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Mary Roberts Rinehart
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 141 pages of information about The After House.

“You are not getting much chance—­to rest,” she said, with a sigh, and got up.  I went with her to the companionway, and opened the door.  She turned and looked at me.

“Good-night.”

“Good-night, Miss Lee.”

“I—­I feel very safe with you on guard,” she said, and held out her hand.  I took it in mine, with my heart leaping.  It was as cold as ice.

That night, at four bells, I mustered the crew as silently as possible around the jollyboat, and we lowered it into the water.  The possibility of a dead calm had convinced me that the sooner it was done the better.  We arranged to tow the boat astern, and Charlie Jones suggested a white light in its bow, so we could be sure at night that it had not broken loose.

Accordingly, we attached to the bow of the jolly-boat a tailed block with an endless fall riven through it, so as to be able to haul in and refill the lantern.  Five bells struck by the time we had arranged the towing-line.

We dropped the jolly-boat astern and made fast the rope.  It gave me a curious feeling, that small boat rising and falling behind us, with its dead crew, and its rocking light, and, on its side above the water-line, the black cross—­a curious feeling of pursuit, as if, across the water, they in the boat were following us.  And, perhaps because the light varied, sometimes it seemed to drop behind, as if wearying of the chase, and again, in great leaps, to be overtaking us, to be almost upon us.

An open boat with a small white light and a black cross on the side.

CHAPTER XIV

FROM THE CROW’S NEST

The night passed without incident, except for one thing that we were unable to verify.  At six bells, during the darkest hour of the night that precedes the early dawn of summer, Adams, from the crow’s-nest, called down, in a panic, that there was something crawling on all fours on the deck below him.

Burns, on watch at the companionway, ran forward with his revolver, and narrowly escaped being brained—­Adams at that moment flinging down a marlinespike that he had carried aloft with him.

I heard the crash and joined Burns, and together we went over the deck and, both houses.  Everything was quiet:  the crew in various attitudes of exhausted sleep, their chests and dittybags around them; Oleson at the wheel; and Singleton in his jail-room, breathing heavily.

Adams’s nerve was completely gone, and, being now thoroughly awake, I joined him in the crow’s-nest.  Nothing could convince him that he had been the victim of a nervous hallucination.  He stuck to his story firmly.

“It was on the forecastle-head first,” he maintained.  “I saw it gleaming.”

“Gleaming?”

“Sort of shining,” he explained.  “It came up over the rail, and at first it stood up tall, like a white post.”

“You didn’t say before that it was white.”

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