Moran of the Lady Letty
VI. A Sea Mystery
In spite of his best efforts at self-control, Wilbur felt a slow, cold clutch at his heart. That
sickening, uncanny lifting of the schooner out of the glassy water, at a time when there
was not enough wind to so much as wrinkle the surface, sent a creep of something very
like horror through all his flesh.
Again he peered over the side, down into the kelp-thickened sea. Nothing--not a breath
of air was stirring. The gray light that flooded down from the stars showed not a break
upon the surface of Magdalena Bay. On shore, nothing moved.
"Quiet there, forward," called Moran to the shrill-voiced coolies.
The succeeding stillness was profound. All on board listened intently. The water dripped
like the ticking of a clock from the "Bertha Millner's" stern, which with the rising of the
bow had sunk almost to the rail. There was no other sound.
"Strange," muttered Moran, her brows contracting.
Charlie broke the silence with a wail: "No likee, no likee!" he cried at top voice.
The man had gone suddenly green; Wilbur could see the shine of his eyes distended
like those of a harassed cat. As he, Moran, and Wilbur stood in the schooner's waist,
staring at each other, the smell of punk came to their nostrils. Forward, the coolies were
already burning joss-sticks on the fo'castle head, kowtowing their foreheads to the deck.
Moran went forward and kicked them to their feet and hurled their joss-sticks into the
"Feng shui! Feng shui!" they exclaimed with bated breaths. "The Feng shui no likee we."
Low in the east the horizon began to blacken against the sky. It was early morning. A
watch was set, the Chinamen sent below, and until daybreak, when Charlie began to
make a clattering of tins in the galley as he set about preparing breakfast, Wilbur paced
the rounds of the schooner, looking, listening, and waiting again for that slow, horrifying
lift. But the rest of the night was without incident.
After breakfast, the strangely assorted trio--Charlie, Moran, and Wilbur--held another
conference in the cabin. It was decided to move the schooner to the other side of the
"Feng shui in disa place, no likee we," announced Charlie.
"Feng shui, who are they?"