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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 172 pages of information about The Ghost.

Other passengers were in the saloon, and more followed.  As this would be the first steamer to leave Dover that day, there was a good number of voyagers on board, in spite of adverse conditions.  I heard people talking, and the splash of waves against the vessel’s sides, and then I went to sleep.  Nothing could have kept me awake.

CHAPTER X

THE STEAMER

I awoke with a start, and with wavering eyes looked at the saloon clock.  I had slept for one hour only, but it appeared to me that I was quite refreshed.  My mind was strangely clear, every sense preternaturally alert.  I began to wonder what had aroused me.  Suddenly the ship shuddered through the very heart of her, and I knew that it was this shuddering, which must have occurred before, that had wakened me.

“Good God!  We’re sinking!” a man cried.  He was in the next berth to me, and he sat up, staring wildly.

“Rubbish!” I answered.

The electric lights went out, and we were left with the miserable illumination of one little swinging oil-lamp.  Immediately the score or so persons in the saloon were afoot and rushing about, grasping their goods and chattels.  The awful shuddering of the ship continued.  Scarcely a word was spoken.

A man flew, or rather, tumbled, down the saloon stairs, shouting:  “Where’s my wife?  Where’s my wife?” No one took the slightest notice of him, nor did he seem to expect any answer.  Even in the semi-darkness of the single lamp I distinctly saw that with both hands he was tearing handfuls of hair from his head.  I had heard the phrase “tearing one’s hair” some thousands of time in my life, but never till that moment had I witnessed the action itself.  Somehow it made an impression on me.  The man raced round the saloon still shouting, and raced away again up-stairs and out of sight.  Everyone followed him pell-mell, helter-skelter, and almost in a second I found myself alone.  I put on my overcoat, and my mackintosh over that, and seizing Rosa’s jewel-box, I followed the crowd.

As I emerged on deck a Bengal light flared red and dazzling on the bridge, and I saw some sailors trying to lower a boat from its davits.  Then I knew that the man who had cried “We’re sinking!” even if he was not speaking the exact truth, had at any rate some grounds for his assertion.

A rather pretty girl, pale with agitation, seized me by the buttonhole.

“Where are we going?” she questioned earnestly.

“Don’t know, madam,” I replied; and then a young man dragged her off by the arm.

“Come this way, Lottie,” I heard him say to her, “and keep calm.”

I was left staring at the place where the girl’s head had been.  Then the head of an old man filled that place.  I saw his mouth and all his features working in frantic endeavor to speak to me, but he could not articulate.  I stepped aside; I could not bear to look at him.

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