This little Volume

For the use of some of the following Tales I am
indebted to the courtesy of the Proprietors of
"Cornhill," "Temple Bar," "Belgravia," "London
Society," "Cassell's," and "The Boy's Own Paper."



[Being an extract from the singular journal of JOHN M`ALISTER RAY,
student of medicine.]

September 11th.--Lat. 81 degrees 40' N.; long. 2 degrees E. Still
lying-to amid enormous ice fields. The one which stretches away to
the north of us, and to which our ice-anchor is attached, cannot be
smaller than an English county. To the right and left unbroken
sheets extend to the horizon. This morning the mate reported that
there were signs of pack ice to the southward. Should this form of
sufficient thickness to bar our return, we shall be in a position
of danger, as the food, I hear, is already running somewhat short.
It is late in the season, and the nights are beginning to reappear.

This morning I saw a star twinkling just over the fore-yard, the
first since the beginning of May. There is considerable discontent
among the crew, many of whom are anxious to get back home to be in
time for the herring season, when labour always commands a high
price upon the Scotch coast. As yet their displeasure is only
signified by sullen countenances and black looks, but I heard from
the second mate this afternoon that they contemplated sending a
deputation to the Captain to explain their grievance. I much doubt
how he will receive it, as he is a man of fierce temper, and very
sensitive about anything approaching to an infringement of his
rights. I shall venture after dinner to say a few words to him
upon the subject. I have always found that he will tolerate from
me what he would resent from any other member of the crew.
Amsterdam Island, at the north-west corner of Spitzbergen, is
visible upon our starboard quarter--a rugged line of volcanic
rocks, intersected by white seams, which represent glaciers. It is
curious to think that at the present moment there is probably no
human being nearer to us than the Danish settlements in the south
of Greenland--a good nine hundred miles as the crow flies. A
captain takes a great responsibility upon himself when he risks his
vessel under such circumstances. No whaler has ever remained in
these latitudes till so advanced a period of the year.

9 P.M,--I have spoken to Captain Craigie, and though the result has
been hardly satisfactory, I am bound to say that he listened to
what I had to say very quietly and even deferentially. When I had
finished he put on that air of iron determination which I have
frequently observed upon his face, and paced rapidly backwards and
forwards across the narrow cabin for some minutes. At first I
feared that I had seriously offended him, but he dispelled the idea
by sitting down again, and putting his hand upon my arm with a
gesture which almost amounted to a caress. There was a depth of
tenderness too in his wild dark eyes which surprised me
considerably. "Look here, Doctor," he said, "I'm sorry I ever took
you--I am indeed--and I would give fifty pounds this minute to see
you standing safe upon the Dundee quay. It's hit or miss with me
this time. There are fish to the north of us. How dare you shake
your head, sir, when I tell you I saw them blowing from the
masthead?"--this in a sudden burst of fury, though I was not
conscious of having shown any signs of doubt. "Two-and-twenty fish
in as many minutes as I am a living man, and not one under ten
foot.[1] Now, Doctor, do you think I can leave the country when
there is only one infernal strip of ice between me and my fortune?
If it came on to blow from the north to-morrow we could fill the
ship and be away before the frost could catch us. If it came on to
blow from the south--well, I suppose the men are paid for risking
their lives, and as for myself it matters but little to me, for I
have more to bind me to the other world than to this one. I
confess that I am sorry for you, though. I wish I had old Angus
Tait who was with me last voyage, for he was a man that would never
be missed, and you--you said once that you were engaged, did you

[1] A whale is measured among whalers not by the length of its
body, but by the length of its whalebone.

"Yes," I answered, snapping the spring of the locket which hung
from my watch-chain, and holding up the little vignette of Flora.

"Curse you!" he yelled, springing out of his seat, with his very
beard bristling with passion. "What is your happiness to me? What
have I to do with her that you must dangle her photograph before my
eyes?" I almost thought that he was about to strike me in the
frenzy of his rage, but with another imprecation he dashed open the
door of the cabin and rushed out upon deck, leaving me considerably
astonished at his extraordinary violence. It is the first time
that he has ever shown me anything but courtesy and kindness. I
can hear him pacing excitedly up and down overhead as I write these

I should like to give a sketch of the character of this man, but it
seems presumptuous to attempt such a thing upon paper, when the
idea in my own mind is at best a vague and uncertain one. Several
times I have thought that I grasped the clue which might explain
it, but only to be disappointed by his presenting himself in some
new light which would upset all my conclusions. It may be that no
human eye but my own shall ever rest upon these lines, yet as a
psychological study I shall attempt to leave some record of Captain
Nicholas Craigie.

A man's outer case generally gives some indication of the soul
within. The Captain is tall and well-formed, with dark, handsome
face, and a curious way of twitching his limbs, which may arise
from nervousness, or be simply an outcome of his excessive energy.
His jaw and whole cast of countenance is manly and resolute, but
the eyes are the distinctive feature of his face. They are of the
very darkest hazel, bright and eager, with a singular mixture of
recklessness in their expression, and of something else which I
have sometimes thought was more allied with horror than any other
emotion. Generally the former predominated, but on occasions, and
more particularly when he was thoughtfully inclined, the look of
fear would spread and deepen until it imparted a new character to
his whole countenance. It is at these times that he is most
subject to tempestuous fits of anger, and he seems to be aware of
it, for I have known him lock himself up so that no one might
approach him until his dark hour was passed. He sleeps badly, and
I have heard him shouting during the night, but his cabin is some
little distance from mine, and I could never distinguish the words
which he said.

This is one phase of his character, and the most disagreeable one.
It is only through my close association with him, thrown together
as we are day after day, that I have observed it. Otherwise he is
an agreeable companion, well-read and entertaining, and as gallant
a seaman as ever trod a deck. I shall not easily forget the way in
which he handled the ship when we were caught by a gale among the
loose ice at the beginning of April. I have never seen him so
cheerful, and even hilarious, as he was that night, as he paced
backwards and forwards upon the bridge amid the flashing of the
lightning and the howling of the wind. He has told me several
times that the thought of death was a pleasant one to him, which is
a sad thing for a young man to say; he cannot be much more than
thirty, though his hair and moustache are already slightly
grizzled. Some great sorrow must have overtaken him and blighted
his whole life. Perhaps I should be the same if I lost my Flora--
God knows! I think if it were not for her that I should care very
little whether the wind blew from the north or the south to-morrow.

There, I hear him come down the companion, and he has locked
himself up in his room, which shows that he is still in an
unamiable mood. And so to bed, as old Pepys would say, for the
candle is burning down (we have to use them now since the nights
are closing in), and the steward has turned in, so there are no
hopes of another one.

September 12th.--Calm, clear day, and still lying in the same
position. What wind there is comes from the south-east, but it is
very slight. Captain is in a better humour, and apologised to me
at breakfast for his rudeness. He still looks somewhat distrait,
however, and retains that wild look in his eyes which in a
Highlander would mean that he was "fey"--at least so our chief
engineer remarked to me, and he has some reputation among the
Celtic portion of our crew as a seer and expounder of omens.

It is strange that superstition should have obtained such mastery
over this hard-headed and practical race. I could not have
believed to what an extent it is carried had I not observed it for
myself. We have had a perfect epidemic of it this voyage, until I
have felt inclined to serve out rations of sedatives and nerve-
tonics with the Saturday allowance of grog. The first symptom
of it was that shortly after leaving Shetland the men at the wheel
used to complain that they heard plaintive cries and screams in the
wake of the ship, as if something were following it and were unable
to overtake it. This fiction has been kept up during the whole
voyage, and on dark nights at the beginning of the seal-fishing it
was only with great difficulty that men could be induced to do
their spell. No doubt what they heard was either the creaking of
the rudder-chains, or the cry of some passing sea-bird. I have
been fetched out of bed several times to listen to it, but I need
hardly say that I was never able to distinguish anything unnatural.

The men, however, are so absurdly positive upon the subject that it
is hopeless to argue with them. I mentioned the matter to the
Captain once, but to my surprise he took it very gravely, and
indeed appeared to be considerably disturbed by what I told him.
I should have thought that he at least would have been above such
vulgar delusions.

All this disquisition upon superstition leads me up to the fact
that Mr. Manson, our second mate, saw a ghost last night--or, at
least, says that he did, which of course is the same thing. It is
quite refreshing to have some new topic of conversation after the
eternal routine of bears and whales which has served us for so many
months. Manson swears the ship is haunted, and that he would not
stay in her a day if he had any other place to go to. Indeed the
fellow is honestly frightened, and I had to give him some
chloral and bromide of potassium this morning to steady him
down. He seemed quite indignant when I suggested that he had been
having an extra glass the night before, and I was obliged to pacify
him by keeping as grave a countenance as possible during his story,
which he certainly narrated in a very straight-forward and matter-
of-fact way.

"I was on the bridge," he said, "about four bells in the middle
watch, just when the night was at its darkest. There was a bit of
a moon, but the clouds were blowing across it so that you couldn't
see far from the ship. John M`Leod, the harpooner, came aft from
the foc'sle-head and reported a strange noise on the starboard bow.

I went forrard and we both heard it, sometimes like a bairn crying
and sometimes like a wench in pain. I've been seventeen years to
the country and I never heard seal, old or young, make a sound like
that. As we were standing there on the foc'sle-head the moon came
out from behind a cloud, and we both saw a sort of white figure
moving across the ice field in the same direction that we had heard
the cries. We lost sight of it for a while, but it came back on
the port bow, and we could just make it out like a shadow on the
ice. I sent a hand aft for the rifles, and M`Leod and I went down
on to the pack, thinking that maybe it might be a bear. When we
got on the ice I lost sight of M`Leod, but I pushed on in the
direction where I could still hear the cries. I followed them for
a mile or maybe more, and then running round a hummock I came right
on to the top of it standing and waiting for me seemingly. I
don't know what it was. It wasn't a bear any way. It was tall and
white and straight, and if it wasn't a man nor a woman, I'll stake
my davy it was something worse. I made for the ship as hard as I
could run, and precious glad I was to find myself aboard. I signed
articles to do my duty by the ship, and on the ship I'll stay, but
you don't catch me on the ice again after sundown."

That is his story, given as far as I can in his own words. I fancy
what he saw must, in spite of his denial, have been a young bear
erect upon its hind legs, an attitude which they often assume when
alarmed. In the uncertain light this would bear a resemblance to
a human figure, especially to a man whose nerves were already
somewhat shaken. Whatever it may have been, the occurrence is
unfortunate, for it has produced a most unpleasant effect upon the
crew. Their looks are more sullen than before, and their
discontent more open. The double grievance of being debarred from
the herring fishing and of being detained in what they choose to
call a haunted vessel, may lead them to do something rash. Even
the harpooners, who are the oldest and steadiest among them, are
joining in the general agitation.

