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The Sea Wolf 140

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Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf

I answered. "Mine. I made it." "Then you must have talked in your sleep," she smiled. The dancing, tremulous light was in her eyes. Mine, I knew, were speaking beyond the will of my speech. I leaned toward her. Without volition I leaned toward her, as a tree is swayed by the wind. Ah, we were very close together in that moment. But she shook her head, as one might shake off sleep or a dream, saying: "I have known it all my life. It was my fathers name for my mother." "It is my phrase too," I said stubbornly. "For your mother?" "No," I answered, and she questioned no further, though I could have sworn her eyes retained for some time a mocking, teasing expression. With the foremast in, the work now went on apace. Almost before I knew it, and without one serious hitch, I had the mainmast stepped. A derrick-boom, rigged to the foremast, had accomplished this; and several days more found all stays and shrouds in place, and everything set up taut. Topsails would be a nuisance and a danger for a crew of two, so I heaved the topmasts on deck and lashed them fast. Several more days were consumed in finishing the sails and putting them on. There were only three--the jib, foresail, and mainsail; and, patched, shortened, and distorted, they were a ridiculously ill-fitting suit for so trim a craft as the Ghost. "But theyll work!" Maud cried jubilantly. "Well make them work, and trust our lives to them!" Certainly, among my many new trades, I shone least as a sail-maker. I could sail them better than make them, and I had no doubt of my power to bring the schooner to some northern port of Japan. In fact, I had crammed navigation from text-books aboard; and besides, there was Wolf Larsens star-scale, so simple a device that a child could work it. As for its inventor, beyond an increasing deafness and the movement of the lips growing fainter and fainter, there had been little change in his condition for a week. But on the day we finished bending the schooners sails, he heard his last, and the last movement of his lips died away--but not before I had asked him, "Are you all there?" and the lips had answered, "Yes." The last line was down. Somewhere within that tomb of the flesh still dwelt the soul of the man. Walled by the living clay, that fierce intelligence we had known burned on; but it burned on in silence and darkness. And it was disembodied. To that intelligence there could be no objective knowledge of a body. It knew no body. The very world was not. It knew only itself and the vastness and profundity of the quiet and the dark.


The day came for our departure. There was no longer anything to detain us on Endeavour Island. The Ghosts stumpy masts were in place, her crazy sails bent. All my handiwork was strong, none of it beautiful; but I knew that it would work, and I felt myself a man of power as I looked at it. "I did it! I did it! With my own hands I did it!" I wanted to cry aloud. But Maud and I had a way of voicing each others thoughts, and she said, as we prepared to hoist the mainsail: "To think, Humphrey, you did it all with your own hands?" "But there were two other hands," I answered. "Two small hands, and dont say that was a phrase, also, of your father." She laughed and shook her head, and held her hands up for inspection. "I can never get them clean again," she wailed, "nor soften the weather-beat." "Then dirt and weather-beat shall be your guerdon of honour," I said, holding them in mine; and, spite of my resolutions, I would have kissed the two dear hands had she not swiftly withdrawn them. Our comradeship was becoming tremulous, I had mastered my love long and well, but now it was mastering me. Wilfully had it disobeyed and won my eyes to speech, and now it was winning my tongue--ay, and my lips, for they were mad this moment to kiss the two small hands which had toiled so faithfully and hard. And I, too, was mad. There was a cry in my being like bugles calling me to her. And there

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