"Yes, sir," came the answer of a spirit cowed.
"And you?" I was asked.
"I'll give you a thousand -- " I began, but was interrupted.
"Stow that! Are you going to take up your duties as cabin-boy? Or do I have to take you in hand?"
What was I to do? To be brutally beaten, to be killed perhaps, would not help my case. I looked steadily into the cruel gray eyes. They might have been granite for all the light and warmth of a human soul they contained. One may see the soul stir in some men's eyes, but his were bleak, and cold, and gray as the sea itself.
"Yes," I said.
"Say `yes, sir.'"
"Yes, sir," I corrected.
"What is your name?"
"Van Weyden, sir."
"Humphrey, sir; Humphrey Van Weyden."
"That'll do. Go to the cook and learn your duties."
And thus it was that I passed into a state of involuntary servitude to Wolf Larsen. He was stronger than I, that was all. But it was very unreal at the time. It is no less unreal now that I look back upon it. It will always be to me a monstrous, inconceivable thing, a horrible nightmare.
"Hold on, don't go yet."
I stopped obediently in my walk toward the galley.
"Johansen, call all hands. Now that we've everything cleaned up, we'll have the funeral and get the decks cleared of useless lumber."