The Sea Wolf
At last, after three days of variable winds, we have caught the north-east trades. I came
on deck, after a good night's rest in spite of my poor knee, to find the Ghost foaming
along, wing-and-wing, and every sail drawing except the jibs, with a fresh breeze astern.
Oh, the wonder of the great trade-wind! All day we sailed, and all night, and the next day,
and the next, day after day, the wind always astern and blowing steadily and strong. The
schooner sailed herself. There was no pulling and hauling on sheets and tackles, no
shifting of topsails, no work at all for the sailors to do except to steer. At night when the
sun went down, the sheets were slackened; in the morning, when they yielded up the
damp of the dew and relaxed, they were pulled tight again - and that was all.
Ten knots, twelve knots, eleven knots, varying from time to time, is the speed we are
making. And ever out of the north-east the brave wind blows, driving us on our course
two hundred and fifty miles between the dawns. It saddens me and gladdens me, the gait
with which we are leaving San Francisco behind and with which we are foaming down
upon the tropics. Each day grows perceptibly warmer. In the second dog-watch the
sailors come on deck, stripped, and heave buckets of water upon one another from
overside. Flying-fish are beginning to be seen, and during the night the watch above
scrambles over the deck in pursuit of those that fall aboard. In the morning, Thomas
Mugridge being duly bribed, the galley is pleasantly areek with the odour of their frying;
while dolphin meat is served fore and aft on such occasions as Johnson catches the
blazing beauties from the bowsprit end.
Johnson seems to spend all his spare time there or aloft at the crosstrees, watching the
Ghost cleaving the water under press of sail. There is passion, adoration, in his eyes, and
he goes about in a sort of trance, gazing in ecstasy at the swelling sails, the foaming
wake, and the heave and the run of her over the liquid mountains that are moving with us
in stately procession.
The days and nights are "all a wonder and a wild delight," and though I have little time
from my dreary work, I steal odd moments to gaze and gaze at the unending glory of
what I never dreamed the world possessed. Above, the sky is stainless blue - blue as the
sea itself, which under the forefoot is of the colour and sheen of azure satin. All around
the horizon are pale, fleecy clouds, never changing, never moving, like a silver setting for
the flawless turquoise sky.
I do not forget one night, when I should have been asleep, of lying on the forecastle-head
and gazing down at the spectral ripple of foam thrust aside by the Ghost's forefoot. It
sounded like the gurgling of a brook over mossy stones in some quiet dell, and the
crooning song of it lured me away and out of myself till I was no longer Hump the cabin-
boy, nor Van Weyden, the man who had dreamed away thirty-five years among books.
But a voice behind me, the unmistakable voice of Wolf Larsen, strong with the invincible