Sigsand Manuscript


--.--.-- --:-- | スポンサー広告 | トラックバック(-) | コメント(-) |

Tom had reached the sail, and was standing on the foot-rope, close in to the bunt. He was bending over the yard, and reaching down for the slack of the sail. And then, as I looked, I saw the belly of the royal tossed up and down abruptly, as though a sudden heavy gust of wind had caught it.
"I'm blimed--!" Williams began, with a sort of excited expectation. And then he stopped as abruptly as he had begun. For, in a moment, the sail had thrashed right over the after side of the yard, apparently knocking Tom clean from off the foot-rope.
"My God!" I shouted out loud. "He's gone!"
For an instant there was a blur over my eyes, and Williams was singing out something that I could not catch. Then, just as quickly, it went, and I could see again, clearly.
Williams was pointing, and I saw something black, swinging below the yard. Williams called out something fresh, and made a run for the fore rigging. I caught the last part--
"--ther garskit."
Straightway, I knew that Tom had managed to grab the gasket as he fell, and I bolted after Williams to give him a hand in getting the youngster into safety.
Down on deck, I caught the sound of running feet, and then the Second Mate's voice. He was asking what the devil was up; but I did not trouble to answer him then. I wanted all my breath to help me aloft. I knew very well that some of the gaskets were little better than old shakins; and, unless Tom got hold of something on the t'gallant yard below him, he might come down with a run any moment. I reached the top,and lifted myself over it in quick time. Williams was some distance above me. In less than half a minute, I reached the t'gallant yard. Williams had gone up on to the royal. I slid out on to the t'gallant foot-rope until I was just below Tom; then I sung out to him to let himself down to me, and I would catch him. He made no answer, and I saw that he was hanging in a curiously limp fashion, and by one hand.











Williams turned towards me, and spoke.
"Gawd!" he said, "it's started agen!"
"What?" I said. Though I knew what he meant.
"Them syles," he answered, and made a gesture towards the fore royal.
I glanced up, briefly. All the lee side of the sail was adrift, from the bunt gasket outwards. Lower, I saw Tom; he was just hoisting himself into the t'gallant rigging.
Williams spoke again.
"We lost two on 'em just sime way, comin' art."
"Two of the men!" I exclaimed.
"Yus!" he said tersely.
"I can't understand," I went on. "I never heard anything about it."
"Who'd yer got ter tell yer abart it?" he asked.
I made no reply to his question; indeed, I had scarcely comprehended it, for the problem of what I ought to do in the matter had risen again in my mind.
"I've a good mind to go aft and tell the Second Mate all I know," I said. "He's seen something himself that he can't explain away, and--and anyway I can't stand this state of things. If the Second Mate knew all--"
"Garn!" he cut in, interrupting me. "An' be told yer're a blastid hidiot. Not yer. Yer sty were yer are."
I stood irresolute. What he had said, was perfectly correct, and I was positively stumped what to do for the best. That there was danger aloft, I was convinced; though if I had been asked my reasons for supposing this, they would have been hard to find. Yet of its existence, I was as certain as though my eyes already saw it. I wondered whether, being so ignorant of the form it would assume, I could stop it by joining Tom on the yard? This thought came as I stared up at the royal.





















  I went over to the weather pin-rail, and leaned up against it, watching him, while I filled my pipe. The other men, both the watch on deck and the watch below, had gone into the fo'cas'le, so that I imagined I was the only one about the maindeck. Yet, a minute later, I discovered that I was mistaken; for, as I proceeded to light up, I saw Williams, the young cockney, come out from under the lee of the house, and turn and look up at the Ordinary as he went steadily upwards. I was a little surprised, as I knew he and three of the others had a "poker fight" on, and he'd won over sixty pounds of tobacco. I believe I opened my mouth to sing out to him to know why he wasn't playing; and then, all at once, there came into my mind the memory of my first conversation with him. I remembered that he had said sails were always blowing adrift at night. I remembered the, then, unaccountable emphasis he had laid on those two words; and remembering that, I felt suddenly afraid. For, all at once, the absurdity had struck me of a sail--even a badly stowed one--blowing adrift in such fine and calm weather as we were then having. I wondered I had not seen before that there was something queer and unlikely about the affair. Sails don't blow adrift in fine weather, with the sea calm and the ship as steady as a rock. I moved away from the rail and went towards Williams. He knew something, or, at least, he guessed at something that was very much a blankness to me at that time. Up above, the boy was climbing up, to what? That was the thing that made me feel so frightened. Ought I to tell all I knew and guessed? And then, who should I tell? I should only be laughed at--I--  




