Sigsand Manuscript


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After this inexplicable affair a week of stagnant calm passed without anything unusual happening, and Captain Tom Pemberton was gradually losing the sense of haunting fear which had been so acute during the nights following the death of the porker.
It was early night, and Mrs. Tom Pemberton was sitting in a deck chair on the weather side of the saloon skylight near the forward end. The Captain and the First Mate were walking up and down, passing and repassing her. Presently the Captain stopped abruptly in his walk, leaving the Mate to continue along the deck. Then, crossing quickly to where his wife was sitting, he bent over her.
"What is it, dear?" he asked. "I've seen you once or twice looking to leeward as though you heard something. What is it?"
His wife sat forward and caught his arm.
"Listen!" she said in a sharp undertone. "There it is again! I've been thinking it must be my fancy; but it isn't. Can't you hear it?"
Captain Tom was listening and, just as his wife spoke, his strained sense caught a low, snarling growl from among the shadows to the leeward. Though he gave a start, he said nothing; but his wife saw his hand steal to his side pocket.
"You heard it?" she asked eagerly. Then, without waiting for an answer: "Do you know, Tom, I've heard the sound three times already. It's just like an animal growling somewhere over there," and she pointed among the shadows. She was so positive about having heard it that her husband gave up all idea of trying to make her believe that her imagination had been playing tricks with her. Instead, he caught her hand and raised her to her feet.
"Come below Annie," he said and led her to the companionway. There he left her for a moment and ran across to where the First Mate was on the look out; then back to her and led her down the stairs. In the saloon she turned and faced him.
"What was it, Tom? You're afraid of something, and you're keeping it from me. It's something to do with this horrible vessel!"
The Captain stared at her with a puzzled look. He did not know how much or how little to tell her. Then, before he could speak, she had stepped to his side and thrust her hand into the side pocket of his coat on the right.
"You've got a pistol!" she cried, pulling the weapon out with a jerk. "That shows it's something you're frightened of! It's something dangerous, and you won't tell me. I shall come up on deck with you again!" She was almost tearful and very much in earnest; so much so that the Captain turned-to and told her everything; which was, after all, the wisest thing he could have done under the circumstances.
"Now" he said, when he had made an end, "you must promise me never to come up on deck at night without me-now promise!"
"I will, dear, if you will promise to be careful and-and not run any risks. Oh, I wish you hadn't taken this horrid ship!" And she commenced to cry.