The Sea Wolf HTML version

Chapter 30
No wonder we called it Endeavour Island. For two weeks we toiled at building a hut.
Maud insisted on helping, and I could have wept over her bruised and bleeding hands.
And still, I was proud of her because of it. There was something heroic about this gently-
bred woman enduring our terrible hardship and with her pittance of strength bending to
the tasks of a peasant woman. She gathered many of the stones which I built into the
walls of the hut; also, she turned a deaf ear to my entreaties when I begged her to desist.
She compromised, however, by taking upon herself the lighter labours of cooking and
gathering driftwood and moss for our winter's supply.
The hut's walls rose without difficulty, and everything went smoothly until the problem
of the roof confronted me. Of what use the four walls without a roof? And of what could
a roof be made? There were the spare oars, very true. They would serve as roof-beams;
but with what was I to cover them? Moss would never do. Tundra grass was
impracticable. We needed the sail for the boat, and the tarpaulin had begun to leak.
"Winters used walrus skins on his hut," I said.
"There are the seals," she suggested.
So next day the hunting began. I did not know how to shoot, but I proceeded to learn.
And when I had expended some thirty shells for three seals, I decided that the
ammunition would be exhausted before I acquired the necessary knowledge. I had used
eight shells for lighting fires before I hit upon the device of banking the embers with wet
moss, and there remained not over a hundred shells in the box.
"We must club the seals," I announced, when convinced of my poor marksmanship. "I
have heard the sealers talk about clubbing them."
"They are so pretty," she objected. "I cannot bear to think of it being done. It is so
directly brutal, you know; so different from shooting them."
"That roof must go on," I answered grimly. "Winter is almost here. It is our lives against
theirs. It is unfortunate we haven't plenty of ammunition, but I think, anyway, that they
suffer less from being clubbed than from being all shot up. Besides, I shall do the
"That's just it," she began eagerly, and broke off in sudden confusion.
"Of course," I began, "if you prefer - "
"But what shall I be doing?" she interrupted, with that softness I knew full well to be