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The Sea Wolf 129







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Books:

Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf




I looked inquiry back. "The shears," she said, and her voice trembled. I had forgotten their existence. I looked again, but could not see them. "If he has--" I muttered savagely. She put her hand sympathetically on mine, and said, "You will have to begin over again." "Oh, believe me, my anger means nothing; I could not hurt a fly," I smiled back bitterly. "And the worst of it is, he knows it. You are right. If he has destroyed the shears, I shall do nothing except begin over again." "But Ill stand my watch on board hereafter," I blurted out a moment later. "And if he interferes--" "But I dare not stay ashore all night alone," Maud was saying when I came back to myself. "It would be so much nicer if he would be friendly with us and help us. We could all live comfortably aboard." "We will," I asserted, still savagely, for the destruction of my beloved shears had hit me hard. "That is, you and I will live aboard, friendly or not with Wolf Larsen." "Its childish," I laughed later, "for him to do such things, and for me to grow angry over them, for that matter." But my heart smote me when we climbed aboard and looked at the havoc he had done. The shears were gone altogether. The guys had been slashed right and left. The throat-halyards which I had rigged were cut across through every part. And he knew I could not splice. A thought struck me. I ran to the windlass. It would not work. He had broken it. We looked at each other in consternation. Then I ran to the side. The masts, booms, and gaffs I had cleared were gone. He had found the lines which held them, and cast them adrift. Tears were in Mauds eyes, and I do believe they were for me. I could have wept myself. Where now was our project of remasting the Ghost? He had done his work well. I sat down on the hatch-combing and rested my chin on my hands in black despair. "He deserves to die," I cried out; "and God forgive me, I am not man enough to be his executioner." But Maud was by my side, passing her hand soothingly through my hair as though I were a child, and saying, "There, there; it will all come right. We are in the right, and it must come right." I remembered Michelet and leaned my head against her; and truly I became strong again. The blessed woman was an unfailing fount of power to me. What did it matter? Only a set-back, a delay. The tide could not have carried the masts far to seaward, and there had been no wind. It meant merely more work to find them and tow them back. And besides, it was a lesson. I knew what to expect. He might have waited and destroyed our work more effectually when we had more accomplished. "Here he comes now," she whispered. I glanced up. He was strolling leisurely along the poop on the port side. "Take no notice of him," I whispered. "Hes coming to see how we take it. Dont let him know that we know. We can deny him that satisfaction. Take off your shoes--thats right--and carry them in your hand." And then we played hide-and-seek with the blind man. As he came up the port side we slipped past on the starboard; and from the poop we watched him turn and start aft on our track. He must have known, somehow, that we were on board, for he said "Good-morning" very confidently, and waited, for the greeting to be returned. Then he strolled aft, and we slipped forward. "Oh, I know youre aboard," he called out, and I could see him listen intently after he had spoken. It reminded me of the great hoot-owl, listening, after its booming cry, for the stir of its frightened prey. But we did not fir, and we moved only when he moved. And so we dodged about the deck, hand in hand, like a couple of children chased by a wicked ogre, till Wolf Larsen, evidently in disgust, left the deck for the cabin. There was glee in our eyes, and suppressed titters in our mouths, as we put on our shoes and clambered over the

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