The Sea Wolf HTML version

Chapter 18
The next day, while the storm was blowing itself out, Wolf Larsen and I crammed
anatomy and surgery and set Mugridge's ribs. Then, when the storm broke, Wolf Larsen
cruised back and forth over that portion of the ocean where we had encountered it, and
somewhat more to the westward, while the boats were being repaired and new sails made
and bent. Sealing schooner after sealing schooner we sighted and boarded, most of which
were in search of lost boats, and most of which were carrying boats and crews they had
picked up and which did not belong to them. For the thick of the fleet had been to the
westward of us, and the boats, scattered far and wide, had headed in mad flight for the
nearest refuge.
Two of our boats, with men all safe, we took off the Cisco, and, to Wolf Larsen's huge
delight and my own grief, he culled Smoke, with Nilson and Leach, from the San Diego.
So that, at the end of five days, we found ourselves short but four men - Henderson,
Holyoak, Williams, and Kelly, - and were once more hunting on the flanks of the herd.
As we followed it north we began to encounter the dreaded sea-fogs. Day after day the
boats lowered and were swallowed up almost ere they touched the water, while we on
board pumped the horn at regular intervals and every fifteen minutes fired the bomb gun.
Boats were continually being lost and found, it being the custom for a boat to hunt, on
lay, with whatever schooner picked it up, until such time it was recovered by its own
schooner. But Wolf Larsen, as was to be expected, being a boat short, took possession of
the first stray one and compelled its men to hunt with the Ghost, not permitting them to
return to their own schooner when we sighted it. I remember how he forced the hunter
and his two men below, a riffle at their breasts, when their captain passed by at biscuit-
toss and hailed us for information.
Thomas Mugridge, so strangely and pertinaciously clinging to life, was soon limping
about again and performing his double duties of cook and cabin-boy. Johnson and Leach
were bullied and beaten as much as ever, and they looked for their lives to end with the
end of the hunting season; while the rest of the crew lived the lives of dogs and were
worked like dogs by their pitiless master. As for Wolf Larsen and myself, we got along
fairly well; though I could not quite rid myself of the idea that right conduct, for me, lay
in killing him. He fascinated me immeasurably, and I feared him immeasurably. And yet,
I could not imagine him lying prone in death. There was an endurance, as of perpetual
youth, about him, which rose up and forbade the picture. I could see him only as living
always, and dominating always, fighting and destroying, himself surviving.
One diversion of his, when we were in the midst of the herd and the sea was too rough to
lower the boats, was to lower with two boat- pullers and a steerer and go out himself. He
was a good shot, too, and brought many a skin aboard under what the hunters termed
impossible hunting conditions. It seemed the breath of his nostrils, this carrying his life in
his hands and struggling for it against tremendous odds.