“It would have been all hup with Tom, if it hadn’t been for ther gasket.”
He paused. After a moment, he went on again.
“That was honly three or four nights ago!”
“Well,” said Plummer. “What are yer drivin’ at?”
“Nothin’,” answered Stubbins. “Honly it’s damned queer. Looks as though ther ship might be unlucky, after all.”
“Well,” agreed Plummer. “Things ’as been a bit funny lately; and then there’s what’s ’appened ter-night. I shall ’ang on pretty tight ther next time I go aloft.”
Old Jaskett took his pipe from his mouth, and sighed.
“Things is going wrong ’most every night,” he said, almost pathetically. “It’s as diff’rent as chalk ‘n’ cheese ter what it were w’en we started this ’ere trip. I thought it were all ’ellish rot about ‘er bein’ ’aunted; but it’s not, seem’ly.”
He stopped and expectorated.
“She hain’t haunted,” said Stubbins. “Leastways, not like you mean—”
He paused, as though trying to grasp some elusive thought.
“Eh?” said Jaskett, in the interval.
Stubbins continued, without noticing the query. He appeared to be answering some half-formed thought in his own brain, rather than Jaskett:
“Things is queer—an’ it’s been a bad job tonight. I don’t savvy one bit what Williams was sayin’ of hup aloft. I’ve thought sometimes he’d somethin’ on ’is mind—”
Then, after a pause of about half a minute, he said this:
“Who was he sayin’ that to?”
“Eh?” said Jaskett, again, with a puzzled expression.
“I was thinkin’,” said Stubbins, knocking out his pipe on the edge of the chest. “P’raps you’re right, hafter all.”
Another Man to the Wheel
The conversation had slacked off. We were all moody and shaken, and I know I, for one, was thinking some rather troublesome thoughts.
Suddenly, I heard the sound of the Second’s whistle. Then his voice came along the deck:
“Another man to the wheel!”
“‘e’s singin’ out for some one to go aft an’ relieve ther wheel,” said Quoin, who had gone to the door to listen. “Yer’d better ’urry up, Plummer.”
“What’s ther time?” asked Plummer, standing up and knocking out his pipe. “Must be close on ter four bells, ’oo’s next wheel is it?”
“It’s all right, Plummer,” I said, getting up from the chest on which I had been sitting. “I’ll go along. It’s my wheel, and it only wants a couple of minutes to four bells.”
Plummer sat down again, and I went out of the fo’cas’le. Reaching the poop, I met Tammy on the lee side, pacing up and down.
“Who’s at the wheel?” I asked him, in astonishment.
“The Second Mate,” he said, in a shaky sort of voice. “He’s waiting to be relieved. I’ll tell you all about it as soon as I get a chance.”