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with the faculty of swift and reason to go distracted with forestalling vision. The sights funk. Frankly, had I been it showed him had turned him there, I would not have given into cold stone from the soles as much as a counterfeit farof his feet to the nape of his thing for the ship's chance to neck; but there was a hot dance keep above water to the end of of thoughts in his head, a dance each successive second. And of lame, blind, mute thoughts still she floated! These sleep

- a whirl of awful cripples. ing pilgrims were destined to Didn't I tell you he confessed accomplish their whole pilgrimhimself before me as though I age to the bitterness of some had the power to bind and to other end. It was as if the loose. Heburrowed deep, deep, in Omnipotence whose mercy they the hope of my absolution, which confessed had needed their would have been of no good to humble testimony on earth for him. This was

one of these a while longer, and had looked cases which no solemn lie can down to make a sign, “Thou palliate, where no man can help; shalt not !' to the ocean. Their where his very Maker seems to escape would trouble me as a abandon a sinner to his own prodigiously inexplicable event, devices.

did I not know how tough old “He stood on the starboard iron can be- as tough someside of the bridge, far as he times as the spirit of some men could get from the struggle for we meet now and then, worn the boat, which went on with to a shadow and breasting the the agitation of madness and weight of life. Not the least the stealthiness of a conspiracy. wonder of these twenty minThe two Malays had meantime utes, to my mind, is the beremained holding to the wheel. haviour of the two helmsmen. Just picture to yourselves the They were amongst the native actors in that, thank God! batch of all sorts brought over unique, episode of the sea, four from Aden to give evidence besides themselves with fierce at the inquiry. One of them, and secret exertions, and three labouring under intense bashful. looking on in complete im- ness, was very young, and with mobility, above the awnings his smooth, yellow, cheery councovering the profound ignor- tenance looked even younger ance of hundreds of human than he was. I remember beings, with their weariness, perfectly Brierly asking him, with their dreams, with their through the interpreter, what hopes, arrested, held by an he thought of it at the time, invisible hand on the brink of and the interpreter, after a annihilation. For that they short colloquy, turning to the were so, makes no doubt to court with an important airme : given the state of the “He says he thought nothship, this was the deadliest ing.' possible description of accident " The other

other with patient that could happen. These beg- blinking eyes, a blue cotton gars by the boat had every handkerchief, faded with much





washing, bound with a smart never looked up at this extratwist over a lot of grey wisps, ordinary and damning witness his face shrunk into grim hol- that seemed possessed by some lows, his brown skin made dark mysterious theory of defence. by a mesh of wrinkles, ex- “So these two lascars stuck plained that he had a know- to the helm of that ship withledge of some evil thing be- out steerage-way, where death falling the ship, but there had would have found them if such been no order; he could not re- had been their destiny. The member an order; why should whites did not give them half he leave the helm ?

To some

a glance, had probably forfurther questions he jerked gotten their existence. Assurback his spare shoulders, and edly Jim did not remember it. declared it never came into his He remembered he could do mind then that the white men nothing; he could do nothing, were about to leave the ship now he was alone. There was through fear of death. He did nothing to do but to sink with not believe it

There the ship. No use making a might have been secret rea- disturbance about it. Was

