“‘Or else, Bunter,’ he says, ’you may get another manifestation when you least expect it, and tumble overboard perhaps, or something. You ain’t really safe till we pacify the spirit-world in some way.’
“Can you conceive a lunatic like that? No—say?”
I said nothing. But Mrs. Bunter did, in a very decided tone.
“Winston, I don’t want you to go on board that ship again any more.”
“My dear,” says he, “I have all my things on board yet.”
“You don’t want the things. Don’t go near that ship at all.”
He stood still; then, dropping his eyes with a faint smile, said slowly, in a dreamy voice:
“The haunted ship.”
“And your last,” I added.
We carried him off, as he stood, by the night train. He was very quiet; but crossing the Channel, as we two had a smoke on deck, he turned to me suddenly, and, grinding his teeth, whispered:
“He’ll never know how near he was being dropped overboard!”
He meant Captain Johns. I said nothing.
But Captain Johns, I understand, made a great to-do about the disappearance of his chief mate. He set the French police scouring the country for the body. In the end, I fancy he got word from his owners’ office to drop all this fuss—that it was all right. I don’t suppose he ever understood anything of that mysterious occurrence.
To this day he tries at times (he’s retired now, and his conversation is not very coherent)—he tries to tell the story of a black mate he once had, “a murderous, gentlemanly ruffian, with raven-black hair which turned white all at once in consequence of a manifestation from beyond the grave.” An avenging apparition. What with reference to black and white hair, to poop-ladders, and to his own feelings and views, it is difficult to make head or tail of it. If his sister (she’s very vigorous still) should be present she cuts all this short—peremptorily:
“Don’t you mind what he says. He’s got devils on the brain.”