Sigsand Manuscript


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After that, he walked forrard to the break of the poop, and lit his pipe, again--walking forrard and aft every few minutes, and eyeing me, at times, I thought, with a strange, half-doubtful, half-puzzled look.
Later, as soon as I was relieved, I hurried down to the 'prentice's berth. I was anxious to speak to Tammy. There were a dozen questions that worried me, and I was in doubt what I ought to do. I found him crouched on a sea-chest, his knees up to his chin, and his gaze fixed on the doorway, with a frightened stare. I put my head into the berth, and he gave a gasp; then he saw who it was, and his face relaxed something of its strained expression.
He said: "Come in," in a low voice, which he tried to steady; and I stepped over the wash-board, and sat down on a chest, facing him.
"What was it?" he asked; putting his feet down on to the deck, and leaning forward. "For God's sake, tell me what it was!"
His voice had risen, and I put up my hand to warn him.
"H'sh!" I said. "You'll wake the other fellows."
He repeated his question, but in a lower tone. I hesitated, before answering him. I felt, all at once, that it might be better to deny all knowledge--to say I hadn't seen anything unusual. I thought quickly, and made answer on the turn of the moment.
"What was what?" I said. "That's just the thing I've come to ask you. A pretty pair of fools you made of the two of us up on the poop just now, with your hysterical tomfoolery."
I concluded my remark in a tone of anger.
"I didn't!" he answered, in a passionate whisper. "You know I didn't. You know you saw it yourself. You pointed it out to the Second Mate. I saw you."
The little beggar was nearly crying between fear, and vexation at my assumed unbelief.
"Rot!" I replied. "You know jolly well you were sleeping in your time-keeping. You dreamed something and woke up suddenly. You were off your chump."
I was determined to reassure him, if possible; though, goodness! I wanted assurance myself. If he had known of that other thing, I had seen down on the maindeck, what then?
"I wasn't asleep, any more than you were," he said, bitterly. "And you know it. You're just fooling me. The ship's haunted."
"What!" I said, sharply.
"She's haunted," he said, again. "She's haunted."
"Who says so?" I inquired, in a tone of unbelief.
"I do! And you know it. Everybody knows it; but they don't more than half believe it . . . I didn't, until tonight."
"Damned rot!" I answered. "That's all a blooming old shellback's yarn. She's no more haunted than I am."
"It's not damned rot,' he replied, totally unconvinced. "And it's not an old shellback's yarn . . . Why won't you say you saw it?" he cried, growing almost tearfully excited, and raising his voice again.
I warned him not to wake the sleepers.
"Why won't you say that you saw it?" he repeated.
I got up from the chest, and went towards the door.
"You're a young idiot!" I said. "And I should advise you not to go gassing about like this, round the decks. Take my tip, and turn-in and get a sleep. You're talking dotty. Tomorrow you'll perhaps feel what an unholy ass you've made of yourself."
I stepped over the washboard, and left him. I believe he followed me to the door to say something further; but I was half-way forrard by then.
For the next couple of days, I avoided him as much as possible, taking care never to let him catch me alone. I was determined, if possible, to convince him that he had been mistaken in supposing that he had seen anything that night. Yet, after all, it was little enough use, as you will soon see. For, on the night of the second day, there was a further extraordinary development, that made denial on my part useless.









2007.08.06 19:21 URL | shigeyuki #- [ 編集 ]