Image provided by: University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries, Lincoln, NE
About The Hesperian / (Lincoln, Neb.) 1885-1899 | View Entire Issue (Dec. 22, 1892)
alone, for 'others of the crow, f rightonod by
the cry, came thronging about us.
"What is it?" thoy asked "Speak up."
"What hurt you?" "What ails you ?
Ho made no answer, but pointed, rolling
Ms eyes in terror, to the door of the forecastle
which had closed behind him.
"What is it ?" I asked again.
Ho opened his mouth wide, gasping like a
great fish, and pointed again to the door:
"There!" he cried, "It is there behind
the door ! and it's coming it's coming here!
Look! God, it's coming now!"
Under the edge of the closed door there
glimmered a faint light, green and ghostly as
tliephosporcsccnce of the waves.
The negro fell upon tho deck, moaning,
huddled in an agonized heap, his face hid
den in his hands, while a perfect yell of ter
ror went up from the other negroes.
At this moment the captain joined us.
He called mo by name:
"Mr. Rugg, you will take two men and
examine the forecastle. This nonsense must
bo stopped! Come, move quickly!"
My heart sank within me, but summoning
two of the bravest fellows, I stepped forward
to the door, they following at a cautious dis
tance. At that moment the light vanished. One
of the men carried a lantern I took this in
my hand and laid hold of the handle of the
door. It resisted my first attempt, and it
was only by a united effort that we dragged
it open at last.
Within, all seemed in order, except that,
in the middle of the floor, the negro's pipe
lay broken where he had thrown it down in
his fright, and, strange to say, his coat lay
Wide it, torn into fantastic fragments. A a
wo looked, a sudden gust of air. extinguished
tho lantern, and, at the same time, tho door
dosed with a crash. All sense, save of
fea", left us in an instant. Wo sprang for
the door, stumbling blindly striving only
0 get away to go anywhere,- so long as we
escaped from that darkness, where we felt
wo were not alone. For a moment tho
resisted our efforts and as, defeating
our own object in our fright, we struggled
against it, 1 glanced for a moment back
and thero outside the porthole, against tho
black background of tho night, 1 saw what
the negro must have seen and well it was
that I did not, like him, go mad at the sight.
It was a sight no word can describe a sight
which I would not describe if T could, sinco
even now, after all these years, I do not
dare to think of it though I have soon it
again and again in the midnight terror of
dreams and have started awake in fright as
helpless and total as when, in that moment
of confused fright, I saw it first! Yet it was
but the glance of a moment, for, frantic with
fear, wo dashed with all our strength at the
door, it yielded before us, and wo staggered
out on deck.
The crow stood huddled like frightened
sheep at the foot of the ladder that led to
the upper deck the -captain in their midst,
calm, upright and defiant. As I drew near,
"Well, Mr. Ttugg, what have you found?"
I made no answer. The look of our faces '
must have told our story, for all the men
shrank back closer together, and there ran a
frightened murmur among them. The cap
tain motioned to us to be silent, and we
stood for a moment; waiting the ncaring
consummation, we did not know how or
why, of the night's catastrophe.
Then, as we stood there, our minds drawn
to the utmost tension, there came a loud
outcry from the wheel-house above. The
captain turned quickly, and, pushing aside
the men that stood in his way, sprang up the
ladder, beckoning me as he went. Mechan
ically I obeyed. Not another followed; but
again a great murmur of fear ran through tho
At the door of tho wheel-house stood tho
two wheelmen. They had deserted thehelm,
and the ship was left to take her own course.
"What ails you?" shouted the captain,
u Go back to your places! quick, before the
They stared at him blankly with open
Powered by Open ONI