Seven bells, and then one, had gone in the first watch, and our side was being roused out to relieve the Mate's. Most of the men were already out of their bunks, and sitting about on their sea-chests, getting into their togs.
Suddenly, one of the 'prentices in the other watch, put his head in through the doorway on the port side.
"The Mate wants to know," he said, "which of you chaps made fast the fore royal, last watch."
"Wot's 'e want to know that for?" inquired one of the men.
"The lee side's blowing adrift," said the 'prentice. "And he says that the chap who made it fast is to go up and see to it as soon as the watch is relieved."
"Oh! does 'e? Well 'twasn't me, any'ow," replied the man. "You'd better arsk sum of t'others."
"Ask what?" inquired Plummer, getting out of his bunk, sleepily.
The 'prentice repeated his message.
The man yawned and stretched himself.
"Let me see," he muttered, and scratched his head with one hand, while he fumbled for his trousers with the other. " 'oo made ther fore r'yal fast?" He got into his trousers, and stood up.
"Why, ther Or'nary, er course; 'oo else do yer suppose?"
"That's all I wanted to know!" said the 'prentice, and went away.
"Hi! Tom!" Stubbins sung out to the Ordinary. "Wake up, you lazy young devil. Ther Mate's just sent to hinquire who it was made the fore royal fast. It's all blowin' adrift, and he says you're to get along up as soon as eight bells goes, and make it fast again."
Tom jumped out of his bunk, and began to dress, quickly.
"Blowin' adrift!" he said. "There ain't all that much wind; and I tucked the ends of the gaskets well in under the other turns."
"P'raps one of ther gaskets is rotten, and given way," suggested Stubbins. "Anyway, you'd better hurry up, it's just on eight bells."
A minute later, eight bells went, and we trooped away aft for roll-call. As soon as the names were called over, I saw the Mate lean towards the Second and say something. Then the Second Mate sung out:
"Sir!" answered Tom.
"Was it you made fast that fore royal, last watch?"
"Yes, Sir."
"How's that it's broken adrift?"
"Carn't say, Sir."
"Well, it has, and you'd better jump aloft and shove the gasket round it again. And mind you make a better job of it this time."
"i, i, Sir," said Tom, and followed the rest of us forrard. Reaching the fore rigging, he climbed into it, and began to make his way leisurely aloft. I could see him with a fair amount of distinctness, as the moon was very clear and bright, though getting old.



 It was on the Friday night, that the Second Mate had the watch aloft looking for the man up the main; and for the next five days little else was talked about; though, with the exception of Williams, Tammy and myself, no one seemed to think of treating the matter seriously.         
 Perhaps I should not exclude Quoin, who still persisted, on every occasion, that there was a stowaway aboard. As for the Second Mate, I have very little doubt now, but that he was beginning to realise there was something deeper and less understandable than he had at first dreamed of. Yet, all the same, I know he had to keep his guesses and half-formed opinions pretty well to himself; for the Old Man and the First Mate chaffed him unmercifully about his "bogy".
 This, I got from Tammy, who had heard them both ragging him during the second dog-watch the following day. There was another thing Tammy told me, that showed how the Second Mate bothered about his inability to understand the mysterious appearance and disappearance of the man he had seen go aloft. He had made Tammy give him every detail he could remember about the figure we had seen by the log-reel. What is more, the Second had not even affected to treat the matter lightly, nor as a thing to be sneered at; but had listened seriously, and asked a great many questions. It is very evident to me that he was reaching out towards the only possible conclusion. Though, goodness knows, it was one that was impossible and improbable enough.
 It was on the Wednesday night, after the five days of talk I have mentioned, that there came, to me and to those who knew, another element of fear. And yet, I can quite understand that, at that time, those who had seen nothing, would find little to be afraid of, in all that I am going to tell you. Still, even they were much puzzled and astonished, and perhaps, after all, a little awed. There was so much in the affair that was inexplicable, and yet again such a lot that was natural and commonplace. For, when all is said and done, it was nothing more than the blowing adrift of one of the sails; yet accompanied by what were really significant details--significant, that is, in the light of that which Tammy and I and the Second Mate knew.