He wagged his old chin there? He waited upstanding, knowingly. Aha! secret rea- without a sound, stiffened in sons. He was a man of great the idea of some sort of heroic experience, and he wanted that discretion. The first engineer white Tuan to know-he turned ran cautiously across the bridge towards Brierly, who didn't to tug at his sleeve. raise his head — that he had “Come and help! For God's acquired a knowledge of many sake, come and help!' things by serving white men “He ran back to the boat on on the sea for a great number the points of his toes, and reof years-and, suddenly, with turned directly to worry at his shaky excitement he poured sleeve, begging and cursing at upon our spellbound attention the same time. a lot of queer-sounding names, "I believe he would have names of dead-and-gone skip- kissed my hands,' said Jim pers, names of forgotten country savagely, 'and, next moment, ships, names of familiar and he starts foaming and whisperdistorted sound, as if the hand ing in my face, “If I had the of dumb time had been at time I would like to crack your work on them for ages. They skull for you.” I pushed him stopped him at last. A silence away. Suddenly he caught fell upon the court,—a silence hold of me round the neck. that remained unbroken for at Damn him ! I hit him. I hit least a minute, and passed out without looking. “Won't gently into a deep murmur. you save your own life—you This episode was the sensation infernal coward,” he sobs. of the second day's proceedings Coward ! He called me -affecting all the audience, af- infernal coward ! Ha! ha! ha! fecting everybody except Jim, ha! He called me—ha! ha! who was sitting moodily at the ha ! end of the first bench, and “He had thrown himself back


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and was shaking with laughter. about,' I remonstrated.

, I had never in my life heard isn't nice for them, you know.' anything so bitter as that noise. “He gave no sign of having It fell like a blight on all the heard at first, but after a while merriment about donkeys, pyr- with a stare that, missing me amids, bazaars, or what not. altogether, seemed to probe Along the whole dim length of the heart of some awful vision, the gallery the voices dropped, he muttered carelessly — 'Oh! the pale blotches of faces turned they'll think I am drunk.' our way with one accord, and " And after that you would the silence became so profound have thought from his appearthat the clear tinkle of a tea- ance he would never make a spoon falling on the tesselated sound again. But — no fear! floor of the verandah rang out He could no more stop telling like a tiny and silvery scream. now than he could have stopped

“You mustn't laugh like living by the mere exertion of this, with all these people his will.'





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“I was saying to myself, chief engineer rushed again “ Sink curse you ! Sink !!!! at Jim. These were the words with “Come and help, man! Are which he began again. He you mad to throw your only wanted it over. He was chance away ? Come and help, severely left alone, and he man ! Man ! Look there formulated in his head this look!' address to the ship in a tone “And at last Jim looked of imprecation, while at the astern where the other pointed same time he enjoyed the with maniacal insistence. He privilege of witnessing scenes saw a silent black squall which - as far as I can judge – of had eaten up already one-third low comedy. They were still of the sky. You know how at that bolt. The skipper was these squalls come up there ordering. 'Get under and try about that time of the year. to lift;' and the others natur- First you see a darkening of the ally shirked. You understand horizon—no more; then a cloud that to be squeezed flat under rises opaque like a wall. A the keel of a boat wasn't a de- straight edge of vapour lined sirable position to be caught in with sickly whitish gleams flies if the ship went down suddenly. up from the south-west, swallow• Why don't you you the ing the stars in whole constellastrongest ?' whined the little tions ; its shadow flies over the engineer. "Gott - for - dam ! I waters, and confounds sea and

too fat,' spluttered the sky into one abyss of obscurity. skipper in despair. It was And all is stili. No thunder, funny enough to make angels no wind, no sound; not a flicker weep. They stood idle for a of lightning. Then in the moment, and suddenly the tenebrous immensity a livid





arch appears; a swell or two bridge only to slip clean out of like undulations of the very his mind. He had intended to darkness run past, and then cut the lifeboats clear of the wind and rain strike together ship. He whipped out his knife with a peculiar impetuosity as and went to work slashing as

a if they had burst through some- though he had seen nothing, thing solid. Such a cloud had had heard nothing, had known come up while they weren't of no

on board.

