd better leave things alone." "But dont you care to escape as well as we?" I asked incredulously. "No," was his answer. "I intend dying here." "Well, we dont," I concluded defiantly, beginning again my knocking and hammering.


Next day, the mast-steps clear and everything in readiness, we started to get the two topmasts aboard. The maintopmast was over thirty feet in length, the foretopmast nearly thirty, and it was of these that I intended making the shears. It was puzzling work. Fastening one end of a heavy tackle to the windlass, and with the other end fast to the butt of the foretopmast, I began to heave. Maud held the turn on the windlass and coiled down the slack. We were astonished at the ease with which the spar was lifted. It was an improved crank windlass, and the purchase it gave was enormous. Of course, what it gave us in power we paid for in distance; as many times as it doubled my

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