“I told him there’s a ship on the starboard quarter, signalling us,” I said.
“There’s no ship out there, Jessop,” the Second Mate replied, looking at me with a queer, inscrutable expression.
“There is, Sir,” I began. “I—”
“That will do, Jessop!” he said. “Go forrard and have a smoke. I shall want you then to give a hand with these foot-ropes. You’d better bring a serving-mallet aft with you, when you come.”
I hesitated a moment, partly in anger; but more, I think, in doubt.
“i, i, Sir,” I muttered at length, and went forrard.
After the Coming of the Mist
After the coming of the mist, things seemed to develop
In the following two or three days a good deal happened.
On the night of the day on which the Skipper had sent me away from the wheel, it was our watch on deck from eight o’ clock to twelve, and my look-out from ten to twelve.
As I paced slowly to and fro across the fo’cas’le head, I was thinking about the affair of the morning. At first, my thoughts were about the Old Man. I cursed him thoroughly to myself, for being a pig-headed old fool, until it occurred to me that if I had been in his place, and come on deck to find the ship almost aback, and the fellow at the wheel staring out across the sea, instead of attending to his business, I should most certainly have kicked up a thundering row. And then, I had been an ass to tell him about the ship. I should never have done such a thing, if I had not been a bit adrift. Most likely the old chap thought I was cracked.
I ceased to bother my head about him, and fell to wondering why the Second Mate had looked at me so queerly in the morning. Did he guess more of the truth than I supposed? And if that were the case, why had he refused to listen to me?
After that, I went to puzzling about the mist. I had thought a great deal about it, during the day. One idea appealed to me, very strongly. It was that the actual, visible mist was a materialised expression of an extraordinarily subtle atmosphere, in which we were moving.
Abruptly, as I walked backwards and forwards, taking occasional glances over the sea (which was almost calm), my eye caught the glow of a light out in the darkness. I stood still, and stared. I wondered whether it was the light of a vessel. In that case we were no longer enveloped in that extraordinary atmosphere. I bent forward, and gave the thing my more immediate attention. I saw then that it was undoubtedly the green light of a vessel on our port bow. It was plain that she was bent on crossing our bows. What was more, she was dangerously near—the size and brightness of her light showed that. She would be close-hauled, while we were going free, so that, of course, it was our place to get out of her way. Instantly, I turned and, putting my hands up to my mouth, hailed the Second Mate: