The After House
14. From The Crow's Nest
The night passed without incident, except for one thing that we were unable to
verify. At six bells, during the darkest hour of the night that precedes the early
dawn of summer, Adams, from the crow's-nest, called down, in a panic, that
there was something crawling on all fours on the deck below him.
Burns, on watch at the companionway, ran forward with his revolver, and
narrowly escaped being brained - Adams at that moment flinging down a
marlinespike that he had carried aloft with him.
I heard the crash and joined Burns, and together we went over the deck and,
both houses. Everything was quiet: the crew in various attitudes of exhausted
sleep, their chests and dittybags around them; Oleson at the wheel; and
Singleton in his jail-room, breathing heavily.
Adams's nerve was completely gone, and, being now thoroughly awake, I joined
him in the crow's-nest. Nothing could convince him that he had been the victim of
a nervous hallucination. He stuck to his story firmly.
"It was on the forecastle-head first," he maintained. "I saw it gleaming."
"Sort of shining," he explained. "It came up over the rail, and at first it stood up
tall, like a white post."
"You didn't say before that it was white."
"It was shining," he said slowly, trying to put his idea into words. "Maybe not
exactly white, but light-colored. It stood still for so long, I thought I must be
mistaken - that it was a light on the rigging. Then I got to thinking that there
wasn't no place for a light to come from just there."
That was true enough.