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The Sea Wolf 93







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The Sea Wolf




and at the third the boat-steerer let loose his steering-oar and crumpled up in the bottom of the boat. "I guess thatll fix them," Wolf Larsen said, rising to his feet. "I couldnt afford to let the hunter have it, and there is a chance the boat-puller doesnt know how to steer. In which case, the hunter cannot steer and shoot at the same time" His reasoning was justified, for the boat rushed at once into the wind and the hunter sprang aft to take the boat-steerers place. There was no more shooting, though the rifles were still cracking merrily from the other boats. The hunter had managed to get the boat before the wind again, but we ran down upon it, going at least two feet to its one. A hundred yards away, I saw the boat-puller pass a rifle to the hunter. Wolf Larsen went amidships and took the coil of the throat-halyards from its pin. Then he peered over the rail with levelled rifle. Twice I saw the hunter let go the steering-oar with one hand, reach for his rifle, and hesitate. We were now alongside and foaming past. "Here, you!" Wolf Larsen cried suddenly to the boat-puller. "Take a turn!" At the same time he flung the coil of rope. It struck fairly, nearly knocking the man over, but he did not obey. Instead, he looked to his hunter for orders. The hunter, in turn, was in a quandary. His rifle was between his knees, but if he let go the steering-oar in order to shoot, the boat would sweep around and collide with the schooner. Also he saw Wolf Larsens rifle bearing upon him and knew he would be shot ere he could get his rifle into play. "Take a turn," he said quietly to the man. The boat-puller obeyed, taking a turn around the little forward thwart and paying the line as it jerked taut. The boat sheered out with a rush, and the hunter steadied it to a parallel course some twenty feet from the side of the Ghost. "Now, get that sail down and come alongside!" Wolf Larsen ordered. He never let go his rifle, even passing down the tackles with one hand. When they were fast, bow and stern, and the two uninjured men prepared to come aboard, the hunter picked up his rifle as if to place it in a secure position. "Drop it!" Wolf Larsen cried, and the hunter dropped it as though it were hot and had burned him. Once aboard, the two prisoners hoisted in the boat and under Wolf Larsens direction carried the wounded boat-steerer down into the forecastle. "If our five boats do as well as you and I have done, well have a pretty full crew," Wolf Larsen said to me. "The man you shot--he is--I hope?" Maud Brewster quavered. "In the shoulder," he answered. "Nothing serious, Mr. Van Weyden will pull him around as good as ever in three or four weeks." "But he wont pull those chaps around, from the look of it," he added, pointing at the Macedonias third boat, for which I had been steering and which was now nearly abreast of us. "Thats Horners and Smokes work. I told them we wanted live men, not carcasses. But the joy of shooting to hit is a most compelling thing, when once youve learned how to shoot. Ever experienced it, Mr. Van Weyden?" I shook my head and regarded their work. It had indeed been bloody, for they had drawn off and joined our other three boats in the attack on the remaining two of the enemy. The deserted boat was in the trough of the sea, rolling drunkenly across each comber, its loose spritsail out at right angles to it and fluttering and flapping in the wind. The hunter and boat-puller were both lying awkwardly in the bottom, but the boat-steerer lay across the gunwale, half in and half out, his arms trailing in the water and his head rolling from side to side. "Dont look, Miss Brewster, please dont look," I had begged of her, and I was glad that she had minded me and been spared the sight. "Head right into the bunch, Mr. Van Weyden," was Wolf Larsens command. As we drew nearer, the firing ceased, and we saw that the fight was over. The remaining two boats had been captured by our five, and the seven were grouped together, waiting to be picked up. "Look at

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