“Tell the Captain what it was you saw just now,” he said, in a low voice.
“I can’t say exactly, Sir,” I replied. “But it seemed to me like the shadow of a ship, rising up through the water.”
“There, Sir,” remarked the Second Mate to the Old Man. “Just what I told you.”
The Skipper stared at me.
“You’re quite sure?” he asked.
“Yes, Sir,” I answered. “Tammy saw it, too.”
I waited a minute. Then they turned to go aft. The Second was saying something.
“Can I go, Sir?” I asked.
“Yes, that will do, Jessop,” he said, over his shoulder. But the Old Man came back to the break, and spoke to me.
“Remember, not a word of this forrard!” he said.
“No Sir,” I replied, and he went back to the Second Mate; while I walked forrard to the fo’cas’le to get something to eat.
“Your whack’s in the kettle, Jessop,” said Tom, as I stepped in over the washboard. “An’ I got your lime-juice in a pannikin.”
“Thanks,” I said, and sat down.
As I stowed away my grub, I took no notice of the chatter of the others. I was too stuffed with my own thoughts. That shadow of a vessel rising, you know, out of the profound deeps, had impressed me tremendously. It had not been imagination. Three of us had seen it—really four; for Plummer distinctly saw it; though he failed to recognise it as anything extraordinary.
As you can understand, I thought a lot about this shadow of a vessel. But, I am sure, for a time, my ideas must just have gone in an everlasting, blind circle. And then I got another thought; for I got thinking of the figures I had seen aloft in the early morning; and I began to imagine fresh things. You see, that first thing that had come up over the side, had come out of the sea. And it had gone back. And now there was this shadow vessel-thing—ghost-ship I called it. It was a damned good name, too. And the dark, noiseless men ... I thought a lot on these lines. Unconsciously, I put a question to myself, aloud:
“Were they the crew?”
“Eh?” said Jaskett, who was on the next chest.
I took hold of myself, as it were, and glanced at him, in an apparently careless manner.
“Did I speak?” I asked.
“Yes, mate,” he replied, eyeing me, curiously. “Yer said sumthin’ about a crew.”
“I must have been dreaming,” I said; and rose up to put away my plate.
The Ghost Ships
At four o’clock, when again we went on deck, the Second Mate told me to go on with a paunch mat I was making; while Tammy, he sent to get out his sinnet. I had the mat slug on the fore side of the mainmast, between it and the after end of the house; and, in a few minutes, Tammy brought his sinnet and yarns to the mast, and made fast to one of the pins.
“What do you think it was, Jessop?” he asked, abruptly, after a short silence.