The After House
7. The Stewardess's Story
But, after all, the story of Henrietta Sloane only added to the mystery. She told it
to me, sitting propped in a chair in Mrs. Johns's room, her face white, her lips dry
and twitching. The crew were making such breakfast as they could on deck, and
Mr. Turner was still in a stupor in his room across the main cabin. The four
women, drawn together in their distress, were huddled in the center of the room,
touching hands now and then, as if finding comfort in contact, and reassurance.
"I went to bed early," said the stewardess; "about ten o'clock, I think. Karen had
not come down; I wakened when the watch changed. It was hot, and the window
from our room to the deck was open. There is a curtain over it, to keep the
helmsman from looking in - it is close to the wheel. The bell, striking every half-
hour, does not waken me any more, although it did at first. It is just outside the
window. But I heard the watch change. I heard eight bells struck, and the lookout
man on the forecastle head call, 'All's well.'
"I sat up and turned on the lights. Karen had not come down, and I was alarmed.
She had been - had been flirting a little with one of the sailors, and I had warned
her that it would not do. She'd be found out and get into trouble.
"The only way to reach our cabin was through the chart-room, and when I
opened the door an inch or two, I saw why Karen had not come down. Mr. Turner
and Mr. Singleton were sitting there. They were -" She hesitated.
"Please go on," said Mrs. Turner. "They were drinking?"
"Yes, Mrs. Turner. And Mr. Vail was there, too. He was saying that the captain
would come down and there would be more trouble. I shut the door and stood
just inside, listening. Mr. Singleton said he hoped the captain would come - that
he and Mr. Turner only wanted a chance to get at him."
Miss Lee leaned forward and searched the stewardess's face with strained eyes.
"You are sure that he mentioned Mr. Turner in that?"