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The Sea Wolf 51







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Books:

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The Sea Wolf




to Leach next day. He grinned when I handed it over, yet it was a grin that contained more sincere thanks than a multitude of the verbosities of speech common to the members of my own class. Unlike any one else in the ships company, I now found myself with no quarrels on my hands and in the good graces of all. The hunters possibly no more than tolerated me, though none of them disliked me; while Smoke and Henderson, convalescent under a deck awning and swinging day and night in their hammocks, assured me that I was better than any hospital nurse, and that they would not forget me at the end of the voyage when they were paid off. (As though I stood in need of their money! I, who could have bought them out, bag and baggage, and the schooner and its equipment, a score of times over!) But upon me had devolved the task of tending their wounds, and pulling them through, and I did my best by them. Wolf Larsen underwent another bad attack of headache which lasted two days. He must have suffered severely, for he called me in and obeyed my commands like a sick child. But nothing I could do seemed to relieve him. At my suggestion, however, he gave up smoking and drinking; though why such a magnificent animal as he should have headaches at all puzzles me. "Tis the hand of God, Im tellin you," is the way Louis sees it. "Tis a visitation for his black-hearted deeds, and theres more behind and comin, or else--" "Or else," I prompted. "God is noddin and not doin his duty, though its me as shouldnt say it." I was mistaken when I said that I was in the good graces of all. Not only does Thomas Mugridge continue to hate me, but he has discovered a new reason for hating me. It took me no little while to puzzle it out, but I finally discovered that it was because I was more luckily born than he--"gentleman born," he put it. "And still no more dead men," I twitted Louis, when Smoke and Henderson, side by side, in friendly conversation, took their first exercise on deck. Louis surveyed me with his shrewd grey eyes, and shook his head portentously. "Shes a-comin, I tell you, and itll be sheets and halyards, stand by all hands, when she begins to howl. Ive had the feel iv it this long time, and I can feel it now as plainly as I feel the rigging iv a dark night. Shes close, shes close." "Who goes first?" I queried. "Not fat old Louis, I promise you," he laughed. "For tis in the bones iv me I know that come this time next year Ill be gazin in the old mothers eyes, weary with watchin iv the sea for the five sons she gave to it." "Wots e been syin to yer?" Thomas Mugridge demanded a moment later. "That hes going home some day to see his mother," I answered diplomatically. "I never ad none," was the Cockneys comment, as he gazed with lustreless, hopeless eyes into mine.

CHAPTER XIV

It has dawned upon me that I have never placed a proper valuation upon womankind. For that matter, though not amative to any considerable degree so far as I have discovered, I was never outside the atmosphere of women until now. My mother and sisters were always about me, and I was always trying to escape them; for they worried me to distraction with their solicitude for my health and with their periodic inroads on my den, when my orderly confusion, upon which I prided myself, was turned into worse confusion and less order, though it looked neat enough to the eye. I never could find anything when they had departed. But now, alas, how welcome would have been the feel of their presence, the frou- frou and swish-swish of their skirts which I had so cordially detested! I am sure, if I ever get home, that I shall never be irritable with them again. They may dose me and doctor me morning, noon, and night, and dust and sweep and put my den to rights every minute of the day, and I shall only lean back and survey it all and be thankful in that I am possessed of a mother and some several sisters. All of which has set me wondering. Where are the

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