The Boats of the "Glen Carrig"
William Hope Hodgson

Part 1 out of 3


Being an account of their Adventures in the Strange places of the Earth,
after the foundering of the good ship _Glen Carrig_ through striking upon
a hidden rock in the unknown seas to the Southward. As told by John
Winterstraw, Gent., to his son James Winterstraw, in the year 1757, and
by him committed very properly and legibly to manuscript.

By William Hope Hodgson


_Madre Mia_

People may say thou art no longer young
And yet, to me, thy youth was yesterday,
A yesterday that seems
Still mingled with my dreams.
Ah! how the years have o'er thee flung
Their soft mantilla, grey.

And e'en to them thou art not over old;
How could'st thou be! Thy hair
Hast scarcely lost its deep old glorious dark:
Thy face is scarcely lined. No mark
Destroys its calm serenity. Like gold
Of evening light, when winds scarce stir,
The soul-light of thy face is pure as prayer.


The Land of Lonesomeness

Now we had been five days in the boats, and in all this time made no
discovering of land. Then upon the morning of the sixth day came there a
cry from the bo'sun, who had the command of the lifeboat, that there was
something which might be land afar upon our larboard bow; but it was very
low lying, and none could tell whether it was land or but a morning
cloud. Yet, because there was the beginning of hope within our hearts, we
pulled wearily towards it, and thus, in about an hour, discovered it to
be indeed the coast of some flat country.

Then, it might be a little after the hour of midday, we had come so close
to it that we could distinguish with ease what manner of land lay beyond
the shore, and thus we found it to be of an abominable flatness, desolate
beyond all that I could have imagined. Here and there it appeared to be
covered with clumps of queer vegetation; though whether they were small
trees or great bushes, I had no means of telling; but this I know, that
they were like unto nothing which ever I had set eyes upon before.

So much as this I gathered as we pulled slowly along the coast, seeking
an opening whereby we could pass inward to the land; but a weary time
passed or ere we came upon that which we sought. Yet, in the end, we
found it--a slimy-banked creek, which proved to be the estuary of a great
river, though we spoke of it always as a creek. Into this we entered, and
proceeded at no great pace upwards along its winding course; and as we
made forward, we scanned the low banks upon each side, perchance there
might be some spot where we could make to land; but we found none--the
banks being composed of a vile mud which gave us no encouragement to
venture rashly upon them.

Now, having taken the boat something over a mile up the great creek, we
came upon the first of that vegetation which I had chanced to notice from
the sea, and here, being within some score yards of it, we were the
better able to study it. Thus I found that it was indeed composed largely
of a sort of tree, very low and stunted, and having what might be
described as an unwholesome look about it. The branches of this tree, I
perceived to be the cause of my inability to recognize it from a bush,
until I had come close upon it; for they grew thin and smooth through all
their length, and hung towards the earth; being weighted thereto by a
single, large cabbage-like plant which seemed to sprout from the extreme
tip of each.

Presently, having passed beyond this clump of the vegetation, and the
banks of the river remaining very low, I stood me upon a thwart, by which
means I was enabled to scan the surrounding country. This I discovered,
so far as my sight could penetrate, to be pierced in all directions with
innumerable creeks and pools, some of these latter being very great of
extent; and, as I have before made mention, everywhere the country was
low set--as it might be a great plain of mud; so that it gave me a sense
of dreariness to look out upon it. It may be, all unconsciously, that my
spirit was put in awe by the extreme silence of all the country around;
for in all that waste I could see no living thing, neither bird nor
vegetable, save it be the stunted trees, which, indeed, grew in clumps
here and there over all the land, so much as I could see.

This silence, when I grew fully aware of it was the more uncanny; for my
memory told me that never before had I come upon a country which
contained so much quietness. Nothing moved across my vision--not even a
lone bird soared up against the dull sky; and, for my hearing, not so
much as the cry of a sea-bird came to me--no! nor the croak of a frog,
nor the plash of a fish. It was as though we had come upon the Country of
Silence, which some have called the Land of Lonesomeness.

Now three hours had passed whilst we ceased not to labor at the oars, and
we could no more see the sea; yet no place fit for our feet had come to
view, for everywhere the mud, grey and black, surrounded us--encompassing
us veritably by a slimy wilderness. And so we were fain to pull on, in
the hope that we might come ultimately to firm ground.

Then, a little before sundown, we halted upon our oars, and made a scant
meal from a portion of our remaining provisions; and as we ate, I could
see the sun sinking away over the wastes, and I had some slight diversion
in watching the grotesque shadows which it cast from the trees into the
water upon our larboard side; for we had come to a pause opposite a clump
of the vegetation. It was at this time, as I remember, that it was borne
in upon me afresh how very silent was the land; and that this was not due
to my imagination, I remarked that the men both in our own and in the
bo'sun's boat, seemed uneasy because of it; for none spoke save in
undertones, as though they had fear of breaking it.

And it was at this time, when I was awed by so much solitude, that there
came the first telling of life in all that wilderness. I heard it first
in the far distance, away inland--a curious, low, sobbing note it was,
and the rise and the fall of it was like to the sobbing of a lonesome
wind through a great forest. Yet was there no wind. Then, in a moment, it
had died, and the silence of the land was awesome by reason of the
contrast. And I looked about me at the men, both in the boat in which I
was and that which the bo'sun commanded; and not one was there but held
himself in a posture of listening. In this wise a minute of quietness
passed, and then one of the men gave out a laugh, born of the nervousness
which had taken him.

The bo'sun muttered to him to hush, and, in the same moment, there came
again the plaint of that wild sobbing. And abruptly it sounded away on
our right, and immediately was caught up, as it were, and echoed back
from some place beyond us afar up the creek. At that, I got me upon a
thwart, intending to take another look over the country about us; but
the banks of the creek had become higher; moreover the vegetation acted
as a screen, even had my stature and elevation enabled me to overlook
the banks.

And so, after a little while, the crying died away, and there was another
silence. Then, as we sat each one harking for what might next befall,
George, the youngest 'prentice boy, who had his seat beside me, plucked
me by the sleeve, inquiring in a troubled voice whether I had any
knowledge of that which the crying might portend; but I shook my head,
telling him that I had no knowing beyond his own; though, for his
comfort, I said that it might be the wind. Yet, at that, he shook his
head; for indeed, it was plain that it could not be by such agency, for
there was a stark calm.

Now, I had scarce made an end of my remark, when again the sad crying
was upon us. It appeared to come from far up the creek, and from far down
the creek, and from inland and the land between us and the sea. It filled
the evening air with its doleful wailing, and I remarked that there was
in it a curious sobbing, most human in its despairful crying. And so
awesome was the thing that no man of us spoke; for it seemed that we
harked to the weeping of lost souls. And then, as we waited fearfully,
the sun sank below the edge of the world, and the dusk was upon us.

And now a more extraordinary thing happened; for, as the night fell with
swift gloom, the strange wailing and crying was hushed, and another sound
stole out upon the land--a far, sullen growling. At the first, like the
crying, it came from far inland; but was caught up speedily on all sides
of us, and presently the dark was full of it. And it increased in volume,
and strange trumpetings fled across it. Then, though with slowness, it
fell away to a low, continuous growling, and in it there was that which I
can only describe as an insistent, hungry snarl. Aye! no other word of
which I have knowledge so well describes it as that--a note of _hunger_,
most awesome to the ear. And this, more than all the rest of those
incredible voicings, brought terror into my heart.

Now as I sat listening, George gripped me suddenly by the arm, declaring
in a shrill whisper that something had come among the clump of trees upon
the left-hand bank. Of the truth of this, I had immediately a proof; for
I caught the sound of a continuous rustling among them, and then a nearer
note of growling, as though a wild beast purred at my elbow. Immediately
upon this, I caught the bo'sun's voice, calling in a low tone to Josh,
the eldest 'prentice, who had the charge of our boat, to come alongside
of him; for he would have the boats together. Then got we out the oars
and laid the boats together in the midst of the creek; and so we watched
through the night, being full of fear, so that we kept our speech low;
that is, so low as would carry our thoughts one to the other through the
noise of the growling.

And so the hours passed, and naught happened more than I have told, save
that once, a little after midnight, the trees opposite to us seemed to be
stirred again, as though some creature, or creatures, lurked among them;
and there came, a little after that, a sound as of something stirring the
water up against the bank; but it ceased in a while and the silence fell
once more.

Thus, after a weariful time, away Eastwards the sky began to tell of the
coming of the day; and, as the light grew and strengthened, so did that
insatiable growling pass hence with the dark and the shadows. And so at
last came the day, and once more there was borne to us the sad wailing
that had preceded the night. For a certain while it lasted, rising and
falling most mournfully over the vastness of the surrounding wastes,
until the sun was risen some degrees above the horizon; after which it
began to fail, dying away in lingering echoes, most solemn to our ears.
And so it passed, and there came again the silence that had been with us
in all the daylight hours.

Now, it being day, the bo'sun bade us make such sparse breakfast as our
provender allowed; after which, having first scanned the banks to
discern if any fearful thing were visible, we took again to our oars,
and proceeded on our upward journey; for we hoped presently to come upon
a country where life had not become extinct, and where we could put foot
to honest earth. Yet, as I have made mention earlier, the vegetation,
where it grew, did flourish most luxuriantly; so that I am scarce
correct when I speak of life as being extinct in that land. For, indeed,
now I think of it, I can remember that the very mud from which it sprang
seemed veritably to have a fat, sluggish life of its own, so rich and
viscid was it.

Presently it was midday; yet was there but little change in the nature of
the surrounding wastes; though it may be that the vegetation was
something thicker, and more continuous along the banks. But the banks
were still of the same thick, clinging mud; so that nowhere could we
effect a landing; though, had we, the rest of the country beyond the
banks seemed no better.

And all the while, as we pulled, we glanced continuously from bank to
bank; and those who worked not at the oars were fain to rest a hand by
their sheath-knives; for the happenings of the past night were
continually in our minds, and we were in great fear; so that we had
turned back to the sea but that we had come so nigh to the end of our


The Ship in the Creek

Then, it was nigh on to evening, we came upon a creek opening into the
greater one through the bank upon our left. We had been like to pass
it--as, indeed, we had passed many throughout the day--but that the
bo'sun, whose boat had the lead, cried out that there was some craft
lying-up, a little beyond the first bend. And, indeed, so it seemed; for
one of the masts of her--all jagged, where it had carried away--stuck up
plain to our view.

Now, having grown sick with so much lonesomeness, and being in fear of
the approaching night, we gave out something near to a cheer, which,
however, the bo'sun silenced, having no knowledge of those who might
occupy the stranger. And so, in silence, the bo'sun turned his craft
toward the creek, whereat we followed, taking heed to keep quietness, and
working the oars warily. So, in a little, we came to the shoulder of the
bend, and had plain sight of the vessel some little way beyond us. From
the distance she had no appearance of being inhabited; so that after some
small hesitation, we pulled towards her, though still being at pains to
keep silence.

The strange vessel lay against that bank of the creek which was upon our
right, and over above her was a thick clump of the stunted trees. For the
rest, she appeared to be firmly imbedded in the heavy mud, and there was
a certain look of age about her which carried to me a doleful suggestion
that we should find naught aboard of her fit for an honest stomach.

We had come to a distance of maybe some ten fathoms from her starboard
bow--for she lay with her head down towards the mouth of the little
creek--when the bo'sun bade his men to back water, the which Josh did
regarding our own boat. Then, being ready to fly if we had been in
danger, the bo'sun hailed the stranger; but got no reply, save that some
echo of his shout seemed to come back at us. And so he sung out again to
her, chance there might be some below decks who had not caught his first
hail; but, for the second time, no answer came to us, save the low
echo--naught, but that the silent trees took on a little quivering, as
though his voice had shaken them.

