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The Sea Wolf 15







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Books:

Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf




slide shut with a bang. Then I saw Henderson leaping like a madman for the main rigging, up which he shot, on the inside, till he was many feet higher than my head. Also I saw a great wave, curling and foaming, poised far above the rail. I was directly under it. My mind did not work quickly, everything was so new and strange. I grasped that I was in danger, but that was all. I stood still, in trepidation. Then Wolf Larsen shouted from the poop: "Grab hold something, you--you Hump!" But it was too late. I sprang toward the rigging, to which I might have clung, and was met by the descending wall of water. What happened after that was very confusing. I was beneath the water, suffocating and drowning. My feet were out from under me, and I was turning over and over and being swept along I knew not where. Several times I collided against hard objects, once striking my right knee a terrible blow. Then the flood seemed suddenly to subside and I was breathing the good air again. I had been swept against the galley and around the steerage companion-way from the weather side into the lee scuppers. The pain from my hurt knee was agonizing. I could not put my weight on it, or, at least, I thought I could not put my weight on it; and I felt sure the leg was broken. But the cook was after me, shouting through the lee galley door: "Ere, you! Dont tyke all night about it! Wheres the pot? Lost overboard? Serve you bloody well right if yer neck was broke!" I managed to struggle to my feet. The great tea-pot was still in my hand. I limped to the galley and handed it to him. But he was consumed with indignation, real or feigned. "Gawd blime me if you aynt a slob. Wot re you good for anywy, Id like to know? Eh? Wot re you good for anywy? Cawnt even carry a bit of tea aft without losin it. Now Ill ave to boil some more. "An wot re you snifflin about?" he burst out at me, with renewed rage. "Cos youve urt yer pore little leg, pore little mammas darlin." I was not sniffling, though my face might well have been drawn and twitching from the pain. But I called up all my resolution, set my teeth, and hobbled back and forth from galley to cabin and cabin to galley without further mishap. Two things I had acquired by my accident: an injured knee-cap that went undressed and from which I suffered for weary months, and the name of "Hump," which Wolf Larsen had called me from the poop. Thereafter, fore and aft, I was known by no other name, until the term became a part of my thought-processes and I identified it with myself, thought of myself as Hump, as though Hump were I and had always been I. It was no easy task, waiting on the cabin table, where sat Wolf Larsen, Johansen, and the six hunters. The cabin was small, to begin with, and to move around, as I was compelled to, was not made easier by the schooners violent pitching and wallowing. But what struck me most forcibly was the total lack of sympathy on the part of the men whom I served. I could feel my knee through my clothes, swelling, and swelling, and I was sick and faint from the pain of it. I could catch glimpses of my face, white and ghastly, distorted with pain, in the cabin mirror. All the men must have seen my condition, but not one spoke or took notice of me, till I was almost grateful to Wolf Larsen, later on (I was washing the dishes), when he said: "Dont let a little thing like that bother you. Youll get used to such things in time. It may cripple you some, but all the same youll be learning to walk. "Thats what you call a paradox, isnt it?" he added. He seemed pleased when I nodded my head with the customary "Yes, sir." "I suppose you know a bit about literary things? Eh? Good. Ill have some talks with you some time." And then, taking no further account of me, he turned

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