Apart from this absurd outbreak of superstition, things are looking
rather more cheerful. The pack which was forming to the south of
us has partly cleared away, and the water is so warm as to lead me
to believe that we are lying in one of those branches of the gulf-
stream which run up between Greenland and Spitzbergen. There
are numerous small Medusse and sealemons about the ship, with
abundance of shrimps, so that there is every possibility of "fish"
being sighted. Indeed one was seen blowing about dinner-time, but
in such a position that it was impossible for the boats to follow

September 13th.--Had an interesting conversation with the chief
mate, Mr. Milne, upon the bridge. It seems that our Captain is as
great an enigma to the seamen, and even to the owners of the
vessel, as he has been to me. Mr. Milne tells me that when the
ship is paid off, upon returning from a voyage, Captain Craigie
disappears, and is not seen again until the approach of another
season, when he walks quietly into the office of the company, and
asks whether his services will be required. He has no friend in
Dundee, nor does any one pretend to be acquainted with his early
history. His position depends entirely upon his skill as a seaman,
and the name for courage and coolness which he had earned in the
capacity of mate, before being entrusted with a separate command.
The unanimous opinion seems to be that he is not a Scotchman, and
that his name is an assumed one. Mr. Milne thinks that he has
devoted himself to whaling simply for the reason that it is the
most dangerous occupation which he could select, and that he courts
death in every possible manner. He mentioned several instances of
this, one of which is rather curious, if true. It seems that on
one occasion he did not put in an appearance at the office, and
a substitute had to be selected in his place. That was at the time
of the last Russian and Turkish war. When he turned up again next
spring he had a puckered wound in the side of his neck which he
used to endeavour to conceal with his cravat. Whether the mate's
inference that he had been engaged in the war is true or not I
cannot say. It was certainly a strange coincidence.

The wind is veering round in an easterly direction, but is still
very slight. I think the ice is lying closer than it did
yesterday. As far as the eye can reach on every side there is one
wide expanse of spotless white, only broken by an occasional rift
or the dark shadow of a hummock. To the south there is the narrow
lane of blue water which is our sole means of escape, and which is
closing up every day. The Captain is taking a heavy responsibility
upon himself. I hear that the tank of potatoes has been finished,
and even the biscuits are running short, but he preserves the same
impassible countenance, and spends the greater part of the day at
the crow's nest, sweeping the horizon with his glass. His manner
is very variable, and he seems to avoid my society, but there has
been no repetition of the violence which he showed the other night.

7.30 P.M.--My deliberate opinion is that we are commanded by a
madman. Nothing else can account for the extraordinary vagaries of
Captain Craigie. It is fortunate that I have kept this journal of
our voyage, as it will serve to justify us in case we have to put
him under any sort of restraint, a step which I should only
consent to as a last resource. Curiously enough it was he himself
who suggested lunacy and not mere eccentricity as the secret of his
strange conduct. He was standing upon the bridge about an hour
ago, peering as usual through his glass, while I was walking up and
down the quarterdeck. The majority of the men were below at their
tea, for the watches have not been regularly kept of late. Tired
of walking, I leaned against the bulwarks, and admired the mellow
glow cast by the sinking sun upon the great ice fields which
surround us. I was suddenly aroused from the reverie into which I
had fallen by a hoarse voice at my elbow, and starting round I
found that the Captain had descended and was standing by my side.
He was staring out over the ice with an expression in which horror,
surprise, and something approaching to joy were contending for the
mastery. In spite of the cold, great drops of perspiration were
coursing down his forehead, and he was evidently fearfully excited.

His limbs twitched like those of a man upon the verge of an
epileptic fit, and the lines about his mouth were drawn and hard.

"Look!" he gasped, seizing me by the wrist, but still keeping his
eyes upon the distant ice, and moving his head slowly in a
horizontal direction, as if following some object which was moving
across the field of vision. "Look! There, man, there! Between
the hummocks! Now coming out from behind the far one! You see
her--you MUST see her! There still! Flying from me, by
God, flying from me--and gone!"

He uttered the last two words in a whisper of concentrated agony
which shall never fade from my remembrance. Clinging to the
ratlines he endeavoured to climb up upon the top of the bulwarks as
if in the hope of obtaining a last glance at the departing object.
His strength was not equal to the attempt, however, and he
staggered back against the saloon skylights, where he leaned
panting and exhausted. His face was so livid that I expected him
to become unconscious, so lost no time in leading him down the
companion, and stretching him upon one of the sofas in the cabin.
I then poured him out some brandy, which I held to his lips, and
which had a wonderful effect upon him, bringing the blood back into
his white face and steadying his poor shaking limbs. He raised
himself up upon his elbow, and looking round to see that we were
alone, he beckoned to me to come and sit beside him.

"You saw it, didn't you?" he asked, still in the same subdued
awesome tone so foreign to the nature of the man.

"No, I saw nothing."

His head sank back again upon the cushions. "No, he wouldn't
without the glass," he murmured. "He couldn't. It was the glass
that showed her to me, and then the eyes of love--the eyes of love.

I say, Doc, don't let the steward in! He'll think I'm mad. Just
bolt the door, will you!"

I rose and did what he had commanded.

He lay quiet for a while, lost in thought apparently, and then
raised himself up upon his elbow again, and asked for some more

"You don't think I am, do you, Doc?" he asked, as I was putting the
bottle back into the after-locker. "Tell me now, as man to man, do
you think that I am mad?"

"I think you have something on your mind," I answered, "which is
exciting you and doing you a good deal of harm."

"Right there, lad!" he cried, his eyes sparkling from the effects
of the brandy. "Plenty on my mind--plenty! But I can work out the
latitude and the longitude, and I can handle my sextant and manage
my logarithms. You couldn't prove me mad in a court of law, could
you, now?" It was curious to hear the man lying back and coolly
arguing out the question of his own sanity.

"Perhaps not," I said; "but still I think you would be wise to get
home as soon as you can, and settle down to a quiet life for a

"Get home, eh?" he muttered, with a sneer upon his face. "One word
for me and two for yourself, lad. Settle down with Flora--pretty
little Flora. Are bad dreams signs of madness?"

"Sometimes," I answered.

"What else? What would be the first symptoms?"

"Pains in the head, noises in the ears flashes before the eyes,

"Ah! what about them?" he interrupted. "What would you call a

"Seeing a thing which is not there is a delusion."

"But she WAS there!" he groaned to himself. "She WAS there!"
and rising, he unbolted the door and walked with slow and uncertain
steps to his own cabin, where I have no doubt that he will remain
until to-morrow morning. His system seems to have received a
terrible shock, whatever it may have been that he imagined himself
to have seen. The man becomes a greater mystery every day, though
I fear that the solution which he has himself suggested is the
correct one, and that his reason is affected. I do not think that
a guilty conscience has anything to do with his behaviour. The
idea is a popular one among the officers, and, I believe, the crew;
but I have seen nothing to support it. He has not the air of a
guilty man, but of one who has had terrible usage at the hands of
fortune, and who should be regarded as a martyr rather than a

The wind is veering round to the south to-night. God help us if it
blocks that narrow pass which is our only road to safety! Situated
as we are on the edge of the main Arctic pack, or the "barrier" as
it is called by the whalers, any wind from the north has the effect
of shredding out the ice around us and allowing our escape, while
a wind from the south blows up all the loose ice behind us and hems
us in between two packs. God help us, I say again!

September 14th.--Sunday, and a day of rest. My fears have
been confirmed, and the thin strip of blue water has disappeared
from the southward. Nothing but the great motionless ice fields
around us, with their weird hummocks and fantastic pinnacles.
There is a deathly silence over their wide expanse which is
horrible. No lapping of the waves now, no cries of seagulls or
straining of sails, but one deep universal silence in which the
murmurs of the seamen, and the creak of their boots upon the white
shining deck, seem discordant and out of place. Our only visitor
was an Arctic fox, a rare animal upon the pack, though common
enough upon the land. He did not come near the ship, however, but
after surveying us from a distance fled rapidly across the ice.
This was curious conduct, as they generally know nothing of man,
and being of an inquisitive nature, become so familiar that they
are easily captured. Incredible as it may seem, even this little
incident produced a bad effect upon the crew. "Yon puir beastie
kens mair, ay, an' sees mair nor you nor me!" was the comment of
one of the leading harpooners, and the others nodded their
acquiescence. It is vain to attempt to argue against such puerile
superstition. They have made up their minds that there is a curse
upon the ship, and nothing will ever persuade them to the contrary.

The Captain remained in seclusion all day except for about half an
hour in the afternoon, when he came out upon the quarterdeck. I
observed that he kept his eye fixed upon the spot where the vision
of yesterday had appeared, and was quite prepared for another
outburst, but none such came. He did not seem to see me
although I was standing close beside him. Divine service was read
as usual by the chief engineer. It is a curious thing that in
whaling vessels the Church of England Prayer-book is always
employed, although there is never a member of that Church among
either officers or crew. Our men are all Roman Catholics or
Presbyterians, the former predominating. Since a ritual is used
which is foreign to both, neither can complain that the other is
preferred to them, and they listen with all attention and devotion,
so that the system has something to recommend it.

A glorious sunset, which made the great fields of ice look like a
lake of blood. I have never seen a finer and at the same time more
weird effect. Wind is veering round. If it will blow twenty-four
hours from the north all will yet be well.

September 15th.--To-day is Flora's birthday. Dear lass! it is
well that she cannot see her boy, as she used to call me, shut up
among the ice fields with a crazy captain and a few weeks'
provisions. No doubt she scans the shipping list in the Scotsman
every morning to see if we are reported from Shetland. I have to
set an example to the men and look cheery and unconcerned; but God
knows, my heart is very heavy at times.

The thermometer is at nineteen Fahrenheit to-day. There is but
little wind, and what there is comes from an unfavourable quarter.
Captain is in an excellent humour; I think he imagines he has seen
some other omen or vision, poor fellow, during the night, for he
came into my room early in the morning, and stooping down over
my bunk, whispered, "It wasn't a delusion, Doc; it's all right!"
After breakfast he asked me to find out how much food was left,
which the second mate and I proceeded to do. It is even less than
we had expected. Forward they have half a tank full of biscuits,
three barrels of salt meat, and a very limited supply of coffee
beans and sugar. In the after-hold and lockers there are a good
many luxuries, such as tinned salmon, soups, haricot mutton, &c.,
but they will go a very short way among a crew of fifty men. There
are two barrels of flour in the store-room, and an unlimited supply
of tobacco. Altogether there is about enough to keep the men on
half rations for eighteen or twenty days--certainly not more. When
we reported the state of things to the Captain, he ordered all
hands to be piped, and addressed them from the quarterdeck. I
never saw him to better advantage. With his tall, well-knit
figure, and dark animated face, he seemed a man born to command,
and he discussed the situation in a cool sailor-like way which
showed that while appreciating the danger he had an eye for every
loophole of escape.

"My lads," he said, "no doubt you think I brought you into this
fix, if it is a fix, and maybe some of you feel bitter against me
on account of it. But you must remember that for many a season no
ship that comes to the country has brought in as much oil-money as
the old Pole-Star, and every one of you has had his share of it.
You can leave your wives behind you in comfort while other poor
fellows come back to find their lasses on the parish. If you have
to thank me for the one you have to thank me for the other, and we
may call it quits. We've tried a bold venture before this and
succeeded, so now that we've tried one and failed we've no cause to
cry out about it. If the worst comes to the worst, we can make the
land across the ice, and lay in a stock of seals which will keep us
alive until the spring. It won't come to that, though, for you'll
see the Scotch coast again before three weeks are out. At present
every man must go on half rations, share and share alike, and no
favour to any. Keep up your hearts and you'll pull through this as
you've pulled through many a danger before." These few simple
words of his had a wonderful effect upon the crew. His former
unpopularity was forgotten, and the old harpooner whom I have
already mentioned for his superstition, led off three cheers, which
were heartily joined in by all hands.

