Chapter 34

“It’s too bad the Ghost has lost her masts. Why we could sail away in her. Don’t you think we could, Humphrey?”

I sprang excitedly to my feet.

“I wonder, I wonder,” I repeated, pacing up and down.

Maud’s eyes were shining with anticipation as they followed me. She had such faith in me! And the thought of it was so much added power. I remembered Michelet’s “To man, woman is as the earth was to her legendary son; he has but to fall down and kiss her breast and he is strong again.” For the first time I knew the wonderful truth of his words. Why, I was living them. Maud was all this to me, an unfailing, source of strength and courage. I had but to look at her, or think of her, and be strong again.

“It can be done, it can be done,” I was thinking and asserting aloud. “What men have done, I can do; and if they have never done this before, still I can do it.”

“What? for goodness’ sake,” Maud demanded. “Do be merciful. What is it you can do?”

“We can do it,” I amended. “Why, nothing else than put the masts back into the Ghost and sail away.”

“Humphrey!” she exclaimed.

And I felt as proud of my conception as if it were already a fact accomplished.

“But how is it possible to be done?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” was my answer. “I know only that I am capable of doing anything these days.”

I smiled proudly at her - too proudly, for she dropped her eyes and was for the moment silent.

“But there is Captain Larsen,” she objected.

“Blind and helpless,” I answered promptly, waving him aside as a straw.

“But those terrible hands of his! You know how he leaped across the opening of the lazarette.”

“And you know also how I crept about and avoided him,” I contended gaily.

“And lost your shoes.”

“You’d hardly expect them to avoid Wolf Larsen without my feet inside of them.”

We both laughed, and then went seriously to work constructing the plan whereby we were to step the masts of the Ghost and return to the world. I remembered hazily the physics of my school days, while the last few months had given me practical experience with mechanical purchases. I must say, though, when we walked down to the Ghost to inspect more closely the task before us, that the sight of the great masts lying in the water almost disheartened me. Where were we to begin? If there had been one mast standing, something high up to which to fasten blocks and tackles! But there was nothing. It reminded me of the problem of lifting oneself by one’s boot-straps. I understood the mechanics of levers; but where was I to get a fulcrum?

There was the mainmast, fifteen inches in diameter at what was now the butt, still sixty-five feet in length, and weighing, I roughly calculated, at least three thousand pounds. And then came the foremast, larger in diameter, and weighing surely thirty-five hundred pounds. Where was I to begin? Maud stood silently by my side, while I evolved in my mind the contrivance known among sailors as “shears.” But, though known to sailors, I invented it there on Endeavour Island. By crossing and lashing the ends of two spars,

  By PanEris using Melati.

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