The Sea Wolf
There was a deal of cursing and groaning as the men at the bottom of the ladder crawled
to their feet.
"Somebody strike a light, my thumb's out of joint," said one of the men, Parsons, a
swarthy, saturnine man, boat-steerer in Standish's boat, in which Harrison was puller.
"You'll find it knockin' about by the bitts," Leach said, sitting down on the edge of the
bunk in which I was concealed.
There was a fumbling and a scratching of matches, and the sea-lamp flared up, dim and
smoky, and in its weird light bare-legged men moved about nursing their bruises and
caring for their hurts. Oofty-Oofty laid hold of Parsons's thumb, pulling it out stoutly and
snapping it back into place. I noticed at the same time that the Kanaka's knuckles were
laid open clear across and to the bone. He exhibited them, exposing beautiful white teeth
in a grin as he did so, and explaining that the wounds had come from striking Wolf
Larsen in the mouth.
"So it was you, was it, you black beggar?" belligerently demanded one Kelly, an Irish-
American and a longshoreman, making his first trip to sea, and boat-puller for Kerfoot.
As he made the demand he spat out a mouthful of blood and teeth and shoved his
pugnacious face close to Oofty-Oofty. The Kanaka leaped backward to his bunk, to
return with a second leap, flourishing a long knife.
"Aw, go lay down, you make me tired," Leach interfered. He was evidently, for all of his
youth and inexperience, cock of the forecastle. "G'wan, you Kelly. You leave Oofty
alone. How in hell did he know it was you in the dark?"
Kelly subsided with some muttering, and the Kanaka flashed his white teeth in a grateful
smile. He was a beautiful creature, almost feminine in the pleasing lines of his figure, and
there was a softness and dreaminess in his large eyes which seemed to contradict his
well-earned reputation for strife and action.
"How did he get away?" Johnson asked.
He was sitting on the side of his bunk, the whole pose of his figure indicating utter
dejection and hopelessness. He was still breathing heavily from the exertion he had made.
His shirt had been ripped entirely from him in the struggle, and blood from a gash in the
cheek was flowing down his naked chest, marking a red path across his white thigh and
dripping to the floor.