The Sea Wolf HTML version

Chapter 27
Day broke, grey and chill. The boat was close-hauled on a fresh breeze and the compass
indicated that we were just making the course which would bring us to Japan. Though
stoutly mittened, my fingers were cold, and they pained from the grip on the steering-
oar. My feet were stinging from the bite of the frost, and I hoped fervently that the sun
would shine.
Before me, in the bottom of the boat, lay Maud. She, at least, was warm, for under her
and over her were thick blankets. The top one I had drawn over her face to shelter it from
the night, so I could see nothing but the vague shape of her, and her light-brown hair,
escaped from the covering and jewelled with moisture from the air.
Long I looked at her, dwelling upon that one visible bit of her as only a man would who
deemed it the most precious thing in the world. So insistent was my gaze that at last she
stirred under the blankets, the top fold was thrown back and she smiled out on me, her
eyes yet heavy with sleep.
"Good-morning, Mr. Van Weyden," she said. "Have you sighted land yet?"
"No," I answered, "but we are approaching it at a rate of six miles an hour."
She made a MOUE of disappointment.
"But that is equivalent to one hundred and forty-four miles in twenty-four hours," I added
Her face brightened. "And how far have we to go?"
"Siberia lies off there," I said, pointing to the west. "But to the south-west, some six
hundred miles, is Japan. If this wind should hold, we'll make it in five days."
"And if it storms? The boat could not live?"
She had a way of looking one in the eyes and demanding the truth, and thus she looked at
me as she asked the question.
"It would have to storm very hard," I temporized.
"And if it storms very hard?"
I nodded my head. "But we may be picked up any moment by a sealing-schooner. They
are plentifully distributed over this part of the ocean."