“Cut that out, Borckman! Leave the puppy alone!”
The mate turned in the startle of surprise at being observed. The sharp, authoritative words of Van Horn were a call across the million years. Borckman’s anger-convulsed face ludicrously attempted a sheepish, deprecating grin, and he was just mumbling, “We was only playing,” when Jerry arrived back, leaped in the air, and sank his teeth into the offending hand.
Borckman immediately and insanely went back across the million years. An attempted kick got his ankle scored for his pains. He gibbered his own rage and hurt, and, stooping, dealt Jerry a tremendous blow alongside the head and neck. Being in mid-leap when he received the blow Jerry was twistingly somersaulted sidewise before he struck the deck on his back. As swiftly as he could scramble to footing and charge, he returned to the attack, but was checked by Skipper’s:
“Jerry! Stop it! Come here!”
He obeyed, but only by prodigious effort, his neck bristling and his lips writhing clear of his teeth as he passed the mate. For the first time there was a whimper in his throat; but it was not the whimper of fear, nor of pain, but of outrage, and of desire to continue the battle which he struggled to control at Skipper’s behest.
Stepping out on deck, Skipper picked him up and patted and soothed him the while he expressed his mind to the mate.
“Borckman, you ought to be ashamed. You ought to be shot or have your block knocked off for this. A puppy, a little puppy scarcely weaned. For two cents I’d give you what-for myself. The idea of it. A little puppy, a weanling little puppy. Glad your hands are ripped. You deserved it. Hope you get blood-poisoning in them. Besides, you’re drunk. Go below and turn in, and don’t you dare come on deck until you’re sober. Savve?”
And Jerry, far-journeyer across life and across the history of all life that goes to make the world, strugglingly mastering the abysmal slime of the prehistoric with the love that had come into existence and had become warp and woof of him in far later time, his wrath of ancientness still faintly reverberating in his throat like the rumblings of a passing thunder-storm, knew, in the wide warm ways of feeling, the augustness and righteousness of Skipper. Skipper was in truth a god who did right, who was fair, who protected, and who imperiously commanded this other and lesser god that slunk away before his anger.
Jerry and Skipper shared the long afternoon-watch together, the latter being guilty of recurrent chuckles and exclamations such as: “Gott-fer-dang, Jerry, believe me, you’re some fighter and all dog”; or, “You’re a proper man’s dog, you are, a lion dog. I bet the lion don’t live that could get your goat.”