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The Sea Wolf 56







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The Sea Wolf




me tired," Leach interfered. He was evidently, for all of his youth and inexperience, cock of the forecastle. "Gwan, you Kelly. You leave Oofty alone. How in hell did he know it was you in the dark?" Kelly subsided with some muttering, and the Kanaka flashed his white teeth in a grateful smile. He was a beautiful creature, almost feminine in the pleasing lines of his figure, and there was a softness and dreaminess in his large eyes which seemed to contradict his well-earned reputation for strife and action. "How did he get away?" Johnson asked. He was sitting on the side of his bunk, the whole pose of his figure indicating utter dejection and hopelessness. He was still breathing heavily from the exertion he had made. His shirt had been ripped entirely from him in the struggle, and blood from a gash in the cheek was flowing down his naked chest, marking a red path across his white thigh and dripping to the floor. "Because he is the devil, as I told you before," was Leachs answer; and thereat he was on his feet and raging his disappointment with tears in his eyes. "And not one of you to get a knife!" was his unceasing lament. But the rest of the hands had a lively fear of consequences to come and gave no heed to him. "Howll he know which was which?" Kelly asked, and as he went on he looked murderously about him--"unless one of us peaches." "Hell know as soon as ever he claps eyes on us," Parsons replied. "One look at youd be enough." "Tell him the deck flopped up and gouged yer teeth out iv yer jaw," Louis grinned. He was the only man who was not out of his bunk, and he was jubilant in that he possessed no bruises to advertise that he had had a hand in the nights work. "Just wait till he gets a glimpse iv yer mugs to-morrow, the gang iv ye," he chuckled. "Well say we thought it was the mate," said one. And another, "I know what Ill say--that I heered a row, jumped out of my bunk, got a jolly good crack on the jaw for my pains, and sailed in myself. Couldnt tell who or what it was in the dark and just hit out." "An twas me you hit, of course," Kelly seconded, his face brightening for the moment. Leach and Johnson took no part in the discussion, and it was plain to see that their mates looked upon them as men for whom the worst was inevitable, who were beyond hope and already dead. Leach stood their fears and reproaches for some time. Then he broke out: "You make me tired! A nice lot of gazabas you are! If you talked less with yer mouth and did something with yer hands, hed a-ben done with by now. Why couldnt one of you, just one of you, get me a knife when I sung out? You make me sick! A-beefin and bellerin round, as though hed kill you when he gets you! You know damn well he wont. Cant afford to. No shipping masters or beach-combers over here, and he wants yer in his business, and he wants yer bad. Whos to pull or steer or sail ship if he loses yer? Its me and Johnson have to face the music. Get into yer bunks, now, and shut yer faces; I want to get some sleep." "Thats all right all right," Parsons spoke up. "Mebbe he wont do for us, but mark my words, hell ll be an ice-box to this ship from now on." All the while I had been apprehensive concerning my own predicament. What would happen to me when these men discovered my presence? I could never fight my way out as Wolf Larsen had done. And at this moment Latimer called down the scuttles: "Hump! The old man wants you!" "He aint down here!" Parsons called back. "Yes, he is," I said, sliding out of the bunk and striving my hardest to keep my voice steady and bold. The sailors looked at me in consternation. Fear was strong in their faces, and the devilishness which comes of fear. "Im coming!" I shouted up to Latimer. "No you dont!" Kelly cried, stepping between me and the ladder, his right hand shaped into a veritable stranglers clutch. "You damn little

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