I was detained aboard in the first place. It is due to his whim that I am still alive. I do nothing, can do nothing, because I am a slave to this monster, as you are now a slave to him; because I desire to live, as you will desire to live; because I cannot fight and overcome him, just as you will not be able to fight and overcome him.”

She waited for me to go on.

“What remains? Mine is the rôle of the weak. I remain silent and suffer ignominy, as you will remain silent and suffer ignominy. And it is well. It is the best we can do if we wish to live. The battle is not always to the strong. We have not the strength with which to fight this man; we must dissimulate, and win, if win we can, by craft. If you will be advised by me, this is what you will do. I know my position is perilous, and I may say frankly that yours is even more perilous. We must stand together, without appearing to do so, in secret alliance. I shall not be able to side with you openly, and, no matter what indignities may be put upon me, you are to remain likewise silent. We must provoke no scenes with this man, nor cross his will. And we must keep smiling faces and be friendly with him no matter how repulsive it may be.”

She brushed her hand across her forehead in a puzzled way, saying, “Still I do not understand.”

“You must do as I say,” I interrupted authoritatively, for I saw Wolf Larsen’s gaze wandering toward us from where he paced up and down with Latimer amidships. “Do as I say, and ere long you will find I am right.”

“What shall I do, then?” she asked, detecting the anxious glance I had shot at the object of our conversation, and impressed, I flatter myself, with the earnestness of my manner.

“Dispense with all the moral courage you can,” I said briskly. “Don’t arouse this man’s animosity. Be quite friendly with him, talk with him, discuss literature and art with him - he is fond of such things. You will find him an interested listener and no fool. And for your own sake try to avoid witnessing, as much as you can, the brutalities of the ship. It will make it easier for you to act your part.”

“I am to lie,” she said in steady, rebellious tones, “by speech and action to lie.”

Wolf Larsen had separated from Latimer and was coming toward us. I was desperate.

“Please, please understand me,” I said hurriedly, lowering my voice. “All your experience of men and things is worthless here. You must begin over again. I know, - I can see it - you have, among other ways, been used to managing people with your eyes, letting your moral courage speak out through them, as it were. You have already managed me with your eyes, commanded me with them. But don’t try it on Wolf Larsen. You could as easily control a lion, while he would make a mock of you. He would - I have always been proud of the fact that I discovered him,” I said, turning the conversation as Wolf Larsen stepped on the poop and joined us. “The editors were afraid of him and the publishers would have none of him. But I knew, and his genius and my judgment were vindicated when he made that magnificent hit with his ’Forge.’”

“And it was a newspaper poem,” she said glibly.

“It did happen to see the light in a newspaper,” I replied, “but not because the magazine editors had been denied a glimpse at it.”

“We were talking of Harris,” I said to Wolf Larsen.

“Oh, yes,” he acknowledged. “I remember the ’Forge.’ Filled with pretty sentiments and an almighty faith in human illusions. By the way, Mr. Van Weyden, you’d better look in on Cooky. He’s complaining and restless.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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