The lookout had given extra voice to it. It was plainly heard throughout the ship.
The group of officers stared in the direction indicated, but could see nothing. Presently Ives and Edwards, who were the keenest-sighted, made out a faint, suffused radiance. At the same time came a second hail from the crow’s-nest.
“On deck, sir.”
“Hello,” responded Carter, the officer of the deck.
“There’s a light here I can’t make anything out of, sir.”
“What’s it like?”
“Sort of a queer general glow.”
“General glow, indeed!” muttered Forsythe, among the group aft. “That fellow’s got an imagination.”
“Can’t you describe it better than that?” called Carter.
“Don’t make it out at all, sir. ’Tain’t any regular and proper light. Looks like a lamp in a fog.”
Among themselves the officers discussed it interestedly, as it grew plainer.
“Not unlike the electric glow above a city, seen from a distance,” said Barnett, as it grew plainer.
“Yes: but the nearest electric-lighted city is some eight hundred miles away,” objected Ives.
“Mirage, maybe,” suggested Edwards.
“Pretty hard-working mirage, to cover that distance” said Ives. “Though I’ve seen ’em——”
“Great heavens! Look at that!” shouted Edwards.
A great shaft of pale brilliance shot up toward the zenith. Under it whirled a maelstrom of varied radiance, pale with distance, but marvellously beautiful. Forsythe passed them with a troubled face, on his way below to report, as his relief went up.
“The quartermaster reports the compass behaving queerly,” he said.
Three minutes later the captain was on the bridge. The great ship had swung, and they were speeding direct for the phenomenon. But within a few minutes the light had died out.
“Another sea mystery to add to our list,” said Billy Edwards. “Did anyone ever see a show like that before? What do you think, Doc?”
“Humph!” grunted the veteran. “New to me. Volcanic, maybe.”
THE LAUGHING LASS
The falling of dusk on June the 3d found tired eyes aboard the Wolverine. Every officer in her complement had kept a private and personal lookout all day for some explanation of the previous night’s phenomenon. All that rewarded them were a sky filmed with lofty clouds, and the holiday parade of the epauletted waves.
Nor did evening bring a repetition of that strange glow. Midnight found the late stayers still deep in the discussion.
“One thing is certain,” said Ives. “It wasn’t volcanic.”
“Why so?” asked the paymaster.
“Because volcanoes are mostly stationary, and we headed due for that light.”
“Yes; but did we keep headed?” said Barnett, who was navigating officer as well as ordnance officer, in a queer voice.