Chapter 37

At once we moved aboard the Ghost, occupying our old state-rooms and cooking in the galley. The imprisonment of Wolf Larsen had happened most opportunely, for what must have been the Indian summer of this high latitude was gone and drizzling stormy weather had set in. We were very comfortable, and the inadequate shears, with the foremast suspended from them, gave a business-like air to the schooner and a promise of departure.

And now that we had Wolf Larsen in irons, how little did we need it! Like his first attack, his second had been accompanied by serious disablement. Maud made the discovery in the afternoon while trying to give him nourishment. He had shown signs of consciousness, and she had spoken to him, eliciting no response. He was lying on his left side at the time, and in evident pain. With a restless movement he rolled his head around, clearing his left ear from the pillow against which it had been pressed. At once he heard and answered her, and at once she came to me.

Pressing the pillow against his left ear, I asked him if he heard me, but he gave no sign. Removing the pillow and, repeating the question he answered promptly that he did.

“Do you know you are deaf in the right ear?” I asked.

“Yes,” he answered in a low, strong voice, “and worse than that. My whole right side is affected. It seems asleep. I cannot move arm or leg.”

“Feigning again?” I demanded angrily.

He shook his head, his stern mouth shaping the strangest, twisted smile. It was indeed a twisted smile, for it was on the left side only, the facial muscles of the right side moving not at all.

“That was the last play of the Wolf,” he said. “I am paralysed. I shall never walk again. Oh, only on the other side,” he added, as though divining the suspicious glance I flung at his left leg, the knee of which had just then drawn up, and elevated the blankets.

“It’s unfortunate,” he continued. “I’d liked to have done for you first, Hump. And I thought I had that much left in me.”

“But why?” I asked; partly in horror, partly out of curiosity.

Again his stern mouth framed the twisted smile, as he said:

“Oh, just to be alive, to be living and doing, to be the biggest bit of the ferment to the end, to eat you. But to die this way.”

He shrugged his shoulders, or attempted to shrug them, rather, for the left shoulder alone moved. Like the smile, the shrug was twisted.

“But how can you account for it?” I asked. “Where is the seat of your trouble?”

“The brain,” he said at once. “It was those cursed headaches brought it on.”

“Symptoms,” I said.

He nodded his head. “There is no accounting for it. I was never sick in my life. Something’s gone wrong with my brain. A cancer, a tumour, or something of that nature, - a thing that devours and destroys. It’s attacking my nerve-centres, eating them up, bit by bit, cell by cell - from the pain.”

“The motor-centres, too,” I suggested.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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