September 16th.--The wind has veered round to the north during
the night, and the ice shows some symptoms of opening out. The men
are in a good humour in spite of the short allowance upon which
they have been placed. Steam is kept up in the engine-room, that
there may be no delay should an opportunity for escape present
itself. The Captain is in exuberant spirits, though he still
retains that wild "fey" expression which I have already remarked
upon. This burst of cheerfulness puzzles me more than his former
gloom. I cannot understand it. I think I mentioned in an
early part of this journal that one of his oddities is that he
never permits any person to enter his cabin, but insists upon
making his own bed, such as it is, and performing every other
office for himself. To my surprise he handed me the key to-day and
requested me to go down there and take the time by his chronometer
while he measured the altitude of the sun at noon. It is a bare
little room, containing a washing-stand and a few books, but little
else in the way of luxury, except some pictures upon the walls.
The majority of these are small cheap oleographs, but there was one
water-colour sketch of the head of a young lady which arrested my
attention. It was evidently a portrait, and not one of those fancy
types of female beauty which sailors particularly affect. No
artist could have evolved from his own mind such a curious mixture
of character and weakness. The languid, dreamy eyes, with their
drooping lashes, and the broad, low brow, unruffled by thought or
care, were in strong contrast with the clean-cut, prominent jaw,
and the resolute set of the lower lip. Underneath it in one of the
corners was written, "M. B., aet. 19." That any one in the short
space of nineteen years of existence could develop such strength of
will as was stamped upon her face seemed to me at the time to be
well-nigh incredible. She must have been an extraordinary woman.
Her features have thrown such a glamour over me that, though I had
but a fleeting glance at them, I could, were I a draughtsman,
reproduce them line for line upon this page of the journal. I
wonder what part she has played in our Captain's life. He has
hung her picture at the end of his berth, so that his eyes
continually rest upon it. Were he a less reserved man I should
make some remark upon the subject. Of the other things in his
cabin there was nothing worthy of mention--uniform coats, a camp-
stool, small looking-glass, tobacco-box, and numerous pipes,
including an oriental hookah--which, by-the-bye, gives some colour
to Mr. Milne's story about his participation in the war, though the
connection may seem rather a distant one.

11.20 P.M.--Captain just gone to bed after a long and interesting
conversation on general topics. When he chooses he can be a most
fascinating companion, being remarkably well-read, and having the
power of expressing his opinion forcibly without appearing to be
dogmatic. I hate to have my intellectual toes trod upon. He spoke
about the nature of the soul, and sketched out the views of
Aristotle and Plato upon the subject in a masterly manner. He
seems to have a leaning for metempsychosis and the doctrines of
Pythagoras. In discussing them we touched upon modern
spiritualism, and I made some joking allusion to the impostures of
Slade, upon which, to my surprise, he warned me most impressively
against confusing the innocent with the guilty, and argued that it
would be as logical to brand Christianity as an error because
Judas, who professed that religion, was a villain. He shortly
afterwards bade me good-night and retired to his room.

The wind is freshening up, and blows steadily from the north. The
nights are as dark now as they are in England. I hope to-morrow
may set us free from our frozen fetters.

September 17th.--The Bogie again. Thank Heaven that I have
strong nerves! The superstition of these poor fellows, and the
circumstantial accounts which they give, with the utmost
earnestness and self-conviction, would horrify any man not
accustomed to their ways. There are many versions of the matter,
but the sum-total of them all is that something uncanny has been
flitting round the ship all night, and that Sandie M`Donald of
Peterhead and "lang" Peter Williamson of Shetland saw it, as also
did Mr. Milne on the bridge--so, having three witnesses, they can
make a better case of it than the second mate did. I spoke to
Milne after breakfast, and told him that he should be above such
nonsense, and that as an officer he ought to set the men a better
example. He shook his weatherbeaten head ominously, but answered
with characteristic caution, "Mebbe aye, mebbe na, Doctor," he
said; "I didna ca' it a ghaist. I canna' say I preen my faith in
sea-bogles an' the like, though there's a mony as claims to ha'
seen a' that and waur. I'm no easy feared, but maybe your ain
bluid would run a bit cauld, mun, if instead o' speerin' aboot it
in daylicht ye were wi' me last night, an' seed an awfu' like
shape, white an' gruesome, whiles here, whiles there, an' it
greetin' and ca'ing in the darkness like a bit lambie that hae lost
its mither. Ye would na' be sae ready to put it a' doon to
auld wives' clavers then, I'm thinkin'." I saw it was hopeless to
reason with him, so contented myself with begging him as a personal
favour to call me up the next time the spectre appeared--a request
to which he acceded with many ejaculations expressive of his hopes
that such an opportunity might never arise.

As I had hoped, the white desert behind us has become broken by
many thin streaks of water which intersect it in all directions.
Our latitude to-day was 80 degrees 52' N., which shows that there
is a strong southerly drift upon the pack. Should the wind
continue favourable it will break up as rapidly as it formed. At
present we can do nothing but smoke and wait and hope for the best.
I am rapidly becoming a fatalist. When dealing with such uncertain
factors as wind and ice a man can be nothing else. Perhaps it was
the wind and sand of the Arabian deserts which gave the minds of
the original followers of Mahomet their tendency to bow to kismet.

These spectral alarms have a very bad effect upon the Captain. I
feared that it might excite his sensitive mind, and endeavoured to
conceal the absurd story from him, but unfortunately he overheard
one of the men making an allusion to it, and insisted upon being
informed about it. As I had expected, it brought out all his
latent lunacy in an exaggerated form. I can hardly believe that
this is the same man who discoursed philosophy last night with the
most critical acumen and coolest judgment. He is pacing backwards
and forwards upon the quarterdeck like a caged tiger, stopping
now and again to throw out his hands with a yearning gesture, and
stare impatiently out over the ice. He keeps up a continual mutter
to himself, and once he called out, "But a little time, love--but
a little time!" Poor fellow, it is sad to see a gallant seaman and
accomplished gentleman reduced to such a pass, and to think that
imagination and delusion can cow a mind to which real danger was
but the salt of life. Was ever a man in such a position as I,
between a demented captain and a ghost-seeing mate? I sometimes
think I am the only really sane man aboard the vessel--except
perhaps the second engineer, who is a kind of ruminant, and would
care nothing for all the fiends in the Red Sea so long as they
would leave him alone and not disarrange his tools.

The ice is still opening rapidly, and there is every probability of
our being able to make a start to-morrow morning. They will think
I am inventing when I tell them at home all the strange things that
have befallen me.

12 P.M.--I have been a good deal startled, though I feel steadier
now, thanks to a stiff glass of brandy. I am hardly myself yet,
however, as this handwriting will testify. The fact is, that I
have gone through a very strange experience, and am beginning to
doubt whether I was justified in branding every one on board as
madmen because they professed to have seen things which did not
seem reasonable to my understanding. Pshaw! I am a fool to let
such a trifle unnerve me; and yet, coming as it does after all
these alarms, it has an additional significance, for I cannot doubt
either Mr. Manson's story or that of the mate, now that I have
experienced that which I used formerly to scoff at.

After all it was nothing very alarming--a mere sound, and that was
all. I cannot expect that any one reading this, if any one ever
should read it, will sympathise with my feelings, or realise the
effect which it produced upon me at the time. Supper was over, and
I had gone on deck to have a quiet pipe before turning in. The
night was very dark--so dark that, standing under the quarter-boat,
I was unable to see the officer upon the bridge. I think I have
already mentioned the extraordinary silence which prevails in these
frozen seas. In other parts of the world, be they ever so barren,
there is some slight vibration of the air--some faint hum, be it
from the distant haunts of men, or from the leaves of the trees, or
the wings of the birds, or even the faint rustle of the grass that
covers the ground. One may not actively perceive the sound, and
yet if it were withdrawn it would be missed. It is only here in
these Arctic seas that stark, unfathomable stillness obtrudes
itself upon you in all its gruesome reality. You find your
tympanum straining to catch some little murmur, and dwelling
eagerly upon every accidental sound within the vessel. In this
state I was leaning against the bulwarks when there arose from the
ice almost directly underneath me a cry, sharp and shrill, upon the
silent air of the night, beginning, as it seemed to me, at a note
such as prima donna never reached, and mounting from that ever
higher and higher until it culminated in a long wail of agony,
which might have been the last cry of a lost soul. The ghastly
scream is still ringing in my ears. Grief, unutterable grief,
seemed to be expressed in it, and a great longing, and yet through
it all there was an occasional wild note of exultation. It
shrilled out from close beside me, and yet as I glared into the
darkness I could discern nothing. I waited some little time, but
without hearing any repetition of the sound, so I came below, more
shaken than I have ever been in my life before. As I came down the
companion I met Mr. Milne coming up to relieve the watch. "Weel,
Doctor," he said, "maybe that's auld wives' clavers tae? Did ye no
hear it skirling? Maybe that's a supersteetion? What d'ye think
o't noo?" I was obliged to apologise to the honest fellow, and
acknowledge that I was as puzzled by it as he was. Perhaps to-
morrow things may look different. At present I dare hardly write
all that I think. Reading it again in days to come, when I have
shaken off all these associations, I should despise myself for
having been so weak.

September 18th.--Passed a restless and uneasy night, still
haunted by that strange sound. The Captain does not look as if he
had had much repose either, for his face is haggard and his eyes
bloodshot. I have not told him of my adventure of last night, nor
shall I. He is already restless and excited, standing up, sitting
down, and apparently utterly unable to keep still.

A fine lead appeared in the pack this morning, as I had
expected, and we were able to cast off our ice-anchor, and steam
about twelve miles in a west-sou'-westerly direction. We were then
brought to a halt by a great floe as massive as any which we have
left behind us. It bars our progress completely, so we can do
nothing but anchor again and wait until it breaks up, which it will
probably do within twenty-four hours, if the wind holds. Several
bladder-nosed seals were seen swimming in the water, and one was
shot, an immense creature more than eleven feet long. They are
fierce, pugnacious animals, and are said to be more than a match
for a bear. Fortunately they are slow and clumsy in their
movements, so that there is little danger in attacking them upon
the ice.

The Captain evidently does not think we have seen the last of our
troubles, though why he should take a gloomy view of the situation
is more than I can fathom, since every one else on board considers
that we have had a miraculous escape, and are sure now to reach the
open sea.

"I suppose you think it's all right now, Doctor?" he said, as we
sat together after dinner.

"I hope so," I answered.

"We mustn't be too sure--and yet no doubt you are right. We'll all
be in the arms of our own true loves before long, lad, won't we?
But we mustn't be too sure--we mustn't be too sure."

He sat silent a little, swinging his leg thoughtfully backwards and
forwards. "Look here," he continued; "it's a dangerous place this,
even at its best--a treacherous, dangerous place. I have known
men cut off very suddenly in a land like this. A slip would do it
sometimes--a single slip, and down you go through a crack, and only
a bubble on the green water to show where it was that you sank.
It's a queer thing," he continued with a nervous laugh, "but all
the years I've been in this country I never once thought of making
a will--not that I have anything to leave in particular, but still
when a man is exposed to danger he should have everything arranged
and ready--don't you think so?"

"Certainly," I answered, wondering what on earth he was driving at.

