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The Sea Wolf 128







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Books:

Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf




did twice, before I finished guying it fore and aft and to either side. Twilight had set in by the time this was accomplished. Wolf Larsen, who had sat about and listened all afternoon and never opened his mouth, had taken himself off to the galley and started his supper. I felt quite stiff across the small of the back, so much so that I straightened up with an effort and with pain. I looked proudly at my work. It was beginning to show. I was wild with desire, like a child with a new toy, to hoist something with my shears. "I wish it werent so late," I said. "Id like to see how it works." "Dont be a glutton, Humphrey," Maud chided me. "Remember, to- morrow is coming, and youre so tired now that you can hardly stand." "And you?" I said, with sudden solicitude. "You must be very tired. You have worked hard and nobly. I am proud of you, Maud." "Not half so proud as I am of you, nor with half the reason," she answered, looking me straight in the eyes for a moment with an expression in her own and a dancing, tremulous light which I had not seen before and which gave me a pang of quick delight, I know not why, for I did not understand it. Then she dropped her eyes, to lift them again, laughing. "If our friends could see us now," she said. "Look at us. Have you ever paused for a moment to consider our appearance?" "Yes, I have considered yours, frequently," I answered, puzzling over what I had seen in her eyes and puzzled by her sudden change of subject. "Mercy!" she cried. "And what do I look like, pray?" "A scarecrow, Im afraid," I replied. "Just glance at your draggled skirts, for instance. Look at those three-cornered tears. And such a waist! It would not require a Sherlock Holmes to deduce that you have been cooking over a camp-fire, to say nothing of trying out seal-blubber. And to cap it all, that cap! And all that is the woman who wrote A Kiss Endured." She made me an elaborate and stately courtesy, and said, "As for you, sir--" And yet, through the five minutes of banter which followed, there was a serious something underneath the fun which I could not but relate to the strange and fleeting expression I had caught in her eyes. What was it? Could it be that our eyes were speaking beyond the will of our speech? My eyes had spoken, I knew, until I had found the culprits out and silenced them. This had occurred several times. But had she seen the clamour in them and understood? And had her eyes so spoken to me? What else could that expression have meant--that dancing, tremulous light, and a something more which words could not describe. And yet it could not be. It was impossible. Besides, I was not skilled in the speech of eyes. I was only Humphrey Van Weyden, a bookish fellow who loved. And to love, and to wait and win love, that surely was glorious enough for me. And thus I thought, even as we chaffed each others appearance, until we arrived ashore and there were other things to think about. "Its a shame, after working hard all day, that we cannot have an uninterrupted nights sleep," I complained, after supper. "But there can be no danger now? from a blind man?" she queried. "I shall never be able to trust him," I averred, "and far less now that he is blind. The liability is that his part helplessness will make him more malignant than ever. I know what I shall do to- morrow, the first thing--run out a light anchor and kedge the schooner off the beach. And each night when we come ashore in the boat, Mr. Wolf Larsen will be left a prisoner on board. So this will be the last night we have to stand watch, and because of that it will go the easier." We were awake early and just finishing breakfast as daylight came. "Oh, Humphrey!" I heard Maud cry in dismay and suddenly stop. I looked at her. She was gazing at the Ghost. I followed her gaze, but could see nothing unusual. She looked at me, and

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