“We could stop this drinking.”
“And have him shoot up the ship! I have been thinking all evening, and only one thing occurs to me. We are five women and two men, and Vail refuses to be alarmed. I want you to sleep in the after house. Isn’t there a storeroom where you could put a cot?”
“Yes,” I agreed, “and I’ll do it, of course, if you are uneasy, but I really think—”
“Never mind what you really think. I haven’t slept for three nights, and I’m showing it.” She made a motion to rise, and I helped her up. She was a tall woman, and before I knew it she had put both her hands on my shoulders.
“You are a poor butler, and an indifferent sailor, I believe,” she said, “but you are rather a dear. Thank you.”
She left me, alternately uplifted and sheepish. But that night I took a blanket and a pillow into the storeroom, and spread my six feet of length along the greatest diameter of a four-by-seven pantry.
And that night, also, between six and seven bells, with the storm subsided and only a moderate sea, Schwartz, the second mate, went overboard—went without a cry, without a sound.
Singleton, relieving him at four o’clock, found his cap lying near starboard, just forward of the after house. The helmsman and the two men in the lookout reported no sound of a struggle. The lookout had seen the light of his cigar on the forecastle-head at six bells (three o’clock). At seven bells he had walked back to the helmsman and commented cheerfully on the break in the weather. That was the last seen of him.
The alarm was raised when Singleton went on watch at four o’clock. The Ella was heaved to and the lee boat lowered. At the same time life-buoys were thrown out, and patent lights. But the early summer dawn revealed a calm ocean; and no sign of the missing mate.
At ten o’clock the order was reluctantly given to go on.
A TERRIBLE NIGHT
With the disappearance of Schwartz, the Ella was short-handed: I believe Captain Richardson made an attempt to secure me to take the place of Burns, now moved up into Schwartz’s position. But the attempt met with a surly refusal from Turner.
The crew was plainly nervous and irritable. Sailors are simple-minded men, as a rule; their mental processes are elemental. They began to mutter that the devil-ship of the Turner line was at her tricks again.
That afternoon, going into the forecastle for some of my clothing, I found a curious group. Gathered about the table were Tom, the mulatto cook, a Swede named Oleson, Adams, and Burns of the crew. At the head of the table Charlie Jones was reading the service for the burial of the dead at sea. The men were standing, bareheaded. I took off my cap and stood, just inside the door, until the simple service was over. I was strongly moved.