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The Sea Wolf

Chapter 20
The remainder of the day passed uneventfully. The young slip of a gale, having wetted
our gills, proceeded to moderate. The fourth engineer and the three oilers, after a warm
interview with Wolf Larsen, were furnished with outfits from the slop-chests, assigned
places under the hunters in the various boats and watches on the vessel, and bundled
forward into the forecastle. They went protestingly, but their voices were not loud. They
were awed by what they had already seen of Wolf Larsen's character, while the tale of
woe they speedily heard in the forecastle took the last bit of rebellion out of them.
Miss Brewster - we had learned her name from the engineer - slept on and on. At supper I
requested the hunters to lower their voices, so she was not disturbed; and it was not till
next morning that she made her appearance. It had been my intention to have her meals
served apart, but Wolf Larsen put down his foot. Who was she that she should be too
good for cabin table and cabin society? had been his demand.
But her coming to the table had something amusing in it. The hunters fell silent as clams.
Jock Horner and Smoke alone were unabashed, stealing stealthy glances at her now and
again, and even taking part in the conversation. The other four men glued their eyes on
their plates and chewed steadily and with thoughtful precision, their ears moving and
wobbling, in time with their jaws, like the ears of so many animals.
Wolf Larsen had little to say at first, doing no more than reply when he was addressed.
Not that he was abashed. Far from it. This woman was a new type to him, a different
breed from any he had ever known, and he was curious. He studied her, his eyes rarely
leaving her face unless to follow the movements of her hands or shoulders. I studied her
myself, and though it was I who maintained the conversation, I know that I was a bit shy,
not quite self-possessed. His was the perfect poise, the supreme confidence in self, which
nothing could shake; and he was no more timid of a woman than he was of storm and
battle.
"And when shall we arrive at Yokohama?" she asked, turning to him and looking him
squarely in the eyes.
There it was, the question flat. The jaws stopped working, the ears ceased wobbling, and
though eyes remained glued on plates, each man listened greedily for the answer.
"In four months, possibly three if the season closes early," Wolf Larsen said.
She caught her breath and stammered, "I - I thought - I was given to understand that
Yokohama was only a day's sail away. It - " Here she paused and looked about the table
at the circle of unsympathetic faces staring hard at the plates. "It is not right," she
concluded.
 
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