Sigsand Manuscript


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Two of the pigs were huddled up in the starboard corner of the sty and they were bleeding in several places. The third, a big fellow, was stretched upon his back; he had apparently been bitten terribly about the throat and was quite dead.
The Captain put his hand on the Second's shoulder and stooped forward to get a better view.
"My God, Mister Kasson, what's been here," he muttered with an air of consternation.
The men had drawn up close behind and around and were now looking on, almost too astonished to venture opinions. Then a mans voice broke the momentary silence:
"Looks as if they 'ad been 'avin a 'op with a cussed treat shark!"
The Second Mate moved the light along the bars. "The door's shut and the toggel's on, Sir," he said in a low voice.
The Skipper grasped his meaning but said nothing.
"S'posin' it 'ad been one o' us," muttered a man behind him.
From the surrounding "crowd" there came a murmur of comprehension and some uneasy glancing from side to side and behind.
The Skipper faced round upon them.
He opened his mouth to speak; then shut it as though a sudden idea had come to him.
"That light, quickly, Mister Kasson!" he exclaimed, holding out his hand.
The Second passed him the lamp, and he held it above his head.
He was counting the men. They were all there, watch below and watch on deck; even the man on the lookout had come running down.There was absent only the man at the wheel.
He turned to the Second Mate.
"Take a couple of the men aft with you, Mr. Kasson, and pass out some lamps. We must make a search!"
In a couple of minutes they returned with a dozen lighted lamp which were quickly distributed among the men; then a thorough search of the decks was commenced. Every corner was peered into; but nothing found, and so, at last, they had to give it up, unsuccessful.
"That'll do, men," said Captain Tom. "Hang one of those lamp up foreside the pigsty and shove the others back in the locker." Then he and the Second Mate went aft.
At the bottom of the poop steps the Skipper stopped abruptly and said "Hush!" For a half a minute they listened, but without being able to say that they had heard anything definite. Then Captain Tom Pemberton turned and continued his way up onto the poop.
"What was it, Sir?" asked the Second, as he joined him at the top of the ladder.
"I'm hanged if I know!" replied Captain Tom. "I feel all adrift. I never heard there was anything-anything like this!"
"And we've no dogs aboard!"
"Dogs! More like tigers! Did you hear what one of the shellbacks said?"
"A shark, you mean, Sir?" said the Second Mate, with some remonstrance in his tone.
"Have you ever seen a shark-bite Mister Kasson?"
"No, sir," replied the Second Mate.
"Those are shark-bites, Mister Kasson! God help us! Those are shark-bites!"