"He feels better for knowing it's all settled," he went on. "Now
if anything should ever befall me, I hope that you will look after
things for me. There is very little in the cabin, but such as it
is I should like it to be sold, and the money divided in the same
proportion as the oil-money among the crew. The chronometer I wish
you to keep yourself as some slight remembrance of our voyage. Of
course all this is a mere precaution, but I thought I would take
the opportunity of speaking to you about it. I suppose I might
rely upon you if there were any necessity?"

"Most assuredly," I answered; "and since you are taking this step,
I may as well"----

"You! you!" he interrupted. "YOU'RE all right. What the devil
is the matter with YOU? There, I didn't mean to be peppery, but
I don't like to hear a young fellow, that has hardly began life,
speculating about death. Go up on deck and get some fresh air
into your lungs instead of talking nonsense in the cabin, and
encouraging me to do the same."

The more I think of this conversation of ours the less do I like
it. Why should the man be settling his affairs at the very time
when we seem to be emerging from all danger? There must be some
method in his madness. Can it be that he contemplates suicide? I
remember that upon one occasion he spoke in a deeply reverent
manner of the heinousness of the crime of self-destruction. I
shall keep my eye upon him, however, and though I cannot obtrude
upon the privacy of his cabin, I shall at least make a point of
remaining on deck as long as he stays up.

Mr. Milne pooh-poohs my fears, and says it is only the "skipper's
little way." He himself takes a very rosy view of the situation.
According to him we shall be out of the ice by the day after to-
morrow, pass Jan Meyen two days after that, and sight Shetland in
little more than a week. I hope he may not be too sanguine. His
opinion may be fairly balanced against the gloomy precautions of
the Captain, for he is an old and experienced seaman, and weighs
his words well before uttering them.

. . . . . .

The long-impending catastrophe has come at last. I hardly know
what to write about it. The Captain is gone. He may come back to
us again alive, but I fear me--I fear me. It is now seven o'clock
of the morning of the 19th of September. I have spent the
whole night traversing the great ice-floe in front of us with
a party of seamen in the hope of coming upon some trace of him, but
in vain. I shall try to give some account of the circumstances
which attended upon his disappearance. Should any one ever chance
to read the words which I put down, I trust they will remember that
I do not write from conjecture or from hearsay, but that I, a sane
and educated man, am describing accurately what actually occurred
before my very eyes. My inferences are my own, but I shall be
answerable for the facts.

The Captain remained in excellent spirits after the conversation
which I have recorded. He appeared to be nervous and impatient,
however, frequently changing his position, and moving his limbs in
an aimless choreic way which is characteristic of him at times. In
a quarter of an hour he went upon deck seven times, only to descend
after a few hurried paces. I followed him each time, for there was
something about his face which confirmed my resolution of not
letting him out of my sight. He seemed to observe the effect which
his movements had produced, for he endeavoured by an over-done
hilarity, laughing boisterously at the very smallest of jokes, to
quiet my apprehensions.

After supper he went on to the poop once more, and I with him. The
night was dark and very still, save for the melancholy soughing of
the wind among the spars. A thick cloud was coming up from the
northwest, and the ragged tentacles which it threw out in front of
it were drifting across the face of the moon, which only shone
now and again through a rift in the wrack. The Captain paced
rapidly backwards and forwards, and then seeing me still dogging
him, he came across and hinted that he thought I should be better
below--which, I need hardly say, had the effect of strengthening my
resolution to remain on deck.

I think he forgot about my presence after this, for he stood
silently leaning over the taffrail, and peering out across the
great desert of snow, part of which lay in shadow, while part
glittered mistily in the moonlight. Several times I could see by
his movements that he was referring to his watch, and once he
muttered a short sentence, of which I could only catch the one word
"ready." I confess to having felt an eerie feeling creeping over
me as I watched the loom of his tall figure through the darkness,
and noted how completely he fulfilled the idea of a man who is
keeping a tryst. A tryst with whom? Some vague perception began
to dawn upon me as I pieced one fact with another, but I was
utterly unprepared for the sequel.

By the sudden intensity of his attitude I felt that he saw
something. I crept up behind him. He was staring with an eager
questioning gaze at what seemed to be a wreath of mist, blown
swiftly in a line with the ship. It was a dim, nebulous body,
devoid of shape, sometimes more, sometimes less apparent, as the
light fell on it. The moon was dimmed in its brilliancy at the
moment by a canopy of thinnest cloud, like the coating of an

"Coming, lass, coming," cried the skipper, in a voice of
unfathomable tenderness and compassion, like one who soothes a
beloved one by some favour long looked for, and as pleasant to
bestow as to receive.

What followed happened in an instant. I had no power to interfere.

He gave one spring to the top of the bulwarks, and another which
took him on to the ice, almost to the feet of the pale misty
figure. He held out his hands as if to clasp it, and so ran into
the darkness with outstretched arms and loving words. I still
stood rigid and motionless, straining my eyes after his retreating
form, until his voice died away in the distance. I never thought
to see him again, but at that moment the moon shone out brilliantly
through a chink in the cloudy heaven, and illuminated the great
field of ice. Then I saw his dark figure already a very long way
off, running with prodigious speed across the frozen plain. That
was the last glimpse which we caught of him--perhaps the last we
ever shall. A party was organised to follow him, and I accompanied
them, but the men's hearts were not in the work, and nothing was
found. Another will be formed within a few hours. I can hardly
believe I have not been dreaming, or suffering from some hideous
nightmare, as I write these things down.

7.30 P.M.--Just returned dead beat and utterly tired out from a
second unsuccessful search for the Captain. The floe is of
enormous extent, for though we have traversed at least twenty miles
of its surface, there has been no sign of its coming to an end.
The frost has been so severe of late that the overlying snow is
frozen as hard as granite, otherwise we might have had the
footsteps to guide us. The crew are anxious that we should cast
off and steam round the floe and so to the southward, for the ice
has opened up during the night, and the sea is visible upon the
horizon. They argue that Captain Craigie is certainly dead, and
that we are all risking our lives to no purpose by remaining when
we have an opportunity of escape. Mr. Milne and I have had the
greatest difficulty in persuading them to wait until to-morrow
night, and have been compelled to promise that we will not under
any circumstances delay our departure longer than that. We propose
therefore to take a few hours' sleep, and then to start upon a
final search.

September 20th, evening.--I crossed the ice this morning with
a party of men exploring the southern part of the floe, while Mr.
Milne went off in a northerly direction. We pushed on for ten or
twelve miles without seeing a trace of any living thing except a
single bird, which fluttered a great way over our heads, and which
by its flight I should judge to have been a falcon. The southern
extremity of the ice field tapered away into a long narrow spit
which projected out into the sea. When we came to the base of this
promontory, the men halted, but I begged them to continue to the
extreme end of it, that we might have the satisfaction of knowing
that no possible chance had been neglected.

We had hardly gone a hundred yards before M`Donald of Peterhead
cried out that he saw something in front of us, and began to
run. We all got a glimpse of it and ran too. At first it was only
a vague darkness against the white ice, but as we raced along
together it took the shape of a man, and eventually of the man of
whom we were in search. He was lying face downwards upon a frozen
bank. Many little crystals of ice and feathers of snow had drifted
on to him as he lay, and sparkled upon his dark seaman's jacket.
As we came up some wandering puff of wind caught these tiny flakes
in its vortex, and they whirled up into the air, partially
descended again, and then, caught once more in the current, sped
rapidly away in the direction of the sea. To my eyes it seemed but
a snow-drift, but many of my companions averred that it started up
in the shape of a woman, stooped over the corpse and kissed it, and
then hurried away across the floe. I have learned never to
ridicule any man's opinion, however strange it may seem. Sure it
is that Captain Nicholas Craigie had met with no painful end, for
there was a bright smile upon his blue pinched features, and his
hands were still outstretched as though grasping at the strange
visitor which had summoned him away into the dim world that lies
beyond the grave.

We buried him the same afternoon with the ship's ensign around him,
and a thirty-two pound shot at his feet. I read the burial
service, while the rough sailors wept like children, for there were
many who owed much to his kind heart, and who showed now the
affection which his strange ways had repelled during his
lifetime. He went off the grating with a dull, sullen splash, and
as I looked into the green water I saw him go down, down, down
until he was but a little flickering patch of white hanging upon
the outskirts of eternal darkness. Then even that faded away, and
he was gone. There he shall lie, with his secret and his sorrows
and his mystery all still buried in his breast, until that great
day when the sea shall give up its dead, and Nicholas Craigie come
out from among the ice with the smile upon his face, and his
stiffened arms outstretched in greeting. I pray that his lot may
be a happier one in that life than it has been in this.

I shall not continue my journal. Our road to home lies plain and
clear before us, and the great ice field will soon be but a
remembrance of the past. It will be some time before I get over
the shock produced by recent events. When I began this record of
our voyage I little thought of how I should be compelled to finish
it. I am writing these final words in the lonely cabin, still
starting at times and fancying I hear the quick nervous step of the
dead man upon the deck above me. I entered his cabin to-night, as
was my duty, to make a list of his effects in order that they might
be entered in the official log. All was as it had been upon my
previous visit, save that the picture which I have described as
having hung at the end of his bed had been cut out of its frame, as
with a knife, and was gone. With this last link in a strange chain
of evidence I close my diary of the voyage of the Pole-Star.

[NOTE by Dr. John M'Alister Ray, senior.--I have read over the
strange events connected with the death of the Captain of the
Pole-Star, as narrated in the journal of my son. That everything
occurred exactly as he describes it I have the fullest confidence,
and, indeed, the most positive certainty, for I know him to be a
strong-nerved and unimaginative man, with the strictest regard for
veracity. Still, the story is, on the face of it, so vague and so
improbable, that I was long opposed to its publication. Within the
last few days, however, I have had independent testimony upon the
subject which throws a new light upon it. I had run down to
Edinburgh to attend a meeting of the British Medical Association,
when I chanced to come across Dr. P----, an old college chum of
mine, now practising at Saltash, in Devonshire. Upon my telling
him of this experience of my son's, he declared to me that he was
familiar with the man, and proceeded, to my no small surprise, to
give me a description of him, which tallied remarkably well with
that given in the journal, except that he depicted him as a younger
man. According to his account, he had been engaged to a young lady
of singular beauty residing upon the Cornish coast. During his
absence at sea his betrothed had died under circumstances of
peculiar horror.]


In the month of December in the year 1873, the British ship Dei
Gratia steered into Gibraltar, having in tow the derelict
brigantine Marie Celeste, which had been picked up in latitude
38 degrees 40', longitude 17 degrees 15' W. There were several
circumstances in connection with the condition and appearance of
this abandoned vessel which excited considerable comment at the
time, and aroused a curiosity which has never been satisfied. What
these circumstances were was summed up in an able article which
appeared in the Gibraltar Gazette. The curious can find it in the
issue for January 4, 1874, unless my memory deceives me. For the
benefit of those, however, who may be unable to refer to the paper
in question, I shall subjoin a few extracts which touch upon the
leading features of the case.

