The Sea Wolf HTML version

Chapter 32
I awoke, oppressed by a mysterious sensation. There seemed something missing in my
environment. But the mystery and oppressiveness vanished after the first few seconds of
waking, when I identified the missing something as the wind. I had fallen asleep in that
state of nerve tension with which one meets the continuous shock of sound or movement,
and I had awakened, still tense, bracing myself to meet the pressure of something which
no longer bore upon me.
It was the first night I had spent under cover in several months, and I lay luxuriously for
some minutes under my blankets (for once not wet with fog or spray), analysing, first, the
effect produced upon me by the cessation of the wind, and next, the joy which was mine
from resting on the mattress made by Maud's hands. When I had dressed and opened the
door, I heard the waves still lapping on the beach, garrulously attesting the fury of the
night. It was a clear day, and the sun was shining. I had slept late, and I stepped outside
with sudden energy, bent upon making up lost time as befitted a dweller on Endeavour
And when outside, I stopped short. I believed my eyes without question, and yet I was for
the moment stunned by what they disclosed to me. There, on the beach, not fifty feet
away, bow on, dismasted, was a black-hulled vessel. Masts and booms, tangled with
shrouds, sheets, and rent canvas, were rubbing gently alongside. I could have rubbed my
eyes as I looked. There was the home-made galley we had built, the familiar break of the
poop, the low yacht-cabin scarcely rising above the rail. It was the Ghost.
What freak of fortune had brought it here - here of all spots? what chance of chances? I
looked at the bleak, inaccessible wall at my back and know the profundity of despair.
Escape was hopeless, out of the question. I thought of Maud, asleep there in the hut we
had reared; I remembered her "Good-night, Humphrey"; "my woman, my mate," went
ringing through my brain, but now, alas, it was a knell that sounded. Then everything
went black before my eyes.
Possibly it was the fraction of a second, but I had no knowledge of how long an interval
had lapsed before I was myself again. There lay the Ghost, bow on to the beach, her
splintered bowsprit projecting over the sand, her tangled spars rubbing against her side to
the lift of the crooning waves. Something must be done, must be done.
It came upon me suddenly, as strange, that nothing moved aboard. Wearied from the
night of struggle and wreck, all hands were yet asleep, I thought. My next thought was
that Maud and I might yet escape. If we could take to the boat and make round the point
before any one awoke? I would call her and start. My hand was lifted at her door to
knock, when I recollected the smallness of the island. We could never hide ourselves
upon it. There was nothing for us but the wide raw ocean. I thought of our snug little
huts, our supplies of meat and oil and moss and firewood, and I knew that we could never
survive the wintry sea and the great storms which were to come.