"I rec'on 'e must be rocky," one of the men remarked.
"Not 'im," said another. " 'e's bin 'avin' forty winks on the break, an' dreemed 'is mother-en-lore 'ad come on 'er visit, friendly like."
There was some laughter at this suggestion, and I caught myself smiling along with the rest; though I had no reason for sharing their belief, that there was nothing in it all.
"Might 'ave been a stowaway, yer know," I heard Quoin, the one who had suggested it before, remark to one of the A.B's named Stubbins--a short, rather surly-looking chap.
"Might have been hell!" returned Stubbins. "Stowaways hain't such fools as all that."
"I dunno," said the first. "I wish I 'ad arsked the Second what 'e thought about it."
"I don't think it was a stowaway, somehow," I said, chipping in. "What would a stowaway want aloft? I guess he'd be trying more for the Steward's pantry."
"You bet he would, hevry time," said Stubbins. He lit his pipe, and sucked at it, slowly.
"I don't hunderstand it, all ther same," he remarked, after a moment's silence.
"Neither do I," I said. And after that I was quiet for a while, listening to the run of conversation on the subject.
Presently, my glance fell upon Williams, the man who had spoken to me about "shadders." He was sitting in his bunk, smoking, and making no effort to join in the talk.
I went across to him.
"What do you think of it, Williams?" I asked. "Do you think the Second Mate really saw anything?"
He looked at me, with a sort of gloomy suspicion; but said nothing.
I felt a trifle annoyed by his silence; but took care not to show it. After a few moments, I went on.
"Do you know, Williams, I'm beginning to understand what you meant that night, when you said there were too many shadows."
"Wot yer mean?" he said, pulling his pipe from out of his mouth, and fairly surprised into answering.
"What I say, of course," I said. "There are too many shadows."
He sat up, and leant forward out from his bunk, extending his hand and pipe. His eyes plainly showed his excitement.
" 'ave yer seen--" he hesitated, and looked at me, struggling inwardly to express himself.
"Well?" I prompted.
For perhaps a minute he tried to say something. Then his expression altered suddenly from doubt, and something else more indefinite, to a pretty grim look of determination.
He spoke.
"I'm blimed," he said, "ef I don't tike er piy-diy out of 'er, shadders or no shadders."
I looked at him, with astonishment.
"What's it got to do with your getting a pay-day out of her?" I asked.
He nodded his head, with a sort of stolid resolution.
"Look 'ere," he said.
I waited.
"Ther crowd cleared"; he indicated with his hand and pipe towards the stern.
"You mean in 'Frisco?" I said.
"Yus," he replied; " 'an withart er cent of ther piy. I styied."
I comprehended him suddenly.
"You think they saw," I hesitated; then I said "shadows?"
He nodded; but said nothing.
"And so they all bunked?"
He nodded again, and began tapping out his pipe on the edge of his bunk-board.
"And the officers and the Skipper?" I asked.
"Fresh uns," he said, and got out of his bunk; for eight bells was striking.




"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.



The fellows were a bit excited in a sort of subdued way; though I am inclined to think there was far more curiosity and, perhaps, a certain consciousness of the strangeness of it all. I know that, looking to leeward, there was a tendancy to keep well together, in which I sympathised.
"Must be a bloomin' stowaway," one of the men suggested.
I grabbed at the idea, instantly. Perhaps--And then, in a moment, I dismissed it. I remembered how that first thing had stepped over the rail into the sea. That matter could not be explained in such a manner. With regard to this, I was curious and anxious. I had seen nothing this time. What could the Second Mate have seen? I wondered. Were we chasing fancies, or was there really someone--something real, among the shadows above us? My thoughts returned to that thing, Tammy and I had seen near the log-reel. I remembered how incapable the Second Mate had been of seeing anything then. I remembered how natural it had seemed that he should not be able to see. I caught the word "stowaway" again. After all, that might explain away this affair. It would--
My train of thought was broken suddenly. One of the men was shouting and gesticulating.
"I sees 'im! I sees 'im!" He was pointing upwards over our heads.
"Where?" said the man above me. "Where?"
I was looking up, for all that I was worth. I was conscious of a certain sense of relief. "It is real, then," I said to myself. I screwed my head round, and looked along the yards above us. Yet, still I could see nothing; nothing except shadows and patches of light.
Down on deck, I caught the Second Mate's voice.
"Have you got him?" he was shouting.
"Not yet, Zur," sung out the lowest man on the lee side.
"We sees 'im, Sir," added Quoin.
"I don't!" I said.
"There 'e is agen," he said.
We had reached the t'gallant rigging, and he was pointing up to the royal yard.
"Ye're a fule, Quoin. That's what ye are."
The voice came from above. It was Jock's, and there was a burst of laughter at Quoin's expense.
I could see Jock now. He was standing in the rigging, just below the yard. He had gone straight away up, while the rest of us were mooning over the top.
"Ye're a fule, Quoin," he said, again, "And I'm thinking the Second's juist as saft."
He began to descend.
"Then there's no one?" I asked.
"Na'," he said, briefly.
As we reached the deck, the Second Mate ran down off the poop. He came towards us, with an expectant air.