At that, being confident now within our minds, we laid alongside, and, in
a minute had shinned up the oars and so gained her decks. Here, save that
the glass of the skylight of the main cabin had been broken, and some
portion of the framework shattered, there was no extraordinary litter; so
that it appeared to us as though she had been no great while abandoned.

So soon as the bo'sun had made his way up from the boat, he turned aft
toward the scuttle, the rest of us following. We found the leaf of the
scuttle pulled forward to within an inch of closing, and so much effort
did it require of us to push it back, that we had immediate evidence of a
considerable time since any had gone down that way.

However, it was no great while before we were below, and here we found
the main cabin to be empty, save for the bare furnishings. From it there
opened off two state-rooms at the forrard end, and the captain's cabin in
the after part, and in all of these we found matters of clothing and
sundries such as proved that the vessel had been deserted apparently in
haste. In further proof of this we found, in a drawer in the captain's
room, a considerable quantity of loose gold, the which it was not to be
supposed would have been left by the free-will of the owner.

Of the staterooms, the one upon the starboard side gave evidence that it
had been occupied by a woman--no doubt a passenger. The other, in which
there were two bunks, had been shared, so far as we could have any
certainty, by a couple of young men; and this we gathered by observation
of various garments which were scattered carelessly about.

Yet it must not be supposed that we spent any great time in the cabins;
for we were pressed for food, and made haste--under the directing of
the bo'sun--to discover if the hulk held victuals whereby we might be
kept alive.

To this end, we removed the hatch which led down to the lazarette, and,
lighting two lamps which we had with us in the boats, went down to make a
search. And so, in a little while, we came upon two casks which the
bo'sun broke open with a hatchet. These casks were sound and tight, and
in them was ship's biscuit, very good and fit for food. At this, as may
be imagined, we felt eased in our minds, knowing that there was no
immediate fear of starvation. Following this, we found a barrel of
molasses; a cask of rum; some cases of dried fruit--these were mouldy and
scarce fit to be eaten; a cask of salt beef, another of pork; a small
barrel of vinegar; a case of brandy; two barrels of flour--one of which
proved to be damp-struck; and a bunch of tallow dips.

In a little while we had all these things up in the big cabin, so that
we might come at them the better to make choice of that which was fit for
our stomachs, and that which was otherwise. Meantime, whilst the bo'sun
overhauled these matters, Josh called a couple of the men, and went on
deck to bring up the gear from the boats, for it had been decided that we
should pass the night aboard the hulk.

When this was accomplished, Josh took a walk forward to the fo'cas'le;
but found nothing beyond two seamen's chests; a sea-bag, and some odd
gear. There were, indeed, no more than ten bunks in the place; for she
was but a small brig, and had no call for a great crowd. Yet Josh was
more than a little puzzled to know what had come to the odd chests; for
it was not to be supposed that there had been no more than two--and a
sea-bag--among ten men. But to this, at that time, he had no answer, and
so, being sharp for supper, made a return to the deck, and thence to the
main cabin.

Now while he had been gone, the bo'sun had set the men to clearing out
the main cabin; after which, he had served out two biscuits apiece all
round, and a tot of rum. To Josh, when he appeared, he gave the same,
and, in a little, we called a sort of council; being sufficiently stayed
by the food to talk.

Yet, before we came to speech, we made shift to light our pipes; for the
bo'sun had discovered a case of tobacco in the captain's cabin, and after
this we came to the consideration of our position.

We had provender, so the bo'sun calculated, to last us for the better
part of two months, and this without any great stint; but we had yet to
prove if the brig held water in her casks, for that in the creek was
brackish, even so far as we had penetrated from the sea; else we had not
been in need. To the charge of this, the bo'sun set Josh, along with two
of the men. Another, he told to take charge of the galley, so long as we
were in the hulk. But for that night, he said we had no need to do
aught; for we had sufficient of water in the boats' breakers to last us
till the morrow. And so, in a little, the dusk began to fill the cabin;
but we talked on, being greatly content with our present ease and the
good tobacco which we enjoyed.

In a little while, one of the men cried out suddenly to us to be silent,
and, in that minute, all heard it--a far, drawn-out wailing; the same
which had come to us in the evening of the first day. At that we looked
at one another through the smoke and the growing dark, and, even as we
looked, it became plainer heard, until, in a while, it was all about
us--aye! it seemed to come floating down through the broken framework of
the skylight as though some weariful, unseen thing stood and cried upon
the decks above our heads.

Now through all that crying, none moved; none, that is, save Josh and the
bo'sun, and they went up into the scuttle to see whether anything was in
sight; but they found nothing, and so came down to us; for there was no
wisdom in exposing ourselves, unarmed as we were, save for our

And so, in a little, the night crept down upon the world, and still we
sat within the dark cabin, none speaking, and knowing of the rest only by
the glows of their pipes.

All at once there came a low, muttered growl, stealing across the land;
and immediately the crying was quenched in its sullen thunder. It died
away, and there was a full minute of silence; then, once more it came,
and it was nearer and more plain to the ear. I took my pipe from my
mouth; for I had come again upon the great fear and uneasiness which the
happenings of the first night had bred in me, and the taste of the smoke
brought me no more pleasure. The muttered growl swept over our heads and
died away into the distance, and there was a sudden silence.

Then, in that quietness, came the bo'sun's voice. He was bidding us
haste every one into the captain's cabin. As we moved to obey him, he ran
to draw over the lid of the scuttle; and Josh went with him, and,
together, they had it across; though with difficulty. When we had come
into the captain's cabin, we closed and barred the door, piling two great
sea chests up against it; and so we felt near safe; for we knew that no
thing, man nor beast, could come at us there. Yet, as may be supposed, we
felt not altogether secure; for there was that in the growling which now
filled the darkness, that seemed demoniac, and we knew not what horrid
Powers were abroad.

And so through the night the growling continued, seeming to be mighty
near unto us--aye! almost over our heads, and of a loudness far
surpassing all that had come to us on the previous night; so that I
thanked the Almighty that we had come into shelter in the midst of so
much fear.


The Thing That Made Search

Now at times, I fell upon sleep, as did most of the others; but, for the
most part, I lay half sleeping and half waking--being unable to attain to
true sleep by reason of the everlasting growling above us in the night,
and the fear which it bred in me. Thus, it chanced that just after
midnight, I caught a sound in the main cabin beyond the door, and
immediately I was fully waked. I sat me up and listened, and so became
aware that something was fumbling about the deck of the main cabin. At
that, I got to my feet and made my way to where the bo'sun lay, meaning
to waken him, if he slept; but he caught me by the ankle, as I stooped to
shake him, and whispered to me to keep silence; for he too had been aware
of that strange noise of something fumbling beyond in the big cabin.

In a little, we crept both of us so close to the door as the chests
would allow, and there we crouched, listening; but could not tell what
manner of thing it might be which produced so strange a noise. For it
was neither shuffling, nor treading of any kind, nor yet was it the
whirr of a bat's wings, the which had first occurred to me, knowing how
vampires are said to inhabit the nights in dismal places. Nor yet was it
the slurr of a snake; but rather it seemed to us to be as though a great
wet cloth were being rubbed everywhere across the floor and bulkheads.
We were the better able to be certain of the truth of this likeness,
when, suddenly, it passed across the further side of the door behind
which we listened: at which, you may be sure, we drew backwards both of
us in fright; though the door, and the chests, stood between us and that
which rubbed against it.

Presently, the sound ceased, and, listen as we might, we could no longer
distinguish it. Yet, until the morning, we dozed no more; being troubled
in mind as to what manner of thing it was which had made search in the
big cabin.

Then in time the day came, and the growling ceased. For a mournful while
the sad crying filled our ears, and then at last the eternal silence that
fills the day hours of that dismal land fell upon us.

So, being at last in quietness, we slept, being greatly awearied. About
seven in the morning, the bo'sun waked me, and I found that they had
opened the door into the big cabin; but though the bo'sun and I made
careful search, we could nowhere come upon anything to tell us aught
concerning the thing which had put us so in fright. Yet, I know not if I
am right in saying that we came upon nothing; for, in several places, the
bulkheads had a _chafed_ look; but whether this had been there before
that night, we had no means of telling.

Of that which we had heard, the bo'sun bade me make no mention, for he
would not have the men put more in fear than need be. This I conceived to
be wisdom, and so held my peace. Yet I was much troubled in my mind to
know what manner of thing it was which we had need to fear, and more--I
desired greatly to know whether we should be free of it in the daylight
hours; for there was always with me, as I went hither and thither, the
thought that IT--for that is how I designated it in my mind--might come
upon us to our destruction.

Now after breakfast, at which we had each a portion of salt pork, besides
rum and biscuit (for by now the fire in the caboose had been set going),
we turned-to at various matters, under the directing of the bo'sun. Josh
and two of the men made examination of the water casks, and the rest of
us lifted the main hatch-covers, to make inspection of her cargo; but lo!
we found nothing, save some three feet of water in her hold.

By this time, Josh had drawn some water off from the casks; but it was
most unsuitable for drinking, being vile of smell and taste. Yet the
bo'sun bade him draw some into buckets, so that the air might haply
purify it; but though this was done, and the water allowed to stand
through the morning, it was but little better.

At this, as might be imagined, we were exercised in our minds as to the
manner in which we should come upon suitable water; for by now we were
beginning to be in need of it. Yet though one said one thing, and another
said another, no one had wit enough to call to mind any method by which
our need should be satisfied. Then, when we had made an end of dining,
the bo'sun sent Josh, with four of the men, up stream, perchance after a
mile or two the water should prove of sufficient freshness to meet our
purpose. Yet they returned a little before sundown having no water; for
everywhere it was salt.

Now the bo'sun, foreseeing that it might be impossible to come upon
water, had set the man whom he had ordained to be our cook, to boiling
the creek water in three great kettles. This he had ordered to be done
soon after the boat left; and over the spout of each, he had hung a
great pot of iron, filled with cold water from the hold--this being
cooler than that from the creek--so that the steam from each kettle
impinged upon the cold surface of the iron pots, and being by this means
condensed, was caught in three buckets placed beneath them upon the floor
of the caboose. In this way, enough water was collected to supply us for
the evening and the following morning; yet it was but a slow method, and
we had sore need of a speedier, were we to leave the hulk so soon as I,
for one, desired.

We made our supper before sunset, so as to be free of the crying which we
had reason to expect. After that, the bo'sun shut the scuttle, and we
went every one of us into the captain's cabin, after which we barred the
door, as on the previous night; and well was it for us that we acted with
this prudence.

By the time that we had come into the captain's cabin, and secured the
door, it was upon sunsetting, and as the dusk came on, so did the
melancholy wailing pass over the land; yet, being by now somewhat inured
to so much strangeness, we lit our pipes, and smoked; though I observed
that none talked; for the crying without was not to be forgotten.

Now, as I have said, we kept silence; but this was only for a time, and
our reason for breaking it was a discovery made by George, the younger
apprentice. This lad, being no smoker, was fain to do something to
while away the time, and with this intent, he had raked out the
contents of a small box, which had lain upon the deck at the side of
the forrard bulkhead.

The box had appeared filled with odd small lumber of which a part was a
dozen or so grey paper wrappers, such as are used, I believe, for
carrying samples of corn; though I have seen them put to other purposes,
as, indeed, was now the case. At first George had tossed these aside; but
it growing darker the bo'sun lit one of the candles which we had found
in the lazarette. Thus, George, who was proceeding to tidy back the
rubbish which was cumbering the place, discovered something which caused
him to cry out to us his astonishment.

Now, upon hearing George call out, the bo'sun bade him keep silence,
thinking it was but a piece of boyish restlessness; but George drew the
candle to him, and bade us to listen; for the wrappers were covered with
fine handwriting after the fashion of a woman's.

