I went across to him.
“What do you think of it, Williams?” I asked. “Do you think the Second Mate really saw anything?”
He looked at me, with a sort of gloomy suspicion; but said nothing.
I felt a trifle annoyed by his silence; but took care not to show it. After a few moments, I went on.
“Do you know, Williams, I’m beginning to understand what you meant that night, when you said there were too many shadows.”
“Wot yer mean?” he said, pulling his pipe from out of his mouth, and fairly surprised into answering.
“What I say, of course,” I said. “There are too many shadows.”
He sat up, and leant forward out from his bunk, extending his hand and pipe. His eyes plainly showed his excitement.
“’ave yer seen—” he hesitated, and looked at me, struggling inwardly to express himself.
“Well?” I prompted.
For perhaps a minute he tried to say something. Then his expression altered suddenly from doubt, and something else more indefinite, to a pretty grim look of determination.
“I’m blimed,” he said, “ef I don’t tike er piy-diy out of ’er, shadders or no shadders.”
I looked at him, with astonishment.
“What’s it got to do with your getting a pay-day out of her?” I asked.
He nodded his head, with a sort of stolid resolution.
“Look ’ere,” he said.
“Ther crowd cleared”; he indicated with his hand and pipe towards the stern.
“You mean in ’Frisco?” I said.
“Yus,” he replied; “’an withart er cent of ther piy. I styied.”
I comprehended him suddenly.
“You think they saw,” I hesitated; then I said “shadows?”
He nodded; but said nothing.
“And so they all bunked?”
He nodded again, and began tapping out his pipe on the edge of his bunk-board.
“And the officers and the Skipper?” I asked.
“Fresh uns,” he said, and got out of his bunk; for eight bells was striking.
The Fooling with the Sail
It was on the Friday night, that the Second Mate had the watch aloft looking for the man up the main; and for the next five days little else was talked about; though, with the exception of Williams, Tammy and myself, no one seemed to think of treating the matter seriously. Perhaps I should not exclude Quoin, who still persisted, on every occasion, that there was a stowaway aboard. As for the Second Mate, I have very little doubt now, but that he was beginning to realise there was something deeper and less understandable than he had at first dreamed of. Yet, all the same, I know he had to keep his guesses and half-formed opinions pretty well to himself; for the Old Man and the First Mate chaffed him unmercifully about his “bogy.” This, I got from