I waited, watching two men who stood by the wheel, one of them steering. The other was lifting a megaphone to his lips. I did not turn my head, though I expected every moment a killing blow from the human brute behind me. At last, after what seemed centuries, unable longer to stand the strain, I looked around. He had not moved. He was standing in the same position, swaying easily to the roll of the ship and lighting a fresh cigar.
"What is the matter? Anything wrong?"
This was the cry from the Lady Mine.
"Yes!" I shouted, at the top of my lungs. "Life or death! One thousand dollars if you take me ashore!"
"Too much 'Frisco tanglefoot for the health of my crew!" Wolf Larsen shouted after. "This one,"—indicating me with his thumb,—"fancies sea-serpents and monkeys just now!"
The man on the Lady Mine laughed back through the megaphone. The pilot-boat plunged past.
"Give him hell for me!" came a final cry, and the two men waved their arms in farewell.
I leaned despairingly over the rail, watching the trim little schooner swiftly increasing the bleak sweep of ocean between us. And she would probably be in San Francisco in five or six hours! My head seemed bursting. There was an ache in my throat as though my heart were up in it. A curling wave struck the side and splashed salt spray on my lips. The wind puffed strongly, and the Ghost heeled far over, burying her lee rail. I could hear the water rushing down upon the deck.
When I turned around, a moment later, I saw the cabin-boy staggering to his feet. His face was ghastly white, twitching with suppressed pain. He looked very sick.
"Well, Leach, are you going for'ard?" Wolf Larsen asked.