「密航者がおるに違げえねえ」誰かがいった。すぐに、そいつはうまい考えだと思った、たぶん―と、その瞬間やめてしまったよ。初めて見た奴のことを思いだしたんだ。そいつは海から手摺りを越えて入ってきた。あれは密航者なんかじゃ説明できやしない。これには興味は引かれたが、心配もあった。俺は今度はなにも見てない。二等航海士はいったい何を見たっていうんだ。俺は訝った。俺たちは幻を追っかけてるんじゃないか、それとも真上の暗闇の中には本当に誰か、いや、何かがいるんだろうか。心はタミーとログリールの側に見たものへと移っていった。そのとき何も見つけられなかった二等航海士がどれほど無能に見えたか覚えている。何も見ようともしなかったことがどれほど当然なことに思えたか覚えている。そして、また「密航者」という言葉をかみしめた。まったく、それなら今回は納得がいくじゃないか。こいつは・・・思考はふいに断ち切られた。誰かが叫び、興奮して手を振っている。 「いたぞ!見つけた!」そいつは頭上のずっと先を指さしていた。
「まんだです、シャー」風下側の一番下の男が答える。                           「俺らにゃ見えます、サー」コインが付け加えた。        
その声は真上からきこえてきた。そいつはジョックだった。コインのはやとちりをげらげら笑っている。       そのうちジョックの姿が見えるようになった、あいつは帆桁の真下の索具にいた。俺たちがトップでもたもたしてる間に、まっすぐ登りきってしまってたんだな。






It occurred in the first watch, just after six bells. I was forrard, sitting on the fore-hatch. No one was about the maindeck. The night was exceedingly fine; and the wind had dropped away almost to nothing, so that the ship was very quiet.

Suddenly, I heard the Second Mate's voice--

"In the main-rigging, there! Who's that going aloft?"

I sat up on the hatch, and listened. There succeeded an intense silence. Then the Second's voice came again. He was evidently getting wild.

"Do you damn well hear me? What the hell are you doing up there? Come down!"

I rose to my feet, and walked up to wind'ard. From there, I could see the break of the poop. The Second Mate was standing by the starboard ladder. He appeared to be looking up at something that was hidden from me by the topsails. As I stared, he broke out again:

"Hell and damnation, you blasted sojer, come down when I tell you!"

He stamped on the poop, and repeated his order, savagely. But there was no answer. I started to walk aft. What had happened? Who had gone aloft? Who would be fool enough to go, without being told? And then, all at once, a thought came to me. The figure Tammy and I had seen. Had the Second Mate seen something--someone? I hurried on, and then stopped, suddenly. In the same moment there came the shrill blast of the Second's whistle; he was whistling for the watch, and I turned and ran to the fo'cas'le to rouse them out. Another minute, and I was hurrying aft with them to see what was wanted.

His voice met us half-way:

"Up the main some of you, smartly now, and find out who that damned fool is up there. See what mischief he's up to."

"i, i, Sir," several of the men sung out, and a couple jumped into the weather rigging. I joined them, and the rest were proceeding to follow; but the Second shouted for some to go up to leeward--in case the fellow tried to get down that side.

As I followed the other two aloft, I heard the Second Mate tell Tammy, whose time-keeping it was, to get down on to the maindeck with the other 'prentice, and keep an eye on the fore and aft stays.

"He may try down one of them if he's cornered," I heard him explain. "If you see anything, just sing out for me, right away."

Tammy hesitated.

"Well?" said the Second Mate, sharply.

"Nothing, Sir," said Tammy, and went down on to the maindeck.

The first man to wind'ard had reached the futtock shrouds; his head was above the top, and he was taking a preliminary look, before venturing higher.

"See anythin', Jock?" asked Plummer, the man next above me.

"Na'!" said Jock, tersely, and climbed over the top, and so disappeared from my sight.

The fellow ahead of me, followed. He reached the futtock rigging, and stopped to expectorate. I was close at his heels, and he looked down to me.

"What's up, anyway?" he said. "What's 'e seen? 'oo're we chasin' after?"

I said I didn't know, and he swung up into the topmast rigging. I followed on. The chaps on the lee side were about level with us. Under the foot of the topsail, I could see Tammy and the other 'prentice down on the maindeck, looking upwards.


















 「ジョックよ、何んか見えっか」その次に俺の上を行っていたプラマーがいった。 「何もいねえ!」ジョックはきびきびと答えて、トップを乗り越えて視界から消えてしまった。

 俺の真上を行っていた奴が続いた。そいつはファトック・リギンに取り付くと、唾を吐こうと動きを止めた。俺がすぐ足元に追いつくと、俺の方を見おろしていった。 「ともかくよ、いってえ何が起きてんだ、野郎は何を見たてんだ。俺らはいってえ誰を追いかけてんだ」



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.