The After House
13. The White Light
With the approach of night our vigilance was doubled. There was no thought of
sleep among the crew, and, with the twilight, there was a distinct return of the
terror of the morning.
Gathered around the wheel, the crew listened while Jones read evening prayer.
Between the two houses, where the deck was roped off, Miss Lee was alone,
pacing back and-forward, her head bent, her arms dropped listlessly.
The wind had gone, and the sails hung loose over our heads. I stood by the port
rail. Although my back was toward Miss Lee, I was conscious of her every
movement; and so I knew when she stooped under the rope and moved lightly
toward the starboard rail.
Quick as she was, I was quicker. There was still light enough to see her face as
she turned when I called to her:
"Miss Lee You must not leave the rope."
"I am sorry to seem arbitrary. It is for your own safety."
I was crossing the deck toward her as I spoke. I knew what she was going to do.
I believe, when she saw my face, that she read my knowledge in it. She turned
back from the rail and faced me.
"Surely I may go to the rail!"
"It would be unwise, if for no other reason than discipline."
"Discipline! Are you trying to discipline me?"
"Miss Lee, you do not seem to understand," I said, as patiently as I could. "Just
now I am in charge of the Ella. It does not matter how unfit I am - the fact