THE SHADOW OF HIS FOE

Came the lightning, before us, behind us, on every side, bathing us in flaming minutes at a time. And all the while we were deafened by the unceasing uproar of thunder. It was a weird sight – far aloft the black skeleton of spars and masts from which the sails had been removed; lower down, the sailors clinging like monstrous bugs as they passed the gaskets and furled; beneath them the few set sails, filled backward against the masts, gleaming whitely, wickedly, evilly, in the fearful illumination; and, at the bottom, the deck and bridge and houses of the ship, and a tangled riff-raff of flying ropes, and clumps and bunches of swaying, pulling, hauling, human creatures.

It was a great moment, the master’s moment – caught all aback with all our bulk and tonnage and infinitude of gear, and our heaven-aspiring masts two hundred feet above our heads

And our master was there, in sheeting flame, slender, casual, imperturbable, with two men under him to pass on and enforce his will, and with a horde of inefficients to obey that will, and pull, and haul, and by the sheer leverages of physics manipulate our floating world so that it would endure this fury of the elements.

JACK LONDON 1915