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The Sea Wolf

Chapter 23
Brave winds, blowing fair, swiftly drove the Ghost northward into the seal herd. We
encountered it well up to the forty-fourth parallel, in a raw and stormy sea across which
the wind harried the fog-banks in eternal flight. For days at a time we could never see the
sun nor take an observation; then the wind would sweep the face of the ocean clean, the
waves would ripple and flash, and we would learn where we were. A day of clear weather
might follow, or three days or four, and then the fog would settle down upon us,
seemingly thicker than ever.
The hunting was perilous; yet the boats, lowered day after day, were swallowed up in the
grey obscurity, and were seen no more till nightfall, and often not till long after, when
they would creep in like sea-wraiths, one by one, out of the grey. Wainwright - the hunter
whom Wolf Larsen had stolen with boat and men - took advantage of the veiled sea and
escaped. He disappeared one morning in the encircling fog with his two men, and we
never saw them again, though it was not many days when we learned that they had
passed from schooner to schooner until they finally regained their own.
This was the thing I had set my mind upon doing, but the opportunity never offered. It
was not in the mate's province to go out in the boats, and though I manoeuvred cunningly
for it, Wolf Larsen never granted me the privilege. Had he done so, I should have
managed somehow to carry Miss Brewster away with me. As it was, the situation was
approaching a stage which I was afraid to consider. I involuntarily shunned the thought of
it, and yet the thought continually arose in my mind like a haunting spectre.
I had read sea-romances in my time, wherein figured, as a matter of course, the lone
woman in the midst of a shipload of men; but I learned, now, that I had never
comprehended the deeper significance of such a situation - the thing the writers harped
upon and exploited so thoroughly. And here it was, now, and I was face to face with it.
That it should be as vital as possible, it required no more than that the woman should be
Maud Brewster, who now charmed me in person as she had long charmed me through her
work.
No one more out of environment could be imagined. She was a delicate, ethereal
creature, swaying and willowy, light and graceful of movement. It never seemed to me
that she walked, or, at least, walked after the ordinary manner of mortals. Hers was an
extreme lithesomeness, and she moved with a certain indefinable airiness, approaching
one as down might float or as a bird on noiseless wings.
She was like a bit of Dresden china, and I was continually impressed with what I may call
her fragility. As at the time I caught her arm when helping her below, so at any time I
was quite prepared, should stress or rough handling befall her, to see her crumble away. I
have never seen body and spirit in such perfect accord. Describe her verse, as the critics
have described it, as sublimated and spiritual, and you have described her body. It
seemed to partake of her soul, to have analogous attributes, and to link it to life with the
 
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