The Sea Wolf
What happened to me next on the sealing-schooner Ghost, as I strove to fit into my new
environment, are matters of humiliation and pain. The cook, who was called "the doctor"
by the crew, "Tommy" by the hunters, and "Cooky" by Wolf Larsen, was a changed
person. The difference worked in my status brought about a corresponding difference in
treatment from him. Servile and fawning as he had been before, he was now as
domineering and bellicose. In truth, I was no longer the fine gentleman with a skin soft as
a "lydy's," but only an ordinary and very worthless cabin-boy.
He absurdly insisted upon my addressing him as Mr. Mugridge, and his behaviour and
carriage were insufferable as he showed me my duties. Besides my work in the cabin,
with its four small state-rooms, I was supposed to be his assistant in the galley, and my
colossal ignorance concerning such things as peeling potatoes or washing greasy pots was
a source of unending and sarcastic wonder to him. He refused to take into consideration
what I was, or, rather, what my life and the things I was accustomed to had been. This
was part of the attitude he chose to adopt toward me; and I confess, ere the day was done,
that I hated him with more lively feelings than I had ever hated any one in my life before.
This first day was made more difficult for me from the fact that the Ghost, under close
reefs (terms such as these I did not learn till later), was plunging through what Mr.
Mugridge called an "'owlin' sou'-easter." At half-past five, under his directions, I set the
table in the cabin, with rough-weather trays in place, and then carried the tea and cooked
food down from the galley. In this connection I cannot forbear relating my first
experience with a boarding sea.
"Look sharp or you'll get doused," was Mr. Mugridge's parting injunction, as I left the
galley with a big tea-pot in one hand, and in the hollow of the other arm several loaves of
fresh-baked bread. One of the hunters, a tall, loose-jointed chap named Henderson, was
going aft at the time from the steerage (the name the hunters facetiously gave their
midships sleeping quarters) to the cabin. Wolf Larsen was on the poop, smoking his
"'Ere she comes. Sling yer 'ook!" the cook cried.
I stopped, for I did not know what was coming, and saw the galley door slide shut with a
bang. Then I saw Henderson leaping like a madman for the main rigging, up which he
shot, on the inside, till he was many feet higher than my head. Also I saw a great wave,
curling and foaming, poised far above the rail. I was directly under it. My mind did not
work quickly, everything was so new and strange. I grasped that I was in danger, but that
was all. I stood still, in trepidation. Then Wolf Larsen shouted from the poop:
"Grab hold something, you - you Hump!"