"We have ourselves," says the anonymous writer in the Gazette,
"been over the derelict Marie Celeste, and have closel
questioned the officers of the Dei Gratia on every point which
might throw light on the affair. They are of opinion that she had
been abandoned several days, or perhaps weeks, before being picked
up. The official log, which was found in the cabin, states that
the vessel sailed from Boston to Lisbon, starting upon
October 16. It is, however, most imperfectly kept, and affords
little information. There is no reference to rough weather, and,
indeed, the state of the vessel's paint and rigging excludes the
idea that she was abandoned for any such reason. She is perfectly
watertight. No signs of a struggle or of violence are to be
detected, and there is absolutely nothing to account for the
disappearance of the crew. There are several indications that a
lady was present on board, a sewing-machine being found in the
cabin and some articles of female attire. These probably belonged
to the captain's wife, who is mentioned in the log as having
accompanied her husband. As an instance of the mildness of the
weather, it may be remarked that a bobbin of silk was found
standing upon the sewing-machine, though the least roll of the
vessel would have precipitated it to the floor. The boats were
intact and slung upon the davits; and the cargo, consisting of
tallow and American clocks, was untouched. An old-fashioned sword
of curious workmanship was discovered among some lumber in the
forecastle, and this weapon is said to exhibit a longitudinal
striation on the steel, as if it had been recently wiped. It has
been placed in the hands of the police, and submitted to Dr.
Monaghan, the analyst, for inspection. The result of his
examination has not yet been published. We may remark, in
conclusion, that Captain Dalton, of the Dei Gratia, an able and
intelligent seaman, is of opinion that the Marie Celeste may have
been abandoned a considerable distance from the spot at which
she was picked up, since a powerful current runs up in that
latitude from the African coast. He confesses his inability,
however, to advance any hypothesis which can reconcile all the
facts of the case. In the utter absence of a clue or grain of
evidence, it is to be feared that the fate of the crew of the
Marie Celeste will be added to those numerous mysteries of the
deep which will never be solved until the great day when the sea
shall give up its dead. If crime has been committed, as is much to
be suspected, there is little hope of bringing the perpetrators to

I shall supplement this extract from the Gibraltar Gazette by
quoting a telegram from Boston, which went the round of the English
papers, and represented the total amount of information which had
been collected about the Marie Celeste. "She was," it said, "a
brigantine of 170 tons burden, and belonged to White, Russell &
White, wine importers, of this city. Captain J. W. Tibbs was an
old servant of the firm, and was a man of known ability and tried
probity. He was accompanied by his wife, aged thirty-one, and
their youngest child, five years old. The crew consisted of seven
hands, including two coloured seamen, and a boy. There were three
passengers, one of whom was the well-known Brooklyn specialist on
consumption, Dr. Habakuk Jephson, who was a distinguished advocate
for Abolition in the early days of the movement, and whose
pamphlet, entitled "Where is thy Brother?" exercised a strong
influence on public opinion before the war. The other passengers
were Mr. J. Harton, a writer in the employ of the firm, and Mr.
Septimius Goring, a half-caste gentleman, from New Orleans. All
investigations have failed to throw any light upon the fate of
these fourteen human beings. The loss of Dr. Jephson will be felt
both in political and scientific circles."

I have here epitomised, for the benefit of the public, all that has
been hitherto known concerning the Marie Celeste and her crew,
for the past ten years have not in any way helped to elucidate the
mystery. I have now taken up my pen with the intention of telling
all that I know of the ill-fated voyage. I consider that it is a
duty which I owe to society, for symptoms which I am familiar with
in others lead me to believe that before many months my tongue and
hand may be alike incapable of conveying information. Let me
remark, as a preface to my narrative, that I am Joseph Habakuk
Jephson, Doctor of Medicine of the University of Harvard, and ex-
Consulting Physician of the Samaritan Hospital of Brooklyn.

Many will doubtless wonder why I have not proclaimed myself before,
and why I have suffered so many conjectures and surmises to pass
unchallenged. Could the ends of justice have been served in any
way by my revealing the facts in my possession I should
unhesitatingly have done so. It seemed to me, however, that there
was no possibility of such a result; and when I attempted, after
the occurrence, to state my case to an English official, I was met
with such offensive incredulity that I determined never again to
expose myself to the chance of such an indignity. I can excuse
the discourtesy of the Liverpool magistrate, however, when I
reflect upon the treatment which I received at the hands of my own
relatives, who, though they knew my unimpeachable character,
listened to my statement with an indulgent smile as if humouring
the delusion of a monomaniac. This slur upon my veracity led to a
quarrel between myself and John Vanburger, the brother of my wife,
and confirmed me in my resolution to let the matter sink into
oblivion--a determination which I have only altered through my
son's solicitations. In order to make my narrative intelligible,
I must run lightly over one or two incidents in my former life
which throw light upon subsequent events.

My father, William K. Jephson, was a preacher of the sect called
Plymouth Brethren, and was one of the most respected citizens of
Lowell. Like most of the other Puritans of New England, he was a
determined opponent to slavery, and it was from his lips that I
received those lessons which tinged every action of my life. While
I was studying medicine at Harvard University, I had already made
a mark as an advanced Abolitionist; and when, after taking my
degree, I bought a third share of the practice of Dr. Willis, of
Brooklyn, I managed, in spite of my professional duties, to devote
a considerable time to the cause which I had at heart, my pamphlet,
"Where is thy Brother?" (Swarburgh, Lister & Co., 1859) attracting
considerable attention.

When the war broke out I left Brooklyn and accompanied the 113th
New York Regiment through the campaign. I was present at the
second battle of Bull's Run and at the battle of Gettysburg.
Finally, I was severely wounded at Antietam, and would probably
have perished on the field had it not been for the kindness of a
gentleman named Murray, who had me carried to his house and
provided me with every comfort. Thanks to his charity, and to the
nursing which I received from his black domestics, I was soon able
to get about the plantation with the help of a stick. It was
during this period of convalescence that an incident occurred which
is closely connected with my story.

Among the most assiduous of the negresses who had watched my couch
during my illness there was one old crone who appeared to exert
considerable authority over the others. She was exceedingly
attentive to me, and I gathered from the few words that passed
between us that she had heard of me, and that she was grateful to
me for championing her oppressed race.

One day as I was sitting alone in the verandah, basking in the sun,
and debating whether I should rejoin Grant's army, I was surprised
to see this old creature hobbling towards me. After looking
cautiously around to see that we were alone, she fumbled in the
front of her dress and produced a small chamois leather bag which
was hung round her neck by a white cord.

"Massa," she said, bending down and croaking the words into my ear,
"me die soon. Me very old woman. Not stay long on Massa
Murray's plantation."

"You may live a long time yet, Martha," I answered. "You know I am
a doctor. If you feel ill let me know about it, and I will try to
cure you."

"No wish to live--wish to die. I'm gwine to join the heavenly
host." Here she relapsed into one of those half-heathenish
rhapsodies in which negroes indulge. "But, massa, me have one
thing must leave behind me when I go. No able to take it with me
across the Jordan. That one thing very precious, more precious and
more holy than all thing else in the world. Me, a poor old black
woman, have this because my people, very great people, 'spose they
was back in the old country. But you cannot understand this same
as black folk could. My fader give it me, and his fader give it
him, but now who shall I give it to? Poor Martha hab no child, no
relation, nobody. All round I see black man very bad man. Black
woman very stupid woman. Nobody worthy of the stone. And so I
say, Here is Massa Jephson who write books and fight for coloured
folk--he must be good man, and he shall have it though he is white
man, and nebber can know what it mean or where it came from." Here
the old woman fumbled in the chamois leather bag and pulled out a
flattish black stone with a hole through the middle of it. "Here,
take it," she said, pressing it into my hand; "take it. No harm
nebber come from anything good. Keep it safe--nebber lose it!" and
with a warning gesture the old crone hobbled away in the same
cautious way as she had come, looking from side to side to see if
we had been observed.

I was more amused than impressed by the old woman's earnestness,
and was only prevented from laughing during her oration by the fear
of hurting her feelings. When she was gone I took a good look at
the stone which she had given me. It was intensely black, of
extreme hardness, and oval in shape--just such a flat stone as one
would pick up on the seashore if one wished to throw a long way.
It was about three inches long, and an inch and a half broad at the
middle, but rounded off at the extremities. The most curious part
about it were several well-marked ridges which ran in semicircles
over its surface, and gave it exactly the appearance of a human
ear. Altogether I was rather interested in my new possession, and
determined to submit it, as a geological specimen, to my friend
Professor Shroeder of the New York Institute, upon the earliest
opportunity. In the meantime I thrust it into my pocket, and
rising from my chair started off for a short stroll in the
shrubbery, dismissing the incident from my mind.

As my wound had nearly healed by this time, I took my leave of Mr.
Murray shortly afterwards. The Union armies were everywhere
victorious and converging on Richmond, so that my assistance seemed
unnecessary, and I returned to Brooklyn. There I resumed my
practice, and married the second daughter of Josiah Vanburger, the
well-known wood engraver. In the course of a few years I built up
a good connection and acquired considerable reputation in the
treatment of pulmonary complaints. I still kept the old black
stone in my pocket, and frequently told the story of the dramatic
way in which I had become possessed of it. I also kept my
resolution of showing it to Professor Shroeder, who was much
interested both by the anecdote and the specimen. He pronounced it
to be a piece of meteoric stone, and drew my attention to the fact
that its resemblance to an ear was not accidental, but that it was
most carefully worked into that shape. A dozen little anatomical
points showed that the worker had been as accurate as he was
skilful. "I should not wonder," said the Professor, "if it were
broken off from some larger statue, though how such hard material
could be so perfectly worked is more than I can understand. If
there is a statue to correspond I should like to see it!" So I
thought at the time, but I have changed my opinion since.

The next seven or eight years of my life were quiet and uneventful.

Summer followed spring, and spring followed winter, without any
variation in my duties. As the practice increased I admitted J. S.
Jackson as partner, he to have one-fourth of the profits. The
continued strain had told upon my constitution, however, and I
became at last so unwell that my wife insisted upon my consulting
Dr. Kavanagh Smith, who was my colleague at the Samaritan Hospital.

That gentleman examined me, and pronounced the apex of my left lung
to be in a state of consolidation, recommending me at the same time
to go through a course of medical treatment and to take a long

My own disposition, which is naturally restless, predisposed me
strongly in favour of the latter piece of advice, and the matter
was clinched by my meeting young Russell, of the firm of White,
Russell & White, who offered me a passage in one of his father's
ships, the Marie Celeste, which was just starting from Boston.
"She is a snug little ship," he said, "and Tibbs, the captain, is
an excellent fellow. There is nothing like a sailing ship for an
invalid." I was very much of the same opinion myself, so I closed
with the offer on the spot.

My original plan was that my wife should accompany me on my
travels. She has always been a very poor sailor, however, and
there were strong family reasons against her exposing herself to
any risk at the time, so we determined that she should remain at
home. I am not a religious or an effusive man; but oh, thank God
for that! As to leaving my practice, I was easily reconciled to
it, as Jackson, my partner, was a reliable and hard-working man.

I arrived in Boston on October 12, 1873, and proceeded immediately
to the office of the firm in order to thank them for their
courtesy. As I was sitting in the counting-house waiting until
they should be at liberty to see me, the words Marie Celeste
suddenly attracted my attention. I looked round and saw a very
tall, gaunt man, who was leaning across the polished mahogany
counter asking some questions of the clerk at the other side.
His face was turned half towards me, and I could see that he had a
strong dash of negro blood in him, being probably a quadroon or
even nearer akin to the black. His curved aquiline nose and
straight lank hair showed the white strain; but the dark restless
eye, sensuous mouth, and gleaming teeth all told of his African
origin. His complexion was of a sickly, unhealthy yellow, and as
his face was deeply pitted with small-pox, the general impression
was so unfavourable as to be almost revolting. When he spoke,
however, it was in a soft, melodious voice, and in well-chosen
words, and he was evidently a man of some education.

