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About The Hesperian / (Lincoln, Neb.) 1885-1899 | View Entire Issue (Dec. 22, 1892)
oyes, not seeming to understand what ho
"Do you hear?" he roared, "go back to
your places or, by heaven, I'll drive you
back! Speak up, you cowards, what ails
At this, ono of the men drew himself up.
"Captain," ho said, "I toll you that I'm
no coward but I'd rather you shot mo
dead on the spot, than tako tho wheel with
the devil for partner. Steer her your
self, if you will, but in God's name I'll have
none of it!"
With n gesture of impatience, the captain
pushed past him into tho wheel-house. 1
followed. Our first glance was at the com
pass. Our course had been to the south of
east. Now the ship's head was turned east-nor'-cast,
meeting the mountainous storm
swell in full face. "We grasped the spokes
of tho wheel to put it over, yet though we
used our whole strength, we could accomplish
nothing. The wheel held as linn as if it
"The chains are fouled," cried the cap
tain. "Call the men."
But, even as he spoke the wheel turned
slightly, just so much as a steersman would
have turned it to meet the side-stroke of a
wave, then it was again motionless. Again
and again this was repeated, as if somo
greater strength than ours held the ship in
its control and guided it with some set pur
pose through the buffeting blackness of tho
sea, Stronger than ever before T felt the
impression of a presence not now diffused
through darkness but close at hand, stni"
gling with us man to man and mind to mind
in the small, dimly-lighted wheel-house,
overmastering us with irresistible strength to
its own purpose.
In tho light of tho binnacle lamp I saw
that the captain's face was deadly pale, and
his lips were parted as if in fear.
The fog had drawn off a little, and now
wo could see clearly the great shadowy ranks
of sea advancing under the diffused light of
tho newly risen moon.
Tho captain raised his hand to the signal.
boll. "Ho will stop tho engine, " I thought
-but, just as ho raised his hand, ho stopped,
with a look of pain, as if restrained by the
blow of some invisiblo arm, and gavo a hor
rible unsteady laugh, worse than a cry. Tho
speed of tho vessel scorned to increase.
"Wo looked at each othor, silent in tho
helplessness of our fear.
At that moment thero came a stir among
tho men bolow, and tho cry: "A ship!"
About a mile away, on our starboard bow,
shone the lights of a steamship and a com
fort indeed they wore to us, in their look of
companionship in that frightful place. The
red glow of her port light showed that her
course would cross our bows, and I judged,
by the speed with which she neared us, and
the apparent height of her lights that she was
a vessel of no small size and power.
At this moment, we felt the wheel turn
strongly to port.
"We shall pass her to the starboard," I
We neared her fast. Tho rising moon
was working through the fog, and the torn,
cloudy light showed tho vessel clearly.
Nearer and nearer she came, till wo could
see plainly tho black body of her hull, and
tho dark outlines of her two masts.
She gavo one hoarse whistle for a signal.
Our ship made no answer, but rushed silently
on her way. Nearer still we came till it
seemed that barely a few rods separated us.
Then, suddenly, without warning, the wheel
went spinning madly over to starboard
whirling unresisted through our ineffectual
A shriek of terror went up from the men
"Help!" 1 shouted " Quick, or we
shall sink her!"
We caught at the wheel, we bent every
nerve, every sinew of body and brain; we
struggled as men struggle for their lives, till
it seemed as if we must wiu at last.
Then, as I bent my whole endeavor to the
conflict, upon my hand as it grasped tho
straining spokes there fell tho strong touch
of another hand cold, thrilling, irresistible,
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