The cool salt bath presently helped him to a little energy, and by the time the steamer was under way, he could think of striking out. It was with no small relief that he heard near voices sounding through the black fog. Partly by dint of feeble struggles, partly shouldered on by waves,—ready to save as to drown him,—he managed to accomplish the short distance to the schooner. With all his might he shouted for a rope, and amidst much yo-heave-ho-ing, cursing, and astonishment, was at length hauled aboard, the haversack in his grasp.
The skipper and his crew were kind to him; for men still have compassion upon one another, and give succor according to the need of the moment,—not to the balance of good and evil in the sufferer. The wind freshened, an impromptu, bowsprit was rigged, and the “Resurrection” limped towards New York. Manetho’s partial stupor was relieved by hot grog and the cook’s stove. He gave no further account of himself than that he had fallen overboard at the moment of collision; adding a request to be landed in New York, since he had left some valuable luggage on the steamer.
The skipper gave the stranger his own bunk, the off-watch turned in, and Manetho was left to himself. He lay for a long while thinking over what had happened. Bewitched by the spell of night, he had spoken to Helwyse things never before distinctly stated even to his own mind. The subtle, perverse devil who had discoursed so freely to his unknown hearer had scarcely been so unreserved to Manetho’s private ear; and the devilish utterances had stirred up the latter not much less than the former.
Both men had been wrought, according to their diverse natures, to the pitch of frenzy. But similar crazy seizures had been incident to the Egyptian from boyhood. He had anxiously watched against them, and contrived various means to their mitigation,—the most successful being the music of his violin, which he seldom let beyond his reach. Yet, again and again would the fit steal a march on him. Hence, in part, his retired way of life, varied only by the brief journeys demanded by the twofold craving—for gambling and for news of Thor, who figured in his morbid imagination as the enemy of his soul!
The news never came, but all the more brooded Manetho over his hatred and his fancied wrongs. His mind had never been entirely sound, and years tinged it more and more deeply with insanity. His philosophy of life—obscure indeed if tried by sane standards—emits a dusky glimmer when read by this. He would creep through miles of subterranean passages to achieve an end which one glance above ground would have argued vain!