They looking. They had just noticed thought him hopelessly wrongit, and were perfectly justified headed and crazy, but dared in surmising that if in absolute not protest noisily against this stillness there was some chance useless loss of time. When he for the ship to keep afloat a few had done he returned to the minutes longer, the least dis- very same spot from which he turbance of the sea would make had started. The chief was an end of her instantly. Her there, ready with a clutch at first nod to the swell that him to whisper close to his precedes the burst of such a head, scathingly, as though he squall would be also her last, wanted to bite his earwould become a plunge, would,

6. You silly fool! do you so to speak, be prolonged into think you'll get the ghost of a long dive, down, down to the a show when all that lot of bottom. Hence, these brutes is in the water? Why, capers of their fright, these they will batter your head for new antics in which they dis- you from these boats.' played their extreme aversion “He wrung his hands, igto die.

nored, at Jim's elbow. The “It was black, black,' pur- skipper kept up a sued Jim with moody steadiness. shuffle in

place and 'It had sneaked upon us from mumbled, 'Hammer! hammer! behind. The infernal thing! Mein Gott! Get a hammer.' I suppose there had been at

“The little engineer whimthe back of my head some hope pered like a child, but, broken yet. I don't know. But that arm and all, he turned out the

all over anyhow. It least craven of the lot as it maddened me to see myself seems, and, actually, mustered caught like this. I was angry, enough pluck to run an errand as though I had been trapped to the engine-room. No trifle I was trapped! The night was it must be owned in fairness to hot, too, I remember.

him. Jim told me he darted breath of air.'

desperate looks like a cornered “He remembered so well that, man, gave one low wail, and gasping in the chair, he seemed dashed off. He was back into sweat and choke before my stantly clambering, hammer in eyes. No doubt it maddened hand, and without a pause him; it knocked him over afresh flung himself at the bolt. The —in a manner of speaking- others gave up Jim at once and but it made him also remember ran off to assist. He heard the that important purpose which tap, tap of the hammer, the had sent him rushing on that sound of the released chock




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falling over. The boat was word, fit for knockabout clowns clear. Only then he turned to in a farce. They pushed with look-only then. But he kept their hands, with their heads, his distance—he kept his dis- they pushed for dear life with tance. He wanted me to know all the weight of their bodies, he had kept his distance; that they pushed with all the might there was nothing in common of their souls-only no sooner between him and these men- had they succeeded in canting who had the hammer. Noth- the stern clear of the davit than ing whatever. It is more than they would leave off like one probable he thought himself cut man and start a wild scramble off from them by a space that into her. As a natural consecould not be traversed, by an quence the boat would swing obstacle that could not be in abruptly, driving them back, overcome, by a chasm without helpless and jostling against bottom. He was as far as he each other. They would stand could get from them—the whole nonplussed for a while, exbreadth of the ship.

changing in fierce whispers all “His feet were glued to that the infamous names they could remote spot and his eyes to call to mind, and go at it again. their indistinct group bowed Three times this occurred. He together and swaying strangely described it to me with morose in the common torment of fear. thoughtfulness. He hadn't lost A hand-lamp lashed to a stan- a single movement of that comic chion above a little table rigged business. 'I loathed them. I up on the bridge—the Patna hated them. I had to look had no chart-room amidships— at all that,' he said without threw a light on their labouring emphasis, turning upon shoulders, on their arched and a sombrely watchful glance. bobbing backs. They pushed “Was ever there any one at the bow of the boat; they shamefully tried !' pushed out into the night; they “He took his head in his pushed, and would no more look hands for a moment, like a back at him. They had given man driven to distraction by him up as if indeed he had been


outrage. too far, too hopelessly separated These were things he could not from themselves, to be worth explain to the court—and not an appealing word, a glance, even to me; but I would have or a sign. They had no leisure been little fitted for the recepto look back upon his passive tion of his confidences had I heroism, to feel the sting of not been able at times to his abstention. The boat was understand the pauses between heavy; they pushed at the the words. In this assault bow with no breath to spare upon his fortitude there was for an encouraging word: but the jeering intention of the turmoil of terror that had spiteful and vile vengeance ; scattered their self - command there was an element of burlike chaff before the wind, con- lesque in his ordeal—a degraverted their desperate exertions dation of funny grimaces in the into a bit of fooling, upon my approach of death or dishonour.



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