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The Sea Wolf 87







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Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf




mines this time, Smoke. But Ill tell you what--Ill lay odds of five to one its the Macedonia." No one accepted his offer, and he went on: "In which event, Ill lay ten to one theres trouble breezing up." "No, thank you," Latimer spoke up. "I dont object to losing my money, but I like to get a run for it anyway. There never was a time when there wasnt trouble when you and that brother of yours got together, and Ill lay twenty to one on that." A general smile followed, in which Wolf Larsen joined, and the dinner went on smoothly, thanks to me, for he treated me abominably the rest of the meal, sneering at me and patronizing me till I was all a-tremble with suppressed rage. Yet I knew I must control myself for Maud Brewsters sake, and I received my reward when her eyes caught mine for a fleeting second, and they said, as distinctly as if she spoke, "Be brave, be brave." We left the table to go on deck, for a steamer was a welcome break in the monotony of the sea on which we floated, while the conviction that it was Death Larsen and the Macedonia added to the excitement. The stiff breeze and heavy sea which had sprung up the previous afternoon had been moderating all morning, so that it was now possible to lower the boats for an afternoons hunt. The hunting promised to be profitable. We had sailed since daylight across a sea barren of seals, and were now running into the herd. The smoke was still miles astern, but overhauling us rapidly, when we lowered our boats. They spread out and struck a northerly course across the ocean. Now and again we saw a sail lower, heard the reports of the shot-guns, and saw the sail go up again. The seals were thick, the wind was dying away; everything favoured a big catch. As we ran off to get our leeward position of the last lee boat, we found the ocean fairly carpeted with sleeping seals. They were all about us, thicker than I had ever seen them before, in twos and threes and bunches, stretched full length on the surface and sleeping for all the world like so many lazy young dogs. Under the approaching smoke the hull and upper-works of a steamer were growing larger. It was the Macedonia. I read her name through the glasses as she passed by scarcely a mile to starboard. Wolf Larsen looked savagely at the vessel, while Maud Brewster was curious. "Where is the trouble you were so sure was breezing up, Captain Larsen?" she asked gaily. He glanced at her, a moments amusement softening his features. "What did you expect? That theyd come aboard and cut our throats?" "Something like that," she confessed. "You understand, seal- hunters are so new and strange to me that I am quite ready to expect anything." He nodded his head. "Quite right, quite right. Your error is that you failed to expect the worst." "Why, what can be worse than cutting our throats?" she asked, with pretty naive surprise. "Cutting our purses," he answered. "Man is so made these days that his capacity for living is determined by the money he possesses." "Who steals my purse steals trash," she quoted. "Who steals my purse steals my right to live," was the reply, "old saws to the contrary. For he steals my bread and meat and bed, and in so doing imperils my life. There are not enough soup-kitchens and bread-lines to go around, you know, and when men have nothing in their purses they usually die, and die miserably--unless they are able to fill their purses pretty speedily." "But I fail to see that this steamer has any designs on your purse." "Wait and you will see," he answered grimly. We did not have long to wait. Having passed several miles beyond our line of boats, the Macedonia proceeded to lower her own. We knew she carried fourteen boats to our five (we were one short through the desertion of Wainwright), and she began dropping them far to leeward of our last boat, continued dropping them athwart our course, and finished dropping them far to windward of our first weather boat. The hunting, for us, was spoiled. There were no seals behind us, and ahead of us the line of fourteen boats, like a huge broom, swept the herd before

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