The After House eBook

Mary Roberts Rinehart
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 185 pages of information about The After House.

Williams gave a whoop of fear, and ran out of the cabin, crying that the ship was haunted and that Vail had come back.  From that moment, I believe, the after house was the safest spot on the ship.  To my knowledge, no member of the crew so much as passed it on the starboard side, where Vail’s and Turner’s cabins were situated.  It was the one good turn the owner of the Ella did us on that hideous return journey; for, during most of the sixteen days that it took us to get back, he lay in his cabin, alternating the wild frenzy of delirium tremens with quieter moments when he glared at us with crafty, murderous eyes, and picked incessantly at the bandages that tied him down.  Not an instant did he sleep, that we could discover; and always, day or night, Vail was with him, and they were quarreling.  The four women took care of him as best they could.  For a time they gave him the bromides I prepared, taking my medical knowledge without question.  In the horror of the situation, curiosity had no place, and class distinctions were forgotten.  That great leveler, a common trouble, put Henrietta Sloane, the stewardess, and the women of the party at the same table in the after house, where none ate, and placed the responsibility for the ship, although, I was nominally in command, on the shoulders of all the men.  And there sprang up among them a sort of esprit de corps, curious under the circumstances, and partly explained, perhaps, by the belief that in imprisoning Singleton they had the murderer safely in hand.  What they thought of Turner’s possible connection with the crime, I do not know.

Personally, I was convinced that Turner was guilty.  Perhaps, lulled into a false security by the incarceration of the two men, we unconsciously relaxed our vigilance.  But by the first night the crew were somewhat calmer.  Here and there a pipe was lighted, and a plug of tobacco went the rounds.  The forecastle supper, served on deck, was eaten; and Charlie Jones, securing a permission that I thought it best to grant, went forward and painted a large black cross on the side of the jolly-boat, and below it the date, August 13, 1911.  The crew watched in respectful silence.

The weather was in our favor, the wind on our quarter, a blue sky heaped with white cloud masses, with the sunset fringed with the deepest rose.  The Ella made no great way, but sailed easily.  Burns and I alternated at the forward companionway, and, although the men were divided into watches, the entire crew was on duty virtually all the time.

I find, on consulting the book in which I recorded, beginning with that day, the incidents of the return voyage, that two things happened that evening.  One was my interview with Singleton; the other was my curious and depressing clash with Elsa Lee, on the deck that night.

Turner being quiet and Burns on watch at the beginning of the second dog watch, six o’clock, I went forward to the room where Singleton was imprisoned.  Burns gave me the key, and advised me to take a weapon.  I did not, however, nor was it needed.

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The After House from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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