"I wished to ask a few questions about the Marie Celeste," he
repeated, leaning across to the clerk. "She sails the day after
to-morrow, does she not?"

"Yes, sir," said the young clerk, awed into unusual politeness by
the glimmer of a large diamond in the stranger's shirt front.

"Where is she bound for?"


"How many of a crew?"

"Seven, sir."


"Yes, two. One of our young gentlemen, and a doctor from New

"No gentleman from the South?" asked the stranger eagerly.

"No, none, sir."

"Is there room for another passenger?"

"Accommodation for three more," answered the clerk.

"I'll go," said the quadroon decisively; "I'll go, I'll engage my
passage at once. Put it down, will you--Mr. Septimius Goring, of
New Orleans."

The clerk filled up a form and handed it over to the stranger,
pointing to a blank space at the bottom. As Mr. Goring stooped
over to sign it I was horrified to observe that the fingers of his
right hand had been lopped off, and that he was holding the pen
between his thumb and the palm. I have seen thousands slain in
battle, and assisted at every conceivable surgical operation, but
I cannot recall any sight which gave me such a thrill of disgust as
that great brown sponge-like hand with the single member protruding
from it. He used it skilfully enough, however, for, dashing off
his signature, he nodded to the clerk and strolled out of the
office just as Mr. White sent out word that he was ready to receive

I went down to the Marie Celeste that evening, and looked over my
berth, which was extremely comfortable considering the small size
of the vessel. Mr. Goring, whom I had seen in the morning, was to
have the one next mine. Opposite was the captain's cabin and a
small berth for Mr. John Harton, a gentleman who was going out in
the interests of the firm. These little rooms were arranged on
each side of the passage which led from the main-deck to the
saloon. The latter was a comfortable room, the panelling
tastefully done in oak and mahogany, with a rich Brussels carpet
and luxurious settees. I was very much pleased with the
accommodation, and also with Tibbs the captain, a bluff, sailor-
like fellow, with a loud voice and hearty manner, who welcomed me
to the ship with effusion, and insisted upon our splitting a bottle
of wine in his cabin. He told me that he intended to take his wife
and youngest child with him on the voyage, and that he hoped with
good luck to make Lisbon in three weeks. We had a pleasant chat
and parted the best of friends, he warning me to make the last of
my preparations next morning, as he intended to make a start by the
midday tide, having now shipped all his cargo. I went back to my
hotel, where I found a letter from my wife awaiting me, and, after
a refreshing night's sleep, returned to the boat in the morning.
From this point I am able to quote from the journal which I kept in
order to vary the monotony of the long sea-voyage. If it is
somewhat bald in places I can at least rely upon its accuracy in
details, as it was written conscientiously from day to day.

October 16.--Cast off our warps at half-past two and were towed
out into the bay, where the tug left us, and with all sail set we
bowled along at about nine knots an hour. I stood upon the poop
watching the low land of America sinking gradually upon the horizon
until the evening haze hid it from my sight. A single red light,
however, continued to blaze balefully behind us, throwing a long
track like a trail of blood upon the water, and it is still visible
as I write, though reduced to a mere speck. The Captain is in a
bad humour, for two of his hands disappointed him at the last
moment, and he was compelled to ship a couple of negroes who
happened to be on the quay. The missing men were steady, reliable
fellows, who had been with him several voyages, and their non-
appearance puzzled as well as irritated him. Where a crew of seven
men have to work a fair-sized ship the loss of two experienced
seamen is a serious one, for though the negroes may take a spell at
the wheel or swab the decks, they are of little or no use in rough
weather. Our cook is also a black man, and Mr. Septimius Goring
has a little darkie servant, so that we are rather a piebald
community. The accountant, John Harton, promises to be an
acquisition, for he is a cheery, amusing young fellow. Strange how
little wealth has to do with happiness! He has all the world
before him and is seeking his fortune in a far land, yet he is as
transparently happy as a man can be. Goring is rich, if I am not
mistaken, and so am I; but I know that I have a lung, and Goring
has some deeper trouble still, to judge by his features. How
poorly do we both contrast with the careless, penniless clerk!

October 17.--Mrs. Tibbs appeared upon deck for the first time
this morning--a cheerful, energetic woman, with a dear little child
just able to walk and prattle. Young Harton pounced on it at once,
and carried it away to his cabin, where no doubt he will lay the
seeds of future dyspepsia in the child's stomach. Thus medicine
doth make cynics of us all! The weather is still all that could be
desired, with a fine fresh breeze from the west-sou'-west. The
vessel goes so steadily that you would hardly know that she was
moving were it not for the creaking of the cordage, the bellying of
the sails, and the long white furrow in our wake. Walked the
quarter-deck all morning with the Captain, and I think the keen
fresh air has already done my breathing good, for the exercise did
not fatigue me in any way. Tibbs is a remarkably intelligent man,
and we had an interesting argument about Maury's observations on
ocean currents, which we terminated by going down into his cabin to
consult the original work. There we found Goring, rather to the
Captain's surprise, as it is not usual for passengers to enter that
sanctum unless specially invited. He apologised for his intrusion,
however, pleading his ignorance of the usages of ship life; and the
good-natured sailor simply laughed at the incident, begging him to
remain and favour us with his company. Goring pointed to the
chronometers, the case of which he had opened, and remarked that he
had been admiring them. He has evidently some practical knowledge
of mathematical instruments, as he told at a glance which was the
most trustworthy of the three, and also named their price within a
few dollars. He had a discussion with the Captain too upon the
variation of the compass, and when we came back to the ocean
currents he showed a thorough grasp of the subject. Altogether he
rather improves upon acquaintance, and is a man of decided culture
and refinement. His voice harmonises with his conversation, and
both are the very antithesis of his face and figure.

The noonday observation shows that we have run two hundred and
twenty miles. Towards evening the breeze freshened up, and the
first mate ordered reefs to be taken in the topsails and top-
gallant sails in expectation of a windy night. I observe that the
barometer has fallen to twenty-nine. I trust our voyage will not
be a rough one, as I am a poor sailor, and my health would probably
derive more harm than good from a stormy trip, though I have the
greatest confidence in the Captain's seamanship and in the
soundness of the vessel. Played cribbage with Mrs. Tibbs after
supper, and Harton gave us a couple of tunes on the violin.

October 18.--The gloomy prognostications of last night were not
fulfilled, as the wind died away again, and we are lying now in a
long greasy swell, ruffled here and there by a fleeting catspaw
which is insufficient to fill the sails. The air is colder than it
was yesterday, and I have put on one of the thick woollen jerseys
which my wife knitted for me. Harton came into my cabin in the
morning, and we had a cigar together. He says that he remembers
having seen Goring in Cleveland, Ohio, in '69. He was, it appears,
a mystery then as now, wandering about without any visible
employment, and extremely reticent on his own affairs. The man
interests me as a psychological study. At breakfast this morning
I suddenly had that vague feeling of uneasiness which comes over
some people when closely stared at, and, looking quickly up, I met
his eyes bent upon me with an intensity which amounted to ferocity,
though their expression instantly softened as he made some
conventional remark upon the weather. Curiously enough, Harton
says that he had a very similar experience yesterday upon deck. I
observe that Goring frequently talks to the coloured seamen as he
strolls about--a trait which I rather admire, as it is common to
find half-breeds ignore their dark strain and treat their black
kinsfolk with greater intolerance than a white man would do. His
little page is devoted to him, apparently, which speaks well for
his treatment of him. Altogether, the man is a curious mixture of
incongruous qualities, and unless I am deceived in him will give me
food for observation during the voyage.

The Captain is grumbling about his chronometers, which do not
register exactly the same time. He says it is the first time that
they have ever disagreed. We were unable to get a noonday
observation on account of the haze. By dead reckoning, we have
done about a hundred and seventy miles in the twenty-four hours.
The dark seamen have proved, as the skipper prophesied, to be very
inferior hands, but as they can both manage the wheel well they are
kept steering, and so leave the more experienced men to work the
ship. These details are trivial enough, but a small thing serves
as food for gossip aboard ship. The appearance of a whale in the
evening caused quite a flutter among us. From its sharp back and
forked tail, I should pronounce it to have been a rorqual, or
"finner," as they are called by the fishermen.

October 19.--Wind was cold, so I prudently remained in my
cabin all day, only creeping out for dinner. Lying in my bunk I
can, without moving, reach my books, pipes, or anything else I may
want, which is one advantage of a small apartment. My old wound
began to ache a little to-day, probably from the cold. Read
"Montaigne's Essays" and nursed myself. Harton came in in the
afternoon with Doddy, the Captain's child, and the skipper himself
followed, so that I held quite a reception.

October 20 and 21.--Still cold, with a continual drizzle of
rain, and I have not been able to leave the cabin. This
confinement makes me feel weak and depressed. Goring came in to
see me, but his company did not tend to cheer me up much, as he
hardly uttered a word, but contented himself with staring at me in
a peculiar and rather irritating manner. He then got up and stole
out of the cabin without saying anything. I am beginning to
suspect that the man is a lunatic. I think I mentioned that his
cabin is next to mine. The two are simply divided by a thin wooden
partition which is cracked in many places, some of the cracks being
so large that I can hardly avoid, as I lie in my bunk, observing
his motions in the adjoining room. Without any wish to play the
spy, I see him continually stooping over what appears to be a chart
and working with a pencil and compasses. I have remarked the
interest he displays in matters connected with navigation, but I am
surprised that he should take the trouble to work out the course of
the ship. However, it is a harmless amusement enough, and no
doubt he verifies his results by those of the Captain.

I wish the man did not run in my thoughts so much. I had a
nightmare on the night of the 20th, in which I thought my bunk was
a coffin, that I was laid out in it, and that Goring was
endeavouring to nail up the lid, which I was frantically pushing
away. Even when I woke up, I could hardly persuade myself that I
was not in a coffin. As a medical man, I know that a nightmare is
simply a vascular derangement of the cerebral hemispheres, and yet
in my weak state I cannot shake off the morbid impression which it

October 22.--A fine day, with hardly a cloud in the sky, and a
fresh breeze from the sou'-west which wafts us gaily on our way.
There has evidently been some heavy weather near us, as there is a
tremendous swell on, and the ship lurches until the end of the
fore-yard nearly touches the water. Had a refreshing walk up and
down the quarter-deck, though I have hardly found my sea-legs yet.
Several small birds--chaffinches, I think--perched in the rigging.

4.40 P.M.--While I was on deck this morning I heard a sudden
explosion from the direction of my cabin, and, hurrying down, found
that I had very nearly met with a serious accident. Goring was
cleaning a revolver, it seems, in his cabin, when one of the
barrels which he thought was unloaded went off. The ball passed
through the side partition and imbedded itself in the bulwarks in
the exact place where my head usually rests. I have been under
fire too often to magnify trifles, but there is no doubt that
if I had been in the bunk it must have killed me. Goring, poor
fellow, did not know that I had gone on deck that day, and must
therefore have felt terribly frightened. I never saw such emotion
in a man's face as when, on rushing out of his cabin with the
smoking pistol in his hand, he met me face to face as I came down
from deck. Of course, he was profuse in his apologies, though I
simply laughed at the incident.

