The Sea Wolf HTML version

”It seems as simple as A, B, C. They know the direction by
compass, the distance, and the speed. I should not call it
anything more than mathematical certainty.”
”Strain!” he snorted. ”Simple as A, B, C! Mathematical
He seemed to brace himself up and lean backward against the air as
he stared at me. ”How about this here tide that’s rushin’ out
through the Golden Gate?” he demanded, or bellowed, rather. ”How
fast is she ebbin’ ? What’s the drift, eh? Listen to that, will
you? A bell-buoy, and we’re a-top of it! See ’em alterin’ the
From out of the fog came the mournful tolling of a bell, and I
could see the pilot turning the wheel with great rapidity. The
bell, which had seemed straight ahead, was now sounding from the
side. Our own whistle was blowing hoarsely, and from time to time
the sound of other whistles came to us from out of the fog.
”That’s a ferry-boat of some sort,” the new-comer said, indicating
a whistle o to the right. ”And there! D’ye hear that? Blown by
mouth. Some scow schooner, most likely. Better watch out, Mr.
Schooner-man. Ah, I thought so. Now hell’s a poppin’ for
The unseen ferry-boat was blowing blast after blast, and the mouth -
blown horn was tooting in terror-stricken fashion.
”And now they’re payin’ their respects to each other and tryin’ to
get clear,” the red-faced man went on, as the hurried whistling
His face was shining, his eyes flashing with excitement as he
translated into articulate language the speech of the horns and
sirens. ”That’s a steam-siren a-goin’ it over there to the left.
And you hear that fellow wit h a frog in his throat–a steam
schooner as near as I can judge, crawlin’ in from the Heads against
the tide.”
A shrill little whistle, piping as if gone mad, came from directly
ahead and from very near at hand. Gongs sounded on the Martinez.
Our paddle-wheels stopped, their pulsing beat died away, and then
they started again. The shrill little whistle, like the chirping
of a cricket amid the cries of great beasts, shot through the fog
from more to the side and swiftly grew faint and fainter. I looked
to my companion for enlightenment.
”One of them dare-devil launches,” he said. ”I almost wish we’d
sunk him, the little rip! They’re the cause of more trouble. And
what good are they? Any jackass gets aboard one and runs it from
hell to breakfast, blowin’ his whistle to beat the band and tellin’
the rest of the world to look out for him, because he’s comin’ and
can’t look out for himself ! Because he’s comin’ ! And you’ve got
to look out, too! Right of way! Common decency! They don’t know
the meanin’ of it!”
I felt quite amus ed at his unwarranted choler, and while he stumped
indignantly up and down I fell to dwelling upon the romance of the
fog. And romantic it certainly was–the fog, like the grey shadow
of infinite mystery, brooding over the whirling speck of earth; and
men, mere motes of light and sparkle, curs ed with an insane relish
for work, riding their steeds of wood and steel through the heart
of the mystery, groping their way blindly through the Unseen, and
clamouring and clanging in confident speech the while their hearts