The Sea Wolf HTML version

Chapter 2
I seemed swinging in a mighty rhythm through orbit vastness. Sparkling points of light
spluttered and shot past me. They were stars, I knew, and flaring comets, that peopled my
flight among the suns. As I reached the limit of my swing and prepared to rush back on
the counter swing, a great gong struck and thundered. For an immeasurable period,
lapped in the rippling of placid centuries, I enjoyed and pondered my tremendous flight.
But a change came over the face of the dream, for a dream I told myself it must be. My
rhythm grew shorter and shorter. I was jerked from swing to counter swing with irritating
haste. I could scarcely catch my breath, so fiercely was I impelled through the heavens.
The gong thundered more frequently and more furiously. I grew to await it with a
nameless dread. Then it seemed as though I were being dragged over rasping sands, white
and hot in the sun. This gave place to a sense of intolerable anguish. My skin was
scorching in the torment of fire. The gong clanged and knelled. The sparkling points of
light flashed past me in an interminable stream, as though the whole sidereal system were
dropping into the void. I gasped, caught my breath painfully, and opened my eyes. Two
men were kneeling beside me, working over me. My mighty rhythm was the lift and
forward plunge of a ship on the sea. The terrific gong was a frying-pan, hanging on the
wall, that rattled and clattered with each leap of the ship. The rasping, scorching sands
were a man's hard hands chafing my naked chest. I squirmed under the pain of it, and half
lifted my head. My chest was raw and red, and I could see tiny blood globules starting
through the torn and inflamed cuticle.
"That'll do, Yonson," one of the men said. "Carn't yer see you've bloomin' well rubbed all
the gent's skin orf?"
The man addressed as Yonson, a man of the heavy Scandinavian type, ceased chafing
me, and arose awkwardly to his feet. The man who had spoken to him was clearly a
Cockney, with the clean lines and weakly pretty, almost effeminate, face of the man who
has absorbed the sound of Bow Bells with his mother's milk. A draggled muslin cap on
his head and a dirty gunny-sack about his slim hips proclaimed him cook of the decidedly
dirty ship's galley in which I found myself.
"An' 'ow yer feelin' now, sir?" he asked, with the subservient smirk which comes only of
generations of tip-seeking ancestors.
For reply, I twisted weakly into a sitting posture, and was helped by Yonson to my feet.
The rattle and bang of the frying-pan was grating horribly on my nerves. I could not
collect my thoughts. Clutching the woodwork of the galley for support, - and I confess
the grease with which it was scummed put my teeth on edge, - I reached across a hot
cooking-range to the offending utensil, unhooked it, and wedged it securely into the coal-