Even as George told us of that which he had found we became aware that
the night was upon us; for suddenly the crying ceased, and in place
thereof there came out of the far distance the low thunder of the
night-growling, that had tormented us through the past two nights. For a
space, we ceased to smoke, and sat--listening; for it was a very fearsome
sound. In a very little while it seemed to surround the ship, as on the
previous nights; but at length, using ourselves to it, we resumed our
smoking, and bade George to read out to us from the writing upon the
paper wrappers.

Then George, though shaking somewhat in his voice, began to decipher that
which was upon the wrappers, and a strange and awesome story it was, and
bearing much upon our own concerns:--

"Now, when they discovered the spring among the trees that crown the
bank, there was much rejoicing; for we had come to have much need of
water. And some, being in fear of the ship (declaring, because of all our
misfortune and the strange disappearances of their messmates and the
brother of my lover, that she was haunted by a devil), declared their
intention of taking their gear up to the spring, and there making a camp.
This they conceived and carried out in the space of one afternoon; though
our Captain, a good and true man, begged of them, as they valued life, to
stay within the shelter of their living-place. Yet, as I have remarked,
they would none of them hark to his counseling, and, because the Mate
and the bo'sun were gone he had no means of compelling them to wisdom--"

At this point, George ceased to read, and began to rustle among the
wrappers, as though in search for the continuation of the story.

Presently he cried out that he could not find it, and dismay was
upon his face.

But the bo'sun told him to read on from such sheets as were left; for, as
he observed, we had no knowledge if more existed; and we were fain to
know further of that spring, which, from the story, appeared to be over
the bank near to the vessel.

George, being thus adjured, picked up the topmost sheet; for they were,
as I heard him explain to the bo'sun, all oddly numbered, and having but
little reference one to the other. Yet we were mightily keen to know even
so much as such odd scraps might tell unto us. Whereupon, George read
from the next wrapper, which ran thus:--

"Now, suddenly, I heard the Captain cry out that there was something in
the main cabin, and immediately my lover's voice calling to me to lock my
door, and on no condition to open it. Then the door of the Captain's
cabin slammed, and there came a silence, and the silence was broken by a
_sound_. Now, this was the first time that I had heard the Thing make
search through the big cabin; but, afterwards, my lover told me it had
happened aforetime, and they had told me naught, fearing to frighten me
needlessly; though now I understood why my lover had bidden me never to
leave my stateroom door unbolted in the nighttime. I remember also,
wondering if the noise of breaking glass that had waked me somewhat from
my dreams a night or two previously, had been the work of this
indescribable Thing; for on the morning following that night, the glass
in the skylight had been smashed. Thus it was that my thoughts wandered
out to trifles, while yet my soul seemed ready to leap out from my bosom
with fright.

"I had, by reason of usage, come to ability to sleep despite of the
fearsome growling; for I had conceived its cause to be the mutter of
spirits in the night, and had not allowed myself to be unnecessarily
frightened with doleful thoughts; for my lover had assured me of our
safety, and that we should yet come to our home. And now, beyond my door,
I could hear that fearsome sound of the Thing searching--"

George came to a sudden pause; for the bo'sun had risen and put a great
hand upon his shoulder. The lad made to speak; but the bo'sun beckoned to
him to say no word, and at that we, who had grown to nervousness through
the happenings in the story, began every one to listen. Thus we heard a
sound which had escaped us in the noise of the growling without the
vessel, and the interest of the reading.

For a space we kept very silent, no man doing more than let the breath go
in and out of his body, and so each one of us knew that something moved
without, in the big cabin. In a little, something touched upon our door,
and it was, as I have mentioned earlier, as though a great swab rubbed
and scrubbed at the woodwork. At this, the men nearest unto the door came
backwards in a surge, being put in sudden fear by reason of the Thing
being so near; but the bo'sun held up a hand, bidding them, in a low
voice, to make no unneedful noise. Yet, as though the sounds of their
moving had been heard, the door was shaken with such violence that we
waited, everyone, expecting to see it torn from its hinges; but it stood,
and we hasted to brace it by means of the bunk boards, which we placed
between it and the two great chests, and upon these we set a third chest,
so that the door was quite hid.

Now, I have no remembrance whether I have put down that when we came
first to the ship, we had found the stern window upon the larboard side
to be shattered; but so it was, and the bo'sun had closed it by means of
a teak-wood cover which was made to go over it in stormy weather, with
stout battens across, which were set tight with wedges. This he had done
upon the first night, having fear that some evil thing might come upon us
through the opening, and very prudent was this same action of his, as
shall be seen. Then George cried out that something was at the cover of
the larboard window, and we stood back, growing ever more fearful because
that some evil creature was so eager to come at us. But the bo'sun, who
was a very courageous man, and calm withal, walked over to the closed
window, and saw to it that the battens were secure; for he had knowledge
sufficient to be sure, if this were so, that no creature with strength
less than that of a whale could break it down, and in such case its bulk
would assure us from being molested.

Then, even as he made sure of the fastenings, there came a cry of fear
from some of the men; for there had come at the glass of the unbroken
window, a reddish mass, which plunged up against it, sucking upon it,
as it were. Then Josh, who was nearest to the table, caught up the
candle, and held it towards the Thing; thus I saw that it had the
appearance of a many-flapped thing shaped as it might be, out of raw
beef--_but it was alive_.

At this, we stared, everyone being too bemused with terror to do aught
to protect ourselves, even had we been possessed of weapons. And as we
remained thus, an instant, like silly sheep awaiting the butcher, I
heard the framework creak and crack, and there ran splits all across the
glass. In another moment, the whole thing would have been torn away, and
the cabin undefended, but that the bo'sun, with a great curse at us for
our landlubberly lack of use, seized the other cover, and clapped it
over the window. At that, there was more help than could be made to
avail, and the battens and wedges were in place in a trice. That this
was no sooner accomplished than need be, we had immediate proof; for
there came a rending of wood and a splintering of glass, and after that
a strange yowling out in the dark, and the yowling rose above and
drowned the continuous growling that filled the night. In a little, it
died away, and in the brief silence that seemed to ensue, we heard a
slobby fumbling at the teak cover; but it was well secured, and we had
no immediate cause for fear.


The Two Faces

Of the remainder of that night, I have but a confused memory. At times we
heard the door shaken behind the great chests; but no harm came to it.
And, odd whiles, there was a soft thudding and rubbing upon the decks
over our heads, and once, as I recollect, the Thing made a final try at
the teak covers across the windows; but the day came at last, and found
me sleeping. Indeed, we had slept beyond the noon, but that the bo'sun,
mindful of our needs, waked us, and we removed the chests. Yet, for
perhaps the space of a minute, none durst open the door, until the bo'sun
bid us stand to one side. We faced about at him then, and saw that he
held a great cutlass in his right hand.

He called to us that there were four more of the weapons, and made a
backward motion with his left hand towards an open locker. At that, as
might be supposed, we made some haste to the place to which he pointed,
and found that, among some other gear, there were three more weapons such
as he held; but the fourth was a straight cut-and-thrust, and this I had
the good fortune to secure.

Being now armed, we ran to join the bo'sun; for by this he had the door
open, and was scanning the main cabin. I would remark here how a good
weapon doth seem to put heart into a man; for I, who but a few, short
hours since had feared for my life, was now right full of lustiness and
fight; which, mayhap, was no matter for regret.

From the main cabin, the bo'sun led up on to the deck, and I remember
some surprise at finding the lid of the scuttle even as we had left it
the previous night; but then I recollected that the skylight was broken,
and there was access to the big cabin that way. Yet, I questioned within
myself as to what manner of thing it could be which ignored the
convenience of the scuttle, and descended by way of the broken skylight.

We made a search of the decks and fo'cas'le, but found nothing, and,
after that, the bo'sun stationed two of us on guard, whilst the rest went
about such duties as were needful. In a little, we came to breakfast,
and, after that, we prepared to test the story upon the sample wrappers
and see perchance whether there was indeed a spring of fresh water among
the trees.

Now between the vessel and the trees, lay a slope of the thick mud,
against which the vessel rested. To have scrambled up this bank had been
next to impossible, by reason of its fat richness; for, indeed, it looked
fit to crawl; but that Josh called out to the bo'sun that he had come
upon a ladder, lashed across the fo'cas'le head. This was brought, also
several hatch covers. The latter were placed first upon the mud, and the
ladder laid upon them; by which means we were enabled to pass up to the
top of the bank without contact with the mud.

Here, we entered at once among the trees; for they grew right up to the
edge; but we had no trouble in making a way; for they were nowhere
close together; but standing, rather, each one in a little open space
by itself.

We had gone a little way among the trees, when, suddenly, one who was
with us cried out that he could see something away on our right, and we
clutched everyone his weapon the more determinedly, and went towards it.
Yet it proved to be but a seaman's chest, and a space further off, we
discovered another. And so, after a little walking, we found the camp;
but there was small semblance of a camp about it; for the sail of which
the tent had been formed, was all torn and stained, and lay muddy upon
the ground. Yet the spring was all we had wished, clear and sweet, and so
we knew we might dream of deliverance.

Now, upon our discovery of the spring, it might be thought that we should
set up a shout to those upon the vessel; but this was not so; for there
was something in the air of the place which cast a gloom upon our
spirits, and we had no disinclination to return unto the vessel.

Upon coming to the brig, the bo'sun called to four of the men to go down
into the boats, and pass up the breakers: also, he collected all the
buckets belonging to the brig, and forthwith each of us was set to our
work. Some, those with the weapons, entered into the wood, and gave down
the water to those stationed upon the bank, and these, in turn, passed it
to those in the vessel. To the man in the galley, the bo'sun gave command
to fill a boiler with some of the most select pieces of the pork and beef
from the casks and get them cooked so soon as might be, and so we were
kept at it; for it had been determined--now that we had come upon
water--that we should stay not an hour longer in that monster-ridden
craft, and we were all agog to get the boats revictualled, and put back
to the sea, from which we had too gladly escaped.

So we worked through all that remainder of the morning, and right on into
the afternoon; for we were in mortal fear of the coming dark. Towards
four o'clock, the bo'sun sent the man, who had been set to do our
cooking, up to us with slices of salt meat upon biscuits, and we ate as
we worked, washing our throats with water from the spring, and so, before
the evening, we had filled our breakers, and near every vessel which was
convenient for us to take in the boats. More, some of us snatched the
chance to wash our bodies; for we were sore with brine, having dipped in
the sea to keep down thirst as much as might be.

Now, though it had not taken us so great a while to make a finish of our
water-carrying if matters had been more convenient; yet because of the
softness of the ground under our feet, and the care with which we had to
pick our steps, and some little distance between us and the brig, it had
grown later than we desired, before we had made an end. Therefore, when
the bo'sun sent word that we should come aboard, and bring our gear, we
made all haste. Thus, as it chanced, I found that I had left my sword
beside the spring, having placed it there to have two hands for the
carrying of one of the breakers. At my remarking my loss, George, who
stood near, cried out that he would run for it, and was gone in a moment,
being greatly curious to see the spring.

Now, at this moment, the bo'sun came up, and called for George; but I
informed him that he had run to the spring to bring me my sword. At this,
the bo'sun stamped his foot, and swore a great oath, declaring that he
had kept the lad by him all the day; having a wish to keep him from any
danger which the wood might hold, and knowing the lad's desire to
adventure there. At this, a matter which I should have known, I
reproached myself for so gross a piece of stupidity, and hastened after
the bo'sun, who had disappeared over the top of the bank. I saw his back
as he passed into the wood, and ran until I was up with him; for,
suddenly, as it were, I found that a sense of chilly dampness had come
among the trees; though a while before the place had been full of the
warmth of the sun. This, I put to the account of evening, which was
drawing on apace; and also, it must be borne in mind, that there were but
the two of us.

We came to the spring; but George was not to be seen, and I saw no sign
of my sword. At this, the bo'sun raised his voice, and cried out the
lad's name. Once he called, and again; then at the second shout we heard
the boy's shrill halloo, from some distance ahead among the trees. At
that, we ran towards the sound, plunging heavily across the ground, which
was every-where covered with a thick scum, that clogged the feet in
walking. As we ran, we hallooed, and so came upon the boy, and I saw that
he had my sword.

The bo'sun ran towards him, and caught him by the arm, speaking with
anger, and commanding him to return with us immediately to the vessel.

But the lad, for reply, pointed with my sword, and we saw that he pointed
at what appeared to be a bird against the trunk of one of the trees.
This, as I moved closer, I perceived to be a part of the tree, and no
bird; but it had a very wondrous likeness to a bird; so much so that I
went up to it, to see if my eyes had deceived me. Yet it seemed no more
than a freak of nature, though most wondrous in its fidelity; being but
an excrescence upon the trunk. With a sudden thought that it would make
me a curio, I reached up to see whether I could break it away from the
tree; but it was above my reach, so that I had to leave it. Yet, one
thing I discovered; for, in stretching towards the protuberance, I had
placed a hand upon the tree, and its trunk was soft as pulp under my
fingers, much after the fashion of a mushroom.

As we turned to go, the bo'sun inquired of George his reason for going
beyond the spring, and George told him that he had seemed to hear someone
calling to him among the trees, and there had been so much pain in the
voice that he had run towards it; but been unable to discover the owner.
Immediately afterwards he had seen the curious, bird-like excrescence
upon a tree nearby. Then we had called, and of the rest we had knowledge.

We had come nigh to the spring on our return journey, when a sudden low
whine seemed to run among the trees. I glanced towards the sky, and
realized that the evening was upon us. I was about to remark upon this to
the bo'sun, when, abruptly, he came to a stand, and bent forward to stare
into the shadows to our right. At that, George and I turned ourselves
about to perceive what matter it was which had attracted the attention of
the bo'sun; thus we made out a tree some twenty yards away, which had all
its branches wrapped about its trunk, much as the lash of a whip is wound
about its stock. Now this seemed to us a very strange sight, and we made
all of us toward it, to learn the reason of so extraordinary a happening.

Yet, when we had come close upon it, we had no means of arriving at a
knowledge of that which it portended; but walked each of us around the
tree, and were more astonished, after our circumnavigation of the great
vegetable than before.

Now, suddenly, and in the distance, I caught the far wailing that came
before the night, and abruptly, as it seemed to me, the tree wailed at
us. At that I was vastly astonished and frightened; yet, though I
retreated, I could not withdraw my gaze from the tree; but scanned it
the more intently; and, suddenly, I saw a brown, human face peering at
us from between the wrapped branches. At this, I stood very still, being
seized with that fear which renders one shortly incapable of movement.
Then, before I had possession of myself, I saw that it was of a part
with the trunk of the tree; for I could not tell where it ended and the
tree began.

Then I caught the bo'sun by the arm, and pointed; for whether it was a
part of the tree or not, it was a work of the devil; but the bo'sun, on
seeing it, ran straightway so close to the tree that he might have
touched it with his hand, and I found myself beside him. Now, George, who
was on the bo'sun's other side, whispered that there was another face,
not unlike to a woman's, and, indeed, so soon as I perceived it, I saw
that the tree had a second excrescence, most strangely after the face of
a woman. Then the bo'sun cried out with an oath, at the strangeness of
the thing, and I felt the arm, which I held, shake somewhat, as it might
be with a deep emotion. Then, far away, I heard again the sound of the
wailing and, immediately, from among the trees about us, there came
answering wails and a great sighing. And before I had time to be more
than aware of these things, the tree wailed again at us. And at that, the
bo'sun cried out suddenly that he knew; though of what it was that he
_knew_ I had at that time no knowledge. And, immediately, he began with
his cutlass to strike at the tree before us, and to cry upon God to blast
it; and lo! at his smiting a very fearsome thing happened, for the tree
did bleed like any live creature. Thereafter, a great yowling came from
it, and it began to writhe. And, suddenly, I became aware that all about
us the trees were a-quiver.

Then George cried out, and ran round upon my side of the bo'sun, and I
saw that one of the great cabbage-like things pursued him upon its stem,
even as an evil serpent; and very dreadful it was, for it had become
blood red in color; but I smote it with the sword, which I had taken from
the lad, and it fell to the ground.

Now from the brig I heard them hallooing, and the trees had become
like live things, and there was a vast growling in the air, and
hideous trumpetings. Then I caught the bo'sun again by the arm, and
shouted to him that we must run for our lives; and this we did,
smiting with our swords as we ran; for there came things at us, out
from the growing dusk.

Thus we made the brig, and, the boats being ready, I scrambled after the
bo'sun into his, and we put straightway into the creek, all of us,
pulling with so much haste as our loads would allow. As we went I looked
back at the brig, and it seemed to me that a multitude of things hung
over the bank above her, and there seemed a flicker of things moving
hither and thither aboard of her. And then we were in the great creek up
which we had come, and so, in a little, it was night.

All that night we rowed, keeping very strictly to the center of the big
creek, and all about us bellowed the vast growling, being more fearsome
than ever I had heard it, until it seemed to me that we had waked all
that land of terror to a knowledge of our presence. But, when the morning
came, so good a speed had we made, what with our fear, and the current
being with us, that we were nigh upon the open sea; whereat each one of
us raised a shout, feeling like freed prisoners.

And so, full of thankfulness to the Almighty, we rowed outward to the


The Great Storm

Now, as I have said, we came at last in safety to the open sea, and
so for a time had some degree of peace; though it was long ere we
threw off all of the terror which the Land of Lonesomeness had cast
over our hearts.

And one more matter there is regarding that land, which my memory
recalls. It will be remembered that George found certain wrappers upon
which there was writing. Now, in the haste of our leaving, he had given
no thought to take them with him; yet a portion of one he found within
the side pocket of his jacket, and it ran somewhat thus:--

"But I hear my lover's voice wailing in the night, and I go to find him;
for my loneliness is not to be borne. May God have mercy upon me!"

And that was all.

For a day and a night we stood out from the land towards the North,
having a steady breeze to which we set our lug sails, and so made very
good way, the sea being quiet, though with a slow, lumbering swell from
the Southward.

It was on the morning of the second day of our escape that we met with
the beginnings of our adventure into the Silent Sea, the which I am about
to make as clear as I am able.

The night had been quiet, and the breeze steady until near on to the
dawn, when the wind slacked away to nothing, and we lay there waiting,
perchance the sun should bring the breeze with it. And this it did; but
no such wind as we did desire; for when the morning came upon us, we
discovered all that part of the sky to be full of a fiery redness, which
presently spread away down to the South, so that an entire quarter of the
heavens was, as it seemed to us, a mighty arc of blood-colored fire.

Now, at the sight of these omens, the bo'sun gave orders to prepare the
boats for the storm which we had reason to expect, looking for it in the
South, for it was from that direction that the swell came rolling upon
us. With this intent, we roused out so much heavy canvas as the boats
contained, for we had gotten a bolt and a half from the hulk in the
creek; also the boat covers which we could lash down to the brass studs
under the gunnels of the boats. Then, in each boat, we mounted the
whaleback--which had been stowed along the tops of the thwarts--also its
supports, lashing the same to the thwarts below the knees. Then we laid
two lengths of the stout canvas the full length of the boat over the
whaleback, overlapping and nailing them to the same, so that they sloped
away down over the gunnels upon each side as though they had formed a
roof to us. Here, whilst some stretched the canvas, nailing its lower
edges to the gunnels, others were employed in lashing together the oars
and the mast, and to this bundle they secured a considerable length of
new three-and-a-half-inch hemp rope, which we had brought away from the
hulk along with the canvas. This rope was then passed over the bows and
in through the painter ring, and thence to the forrard thwarts, where it
was made fast, and we gave attention to parcel it with odd strips of
canvas against danger of chafe. And the same was done in both of the
boats, for we could not put our trust in the painters, besides which they
had not sufficient length to secure safe and easy riding.

Now by this time we had the canvas nailed down to the gunnels around our
boat, after which we spread the boat-cover over it, lacing it down to the
brass studs beneath the gunnel. And so we had all the boat covered in,
save a place in the stern where a man might stand to wield the steering
oar, for the boats were double bowed. And in each boat we made the same
preparation, lashing all movable articles, and preparing to meet so great
a storm as might well fill the heart with terror; for the sky cried out
to us that it would be no light wind, and further, the great swell from
the South grew more huge with every hour that passed; though as yet it
was without virulence, being slow and oily and black against the redness
of the sky.

Presently we were ready, and had cast over the bundle of oars and the
mast, which was to serve as our sea anchor, and so we lay waiting. It was
at this time that the bo'sun called over to Josh certain advice with
regard to that which lay before us. And after that the two of them
sculled the boats a little apart; for there might be a danger of their
being dashed together by the first violence of the storm.

And so came a time of waiting, with Josh and the bo'sun each of them at
the steering oars, and the rest of us stowed away under the coverings.
From where I crouched near the bo'sun, I had sight of Josh away upon our
port side: he was standing up black as a shape of night against the
mighty redness, when the boat came to the foamless crowns of the swells,
and then gone from sight in the hollows between.

Now midday had come and gone, and we had made shift to eat so good a
meal as our appetites would allow; for we had no knowledge how long it
might be ere we should have chance of another, if, indeed, we had ever
need to think more of such. And then, in the middle part of the
afternoon, we heard the first cryings of the storm--a far-distant
moaning, rising and falling most solemnly.

Presently, all the Southern part of the horizon so high up, maybe, as
some seven to ten degrees, was blotted out by a great black wall of
cloud, over which the red glare came down upon the great swells as though
from the light of some vast and unseen fire. It was about this time, I
observed that the sun had the appearance of a great full moon, being pale
and clearly defined, and seeming to have no warmth nor brilliancy; and
this, as may be imagined, seemed most strange to us, the more so because
of the redness in the South and East.

And all this while the swells increased most prodigiously; though without
making broken water: yet they informed us that we had done well to take
so much precaution; for surely they were raised by a very great storm. A
little before evening, the moaning came again, and then a space of
silence; after which there rose a very sudden bellowing, as of wild
beasts, and then once more the silence.

About this time, the bo'sun making no objection, I raised my head above
the cover until I was in a standing position; for, until now, I had taken
no more than occasional peeps; and I was very glad of the chance to
stretch my limbs; for I had grown mightily cramped. Having stirred the
sluggishness of my blood, I sat me down again; but in such position that
I could see every part of the horizon without difficulty. Ahead of us,
that is to the South, I saw now that the great wall of cloud had risen
some further degrees, and there was something less of the redness;
though, indeed, what there was left of it was sufficiently terrifying;
for it appeared to crest the black cloud like red foam, seeming, it might
be, as though a mighty sea made ready to break over the world.

Towards the West, the sun was sinking behind a curious red-tinted haze,
which gave it the appearance of a dull red disk. To the North, seeming
very high in the sky, were some flecks of cloud lying motionless, and of
a very pretty rose color. And here I may remark that all the sea to the
North of us appeared as a very ocean of dull red fire; though, as might
be expected, the swells, coming up from the South, against the light were
so many exceeding great hills of blackness.

It was just after I had made these observations that we heard again the
distant roaring of the storm, and I know not how to convey the exceeding
terror of that sound. It was as though some mighty beast growled far down
towards the South; and it seemed to make very clear to me that we were
but two small craft in a very lonesome place. Then, even while the
roaring lasted, I saw a sudden light flare up, as it were from the edge
of the Southern horizon. It had somewhat the appearance of lightning; yet
vanished not immediately, as is the wont of lightning; and more, it had
not been my experience to witness such spring up from out of the sea,
but, rather, down from the heavens. Yet I have little doubt but that it
was a form of lightning; for it came many times after this, so that I had
chance to observe it minutely. And frequently, as I watched, the storm
would shout at us in a most fearsome manner.

Then, when the sun was low upon the horizon, there came to our ears a
very shrill, screaming noise, most penetrating and distressing, and,
immediately afterwards the bo'sun shouted out something in a hoarse
voice, and commenced to sway furiously upon the steering oar. I saw his
stare fixed upon a point a little on our larboard bow, and perceived that
in that direction the sea was all blown up into vast clouds of dust-like
froth, and I knew that the storm was upon us. Immediately afterwards a
cold blast struck us; but we suffered no harm, for the bo'sun had gotten
the boat bows-on by this. The wind passed us, and there was an instant of
calm. And now all the air above us was full of a continuous roaring, so
very loud and intense that I was like to be deafened. To windward, I
perceived an enormous wall of spray bearing down upon us, and I heard
again the shrill screaming, pierce through the roaring. Then, the bo'sun
whipped in his oar under the cover, and, reaching forward, drew the
canvas aft, so that it covered the entire boat, and he held it down
against the gunnel upon the starboard side, shouting in my ear to do
likewise upon the larboard. Now had it not been for this forethought on
the part of the bo'sun we had been all dead men; and this may be the
better believed when I explain that we felt the water falling upon the
stout canvas overhead, tons and tons, though so beaten to froth as to
lack solidity to sink or crush us. I have said "felt"; for I would make
it so clear as may be, here once and for all, that so intense was the
roaring and screaming of the elements, there could no sound have
penetrated to us, no! not the pealing of mighty thunders. And so for the
space of maybe a full minute the boat quivered and shook most vilely, so
that she seemed like to have been shaken in pieces, and from a dozen
places between the gunnel and the covering canvas, the water spurted in
upon us. And here one other thing I would make mention of: During that
minute, the boat had ceased to rise and fall upon the great swell, and
whether this was because the sea was flattened by the first rush of the
wind, or that the excess of the storm held her steady, I am unable to
tell; and can put down only that which we felt.

Now, in a little, the first fury of the blast being spent, the boat
began to sway from side to side, as though the wind blew now upon the one
beam, and now upon the other; and several times we were stricken heavily
with the blows of solid water. But presently this ceased, and we returned
once again to the rise and fall of the swell, only that now we received a
cruel jerk every time that the boat came upon the top of a sea. And so a
while passed.

Towards midnight, as I should judge, there came some mighty flames of
lightning, so bright that they lit up the boat through the double
covering of canvas; yet no man of us heard aught of the thunder; for the
roaring of the storm made all else a silence.

And so to the dawn, after which, finding that we were still, by the mercy
of God, possessed of our lives, we made shift to eat and drink; after
which we slept.

Now, being extremely wearied by the stress of the past night, I slumbered
through many hours of the storm, waking at some time between noon and
evening. Overhead, as I lay looking upwards, the canvas showed of a dull
leadenish color, blackened completely at whiles by the dash of spray and
water. And so, presently, having eaten again, and feeling that all things
lay in the hands of the Almighty, I came once more upon sleep.

Twice through the following night was I wakened by the boat being hurled
upon her beam-ends by the blows of the seas; but she righted easily, and
took scarce any water, the canvas proving a very roof of safety. And so
the morning came again.

Being now rested, I crawled after to where the bo'sun lay, and, the noise
of the storm lulling odd instants, shouted in his ear to know whether the
wind was easing at whiles. To this he nodded, whereat I felt a most
joyful sense of hope pulse through me, and ate such food as could be
gotten, with a very good relish.

In the afternoon, the sun broke out suddenly, lighting up the boat most
gloomily through the wet canvas; yet a very welcome light it was, and
bred in us a hope that the storm was near to breaking. In a little, the
sun disappeared; but, presently, it coming again, the bo'sun beckoned to
me to assist him, and we removed such temporary nails as we had used to
fasten down the after part of the canvas, and pushed back the covering a
space sufficient to allow our heads to go through into the daylight. On
looking out, I discovered the air to be full of spray, beaten as fine as
dust, and then, before I could note aught else, a little gout of water
took me in the face with such force as to deprive me of breath; so that I
had to descend beneath the canvas for a little while.

So soon as I was recovered, I thrust forth my head again, and now I had
some sight of the terrors around us. As each huge sea came towards us,
the boat shot up to meet it, right up to its very crest, and there, for
the space of some instants, we would seem to be swamped in a very ocean
of foam, boiling up on each side of the boat to the height of many feet.
Then, the sea passing from under us, we would go swooping dizzily down
the great, black, froth-splotched back of the wave, until the oncoming
sea caught us up most mightily. Odd whiles, the crest of a sea would hurl
forward before we had reached the top, and though the boat shot upward
like a veritable feather, yet the water would swirl right over us, and we
would have to draw in our heads most suddenly; in such cases the wind
flapping the cover down so soon as our hands were removed. And, apart
from the way in which the boat met the seas, there was a very sense of
terror in the air; the continuous roaring and howling of the storm; the
_screaming_ of the foam, as the frothy summits of the briny mountains
hurled past us, and the wind that tore the breath out of our weak human
throats, are things scarce to be conceived.

Presently, we drew in our heads, the sun having vanished again, and
nailed down the canvas once more, and so prepared for the night.

From here on until the morning, I have very little knowledge of any
happenings; for I slept much of the time, and, for the rest, there was
little to know, cooped up beneath the cover. Nothing save the
interminable, thundering swoop of the boat downwards, and then the halt
and upward hurl, and the occasional plunges and surges to larboard or
starboard, occasioned, I can only suppose, by the indiscriminate might
of the seas.

I would make mention here, how that I had little thought all this while
for the peril of the other boat, and, indeed, I was so very full of our
own that it is no matter at which to wonder. However, as it proved, and
as this is a most suitable place in which to tell it, the boat that held
Josh and the rest of the crew came through the storm with safety; though
it was not until many years afterwards that I had the good fortune to
hear from Josh himself how that, after the storm, they were picked up by
a homeward-bound vessel, and landed in the Port of London.

And now, to our own happenings.


The Weed-Choked Sea

It was some little while before midday that we grew conscious that the
sea had become very much less violent; and this despite the wind roaring
with scarce abated noise. And, presently, everything about the boat,
saving the wind, having grown indubitably calmer, and no great water
breaking over the canvas, the bo'sun beckoned me again to assist him lift
the after part of the cover. This we did, and put forth our heads to
inquire the reason of the unexpected quietness of the sea; not knowing
but that we had come suddenly under the lee of some unknown land. Yet,
for a space, we could see nothing, beyond the surrounding billows; for
the sea was still very furious, though no matter to cause us concern,
after that through which we had come.

Presently, however, the bo'sun, raising himself, saw something, and,
bending cried in my ear that there was a low bank which broke the force
of the sea; but he was full of wonder to know how that we had passed it
without shipwreck. And whilst he was still pondering the matter I raised
myself, and took a look on all sides of us, and so I discovered that
there lay another great bank upon our larboard side, and this I pointed
out to him. Immediately afterwards, we came upon a great mass of seaweed
swung up on the crest of a sea, and, presently, another. And so we
drifted on, and the seas grew less with astonishing rapidity, so that, in
a little, we stripped off the cover so far as the midship thwart; for the
rest of the men were sorely in need of the fresh air, after so long a
time below the canvas covering.

It was after we had eaten, that one of them made out that there was
another low bank astern upon which we were drifting. At that, the bo'sun
stood up and made an examination of it, being much exercised in his mind
to know how we might come clear of it with safety. Presently, however, we
had come so near to it that we discovered it to be composed of seaweed,
and so we let the boat drive upon it, making no doubt but that the other
banks, which we had seen, were of a similar nature.

In a little, we had driven in among the weed; yet, though our speed was
greatly slowed, we made some progress, and so in time came out upon the
other side, and now we found the sea to be near quiet, so that we hauled
in our sea anchor--which had collected a great mass of weed about it--and
removed the whaleback and canvas coverings, after which we stepped the
mast, and set a tiny storm-foresail upon the boat; for we wished to have
her under control, and could set no more than this, because of the
violence of the breeze.

Thus we drove on before the wind, the bo'sun steering, and avoiding all
such banks as showed ahead, and ever the sea grew calmer. Then, when it
was near on to evening, we discovered a huge stretch of the weed that
seemed to block all the sea ahead, and, at that, we hauled down the
foresail, and took to our oars, and began to pull, broadside on to it,
towards the West. Yet so strong was the breeze, that we were being driven
down rapidly upon it. And then, just before sunset, we opened out the
end of it, and drew in our oars, very thankful to set the little
foresail, and run off again before the wind.

And so, presently, the night came down upon us, and the bo'sun made us
take turn and turn about to keep a look-out; for the boat was going some
knots through the water, and we were among strange seas; but _he_ took no
sleep all that night, keeping always to the steering oar.

I have memory, during my time of watching, of passing odd floating
masses, which I make no doubt were weed, and once we drove right atop of
one; but drew clear without much trouble. And all the while, through the
dark to starboard, I could make out the dim outline of that enormous weed
extent lying low upon the sea, and seeming without end. And so,
presently, my time to watch being at an end, I returned to my slumber,
and when next I waked it was morning.

Now the morning discovered to me that there was no end to the weed upon
our starboard side; for it stretched away into the distance ahead of us
so far as we could see; while all about us the sea was full of floating
masses of the stuff. And then, suddenly, one of the men cried out that
there was a vessel in among the weed. At that, as may be imagined, we
were very greatly excited, and stood upon the thwarts that we might get
better view of her. Thus I saw her a great way in from the edge of the
weed, and I noted that her foremast was gone near to the deck, and she
had no main topmast; though, strangely enough, her mizzen stood unharmed.
And beyond this, I could make out but little, because of the distance;
though the sun, which was upon our larboard side, gave me some sight of
her hull, but not much, because of the weed in which she was deeply
embedded; yet it seemed to me that her sides were very weather-worn, and
in one place some glistening brown object, which may have been a fungus,
caught the rays of the sun, sending off a wet sheen.

There we stood, all of us, upon the thwarts, staring and exchanging
opinions, and were like to have overset the boat; but that the bo'sun
ordered us down. And after this we made our breakfast, and had much
discussion regarding the stranger, as we ate.

Later, towards midday, we were able to set our mizzen; for the storm had
greatly modified, and so, presently, we hauled away to the West, to
escape a great bank of the weed which ran out from the main body. Upon
rounding this, we let the boat off again, and set the main lug, and thus
made very good speed before the wind. Yet though we ran all that
afternoon parallel with the weed to starboard, we came not to its end.
And three separate times we saw the hulks of rotting vessels, some of
them having the appearance of a previous age, so ancient did they seem.

Now, towards evening, the wind dropped to a very little breeze, so that
we made but slow way, and thus we had better chance to study the weed.
And now we saw that it was full of crabs; though for the most part so
very minute as to escape the casual glance; yet they were not all small,
for in a while I discovered a swaying among the weed, a little way in
from the edge, and immediately I saw the mandible of a very great crab
stir amid the weed. At that, hoping to obtain it for food, I pointed it
out to the bo'sun, suggesting that we should try and capture it. And so,
there being by now scarce any wind, he bade us get out a couple of the
oars, and back the boat up to the weed. This we did, after which he made
fast a piece of salt meat to a bit of spun yarn, and bent this on to the
boat hook. Then he made a running bowline, and slipped the loop on to the
shaft of the boat hook, after which he held out the boat hook, after the
fashion of a fishing rod, over the place where I had seen the crab.
Almost immediately, there swept up an enormous claw, and grasped the
meat, and at that, the bo'sun cried out to me to take an oar and slide
the bowline along the boat-hook, so that it should fall over the claw,
and this I did, and immediately some of us hauled upon the line,
taughtening it about the great claw. Then the bo'sun sung out to us to
haul the crab aboard, that we had it most securely; yet on the instant we
had reason to wish that we had been less successful; for the creature,
feeling the tug of our pull upon it, tossed the weed in all directions,
and thus we had full sight of it, and discovered it to be so great a crab
as is scarce conceivable--a very monster. And further, it was apparent to
us that the brute had no fear of us, nor intention to escape; but rather
made to come at us; whereat the bo'sun, perceiving our danger, cut the
line, and bade us put weight upon the oars, and so in a moment we were in
safety, and very determined to have no more meddlings with such

Presently, the night came upon us, and, the wind remaining low, there
was everywhere about us a great stillness, most solemn after the
continuous roaring of the storm which had beset us in the previous days.
Yet now and again a little wind would rise and blow across the sea, and
where it met the weed, there would come a low, damp rustling, so that I
could hear the passage of it for no little time after the calm had come
once more all about us.

Now it is a strange thing that I, who had slept amid the noise of the
past days, should find sleeplessness amid so much calm; yet so it was,
and presently I took the steering oar, proposing that the rest should
sleep, and to this the bo'sun agreed, first warning me, however, most
particularly to have care that I kept the boat off the weed (for we had
still a little way on us), and, further, to call him should anything
unforeseen occur. And after that, almost immediately he fell asleep, as
indeed did the most of the men.

From the time that relieved the bo'sun, until midnight, I sat upon the
gunnel of the boat, with the steering oar under my arm, and watched and
listened, most full of a sense of the strangeness of the seas into
which we had come. It is true that I had heard tell of seas choked up
with weed--seas that were full of stagnation, having no tides; but I
had not thought to come upon such an one in my wanderings; having,
indeed, set down such tales as being bred of imagination, and without
reality in fact.

Then, a little before the dawn, and when the sea was yet full of
darkness, I was greatly startled to hear a prodigious splash amid the
weed, mayhaps at a distance of some hundred yards from the boat. Then,
as I stood full of alertness, and knowing not what the next moment
might bring forth, there came to me across the immense waste of weed, a
long, mournful cry, and then again the silence. Yet, though I kept very
quiet, there came no further sound, and I was about to re-seat myself,
when, afar off in that strange wilderness, there flashed out a sudden
flame of fire.

Now upon seeing fire in the midst of so much lonesomeness, I was as one
amazed, and could do naught but stare. Then, my judgment returning to me,
I stooped and waked the bo'sun; for it seemed to me that this was a
matter for his attention. He, after staring at it awhile, declared that
he could see the shape of a vessel's hull beyond the flame; but,
immediately, he was in doubt, as, indeed, I had been all the while. And
then, even as we peered, the light vanished, and though we waited for the
space of some minutes; watching steadfastly, there came no further sight
of that strange illumination.

From now until the dawn, the bo'sun remained awake with me, and we talked
much upon that which we had seen; yet could come to no satisfactory
conclusion; for it seemed impossible to us that a place of so much
desolation could contain any living being. And then, just as the dawn was
upon us, there loomed up a fresh wonder--the hull of a great vessel maybe
a couple or three score fathoms in from the edge of the weed. Now the
wind was still very light, being no more than an occasional breath, so
that we went past her at a drift, thus the dawn had strengthened
sufficiently to give to us a clear sight of the stranger, before we had
gone more than a little past her. And now I perceived that she lay full
broadside on to us, and that her three masts were gone close down to the
deck. Her side was streaked in places with rust, and in others a green
scum overspread her; but it was no more than a glance that I gave at any
of those matters; for I had spied something which drew all my
attention--great leathery arms splayed all across her side, some of them
crooked inboard over the rail, and then, low down, seen just above the
weed, the huge, brown, glistening bulk of so great a monster as ever I
had conceived. The bo'sun saw it in the same instant and cried out in a
hoarse whisper that it was a mighty devilfish, and then, even as he
spoke, two of the arms flickered up into the cold light of the dawn, as
though the creature had been asleep, and we had waked it. At that, the
bo'sun seized an oar, and I did likewise, and, so swiftly as we dared,
for fear of making any unneedful noise, we pulled the boat to a safer
distance. From there and until the vessel had become indistinct by reason
of the space we put between us, we watched that great creature clutched
to the old hull, as it might be a limpet to a rock.

Presently, when it was broad day, some of the men began to rouse up, and
in a little we broke our fast, which was not displeasing to me, who had
spent the night watching. And so through the day we sailed with a very
light wind upon our larboard quarter. And all the while we kept the
great waste of weed upon our starboard side, and apart from the mainland
of the weed, as it were, there were scattered about an uncountable
number of weed islets and banks, and there were thin patches of it that
appeared scarce above the water, and through these later we let the boat
sail; for they had not sufficient density to impede our progress more
than a little.

And then, when the day was far spent, we came in sight of another
wreck amid the weeds. She lay in from the edge perhaps so much as the
half of a mile, and she had all three of her lower masts in, and her
lower yards squared. But what took our eyes more than aught else was a
great superstructure which had been built upward from her rails,
almost half-way to her main tops, and this, as we were able to
perceive, was supported by ropes let down from the yards; but of what
material the superstructure was composed, I have no knowledge; for it
was so over-grown with some form of green stuff--as was so much of the
hull as showed above the weed--as to defy our guesses. And because of
this growth, it was borne upon us that the ship must have been lost to
the world a very great age ago. At this suggestion, I grew full of
solemn thought; for it seemed to me that we had come upon the cemetery
of the oceans.

Now, in a little while after we had passed this ancient craft, the night
came down upon us, and we prepared for sleep, and because the boat was
making some little way through the water, the bo'sun gave out that each
of us should stand our turn at the steering-oar, and that he was to be
called should any fresh matter transpire. And so we settled down for the
night, and owing to my previous sleeplessness, I was full weary, so that
I knew nothing until the one whom I was to relieve shook me into
wakefulness. So soon as I was fully waked, I perceived that a low moon
hung above the horizon, and shed a very ghostly light across the great
weed world to starboard. For the rest, the night was exceeding quiet, so
that no sound came to me in all that ocean, save the rippling of the
water upon our bends as the boat forged slowly along. And so I settled
down to pass the time ere I should be allowed to sleep; but first I asked
the man whom I had relieved, how long a time had passed since moon-rise;
to which he replied that it was no more than the half of an hour, and
after that I questioned whether he had seen aught strange amid the weed
during his time at the oar; but he had seen nothing, except that once he
had fancied a light had shown in the midst of the waste; yet it could
have been naught save a humor of the imagination; though apart from this,
he had heard a strange crying a little after midnight, and twice there
had been great splashes among the weed. And after that he fell asleep,
being impatient at my questioning.

Now it so chanced that my watch had come just before the dawn; for which
I was full of thankfulness, being in that frame of mind when the dark
breeds strange and unwholesome fancies. Yet, though I was so near to the
dawn, I was not to escape free of the eerie influence of that place; for,
as I sat, running my gaze to and fro over its grey immensity, it came to
me that there were strange movements among the weed, and I seemed to see
vaguely, as one may see things in dreams, dim white faces peer out at me
here and there; yet my common sense assured me that I was but deceived by
the uncertain light and the sleep in my eyes; yet for all that, it put my
nerves on the quiver.

A little later, there came to my ears the noise of a very great splash
amid the weed; but though I stared with intentness, I could nowhere
discern aught as likely to be the cause thereof. And then, suddenly,
between me and the moon, there drove up from out of that great waste a
vast bulk, flinging huge masses of weed in all directions. It seemed to
be no more than a hundred fathoms distant, and, against the moon, I saw
the outline of it most clearly--a mighty devilfish. Then it had fallen
back once more with a prodigious splash, and so the quiet fell again,
finding me sore afraid, and no little bewildered that so monstrous a
creature could leap with such agility. And then (in my fright I had let
the boat come near to the edge of the weed) there came a subtle stir
opposite to our starboard bow, and something slid down into the water. I
swayed upon the oar to turn the boat's head outward, and with the same
movement leant forward and sideways to peer, bringing my face near to the
boat's rail. In the same instant, I found myself looking down into a
white demoniac face, human save that the mouth and nose had greatly the
appearance of a beak. The thing was gripping at the side of the boat with
two flickering hands--gripping the bare, smooth outer surface, in a way
that woke in my mind a sudden memory of the great devilfish which had
clung to the side of the wreck we had passed in the previous dawn. I saw
the face come up towards me, and one misshapen hand fluttered almost to
my throat, and there came a sudden, hateful reek in my nostrils--foul and
abominable. Then, I came into possession of my faculties, and drew back
with great haste and a wild cry of fear. And then I had the steering-oar
by the middle, and was smiting downward with the loom over the side of
the boat; but the thing was gone from my sight. I remember shouting out
to the bo'sun and to the men to awake, and then the bo'sun had me by the
shoulder, was calling in my ear to know what dire thing had come about.
At that, I cried out that I did not know, and, presently, being somewhat
calmer, I told them of the thing that I had seen; but even as I told of
it, there seemed to be no truth in it, so that they were all at a loss to
know whether I had fallen asleep, or that I had indeed seen a devil.

And presently the dawn was upon us.


The Island in the Weed

It was as we were all discussing the matter of the devil face that had
peered up at me out of the water, that Job, the ordinary seaman,
discovered the island in the light of the growing dawn, and, seeing it,
sprang to his feet, with so loud a cry that we were like for the moment
to have thought he had seen a second demon. Yet when we made discovery of
that which he had already perceived, we checked our blame at his sudden
shout; for the sight of land, after so much desolation, made us very warm
in our hearts.

Now at first the island seemed but a very small matter; for we did not
know at that time that we viewed it from its end; yet despite this, we
took to our oars and rowed with all haste towards it, and so, coming
nearer, were able to see that it had a greater size than we had imagined.
Presently, having cleared the end of it, and keeping to that side which
was further from the great mass of the weed-continent, we opened out a
bay that curved inward to a sandy beach, most seductive to our tired
eyes. Here, for the space of a minute, we paused to survey the prospect,
and I saw that the island was of a very strange shape, having a great
hump of black rock at either end, and dipping down into a steep valley
between them. In this valley there seemed to be a deal of a strange
vegetation that had the appearance of mighty toadstools; and down nearer
the beach there was a thick grove of a kind of very tall reed, and these
we discovered afterwards to be exceeding tough and light, having
something of the qualities of the bamboo.

Regarding the beach, it might have been most reasonably supposed that it
would be very thick with the driftweed; but this was not so, at least,
not at that time; though a projecting horn of the black rock which ran
out into the sea from the upper end of the island, was thick with it.

And now, the bo'sun having assured himself that there was no appearance
of any danger, we bent to our oars, and presently had the boat aground
upon the beach, and here, finding it convenient, we made our breakfast.
During this meal, the bo'sun discussed with us the most proper thing to
do, and it was decided to push the boat off from the shore, leaving Job
in her, whilst the remainder of us made some exploration of the island.

And so, having made an end of eating, we proceeded as we had
determined, leaving Job in the boat, ready to scull ashore for us if we
were pursued by any savage creature, while the rest of us made our way
towards the nearer hump, from which, as it stood some hundred feet
above the sea, we hoped to get a very good idea of the remainder of the
island. First, however, the bo'sun handed out to us the two cutlasses
and the cut-and-thrust (the other two cutlasses being in Josh's boat),
and, taking one himself, he passed me the cut-and-thrust, and gave the
other cutlass to the biggest of the men. Then he bade the others keep
their sheath knives handy, and was proceeding to lead the way, when one
of them called out to us to wait a moment, and, with that, ran quickly
to the clump of reeds. Here, he took one with both his hands and bent
upon it; but it would not break, so that he had to notch it about with
his knife, and thus, in a little, he had it clear. After this, he cut
off the upper part, which was too thin and lissome for his purpose, and
then thrust the handle of his knife into the end of the portion which
he had retained, and in this wise he had a most serviceable lance or
spear. For the reeds were very strong, and hollow after the fashion of
bamboo, and when he had bound some yarn about the end into which he had
thrust his knife, so as to prevent it splitting, it was a fit enough
weapon for any man.

