We waited all day for Wolf Larsen to come ashore. It was an intolerable period of anxiety. Each moment one or the other of us cast expectant glances toward the Ghost. But he did not come. He did not even appear on deck.
Perhaps it is his headache, I said. I left him lying on the poop. He may lie there all night. I think Ill go and see.
Maud looked entreaty at me.
It is all right, I assured her. I shall take the revolvers. You know I collected every weapon on board.
But there are his arms, his hands, his terrible, terrible hands! she objected. And then she cried, Oh, Humphrey, I am afraid of him! Dont go - please dont go!
She rested her hand appealingly on mine, and sent my pulse fluttering. My heart was surely in my eyes for a moment. The dear and lovely woman! And she was so much the woman, clinging and appealing, sunshine and dew to my manhood, rooting it deeper and sending through it the sap of a new strength. I was for putting my arm around her, as when in the midst of the seal herd; but I considered, and refrained.
I shall not take any risks, I said. Ill merely peep over the bow and see.
She pressed my hand earnestly and let me go. But the space on deck where I had left him lying was vacant. He had evidently gone below. That night we stood alternate watches, one of us sleeping at a time; for there was no telling what Wolf Larsen might do. He was certainly capable of anything.
The next day we waited, and the next, and still he made no sign.
These headaches of his, these attacks, Maud said, on the afternoon of the fourth day; Perhaps he is ill, very ill. He may be dead.
Or dying, was her afterthought when she had waited some time for me to speak.
Better so, I answered.
But think, Humphrey, a fellow-creature in his last lonely hour.
Perhaps, I suggested.
Yes, even perhaps, she acknowledged. But we do not know. It would be terrible if he were. I could never forgive myself. We must do something.
Perhaps, I suggested again.
I waited, smiling inwardly at the woman of her which compelled a solicitude for Wolf Larsen, of all creatures. Where was her solicitude for me, I thought, - for me whom she had been afraid to have merely peep aboard?
She was too subtle not to follow the trend of my silence. And she was as direct as she was subtle.
You must go aboard, Humphrey, and find out, she said. And if you want to laugh at me, you have my consent and forgiveness.
I arose obediently and went down the beach.
Do be careful, she called after me.
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|