The Sea Wolf
The day came for our departure. There was no longer anything to detain us on Endeavour
Island. The Ghost's stumpy masts were in place, her crazy sails bent. All my handiwork
was strong, none of it beautiful; but I knew that it would work, and I felt myself a man of
power as I looked at it.
"I did it! I did it! With my own hands I did it!" I wanted to cry aloud.
But Maud and I had a way of voicing each other's thoughts, and she said, as we prepared
to hoist the mainsail:
"To think, Humphrey, you did it all with your own hands?"
"But there were two other hands," I answered. "Two small hands, and don't say that was a
phrase, also, of your father."
She laughed and shook her head, and held her hands up for inspection.
"I can never get them clean again," she wailed, "nor soften the weather-beat."
"Then dirt and weather-beat shall be your guerdon of honour," I said, holding them in
mine; and, spite of my resolutions, I would have kissed the two dear hands had she not
swiftly withdrawn them.
Our comradeship was becoming tremulous, I had mastered my love long and well, but
now it was mastering me. Wilfully had it disobeyed and won my eyes to speech, and now
it was winning my tongue - ay, and my lips, for they were mad this moment to kiss the
two small hands which had toiled so faithfully and hard. And I, too, was mad. There was
a cry in my being like bugles calling me to her. And there was a wind blowing upon me
which I could not resist, swaying the very body of me till I leaned toward her, all
unconscious that I leaned. And she knew it. She could not but know it as she swiftly drew
away her hands, and yet, could not forbear one quick searching look before she turned
away her eyes.
By means of deck-tackles I had arranged to carry the halyards forward to the windlass;
and now I hoisted the mainsail, peak and throat, at the same time. It was a clumsy way,
but it did not take long, and soon the foresail as well was up and fluttering.
"We can never get that anchor up in this narrow place, once it has left the bottom," I said.
"We should be on the rocks first."
"What can you do?" she asked.