“It’s all right! He’s only sea-sick. I thought it would come to that if he drank so much tea.”
“Sea-sick,” I said faintly—“sea-sick?”
“That’s all,” said Bickley. “The nerves of the stomach acting on the brain or vice-versa—that is, if Bastin has a brain,” he added sotto voce.
“Oh!” groaned the prostrate clergyman. “I wish that I were dead!”
“Don’t trouble about that,” answered Bickley. “I expect you soon will be. Here, drink some whisky, you donkey.”
Bastin sat up and obeyed, out of the bottle, for it was impossible to pour anything into a glass, with results too dreadful to narrate.
“I call that a dirty trick,” he said presently, in a feeble voice, glowering at Bickley.
“I expect I shall have to play you a dirtier before long, for you are a pretty bad case, old fellow.”
As a matter of fact he had, for once Bastin had begun really we thought that he was going to die. Somehow we got him into his cabin, which opened off the saloon, and as he could drink nothing more, Bickley managed to inject morphia or some other compound into him, which made him insensible for a long while.
“He must be in a poor way,” he said, “for the needle went more than a quarter of an inch into him, and he never cried out or stirred. Couldn’t help it in that rolling.”
But now I could hear the engines working, and I think that the bow of the vessel was got head on to the seas, for instead of rolling we pitched, or rather the ship stood first upon one end and then upon the other. This continued for a while until the first burst of the cyclone had gone by. Then suddenly the engines stopped; I suppose that they had broken down, but I never learned, and we seemed to veer about, nearly sinking in the process, and to run before the hurricane at terrific speed.
“I wonder where we are going to?” I said to Bickley. “To the land of sleep, Humphrey, I imagine,” he replied in a more gentle voice than I had often heard him use, adding: “Good-bye, old boy, we have been real friends, haven’t we, notwithstanding my peculiarities? I only wish that I could think that there was anything in Bastin’s views. But I can’t, I can’t. It’s good night for us poor creatures!”
At last the electric light really went out. I had looked at my watch just before this happened and wound it up, which, Bickley remarked, was superfluous and a waste of energy. It then marked 3.20 in the morning. We had wedged Bastin, who was now snoring comfortably, into his berth, with pillows, and managed to tie a cord over him—no, it was a large bath towel, fixing one end of it to the little rack over his bed and the other to its framework. As for ourselves, we lay down on the floor between the table legs, which, of course, were screwed, and the settee, protecting ourselves as best we were able by help of the cushions, etc., between two of which we thrust the terrified Tommy who had been sliding up and down the cabin floor. Thus we remained, expecting death every moment till the light of day, a very dim light, struggling through a port-hole of which the iron cover had somehow been wrenched off. Or perhaps it was never shut, I do not remember.