11 P.M.--A misfortune has occurred so unexpected and so horrible
that my little escape of the morning dwindles into insignificance.
Mrs. Tibbs and her child have disappeared--utterly and entirely
disappeared. I can hardly compose myself to write the sad details.

About half-past eight Tibbs rushed into my cabin with a very white
face and asked me if I had seen his wife. I answered that I had
not. He then ran wildly into the saloon and began groping about
for any trace of her, while I followed him, endeavouring vainly to
persuade him that his fears were ridiculous. We hunted over the
ship for an hour and a half without coming on any sign of the
missing woman or child. Poor Tibbs lost his voice completely from
calling her name. Even the sailors, who are generally stolid
enough, were deeply affected by the sight of him as he roamed
bareheaded and dishevelled about the deck, searching with feverish
anxiety the most impossible places, and returning to them again and
again with a piteous pertinacity. The last time she was seen was
about seven o'clock, when she took Doddy on to the poop to give him
a breath of fresh air before putting him to bed. There was no
one there at the time except the black seaman at the wheel, who
denies having seen her at all. The whole affair is wrapped in
mystery. My own theory is that while Mrs. Tibbs was holding the
child and standing near the bulwarks it gave a spring and fell
overboard, and that in her convulsive attempt to catch or save it,
she followed it. I cannot account for the double disappearance in
any other way. It is quite feasible that such a tragedy should be
enacted without the knowledge of the man at the wheel, since it was
dark at the time, and the peaked skylights of the saloon screen the
greater part of the quarter-deck. Whatever the truth may be it is
a terrible catastrophe, and has cast the darkest gloom upon our
voyage. The mate has put the ship about, but of course there is
not the slightest hope of picking them up. The Captain is lying in
a state of stupor in his cabin. I gave him a powerful dose of
opium in his coffee that for a few hours at least his anguish may
be deadened.

October 23.--Woke with a vague feeling of heaviness and
misfortune, but it was not until a few moments' reflection that I
was able to recall our loss of the night before. When I came on
deck I saw the poor skipper standing gazing back at the waste of
waters behind us which contains everything dear to him upon earth.
I attempted to speak to him, but he turned brusquely away, and
began pacing the deck with his head sunk upon his breast. Even
now, when the truth is so clear, he cannot pass a boat or an unbent
sail without peering under it. He looks ten years older than
he did yesterday morning. Harton is terribly cut up, for he was
fond of little Doddy, and Goring seems sorry too. At least he has
shut himself up in his cabin all day, and when I got a casual
glance at him his head was resting on his two hands as if in a
melancholy reverie. I fear we are about as dismal a crew as ever
sailed. How shocked my wife will be to hear of our disaster! The
swell has gone down now, and we are doing about eight knots with
all sail set and a nice little breeze. Hyson is practically in
command of the ship, as Tibbs, though he does his best to bear up
and keep a brave front, is incapable of applying himself to serious

October 24.--Is the ship accursed? Was there ever a voyage which
began so fairly and which changed so disastrously? Tibbs shot
himself through the head during the night. I was awakened about
three o'clock in the morning by an explosion, and immediately
sprang out of bed and rushed into the Captain's cabin to find out
the cause, though with a terrible presentiment in my heart.
Quickly as I went, Goring went more quickly still, for he was
already in the cabin stooping over the dead body of the Captain.
It was a hideous sight, for the whole front of his face was blown
in, and the little room was swimming in blood. The pistol was
lying beside him on the floor, just as it had dropped from his
hand. He had evidently put it to his mouth before pulling the
trigger. Goring and I picked him reverently up and laid him on his
bed. The crew had all clustered into his cabin, and the six
white men were deeply grieved, for they were old hands who had
sailed with him many years. There were dark looks and murmurs
among them too, and one of them openly declared that the ship was
haunted. Harton helped to lay the poor skipper out, and we did him
up in canvas between us. At twelve o'clock the foreyard was hauled
aback, and we committed his body to the deep, Goring reading the
Church of England burial service. The breeze has freshened up, and
we have done ten knots all day and sometimes twelve. The sooner we
reach Lisbon and get away from this accursed ship the better
pleased shall I be. I feel as though we were in a floating coffin.

Little wonder that the poor sailors are superstitious when I, an
educated man, feel it so strongly.

October 25.--Made a good run all day. Feel listless and

October 26.--Goring, Harton, and I had a chat together on deck in
the morning. Harton tried to draw Goring out as to his profession,
and his object in going to Europe, but the quadroon parried all his
questions and gave us no information. Indeed, he seemed to be
slightly offended by Harton's pertinacity, and went down into his
cabin. I wonder why we should both take such an interest in this
man! I suppose it is his striking appearance, coupled with his
apparent wealth, which piques our curiosity. Harton has a theory
that he is really a detective, that he is after some criminal who
has got away to Portugal, and that he chooses this peculiar way of
travelling that he may arrive unnoticed and pounce upon his
quarry unawares. I think the supposition is rather a far-fetched
one, but Harton bases it upon a book which Goring left on deck, and
which he picked up and glanced over. It was a sort of scrap-book
it seems, and contained a large number of newspaper cuttings. All
these cuttings related to murders which had been committed at
various times in the States during the last twenty years or so.
The curious thing which Harton observed about them, however, was
that they were invariably murders the authors of which had never
been brought to justice. They varied in every detail, he says, as
to the manner of execution and the social status of the victim, but
they uniformly wound up with the same formula that the murderer was
still at large, though, of course, the police had every reason to
expect his speedy capture. Certainly the incident seems to support
Harton's theory, though it may be a mere whim of Gorings, or, as I
suggested to Harton, he may be collecting materials for a book
which shall outvie De Quincey. In any case it is no business of

October 27, 28.--Wind still fair, and we are making good
progress. Strange how easily a human unit may drop out of its
place and be forgotten! Tibbs is hardly ever mentioned now; Hyson
has taken possession of his cabin, and all goes on as before. Were
it not for Mrs. Tibbs's sewing-machine upon a side-table we might
forget that the unfortunate family had ever existed. Another
accident occurred on board to-day, though fortunately not a very
serious one. One of our white hands had gone down the
afterhold to fetch up a spare coil of rope, when one of the hatches
which he had removed came crashing down on the top of him. He
saved his life by springing out of the way, but one of his feet was
terribly crushed, and he will be of little use for the remainder of
the voyage. He attributes the accident to the carelessness of his
negro companion, who had helped him to shift the hatches. The
latter, however, puts it down to the roll of the ship. Whatever be
the cause, it reduces our shorthanded crew still further. This run
of ill-luck seems to be depressing Harton, for he has lost his
usual good spirits and joviality. Goring is the only one who
preserves his cheerfulness. I see him still working at his chart
in his own cabin. His nautical knowledge would be useful should
anything happen to Hyson--which God forbid!

October 29, 30.--Still bowling along with a fresh breeze. All
quiet and nothing of note to chronicle.

October 31.--My weak lungs, combined with the exciting episodes
of the voyage, have shaken my nervous system so much that the most
trivial incident affects me. I can hardly believe that I am the
same man who tied the external iliac artery, an operation requiring
the nicest precision, under a heavy rifle fire at Antietam. I am
as nervous as a child. I was lying half dozing last night about
four bells in the middle watch trying in vain to drop into a
refreshing sleep. There was no light inside my cabin, but a single
ray of moonlight streamed in through the port hole, throwing a
silvery flickering circle upon the door. As I lay I kept my drowsy
eyes upon this circle, and was conscious that it was gradually
becoming less well-defined as my senses left me, when I was
suddenly recalled to full wakefulness by the appearance of a small
dark object in the very centre of the luminous disc. I lay quietly
and breathlessly watching it. Gradually it grew larger and
plainer, and then I perceived that it was a human hand which had
been cautiously inserted through the chink of the half-closed
door--a hand which, as I observed with a thrill of horror, was not
provided with fingers. The door swung cautiously backwards, and
Goring's head followed his hand. It appeared in the centre of the
moonlight, and was framed as it were in a ghastly uncertain halo,
against which his features showed out plainly. It seemed to me
that I had never seen such an utterly fiendish and merciless
expression upon a human face. His eyes were dilated and glaring,
his lips drawn back so as to show his white fangs, and his straight
black hair appeared to bristle over his low forehead like the hood
of a cobra. The sudden and noiseless apparition had such an effect
upon me that I sprang up in bed trembling in every limb, and held
out my hand towards my revolver. I was heartily ashamed of my
hastiness when he explained the object of his intrusion, as he
immediately did in the most courteous language. He had been
suffering from toothache, poor fellow! and had come in to beg some
laudanum, knowing that I possessed a medicine chest. As to a
sinister expression he is never a beauty, and what with my state of
nervous tension and the effect of the shifting moonlight it was
easy to conjure up something horrible. I gave him twenty drops,
and he went off again with many expressions of gratitude. I can
hardly say how much this trivial incident affected me. I have felt
unstrung all day.

A week's record of our voyage is here omitted, as nothing eventful
occurred during the time, and my log consists merely of a few pages
of unimportant gossip.

November 7.--Harton and I sat on the poop all the morning, for
the weather is becoming very warm as we come into southern
latitudes. We reckon that we have done two-thirds of our voyage.
How glad we shall be to see the green banks of the Tagus, and leave
this unlucky ship for ever! I was endeavouring to amuse Harton to-
day and to while away the time by telling him some of the
experiences of my past life. Among others I related to him how I
came into the possession of my black stone, and as a finale I
rummaged in the side pocket of my old shooting coat and produced
the identical object in question. He and I were bending over it
together, I pointing out to him the curious ridges upon its
surface, when we were conscious of a shadow falling between us and
the sun, and looking round saw Goring standing behind us glaring
over our shoulders at the stone. For some reason or other he
appeared to be powerfully excited, though he was evidently trying
to control himself and to conceal his emotion. He pointed once or
twice at my relic with his stubby thumb before he could recover
himself sufficiently to ask what it was and how I obtained it--a
question put in such a brusque manner that I should have been
offended had I not known the man to be an eccentric. I told him
the story very much as I had told it to Harton. He listened with
the deepest interest, and then asked me if I had any idea what the
stone was. I said I had not, beyond that it was meteoric. He
asked me if I had ever tried its effect upon a negro. I said I had
not. "Come," said he, "we'll see what our black friend at the
wheel thinks of it." He took the stone in his hand and went across
to the sailor, and the two examined it carefully. I could see the
man gesticulating and nodding his head excitedly as if making some
assertion, while his face betrayed the utmost astonishment, mixed
I think with some reverence. Goring came across the deck to us
presently, still holding the stone in his hand. "He says it is a
worthless, useless thing," he said, "and fit only to be chucked
overboard," with which he raised his hand and would most certainly
have made an end of my relic, had the black sailor behind him not
rushed forward and seized him by the wrist. Finding himself
secured Goring dropped the stone and turned away with a very bad
grace to avoid my angry remonstrances at his breach of faith. The
black picked up the stone and handed it to me with a low bow and
every sign of profound respect. The whole affair is inexplicable.
I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that Goring is a maniac or
something very near one. When I compare the effect produced by
the stone upon the sailor, however, with the respect shown to
Martha on the plantation, and the surprise of Goring on its first
production, I cannot but come to the conclusion that I have really
got hold of some powerful talisman which appeals to the whole dark
race. I must not trust it in Goring's hands again.

