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The Sea Wolf

Chapter 11
The Ghost has attained the southernmost point of the arc she is describing across the
Pacific, and is already beginning to edge away to the west and north toward some lone
island, it is rumoured, where she will fill her water-casks before proceeding to the
season's hunt along the coast of Japan. The hunters have experimented and practised with
their rifles and shotguns till they are satisfied, and the boat-pullers and steerers have
made their spritsails, bound the oars and rowlocks in leather and sennit so that they will
make no noise when creeping on the seals, and put their boats in apple-pie order - to use
Leach's homely phrase.
His arm, by the way, has healed nicely, though the scar will remain all his life. Thomas
Mugridge lives in mortal fear of him, and is afraid to venture on deck after dark. There
are two or three standing quarrels in the forecastle. Louis tells me that the gossip of the
sailors finds its way aft, and that two of the telltales have been badly beaten by their
mates. He shakes his head dubiously over the outlook for the man Johnson, who is boat-
puller in the same boat with him. Johnson has been guilty of speaking his mind too freely,
and has collided two or three times with Wolf Larsen over the pronunciation of his name.
Johansen he thrashed on the amidships deck the other night, since which time the mate
has called him by his proper name. But of course it is out of the question that Johnson
should thrash Wolf Larsen.
Louis has also given me additional information about Death Larsen, which tallies with
the captain's brief description. We may expect to meet Death Larsen on the Japan coast.
"And look out for squalls," is Louis's prophecy, "for they hate one another like the wolf
whelps they are." Death Larsen is in command of the only sealing steamer in the fleet, the
Macedonia, which carries fourteen boats, whereas the rest of the schooners carry only six.
There is wild talk of cannon aboard, and of strange raids and expeditions she may make,
ranging from opium smuggling into the States and arms smuggling into China, to
blackbirding and open piracy. Yet I cannot but believe for I have never yet caught him in
a lie, while he has a cyclopaedic knowledge of sealing and the men of the sealing fleets.
As it is forward and in the galley, so it is in the steerage and aft, on this veritable hell-
ship. Men fight and struggle ferociously for one another's lives. The hunters are looking
for a shooting scrape at any moment between Smoke and Henderson, whose old quarrel
has not healed, while Wolf Larsen says positively that he will kill the survivor of the
affair, if such affair comes off. He frankly states that the position he takes is based on no
moral grounds, that all the hunters could kill and eat one another so far as he is
concerned, were it not that he needs them alive for the hunting. If they will only hold
their hands until the season is over, he promises them a royal carnival, when all grudges
can he settled and the survivors may toss the non-survivors overboard and arrange a story
as to how the missing men were lost at sea. I think even the hunters are appalled at his
cold-bloodedness. Wicked men though they be, they are certainly very much afraid of
him.
 
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