Now the bo'sun, perceiving the happiness of the fellow's idea, bade the
rest make to themselves similar weapons, and whilst they were busy thus,
he commended the man very warmly. And so, in a little, being now most
comfortably armed, we made inland towards the nearer black hill, in very
good spirits. Presently, we were come to the rock which formed the hill,
and found that it came up out of the sand with great abruptness, so that
we could not climb it on the seaward side. At that, the bo'sun led us
round a space towards that side where lay the valley, and here there was
under-foot neither sand nor rock; but ground of strange and spongy
texture, and then suddenly, rounding a jutting spur of the rock, we came
upon the first of the vegetation--an incredible mushroom; nay, I should
say toadstool; for it had no healthy look about it, and gave out a heavy,
mouldy odor. And now we perceived that the valley was filled with them,
all, that is, save a great circular patch where nothing appeared to be
growing; though we were not yet at a sufficient height to ascertain the
reason of this.

Presently, we came to a place where the rock was split by a great fissure
running up to the top, and showing many ledges and convenient shelves
upon which we might obtain hold and footing. And so we set-to about
climbing, helping one another so far as we had ability, until, in about
the space of some ten minutes, we reached the top, and from thence had a
very fine view. We perceived now that there was a beach upon that side of
the island which was opposed to the weed; though, unlike that upon which
we had landed, it was greatly choked with weed which had drifted ashore.
After that, I gave notice to see what space of water lay between the
island and the edge of the great weed-continent, and guessed it to be no
more than maybe some ninety yards, at which I fell to wishing that it had
been greater, for I was grown much in awe of the weed and the strange
things which I conceived it to contain.

Abruptly, the bo'sun clapped me upon the shoulder, and pointed to some
object that lay out in the weed at a distance of not much less than the
half of a mile from where we stood. Now, at first, I could not conceive
what manner of thing it was at which I stared, until the bo'sun,
remarking my bewilderment, informed me that it was a vessel all covered
in, no doubt as a protection against the devil-fish and other strange
creatures in the weed. And now I began to trace the hull of her amid all
that hideous growth; but of her masts, I could discern nothing; and I
doubted not but that they had been carried away by some storm ere she was
caught by the weed; and then the thought came to me of the end of those
who had built up that protection against the horrors which the weed-world
held hidden amid its slime.

Presently, I turned my gaze once more upon the island, which was very
plain to see from where we stood. I conceived, now that I could see so
much of it, that its length would be near to half a mile, though its
breadth was something under four hundred yards; thus it was very long in
proportion to its width. In the middle part it had less breadth than at
the ends, being perhaps three hundred yards at its narrowest, and a
hundred yards wider at its broadest.

Upon both sides of the island, as I have made already a mention, there
was a beach, though this extended no great distance along the shore, the
remainder being composed of the black rock of which the hills were
formed. And now, having a closer regard to the beach upon the weed-side
of the island, I discovered amid the wrack that had been cast ashore, a
portion of the lower mast and topmast of some great ship, with rigging
attached; but the yards were all gone. This find, I pointed out to the
bo'sun, remarking that it might prove of use for firing; but he smiled at
me, telling me that the dried weed would make a very abundant fire, and
this without going to the labor of cutting the mast into suitable logs.

And now, he, in turn, called my attention to the place where the huge
fungi had come to a stop in their growing, and I saw that in the center
of the valley there was a great circular opening in the earth, like to
the mouth of a prodigious pit, and it appeared to be filled to within a
few feet of the mouth with water, over which spread a brown and horrid
scum. Now, as may be supposed, I stared with some intentness at this; for
it had the look of having been made with labor, being very symmetrical,
yet I could not conceive but that I was deluded by the distance, and that
it would have a rougher appearance when viewed from a nearer standpoint.

From contemplating this, I looked down upon the little bay in which our
boat floated. Job was sitting in the stern, sculling gently with the
steering oar and watching us. At that, I waved my hand to him in
friendly fashion, and he waved back, and then, even as I looked, I saw
something in the water under the boat--something dark colored that was
all of a-move. The boat appeared to be floating over it as over a mass
of sunk weed, and then I saw that, whatever it was, it was rising to the
surface. At this a sudden horror came over me, and I clutched the bo'sun
by the arm, and pointed, crying out that there was something under the
boat. Now the bo'sun, so soon as he saw the thing, ran forward to the
brow of the hill and, placing his hands to his mouth after the fashion
of a trumpet, sang out to the boy to bring the boat to the shore and
make fast the painter to a large piece of rock. At the bo'sun's hail,
the lad called out "I, I," and, standing up, gave a sweep with his oar
that brought the boat's head round towards the beach. Fortunately for
him he was no more than some thirty yards from the shore at this time,
else he had never come to it in this life; for the next moment the
moving brown mass beneath the boat shot out a great tentacle and the oar
was torn out of Job's hands with such power as to throw him right over
on to the starboard gunnel of the boat. The oar itself was drawn down
out of sight, and for the minute the boat was left untouched. Now the
bo'sun cried out to the boy to take another oar, and get ashore while
still he had chance, and at that we all called out various things, one
advising one thing, and another recommending some other; yet our advice
was vain, for the boy moved not, at which some cried out that he was
stunned. I looked now to where the brown thing had been, for the boat
had moved a few fathoms from the spot, having got some way upon her
before the oar was snatched, and thus I discovered that the monster had
disappeared, having, I conceived, sunk again into the depths from which
it had risen; yet it might re-appear at any moment, and in that case the
boy would be taken before our eyes.

At this juncture, the bo'sun called to us to follow him, and led the way
to the great fissure up which we had climbed, and so, in a minute, we
were, each of us, scrambling down with what haste we could make towards
the valley. And all the while as I dropped from ledge to ledge, I was
full of torment to know whether the monster had returned.

The bo'sun was the first man to reach the bottom of the cleft, and he set
off immediately round the base of the rock to the beach, the rest of us
following him as we made safe our footing in the valley. I was the third
man down; but, being light and fleet of foot, I passed the second man and
caught up with the bo'sun just as he came upon the sand. Here, I found
that the boat was within some five fathoms of the beach, and I could see
Job still lying insensible; but of the monster there was no sign.

And so matters were, the boat nearly a dozen yards from the shore, and
Job lying insensible in her; with, somewhere near under her keel (for all
that we knew) a great monster, and we helpless upon the beach.

Now I could not imagine how to save the lad, and indeed I fear he had
been left to destruction--for I had deemed it madness to try to reach the
boat by swimming--but for the extraordinary bravery of the bo'sun, who,
without hesitating, dashed into the water and swam boldly out to the
boat, which, by the grace of God, he reached without mishap, and climbed
in over the bows. Immediately, he took the painter and hove it to us,
bidding us tail on to it and bring the boat to shore without delay, and
by this method of gaining the beach he showed wisdom; for in this wise he
escaped attracting the attention of the monster by unneedful stirring of
the water, as he would surely have done had he made use of an oar.

Yet, despite his care, we had not finished with the creature; for, just
as the boat grounded, I saw the lost steering oar shoot up half its
length out of the sea, and immediately there was a mighty splather in the
water astern, and the next instant the air seemed full of huge, whirling
arms. At that, the bo'sun gave one look behind, and, seeing the thing
upon him, snatched the boy into his arms, and sprang over the bows on to
the sand. Now, at sight of the devil-fish, we had all made for the back
of the beach at a run, none troubling even to retain the painter, and
because of this, we were like to have lost the boat; for the great
cuttlefish had its arms all splayed about it, seeming to have a mind to
drag it down into the deep water from whence it had risen, and it had
possibly succeeded, but that the bo'sun brought us all to our senses;
for, having laid Job out of harm's way, he was the first to seize the
painter, which lay trailed upon the sand, and, at that, we got back our
courage and ran to assist him.

Now there happened to be convenient a great spike of rock, the same,
indeed, to which the bo'sun had bidden Job tie the boat, and to this we
ran the painter, taking a couple of turns about it and two half-hitches,
and now, unless the rope carried away, we had no reason to fear the loss
of the boat; though there seemed to us to be a danger of the creature's
crushing it. Because of this, and because of a feeling of natural anger
against the thing, the bo'sun took up from the sand one of the spears
which had been cast down when we hauled the boat ashore. With this, he
went down so far as seemed safe, and prodded the creature in one of its
tentacles--the weapon entering easily, at which I was surprised, for I
had understood that these monsters were near to invulnerable in all parts
save their eyes. At receiving this stab, the great fish appeared to feel
no hurt for it showed no signs of pain, and, at that, the bo'sun was
further emboldened to go nearer, so that he might deliver a more deadly
wound; yet scarce had he taken two steps before the hideous thing was
upon him, and, but for an agility wonderful in so great a man, he had
been destroyed. Yet, spite of so narrow an escape from death, he was not
the less determined to wound or destroy the creature, and, to this end,
he dispatched some of us to the grove of reeds to get half a dozen of the
strongest, and when we returned with these, he bade two of the men lash
their spears securely to them, and by this means they had now spears of a
length of between thirty and forty feet. With these, it was possible to
attack the devilfish without coming within reach of its tentacles. And
now being ready, he took one of the spears, telling the biggest of the
men to take the other. Then he directed him to aim for the right eye of
the huge fish whilst he would attack the left.

Now since the creature had so nearly captured the bo'sun, it had ceased
to tug at the boat, and lay silent, with its tentacles spread all about
it, and its great eyes appearing just over the stern, so that it
presented an appearance of watching our movements; though I doubt if it
saw us with any clearness; for it must have been dazed with the
brightness of the sunshine.

And now the bo'sun gave the signal to attack, at which he and the man ran
down upon the creature with their lances, as it were in rest. The
bo'sun's spear took the monster truly in its left eye; but the one
wielded by the man was too bendable, and sagged so much that it struck
the stern-post of the boat, the knife blade snapping off short. Yet it
mattered not; for the wound inflicted by the bo'sun's weapon was so
frightful, that the giant cuttlefish released the boat, and slid back
into deep water, churning it into foam, and gouting blood.

For some minutes we waited to make sure that the monster had indeed gone,
and after that, we hastened to the boat, and drew her up so far as we
were able; after which we unloaded the heaviest of her contents, and so
were able to get her right clear of the water.

And for an hour afterwards the sea all about the little beach was stained
black, and in places red.


The Noises in the Valley

Now, so soon as we had gotten the boat into safety, the which we did with
a most feverish haste, the bo'sun gave his attention to Job; for the boy
had not yet recovered from the blow which the loom of the oar had dealt
him beneath the chin when the monster snatched at it. For awhile, his
attentions produced no effect; but presently, having bathed the lad's
face with water from the sea, and rubbed rum into his chest over the
heart, the youth began to show signs of life, and soon opened his eyes,
whereupon the bo'sun gave him a stiff jorum of the rum, after which he
asked him how he seemed in himself. To this Job replied in a weak voice
that he was dizzy and his head and neck ached badly, on hearing which,
the bo'sun bade him keep lying until he had come more to himself. And so
we left him in quietness under a little shade of canvas and reeds; for
the air was warm and the sand dry, and he was not like to come to any
harm there.

At a little distance, under the directing of the bo'sun, we made to
prepare dinner, for we were now very hungry, it seeming a great while
since we had broken our fast. To this end, the bo'sun sent two of the men
across the island to gather some of the dry seaweed; for we intended to
cook some of the salt meat, this being the first cooked meal since ending
the meat which we had boiled before leaving the ship in the creek.

In the meanwhile, and until the return of the men with the fuel, the
bo'sun kept us busied in various ways. Two he sent to cut a bundle of the
reeds, and another couple to bring the meat and the iron boiler, the
latter being one that we had taken from the old brig.

