“It’s no good,” he remarked, after a minute. “You’d better get away from the rail before any of the others see you. Just be taking those halyards aft to the capstan.”
From then, until eight bells, we were hard at work getting the sail upon her, and when at last eight bells went, I made haste to swallow my breakfast, and get a sleep.
At midday, when we went on deck for the afternoon watch, I ran to the side; but there was no sign of the great shadow ship. All that watch, the Second Mate kept me working at my paunch mat, and Tammy he put on to his sinnet, telling me to keep an eye on the youngster. But the boy was right enough; as I scarcely doubted now, you know; though—a most unusual thing—he hardly opened his lips the whole afternoon. Then at four o’clock, we went below for tea.
At four bells, when we came on deck again, I found that the light breeze, which had kept us going during the day, had dropped, and we were only just moving. The sun was low down, and the sky clear. Once or twice, as I glanced across to the horizon, it seemed to me that I caught again that odd quiver in the air that had preceded the coming of the mist; and, indeed on two separate occasions, I saw a thin whisp of haze drive up, apparently out of the sea. This was at some little distance on our port beam; otherwise, all was quiet and peaceful; and though I stared into the water, I could make out no vestige of that great shadow ship, down in the sea.
It was some little time after six bells that the order came for all hands to shorten sail for the night. We took in the royals and t’gallants, and then the three courses. It was shortly after this, that a rumour went round the ship that there was to be no look-out that night after eight o’clock. This naturally created a good deal of talk among the men; especially as the yarn went that the fo’cas’le doors were to be shut and fastened as soon as it was dark, and that no one was to be allowed on deck.
“‘oo’s goin’ ter take ther wheel?” I heard Plummer ask.
“I s’pose they’ll ’ave us take ’em as usual,” replied one of the men. “One of ther officers is bound ter be on ther poop; so we’ll ’ave company.”
Apart from these remarks, there was a general opinion that—if it were true—it was a sensible act on the part of the Skipper. As one of the men said:
“It ain’t likely that there’ll be any of us missin’ in ther mornin’, if we stays in our bunks all ther blessed night.”
And soon after this, eight bells went.
The Ghost Pirates