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The Sea Wolf 21







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The Sea Wolf




those meals? Not you. You never made anything in your own sweat. You live on an income which your father earned. You are like a frigate bird swooping down upon the boobies and robbing them of the fish they have caught. You are one with a crowd of men who have made what they call a government, who are masters of all the other men, and who eat the food the other men get and would like to eat themselves. You wear the warm clothes. They made the clothes, but they shiver in rags and ask you, the lawyer, or business agent who handles your money, for a job." "But that is beside the matter," I cried. "Not at all." He was speaking rapidly now, and his eyes were flashing. "It is piggishness, and it is life. Of what use or sense is an immortality of piggishness? What is the end? What is it all about? You have made no food. Yet the food you have eaten or wasted might have saved the lives of a score of wretches who made the food but did not eat it. What immortal end did you serve? or did they? Consider yourself and me. What does your boasted immortality amount to when your life runs foul of mine? You would like to go back to the land, which is a favourable place for your kind of piggishness. It is a whim of mine to keep you aboard this ship, where my piggishness flourishes. And keep you I will. I may make or break you. You may die to-day, this week, or next month. I could kill you now, with a blow of my fist, for you are a miserable weakling. But if we are immortal, what is the reason for this? To be piggish as you and I have been all our lives does not seem to be just the thing for immortals to be doing. Again, whats it all about? Why have I kept you here?--" "Because you are stronger," I managed to blurt out. "But why stronger?" he went on at once with his perpetual queries. "Because I am a bigger bit of the ferment than you? Dont you see? Dont you see?" "But the hopelessness of it," I protested. "I agree with you," he answered. "Then why move at all, since moving is living? Without moving and being part of the yeast there would be no hopelessness. But,--and there it is,--we want to live and move, though we have no reason to, because it happens that it is the nature of life to live and move, to want to live and move. If it were not for this, life would be dead. It is because of this life that is in you that you dream of your immortality. The life that is in you is alive and wants to go on being alive for ever. Bah! An eternity of piggishness!" He abruptly turned on his heel and started forward. He stopped at the break of the poop and called me to him. "By the way, how much was it that Cooky got away with?" he asked. "One hundred and eighty-five dollars, sir," I answered. He nodded his head. A moment later, as I started down the companion stairs to lay the table for dinner, I heard him loudly curing some men amidships.

CHAPTER VI

By the following morning the storm had blown itself quite out and the Ghost was rolling slightly on a calm sea without a breath of wind. Occasional light airs were felt, however, and Wolf Larsen patrolled the poop constantly, his eyes ever searching the sea to the north-eastward, from which direction the great trade-wind must blow. The men were all on deck and busy preparing their various boats for the seasons hunting. There are seven boats aboard, the captains dingey, and the six which the hunters will use. Three, a hunter, a boat-puller, and a boat-steerer, compose a boats crew. On board the schooner the boat-pullers and steerers are the crew. The hunters, too, are supposed to be in command of the watches, subject, always, to the orders of Wolf Larsen. All this, and more, I have learned. The Ghost is considered the fastest schooner in both the San Francisco and Victoria fleets. In fact, she

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