Sigsand Manuscript


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From the door there came a noise of loud knocking and the voice of the First Mate:
"Anything wrong, Sir?"
"It's all right, Mister Stennings. I'll be with you in half a minute." He heard the Mate's footsteps retreat, and go up the companion ladder. Then he listened quietly as his wife told him her story. When she had made an end, they sat and talked awhile gravely, with an infinity sense of being upon the borders of the Unknown. Suddenly a noise out upon the deck interrupted their talk, a man crying aloud with terror, and then a pistol shot and the Mate's voice shouting. Captain Pemberton leaped to his feet simultaneously with his wife.
"Stay here, Annie!" he commanded and pushed her down onto the seat. He turned to the door; then an idea coming to him, he ran back and thrust his revolver into her hands. "I'll be with you in a minute," he said assuringly; then, seizing a heavy cutlass from a rack the bulkhead, he opened the door and made a run for the deck.
His wife, on her part, at once hurried to make sure that the port catch was properly on. She saw that it was and made haste to screw up tightly. As she did so, she noticed that the bullet had passed clean through the glass on the left-hand side, low down. Then she returned to her seat with the revolver and sat listening and waiting.
On the main-deck the Captain found the Mate and a couple of men just below the break of the poop. The rest of the watch were gathered in a clump a little foreside of them and between them and the Mate stood one of the 'prentices, holding a binnacle lamp. The two men with the Mate were Coalson and Tarpin. Coalson appeared to be saying something; Tarpin was nursing his jaw and seemed to be in considerable pain.
"What is it, Mister Stennings?" sung out the Skipper quickly.
The First Mate glanced up.
"Will you come down, Sir," he said. "There's been some infernal devilment on!"
Even as he spoke the Captain was in the act of running down the poop ladder. Reaching the Mate and the two men, he put a few questions rapidly and learned that Coalson had been on his way after to relieve the "wheel," when all at once something had leaped out at him from under the lee pin-rail. Fortunately, he had turned just in time to avoid it, and then, shouting at the top of his voice, had run for his life. The Mate had heard him and, thinking he saw something behind, had fired. Almost directly afterward they had heard Tarpin calling out further forward, and then he too had come running aft; but just under the skids he had caught his foot in a ring-bolt, and come crashing to the deck, smashing his face badly against the sharp corner of the after hatch. He, too, it would appear, had been chased; but by what, he could not say. Both the men were greatly agitated and could only tell their stories jerkily and with some incoherence.
With a certain feeling of the hopelessness of it all, Captain Pemberton gave orders to get lanterns and search the decks; but, as he anticipated, nothing unusual was found. Yet the bringing out of the lanterns suggested a wise precaution; for he told them to keep out a couple, and carry them about with them when they went to and fro along the decks.


 航海士がそう言った時にはもう、トムは船尾楼への階段に辿り着いていた。航海士と二人の水夫に近付きながら、トムは簡潔に幾つかのことを訊いた。それで分かったことは、コアルソンが「舵取り」を終えて戻る途中、突然何かがピンレール(帆綱止め)の下の物陰から彼に向かって飛び出してきたのだということだった。幸い、彼はぎりぎりでそれをかわすことができた。それから彼は身を守ろうと、声を限りに叫んだのだということだった。航海士は彼の声を聞いて、彼が物陰に何かを見たのだと思い、発砲した。その直後に、彼らは、ずっと前の方からターピンが大きな声で呼んでいるのを聞いた。それからターピンもすぐに船尾楼へ向かって走りだしたのだが、ちょうど足元にあったスキッド(貨物の下に敷く角材または荷物の積み卸しの際に舷側を保護する木材)のリングボルト(綱などを結びつけるために甲板に取り付けられた、環のついた 螺釘)に足を取られて甲板にすっ転び、したたかに後部船倉口の鋭い角に顔を打ち付けてしまった。彼もやはり、その様子から見ると、追跡をしていたのだろう。だが、何故だか彼はそうは言わなかった。水夫達は二人とも酷く動揺していた。それで、ただ自分達の話を、いささか支離滅裂気味に、たどたどしく語るだけで精一杯だったのだ。