Sigsand Manuscript


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"You've got him?" he asked, confidently.
"There wasn't anyone," I said.
"What!" he nearly shouted. "You're hiding something!" He continued, angrily, and glancing from one to another. "Out with it. Who was it?"
"We're hiding nothing," I replied, speaking for the lot. "There's no one up there."
The Second looked round upon us.
"Am I a fool?" he asked, contemptuously.
There was an assenting silence.
"I saw him myself," he continued. "Tammy, here, saw him. He wasn't over the top when I first spotted him. There's no mistake about it. It's all damned rot saying he's not there."
"Well, he's not, Sir," I answered. "Jock went right up to the royal yard."
The Second Mate said nothing, in immediate reply; but went aft a few steps and looked up the main. Then he turned to the two 'prentices.
"Sure you two boys didn't see anyone coming down from the main?" he inquired, suspiciously.
"Yes, Sir," they answered together.
"Anyway," I heard him mutter to himself, "I'd have spotted him myself, if he had."
"Have you any idea, Sir, who it was you saw?" I asked, at this juncture.
He looked at me, keenly.
"No!" he said.
He thought for a few moments, while we all stood about in silence, waiting for him to let us go.
"By the holy poker!" he exclaimed, suddenly. "But I ought to have thought of that before."
He turned, and eyed us individually.
"You're all here?" he asked.
"Yes, Sir," we said in a chorus. I could see that he was counting us. Then he spoke again.
"All of you men stay here where you are. Tammy, you go into your place and see if the other fellows are in their bunks. Then come and tell me. Smartly now!"
The boy went, and he turned to the other 'prentice.
"You get along forrard to the fo'cas'le," he said. "Count the other watch; then come aft and report to me."
As the youngster disappeared along the deck to the fo'cas'le, Tammy returned from his visit to the Glory Hole, to tell the Second Mate that the other two 'prentices were sound asleep in their bunks. Whereupon, the Second bundled him off to the Carpenter's and Sailmaker's berth, to see whether they were turned-in.
While he was gone, the other boy came aft, and reported that all the men were in their bunks, and asleep.
"Sure?" the Second asked him.
"Quite, Sir," he answered.
The Second Mate made a quick gesture.
"Go and see if the Steward is in his berth," he said, abruptly. It was plain to me that he was tremendously puzzled.
"You've something to learn yet, Mr. Second Mate," I thought to myself. Then I fell to wondering to what conclusions he would come.
A few seconds later, Tammy returned to say that the Carpenter, Sailmaker and "Doctor" were all turned-in.
The Second Mate muttered something, and told him to go down into the saloon to see whether the First and Third Mates, by any chance, were not in their berths.
Tammy started off; then halted.
"Shall I have a look into the Old Man's place, Sir, while I'm down there?" he inquired.
"No!" said the Second Mate. "Do what I told you, and then come and tell me. If anyone's to go into the Captain's cabin, it's got to be me."
Tammy said "i, i, Sir," and skipped away, up on to the poop.
While he was gone, the other 'prentice came up to say that the Steward was in his berth, and that he wanted to know what the hell he was fooling round his part of the ship for.
The Second Mate said nothing, for nearly a minute. Then he turned to us, and told us we might go forrard.
As we moved off in a body, and talking in undertones, Tammy came down from the poop, and went up to the Second Mate. I heard him say that the two Mates were in their berths, asleep. Then he added, as if it were an afterthought--
"So's the Old Man."
"I thought I told you--" the Second Mate began.
"I didn't, Sir," Tammy said. "His cabin door was open."
The Second Mate started to go aft. I caught a fragment of a remark he was making to Tammy.
"--accounted for the whole crew. I'm--"
He went up on to the poop. I did not catch the rest.
I had loitered a moment; now, however, I hurried after the others. As we neared the fo'cas'le, one bell went, and we roused out the other watch, and told them what jinks we had been up to.