The Sea Wolf HTML version

Chapter 36
For two days Maud and I ranged the sea and explored the beaches in search of the
missing masts. But it was not till the third day that we found them, all of them, the shears
included, and, of all perilous places, in the pounding surf of the grim south-western
promontory. And how we worked! At the dark end of the first day we returned,
exhausted, to our little cove, towing the mainmast behind us. And we had been compelled
to row, in a dead calm, practically every inch of the way.
Another day of heart-breaking and dangerous toil saw us in camp with the two topmasts
to the good. The day following I was desperate, and I rafted together the foremast, the
fore and main booms, and the fore and main gaffs. The wind was favourable, and I had
thought to tow them back under sail, but the wind baffled, then died away, and our
progress with the oars was a snail's pace. And it was such dispiriting effort. To throw
one's whole strength and weight on the oars and to feel the boat checked in its forward
lunge by the heavy drag behind, was not exactly exhilarating.
Night began to fall, and to make matters worse, the wind sprang up ahead. Not only did
all forward motion cease, but we began to drift back and out to sea. I struggled at the oars
till I was played out. Poor Maud, whom I could never prevent from working to the limit
of her strength, lay weakly back in the stern-sheets. I could row no more. My bruised and
swollen hands could no longer close on the oar handles. My wrists and arms ached
intolerably, and though I had eaten heartily of a twelve-o'clock lunch, I had worked so
hard that I was faint from hunger.
I pulled in the oars and bent forward to the line which held the tow. But Maud's hand
leaped out restrainingly to mine.
"What are you going to do?" she asked in a strained, tense voice.
"Cast it off," I answered, slipping a turn of the rope.
But her fingers closed on mine.
"Please don't," she begged.
"It is useless," I answered. "Here is night and the wind blowing us off the land."
"But think, Humphrey. If we cannot sail away on the Ghost, we may remain for years on
the island - for life even. If it has never been discovered all these years, it may never be
"You forget the boat we found on the beach," I reminded her.