The Sea Wolf HTML version

Chapter 24
Among the most vivid memories of my life are those of the events on the Ghost which
occurred during the forty hours succeeding the discovery of my love for Maud Brewster.
I, who had lived my life in quiet places, only to enter at the age of thirty-five upon a
course of the most irrational adventure I could have imagined, never had more incident
and excitement crammed into any forty hours of my experience. Nor can I quite close my
ears to a small voice of pride which tells me I did not do so badly, all things considered.
To begin with, at the midday dinner, Wolf Larsen informed the hunters that they were to
eat thenceforth in the steerage. It was an unprecedented thing on sealing-schooners,
where it is the custom for the hunters to rank, unofficially as officers. He gave no reason,
but his motive was obvious enough. Horner and Smoke had been displaying a gallantry
toward Maud Brewster, ludicrous in itself and inoffensive to her, but to him evidently
The announcement was received with black silence, though the other four hunters
glanced significantly at the two who had been the cause of their banishment. Jock Horner,
quiet as was his way, gave no sign; but the blood surged darkly across Smoke's forehead,
and he half opened his mouth to speak. Wolf Larsen was watching him, waiting for him,
the steely glitter in his eyes; but Smoke closed his mouth again without having said
"Anything to say?" the other demanded aggressively.
It was a challenge, but Smoke refused to accept it.
"About what?" he asked, so innocently that Wolf Larsen was disconcerted, while the
others smiled.
"Oh, nothing," Wolf Larsen said lamely. "I just thought you might want to register a
"About what?" asked the imperturbable Smoke.
Smoke's mates were now smiling broadly. His captain could have killed him, and I doubt
not that blood would have flowed had not Maud Brewster been present. For that matter, it
was her presence which enabled. Smoke to act as he did. He was too discreet and
cautious a man to incur Wolf Larsen's anger at a time when that anger could be expressed
in terms stronger than words. I was in fear that a struggle might take place, but a cry from
the helmsman made it easy for the situation to save itself.
"Smoke ho!" the cry came down the open companion-way.
"How's it bear?" Wolf Larsen called up.