The Sea Wolf HTML version

Chapter 21
The chagrin Wolf Larsen felt from being ignored by Maud Brewster and me in the
conversation at table had to express itself in some fashion, and it fell to Thomas
Mugridge to be the victim. He had not mended his ways nor his shirt, though the latter he
contended he had changed. The garment itself did not bear out the assertion, nor did the
accumulations of grease on stove and pot and pan attest a general cleanliness.
"I've given you warning, Cooky," Wolf Larsen said, "and now you've got to take your
Mugridge's face turned white under its sooty veneer, and when Wolf Larsen called for a
rope and a couple of men, the miserable Cockney fled wildly out of the galley and
dodged and ducked about the deck with the grinning crew in pursuit. Few things could
have been more to their liking than to give him a tow over the side, for to the forecastle
he had sent messes and concoctions of the vilest order. Conditions favoured the
undertaking. The Ghost was slipping through the water at no more than three miles an
hour, and the sea was fairly calm. But Mugridge had little stomach for a dip in it.
Possibly he had seen men towed before. Besides, the water was frightfully cold, and his
was anything but a rugged constitution.
As usual, the watches below and the hunters turned out for what promised sport.
Mugridge seemed to be in rabid fear of the water, and he exhibited a nimbleness and
speed we did not dream he possessed. Cornered in the right-angle of the poop and galley,
he sprang like a cat to the top of the cabin and ran aft. But his pursuers forestalling him,
he doubled back across the cabin, passed over the galley, and gained the deck by means
of the steerage- scuttle. Straight forward he raced, the boat-puller Harrison at his heels
and gaining on him. But Mugridge, leaping suddenly, caught the jib-boom-lift. It
happened in an instant. Holding his weight by his arms, and in mid-air doubling his body
at the hips, he let fly with both feet. The oncoming Harrison caught the kick squarely in
the pit of the stomach, groaned involuntarily, and doubled up and sank backward to the
Hand-clapping and roars of laughter from the hunters greeted the exploit, while
Mugridge, eluding half of his pursuers at the foremast, ran aft and through the remainder
like a runner on the football field. Straight aft he held, to the poop and along the poop to
the stern. So great was his speed that as he curved past the corner of the cabin he slipped
and fell. Nilson was standing at the wheel, and the Cockney's hurtling body struck his
legs. Both went down together, but Mugridge alone arose. By some freak of pressures,
his frail body had snapped the strong man's leg like a pipe-stem.
Parsons took the wheel, and the pursuit continued. Round and round the decks they went,
Mugridge sick with fear, the sailors hallooing and shouting directions to one another, and
the hunters bellowing encouragement and laughter. Mugridge went down on the fore-
hatch under three men; but he emerged from the mass like an eel, bleeding at the mouth,