Presently, the men returned with the dried seaweed, and very curious
stuff it seemed, some of it being in chunks near as thick as a man's
body; but exceeding brittle by reason of its dryness. And so in a little,
we had a very good fire going, which we fed with the seaweed and pieces
of the reeds, though we found the latter to be but indifferent fuel,
having too much sap, and being troublesome to break into convenient size.

Now when the fire had grown red and hot, the bo'sun half filled the
boiler with sea water, in which he placed the meat; and the pan, having a
stout lid, he did not scruple to place it in the very heart of the fire,
so that soon we had the contents boiling merrily.

Having gotten the dinner under way, the bo'sun set about preparing our
camp for the night, which we did by making a rough framework with the
reeds, over which we spread the boat's sails and the cover, pegging the
canvas down with tough splinters of the reed. When this was completed, we
set-to and carried there all our stores, after which the bo'sun took us
over to the other side of the island to gather fuel for the night, which
we did, each man bearing a great double armful.

Now by the time that we had brought over, each of us, two loads of the
fuel, we found the meat to be cooked, and so, without more to-do, set
ourselves down and made a very good meal off it and some biscuits, after
which we had each of us a sound tot of the rum. Having made an end of
eating and drinking, the bo'sun went over to where Job lay, to inquire
how he felt, and found him lying very quiet, though his breathing had a
heavy touch about it. However, we could conceive of nothing by which he
might be bettered, and so left him, being more hopeful that Nature would
bring him to health than any skill of which we were possessed.

By this time it was late afternoon, so that the bo'sun declared we might
please ourselves until sunset, deeming that we had earned a very good
right to rest; but that from sunset till the dawn we should, he told us,
have each of us to take turn and turn about to watch; for though we were
no longer upon the water, none might say whether we were out of danger or
not, as witness the happening of the morning; though, certainly, he
apprehended no danger from the devil-fish so long as we kept well away
from the water's edge.

And so from now until dark most of the men slept; but the bo'sun spent
much of that time in overhauling the boat, to see how it might chance to
have suffered during the storm, and also whether the struggles of the
devil-fish had strained it in any way. And, indeed, it was speedily
evident that the boat would need some attention; for the plank in her
bottom next but one to the keel, upon the starboard side, had been burst
inwards; this having been done, it would seem, by some rock in the beach
hidden just beneath the water's edge, the devil-fish having, no doubt,
ground the boat down upon it. Happily, the damage was not great; though
it would most certainly have to be carefully repaired before the boat
would be again seaworthy. For the rest, there seemed to be no other part
needing attention.

Now I had not felt any call to sleep, and so had followed the bo'sun to
the boat, giving him a hand to remove the bottom-boards, and finally to
slue her bottom a little upwards, so that he might examine the leak more
closely. When he had made an end with the boat, he went over to the
stores, and looked closely into their condition, and also to see how they
were lasting. And, after that, he sounded all the water-breakers; having
done which, he remarked that it would be well for us if we could discover
any fresh water upon the island.

By this time it was getting on towards evening, and the bo'sun went
across to look at Job, finding him much as he had been when we visited
him after dinner. At that, the bo'sun asked me to bring across one of the
longer of the bottom-boards, which I did, and we made use of it as a
stretcher to carry the lad into the tent. And afterwards, we carried all
the loose woodwork of the boat into the tent, emptying the lockers of
their contents, which included some oakum, a small boat's hatchet, a coil
of one-and-a-half-inch hemp line, a good saw, an empty colza-oil tin, a
bag of copper nails, some bolts and washers, two fishing-lines, three
spare tholes, a three-pronged grain without the shaft, two balls of spun
yarn, three hanks of roping-twine, a piece of canvas with four
roping-needles stuck in it, the boat's lamp, a spare plug, and a roll of
light duck for making boat's sails.

And so, presently, the dark came down upon the island, at which the
bo'sun waked the men, and bade them throw more fuel on to the fire, which
had burned down to a mound of glowing embers much shrouded in ash. After
that, one of them part filled the boiler with fresh water, and soon we
were occupied most pleasantly upon a supper of cold, boiled salt-meat,
hard biscuits, and rum mixed with hot water. During supper, the bo'sun
made clear to the men regarding the watches, arranging how they should
follow, so that I found I was set down to take my turn from midnight
until one of the clock. Then, he explained to them about the burst plank
in the bottom of the boat, and how that it would have to be put right
before we could hope to leave the island, and that after that night we
should have to go most strictly with the victuals; for there seemed to be
nothing upon the island, that we had up till then discovered, fit to
satisfy our bellies. More than this, if we could find no fresh water, he
should have to distil some to make up for that which we had drunk, and
this must be done before leaving the island.

Now by the time that the bo'sun had made an end of explaining these
matters, we had ceased from eating, and soon after this we made each one
of us a comfortable place in the sand within the tent, and lay down to
sleep. For a while, I found myself very wakeful, which may have been
because of the warmth of the night, and, indeed, at last I got up and
went out of the tent, conceiving that I might the better find sleep in
the open air. And so it proved; for, having lain down at the side of the
tent, a little way from the fire, I fell soon into a deep slumber, which
at first was dreamless. Presently, however, I came upon a very strange
and unsettling dream; for I dreamed that I had been left alone on the
island, and was sitting very desolate upon the edge of the brown-scummed
pit. Then I was aware suddenly that it was very dark and very silent, and
I began to shiver; for it seemed to me that something which repulsed my
whole being had come quietly behind me. At that I tried mightily to turn
and look into the shadows among the great fungi that stood all about me;
but I had no power to turn. And the thing was coming nearer, though never
a sound came to me, and I gave out a scream, or tried to; but my voice
made no stir in the rounding quiet; and then something wet and cold
touched my face, and slithered down and covered my mouth, and paused
there for a vile, breathless moment. It passed onward and fell to my
throat--and stayed there ...

Some one stumbled and felt over my feet, and at that, I was suddenly
awake. It was the man on watch making a walk round the back of the tent,
and he had not known of my presence till he fell over my boots. He was
somewhat shaken and startled, as might be supposed; but steadied himself
on learning that it was no wild creature crouched there in the shadow;
and all the time, as I answered his inquiries, I was full of a strange,
horrid feeling that something had left me at the moment of my awakening.
There was a slight, hateful odor in my nostrils that was not altogether
unfamiliar, and then, suddenly, I was aware that my face was damp and
that there was a curious sense of tingling at my throat. I put up my hand
and felt my face, and the hand when I brought it away was slippery with
slime, and at that, I put up my other hand, and touched my throat, and
there it was the same, only, in addition, there was a slight swelled
place a little to one side of the wind-pipe, the sort of place that the
bite of a mosquito will make; but I had no thought to blame any mosquito.

Now the stumbling of the man over me, my awakening, and the discovery
that my face and throat were be-slimed, were but the happenings of some
few, short instants; and then I was upon my feet, and following him round
to the fire; for I had a sense of chilliness and a great desire not to be
alone. Now, having come to the fire, I took some of the water that had
been left in the boiler, and washed my face and neck, after which I felt
more my own man. Then I asked the man to look at my throat, so that he
might give me some idea of what manner of place the swelling seemed, and
he, lighting a piece of the dry seaweed to act as a torch, made
examination of my neck; but could see little, save a number of small
ring-like marks, red inwardly, and white at the edges, and one of them
was bleeding slightly. After that, I asked him whether he had seen
anything moving round the tent; but he had seen nothing during all the
time that he had been on watch; though it was true that he had heard odd
noises; but nothing very near at hand. Of the places on my throat he
seemed to think but little, suggesting that I had been bitten by some
sort of sand-fly; but at that, I shook my head, and told him of my dream,
and after that, he was as anxious to keep near me as I to him. And so the
night passed onward, until my turn came to watch.

For a little while, the man whom I had relieved sat beside me; having,
I conceived, the kindly intent of keeping me company; but so soon as I
perceived this, I entreated him to go and get his sleep, assuring him
that I had no longer any feelings of fear--such as had been mine upon
awakening and discovering the state of my face and throat--and, upon
this, he consented to leave me, and so, in a little, I sat alone
beside the fire.

For a certain space, I kept very quiet, listening; but no sound came to
me out of the surrounding darkness, and so, as though it were a fresh
thing, it was borne in upon me how that we were in a very abominable
place of lonesomeness and desolation. And I grew very solemn.

Thus as I sat, the fire, which had not been replenished for a while,
dwindled steadily until it gave but a dullish glow around. And then, in
the direction of the valley, I heard suddenly the sound of a dull thud,
the noise coming to me through the stillness with a very startling
clearness. At that, I perceived that I was not doing my duty to the rest,
nor to myself, by sitting and allowing the fire to cease from flaming;
and immediately reproaching myself, I seized and cast a mass of the dry
weed upon the fire, so that a great blaze shot up into the night, and
afterwards I glanced quickly to right and to left, holding my
cut-and-thrust very readily, and most thankful to the Almighty that I
had brought no harm to any by reason of my carelessness, which I incline
me to believe was that strange inertia which is bred by fear. And then,
even as I looked about me, there came to me across the silence of the
beach a fresh noise, a continual soft slithering to and fro in the bottom
of the valley, as though a multitude of creatures moved stealthily. At
this, I threw yet more fuel upon the fire, and after that I fixed my gaze
in the direction of the valley: thus in the following instant it seemed
to me that I saw a certain thing, as it might be a shadow, move on the
outer borders of the firelight. Now the man who had kept watch before me
had left his spear stuck upright in the sand convenient to my grasp, and,
seeing something moving, I seized the weapon and hurled it with all my
strength in its direction; but there came no answering cry to tell that I
had struck anything living, and immediately afterwards there fell once
more a great silence upon the island, being broken only by a far splash
out upon the weed.

It may be conceived with truth that the above happenings had put a very
considerable strain upon my nerves, so that I looked to and fro
continually, with ever and anon a quick glance behind me; for it seemed
to me that I might expect some demoniac creature to rush upon me at any
moment. Yet, for the space of many minutes, there came to me neither any
sight nor sound of living creature; so that I knew not what to think,
being near to doubting if I had heard aught beyond the common.

And then, even as I made halt upon the threshold of doubt, I was assured
that I had not been mistaken; for, abruptly, I was aware that all the
valley was full of a rustling, scampering sort of noise, through which
there came to me occasional soft thuds, and anon the former slithering
sounds. And at that, thinking a host of evil things to be upon us, I
cried out to the bo'sun and the men to awake.

Immediately upon my shout, the bo'sun rushed out from the tent, the men
following, and every one with his weapon, save the man who had left his
spear in the sand, and that lay now somewhere beyond the light of the
fire. Then the bo'sun shouted, to know what thing had caused me to cry
out; but I replied nothing, only held up my hand for quietness, yet when
this was granted, the noises in the valley had ceased; so that the bo'sun
turned to me, being in need of some explanation; but I begged him to hark
a little longer, which he did, and, the sounds re-commencing almost
immediately, he heard sufficient to know that I had not waked them all
without due cause. And then, as we stood each one of us staring into the
darkness where lay the valley, I seemed to see again some shadowy thing
upon the boundary of the firelight; and, in the same instant, one of the
men cried out and cast his spear into the darkness. But the bo'sun turned
upon him with a very great anger; for in throwing his weapon, the man had
left himself without, and thus brought danger to the whole; yet, as will
be remembered, I had done likewise but a little since.

Presently, there coming again a quietness within the valley, and none
knowing what might be toward, the bo'sun caught up a mass of the dry
weed, and, lighting it at the fire, ran with it towards that portion of
the beach which lay between us and the valley. Here he cast it upon the
sand, singing out to some of the men to bring more of the weed, so that
we might have a fire there, and thus be able to see if anything made to
come at us out of the deepness of the hollow.

Presently, we had a very good fire, and by the light of this the two


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