“Quit it!” he ordered again. “Get hold of yourself!”
Darrow turned and gripped him. The surgeon winced with the pain of his grasp. “I can’t,” gasped the maroon, between paroxysms. “I’ve been living in hell. A black, shaking, shivering hell, for God knows how long.... What do you know? Have you ever been buried alive?” And again the agony of laughter shook him.
“This, then,” muttered the doctor, and the hypodermic needle shot home.
During the return Darrow lay like a log in the bottom of the gig. The opiate had done its work. Consciousness was mercifully dead within him.
Rest and good food quickly brought Percy Darrow back to his normal poise. One inspection satisfied Dr. Trendon that all was well with him. He asked to see the captain, and that gentleman came to Ives’s room, which had been assigned to the rescued man.
“I hope you’ve been able to make yourself comfortable,” said the commander, courteously.
“It would be strange indeed if I could not,” returned Darrow, smiling. “You forget that you have set a savage down in the midst of luxury.”
“Make yourself free of Ives’s things,” invited Captain Parkinson. “Poor fellow; he will not use them again, I fear.”
“One of your men lost?” asked Darrow. “Ah, the young officer whose body I found on the beach, perhaps?”
“No; but we have to thank you for that burial,” said the captain.
Darrow made a swift gesture. “Oh, if thanks are going,” he cried, and paused in hopelessness of adequate expression.
“This has been a bitter cruise for us,” continued the captain. He sighed and was silent for a moment. “There is much to tell and to be told,” he resumed.
“Much,” agreed the other, gravely.
“You will want to see Slade first, I presume,” said the captain.
“One of your officers whom I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting?”
The captain stared. “Slade,” he said. “Ralph Slade.”
“Apparently there’s a missing link. Or—I fear I was not wholly myself yesterday for a time. Possibly something occurred that I did not quite take in.”
“Perhaps we’d better wait,” said Captain Parkinson, with obvious misgiving. “You’re not quite rested. You will feel more like—”
“If you don’t mind,” said Darrow composedly, “I’d like to get at this thing now. I’m in excellent understanding, I assure you.”
“Very well. I am speaking of the man who acted as mate in the Laughing Lass. The journalist who—good heavens! What arrant stupidity! I have to beg your pardon, Mr. Darrow. It has just occurred to me. He called himself Eagen with you.”
“Eagen! What is this? Is Eagen alive?”
“And on this ship. We picked him up in an open boat.”
“And you say he calls himself Slade?”