But then when I got up, she was not where my arms went; she was down the stair again, just ahead of me. I followed her. I was tottering and dizzy and full of pain. I tried to catch up with her in the dark of the store-room, but she was too quick for me, sir, always a little too quick for me. Oh, she was cruel to me, sir. I kept bumping against things, hurting myself still worse, and it was cold and wet and a horrible noise all the while, sir; and then, sir, I found the door was open, and a sea had parted the hinges.
I don’t know how it all went, sir. I’d tell you if I could, but it’s all so blurred—sometimes it seems more like a dream. I couldn’t find her any more; I couldn’t hear her; I went all over, everywhere. Once, I remember, I found myself hanging out of that door between the davits, looking down into those big black seas and crying like a baby. It’s all riddles and blur. I can’t seem to tell you much, sir. It was all—all—I don’t know.
I was talking to somebody else—not her. It was the Inspector. I hardly knew it was the Inspector. His face was as gray as a blanket, and his eyes were bloodshot, and his lips were twisted. His left wrist hung down, awkward. It was broken coming aboard the Light in that sea. Yes, we were in the living-room. Yes, sir, it was daylight—gray daylight. I tell you, sir, the man looked crazy to me. He was waving his good arm toward the weather windows, and what he was saying, over and over, was this:
“Look what you done, damn you! Look what you done!”
And what I was saying was this:
“I’ve lost her!”
I didn’t pay any attention to him, nor him to me. By and by he did, though. He stopped his talking all of a sudden, and his eyes looked like the devil’s eyes. He put them up close to mine. He grabbed my arm with his good hand, and I cried, I was so weak.
“Johnson,” said he, “is that it? By the living God—if you got a woman out here, Johnson!”
“No,” said I. “I’ve lost her.”
“What do you mean—lost her?”
“It was dark,” said I—and it’s funny how my head was clearing up—“and the door was open—the store-room door—and I was after her—and I guess she stumbled, maybe—and I lost her.”
“Johnson,” said he, “what do you mean? You sound crazy—downright crazy. Who?”
“Her,” said I. “Fedderson’s wife.”
“Her,” said I. And with that he gave my arm another jerk.
“Listen,” said he, like a tiger. “Don’t try that on me. It won’t do any good—that kind of lies—not where you’re going to. Fedderson and his wife, too—the both of ’em’s drowned deader ’n a door-nail.”
“I know,” said I, nodding my head. I was so calm it made him wild.
“You’re crazy! Crazy as a loon, Johnson!” And he was chewing his lip red. “I know, because it was me that found the old man laying on Back Water Flats yesterday morning—me! And she’d been with him in the boat, too, because he had a piece of her jacket tore off, tangled in his arm.”