The Sea Wolf HTML version

Chapter 5
But my first night in the hunters' steerage was also my last. Next day Johansen, the new
mate, was routed from the cabin by Wolf Larsen, and sent into the steerage to sleep
thereafter, while I took possession of the tiny cabin state-room, which, on the first day of
the voyage, had already had two occupants. The reason for this change was quickly
learned by the hunters, and became the cause of a deal of grumbling on their part. It
seemed that Johansen, in his sleep, lived over each night the events of the day. His
incessant talking and shouting and bellowing of orders had been too much for Wolf
Larsen, who had accordingly foisted the nuisance upon his hunters.
After a sleepless night, I arose weak and in agony, to hobble through my second day on
the Ghost. Thomas Mugridge routed me out at half-past five, much in the fashion that
Bill Sykes must have routed out his dog; but Mr. Mugridge's brutality to me was paid
back in kind and with interest. The unnecessary noise he made (I had lain wide-eyed the
whole night) must have awakened one of the hunters; for a heavy shoe whizzed through
the semi-darkness, and Mr. Mugridge, with a sharp howl of pain, humbly begged
everybody's pardon. Later on, in the galley, I noticed that his ear was bruised and
swollen. It never went entirely back to its normal shape, and was called a "cauliflower
ear" by the sailors.
The day was filled with miserable variety. I had taken my dried clothes down from the
galley the night before, and the first thing I did was to exchange the cook's garments for
them. I looked for my purse. In addition to some small change (and I have a good
memory for such things), it had contained one hundred and eighty- five dollars in gold
and paper. The purse I found, but its contents, with the exception of the small silver, had
been abstracted. I spoke to the cook about it, when I went on deck to take up my duties in
the galley, and though I had looked forward to a surly answer, I had not expected the
belligerent harangue that I received.
"Look 'ere, 'Ump," he began, a malicious light in his eyes and a snarl in his throat; "d'ye
want yer nose punched? If you think I'm a thief, just keep it to yerself, or you'll find 'ow
bloody well mistyken you are. Strike me blind if this ayn't gratitude for yer! 'Ere you
come, a pore mis'rable specimen of 'uman scum, an' I tykes yer into my galley an' treats
yer 'ansom, an' this is wot I get for it. Nex' time you can go to 'ell, say I, an' I've a good
mind to give you what-for anyw'y."
So saying, he put up his fists and started for me. To my shame be it, I cowered away from
the blow and ran out the galley door. What else was I to do? Force, nothing but force,
obtained on this brute-ship. Moral suasion was a thing unknown. Picture it to yourself: a
man of ordinary stature, slender of build, and with weak, undeveloped muscles, who has
lived a peaceful, placid life, and is unused to violence of any sort - what could such a man
possibly do? There was no more reason that I should stand and face these human beasts
than that I should stand and face an infuriated bull.