THE DEATH SHIP
A STRANGE STORY;
AN ACCOUNT OF A CRUISE IN "THE FLYING DUTCHMAN," COLLECTED
FROM THE PAPERS OF THE LATE MR. GEOFFREY FENTON, OF POPLAR,
W. CLARK RUSSELL,
"THE WRECK OF THE GROSVENOR," "THE GOLDEN HOPE," "A SEA QUEEN,"
IN THREE VOLUMES
HURST AND BLACKETT, LIMITED
13, GREAT MARLBOROUGH STREET
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TILLOTSON AND SON, MAWDSLEY STREET
THE SECOND VOLUME.
||IMOGENE SAYS SHE WILL TRUST ME
||VANDERDECKEN EXHIBITS SOME TREASURE
||IMOGENE AND I ARE MUCH TOGETHER
||THE GALE BREAKS
||THE DEATH SHIP'S FORECASTLE
||WE SIGHT A SHIP
||WE WATCH THE SHIP APPROACH US
||THE CENTAUR FLIES FROM US
||VANDERDECKEN WALKS IN HIS SLEEP
||WE SIGHT A DISMASTED WRECK
||THE DEAD HELMSMAN
||THE DUTCH SAILORS BOARD THE WRECK
||THE DUTCHMAN OBTAINS REFRESHMENTS
||MY LIFE IS ATTEMPTED
||MY SWEETHEART'S JOY
THE DEATH SHIP.
IMOGENE SAYS SHE WILL TRUST ME.
A half-hour passed, and during that time I had sufficiently recovered from the distressful croak of the parrot to wonder, as any sailor would, how the ship was navigated; for I could not doubt that the clock kept pretty close to the true time, since the easting and westing made by the ship was small, never, perhaps, exceeding ten degrees; and the circumstance of noon having struck set me wondering in what fashion the captain and mates navigated the ship, whether they used the cross-staff or relied on dead reckoning, or were supernaturally conned.
At half-past twelve arrived Prins, to prepare the table for dinner. I was so dull that his coming was extremely welcome, and I watched him go about his work with interest, not, perhaps, unmixed with fear. Out of the great drawer, under the table, he withdrew the cloth, knives, forks, silver goblets and the like, which had been set out for breakfast; but his movements were those of a marionette rather than a man's, he scarcely looked at what he did, putting a goblet here, a knife and fork there and so on, with the lifeless air of an object controlled by mechanism. Small wonder that the unhappy wretch should know his business! He had been at it long enough! Yet it wrung my heart to watch him and to think that he would still be arranging the cabin tables for meals, and attending upon Vanderdecken and his mates when Heaven alone knows how many times the wave of civilisation should have followed the sun round the globe, and how often our British Islands should have lapsed into their ancient savageness and emerged again.
Whilst he was at this work, Miss Dudley stepped out of her cabin. She came to a stand, not instantly recognising me in my own clothes, but quickly satisfying herself, she advanced with a smile and sat down near me, with no further sign of timidity than a slight blush which greatly heightened her beauty.
"Where is Captain Vanderdecken?" said she.
"I left him on deck three-quarters of an hour since," I answered. "We were talking when he suddenly broke off, and I should have supposed him in a fit but for his erect posture and the fiery life in his eyes."
"This happens to them all," said she, "as you will find out. I do not know what it means or why it should be."
"Possibly," I exclaimed, recalling the conjecture I have already written down, "the death in them grows too strong at periods, for the power that sustains them, be it demoniac or not, and then follows a failure of the vitality of the body, which yet leaves the spirit—as one sees it flashing in Vanderdecken's eyes—strong enough to recover the corporeal forces from their languor. But how terrible is all this for