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The Sea Wolf 50







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The Sea Wolf




he gritted out. "Whom?" I asked; but the poor wretch was weeping again over his misfortunes. Less difficult it was to guess whom he hated than whom he did not hate. For I had come to see a malignant devil in him which impelled him to hate all the world. I sometimes thought that he hated even himself, so grotesquely had life dealt with him, and so monstrously. At such moments a great sympathy welled up within me, and I felt shame that I had ever joyed in his discomfiture or pain. Life had been unfair to him. It had played him a scurvy trick when it fashioned him into the thing he was, and it had played him scurvy tricks ever since. What chance had he to be anything else than he was? And as though answering my unspoken thought, he wailed: "I never ad no chance, not arf a chance! Oo was there to send me to school, or put tommy in my ungry belly, or wipe my bloody nose for me, wen I was a kiddy? Oo ever did anything for me, heh? Oo, I sy?" "Never mind, Tommy," I said, placing a soothing hand on his shoulder. "Cheer up. Itll all come right in the end. Youve long years before you, and you can make anything you please of yourself." "Its a lie! a bloody lie!" he shouted in my face, flinging off the hand. "Its a lie, and you know it. Im already myde, an myde out of leavins an scraps. Its all right for you, Ump. You was born a gentleman. You never knew wot it was to go ungry, to cry yerself asleep with yer little belly gnawin an gnawin, like a rat inside yer. It carnt come right. If I was President of the United Stytes to-morrer, ow would it fill my belly for one time wen I was a kiddy and it went empty? "Ow could it, I sy? I was born to sufferin and sorrer. Ive had more cruel sufferin than any ten men, I ave. Ive been in orspital arf my bleedin life. Ive ad the fever in Aspinwall, in Avana, in New Orleans. I near died of the scurvy and was rotten with it six months in Barbadoes. Smallpox in Onolulu, two broken legs in Shanghai, pnuemonia in Unalaska, three busted ribs an my insides all twisted in Frisco. An ere I am now. Look at me! Look at me! My ribs kicked loose from my back again. Ill be coughin blood before eyght bells. Ow can it be myde up to me, I arsk? Oos goin to do it? Gawd? Ow Gawd must ave ated me wen e signed me on for a voyage in this bloomin world of is!" This tirade against destiny went on for an hour or more, and then he buckled to his work, limping and groaning, and in his eyes a great hatred for all created things. His diagnosis was correct, however, for he was seized with occasional sicknesses, during which he vomited blood and suffered great pain. And as he said, it seemed God hated him too much to let him die, for he ultimately grew better and waxed more malignant than ever. Several days more passed before Johnson crawled on deck and went about his work in a half-hearted way. He was still a sick man, and I more than once observed him creeping painfully aloft to a topsail, or drooping wearily as he stood at the wheel. But, still worse, it seemed that his spirit was broken. He was abject before Wolf Larsen and almost grovelled to Johansen. Not so was the conduct of Leach. He went about the deck like a tiger cub, glaring his hatred openly at Wolf Larsen and Johansen. "Ill do for you yet, you slab-footed Swede," I heard him say to Johansen one night on deck. The mate cursed him in the darkness, and the next moment some missile struck the galley a sharp rap. There was more cursing, and a mocking laugh, and when all was quiet I stole outside and found a heavy knife imbedded over an inch in the solid wood. A few minutes later the mate came fumbling about in search of it, but I returned it privily

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