November 8, 9.--What splendid weather we are having! Beyond one
little blow, we have had nothing but fresh breezes the whole
voyage. These two days we have made better runs than any hitherto.

It is a pretty thing to watch the spray fly up from our prow as it
cuts through the waves. The sun shines through it and breaks it up
into a number of miniature rainbows--"sun-dogs," the sailors call
them. I stood on the fo'csle-head for several hours to-day
watching the effect, and surrounded by a halo of prismatic colours.

The steersman has evidently told the other blacks about my
wonderful stone, for I am treated by them all with the greatest
respect. Talking about optical phenomena, we had a curious one
yesterday evening which was pointed out to me by Hyson. This was
the appearance of a triangular well-defined object high up in the
heavens to the north of us. He explained that it was exactly like
the Peak of Teneriffe as seen from a great distance--the peak was,
however, at that moment at least five hundred miles to the south.
It may have been a cloud, or it may have been one of those strange
reflections of which one reads. The weather is very warm. The
mate says that he never knew it so warm in these latitudes.
Played chess with Harton in the evening.

November 10.--It is getting warmer and warmer. Some land birds
came and perched in the rigging today, though we are still a
considerable way from our destination. The heat is so great that
we are too lazy to do anything but lounge about the decks and
smoke. Goring came over to me to-day and asked me some more
questions about my stone; but I answered him rather shortly, for I
have not quite forgiven him yet for the cool way in which he
attempted to deprive me of it.

November 11, 12.--Still making good progress. I had no idea
Portugal was ever as hot as this, but no doubt it is cooler on
land. Hyson himself seemed surprised at it, and so do the men.

November 13.--A most extraordinary event has happened, so
extraordinary as to be almost inexplicable. Either Hyson has
blundered wonderfully, or some magnetic influence has disturbed our
instruments. Just about daybreak the watch on the fo'csle-head
shouted out that he heard the sound of surf ahead, and Hyson
thought he saw the loom of land. The ship was put about, and,
though no lights were seen, none of us doubted that we had struck
the Portuguese coast a little sooner than we had expected. What
was our surprise to see the scene which was revealed to us at break
of day! As far as we could look on either side was one long line
of surf, great, green billows rolling in and breaking into a cloud
of foam. But behind the surf what was there! Not the green
banks nor the high cliffs of the shores of Portugal, but a great
sandy waste which stretched away and away until it blended with the
skyline. To right and left, look where you would, there was
nothing but yellow sand, heaped in some places into fantastic
mounds, some of them several hundred feet high, while in other
parts were long stretches as level apparently as a billiard board.
Harton and I, who had come on deck together, looked at each other
in astonishment, and Harton burst out laughing. Hyson is
exceedingly mortified at the occurrence, and protests that the
instruments have been tampered with. There is no doubt that this
is the mainland of Africa, and that it was really the Peak of
Teneriffe which we saw some days ago upon the northern horizon. At
the time when we saw the land birds we must have been passing some
of the Canary Islands. If we continued on the same course, we are
now to the north of Cape Blanco, near the unexplored country which
skirts the great Sahara. All we can do is to rectify our
instruments as far as possible and start afresh for our

8.30 P.M.--Have been lying in a calm all day. The coast is now
about a mile and a half from us. Hyson has examined the
instruments, but cannot find any reason for their extraordinary

This is the end of my private journal, and I must make the
remainder of my statement from memory. There is little chance of
my being mistaken about facts which have seared themselves into my
recollection. That very night the storm which had been brewing
so long burst over us, and I came to learn whither all those little
incidents were tending which I had recorded so aimlessly. Blind
fool that I was not to have seen it sooner! I shall tell what
occurred as precisely as I can.

I had gone into my cabin about half-past eleven, and was preparing
to go to bed, when a tap came at my door. On opening it I saw
Goring's little black page, who told me that his master would like
to have a word with me on deck. I was rather surprised that he
should want me at such a late hour, but I went up without
hesitation. I had hardly put my foot on the quarter-deck before I
was seized from behind, dragged down upon my back, and a
handkerchief slipped round my mouth. I struggled as hard as I
could, but a coil of rope was rapidly and firmly wound round me,
and I found myself lashed to the davit of one of the boats, utterly
powerless to do or say anything, while the point of a knife pressed
to my throat warned me to cease my struggles. The night was so
dark that I had been unable hitherto to recognise my assailants,
but as my eyes became accustomed to the gloom, and the moon broke
out through the clouds that obscured it, I made out that I was
surrounded by the two negro sailors, the black cook, and my fellow-
passenger Goring. Another man was crouching on the deck at my
feet, but he was in the shadow and I could not recognise him.

All this occurred so rapidly that a minute could hardly have
elapsed from the time I mounted the companion until I found
myself gagged and powerless. It was so sudden that I could scarce
bring myself to realise it, or to comprehend what it all meant. I
heard the gang round me speaking in short, fierce whispers to each
other, and some instinct told me that my life was the question at
issue. Goring spoke authoritatively and angrily--the others
doggedly and all together, as if disputing his commands. Then they
moved away in a body to the opposite side of the deck, where I
could still hear them whispering, though they were concealed from
my view by the saloon skylights.

All this time the voices of the watch on deck chatting and laughing
at the other end of the ship were distinctly audible, and I could
see them gathered in a group, little dreaming of the dark doings
which were going on within thirty yards of them. Oh! that I could
have given them one word of warning, even though I had lost my life
in doing it I but it was impossible. The moon was shining fitfully
through the scattered clouds, and I could see the silvery gleam of
the surge, and beyond it the vast weird desert with its fantastic
sand-hills. Glancing down, I saw that the man who had been
crouching on the deck was still lying there, and as I gazed at him,
a flickering ray of moonlight fell full upon his upturned face.
Great Heaven! even now, when more than twelve years have elapsed,
my hand trembles as I write that, in spite of distorted features
and projecting eyes, I recognised the face of Harton, the cheery
young clerk who had been my companion during the voyage. It needed
no medical eye to see that he was quite dead, while the twisted
handkerchief round the neck, and the gag in his mouth, showed the
silent way in which the hell-hounds had done their work. The clue
which explained every event of our voyage came upon me like a flash
of light as I gazed on poor Harton's corpse. Much was dark and
unexplained, but I felt a great dim perception of the truth.

I heard the striking of a match at the other side of the skylights,
and then I saw the tall, gaunt figure of Goring standing up on the
bulwarks and holding in his hands what appeared to be a dark
lantern. He lowered this for a moment over the side of the ship,
and, to my inexpressible astonishment, I saw it answered
instantaneously by a flash among the sand-hills on shore, which
came and went so rapidly, that unless I had been following the
direction of Goring's gaze, I should never have detected it. Again
he lowered the lantern, and again it was answered from the shore.
He then stepped down from the bulwarks, and in doing so slipped,
making such a noise, that for a moment my heart bounded with the
thought that the attention of the watch would be directed to his
proceedings. It was a vain hope. The night was calm and the ship
motionless, so that no idea of duty kept them vigilant. Hyson, who
after the death of Tibbs was in command of both watches, had gone
below to snatch a few hours' sleep, and the boatswain who was left
in charge was standing with the other two men at the foot of the
foremast. Powerless, speechless, with the cords cutting into
my flesh and the murdered man at my feet, I awaited the next act in
the tragedy.

The four ruffians were standing up now at the other side of the
deck. The cook was armed with some sort of a cleaver, the others
had knives, and Goring had a revolver. They were all leaning
against the rail and looking out over the water as if watching for
something. I saw one of them grasp another's arm and point as if
at some object, and following the direction I made out the loom of
a large moving mass making towards the ship. As it emerged from
the gloom I saw that it was a great canoe crammed with men and
propelled by at least a score of paddles. As it shot under our
stern the watch caught sight of it also, and raising a cry hurried
aft. They were too late, however. A swarm of gigantic negroes
clambered over the quarter, and led by Goring swept down the deck
in an irresistible torrent. All opposition was overpowered in a
moment, the unarmed watch were knocked over and bound, and the
sleepers dragged out of their bunks and secured in the same manner.

Hyson made an attempt to defend the narrow passage leading to his
cabin, and I heard a scuffle, and his voice shouting for
assistance. There was none to assist, however, and he was brought
on to the poop with the blood streaming from a deep cut in his
forehead. He was gagged like the others, and a council was held
upon our fate by the negroes. I saw our black seamen pointing
towards me and making some statement, which was received with
murmurs of astonishment and incredulity by the savages. One of
them then came over to me, and plunging his hand into my pocket
took out my black stone and held it up. He then handed it to a man
who appeared to be a chief, who examined it as minutely as the
light would permit, and muttering a few words passed it on to the
warrior beside him, who also scrutinised it and passed it on until
it had gone from hand to hand round the whole circle. The chief
then said a few words to Goring in the native tongue, on which the
quadroon addressed me in English. At this moment I seem to see the
scene. The tall masts of the ship with the moonlight streaming
down, silvering the yards and bringing the network of cordage into
hard relief; the group of dusky warriors leaning on their spears;
the dead man at my feet; the line of white-faced prisoners, and in
front of me the loathsome half-breed, looking in his white linen
and elegant clothes a strange contrast to his associates.

"You will bear me witness," he said in his softest accents, "that
I am no party to sparing your life. If it rested with me you would
die as these other men are about to do. I have no personal grudge
against either you or them, but I have devoted my life to the
destruction of the white race, and you are the first that has ever
been in my power and has escaped me. You may thank that stone of
yours for your life. These poor fellows reverence it, and indeed
if it really be what they think it is they have cause. Should it
prove when we get ashore that they are mistaken, and that its shape
and material is a mere chance, nothing can save your life. In
the meantime we wish to treat you well, so if there are any of your
possessions which you would like to take with you, you are at
liberty to get them." As he finished he gave a sign, and a couple
of the negroes unbound me, though without removing the gag. I was
led down into the cabin, where I put a few valuables into my
pockets, together with a pocket-compass and my journal of the
voyage. They then pushed me over the side into a small canoe,
which was lying beside the large one, and my guards followed me,
and shoving off began paddling for the shore. We had got about a
hundred yards or so from the ship when our steersman held up his
hand, and the paddlers paused for a moment and listened. Then on
the silence of the night I heard a sort of dull, moaning sound,
followed by a succession of splashes in the water. That is all I
know of the fate of my poor shipmates. Almost immediately
afterwards the large canoe followed us, and the deserted ship was
left drifting about--a dreary, spectre-like hulk. Nothing was
taken from her by the savages. The whole fiendish transaction was
carried through as decorously and temperately as though it were a
religious rite.

The first grey of daylight was visible in the east as we passed
through the surge and reached the shore. Leaving half-a-dozen men
with the canoes, the rest of the negroes set off through the sand-
hills, leading me with them, but treating me very gently and
respectfully. It was difficult walking, as we sank over our ankles
into the loose, shifting sand at every step, and I was nearly
dead beat by the time we reached the native village, or town
rather, for it was a place of considerable dimensions. The houses
were conical structures not unlike bee-hives, and were made of
compressed seaweed cemented over with a rude form of mortar, there
being neither stick nor stone upon the coast nor anywhere within
many hundreds of miles. As we entered the town an enormous crowd
of both sexes came swarming out to meet us, beating tom-toms and
howling and screaming. On seeing me they redoubled their yells and

Book of the day: The Captain of the Polestar by Arthur Conan Doyle - Full Text Free Book (Part 1/5)