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The Mystery

The Second Prize Crew
In semi-tropic Pacific weather the unexpected so seldom happens as to be a negligible
quantity. The Wolverine met with it on June 5th. From some unaccountable source in that
realm of the heaven-scouring trades came a heavy mist. Possibly volcanic action,
deranging by its electric and gaseous outpourings the normal course of the winds, had
given birth to it. Be that as it may, it swept down upon the cruiser, thickening as it
approached, until presently it had spread a curtain between the warship and its charge.
The wind died. Until after fall of night the Wolverine moved slowly, bellowing for the
schooner, but got no reply. Once they thought they heard a distant shout of response, but
there was no repetition.
"Probably doesn't carry any fog horn," said Carter bitterly, voicing a general uneasiness.
"No log; compass crazy; without fog signal; I don't like that craft. Barnett ought to have
been ordered to blow the damned thing up, as a peril to the high seas."
"We'll pick her up in the morning, surely," said Forsythe. "This can't last for ever."
Nor did it last long. An hour before midnight a pounding shower fell, lashing the sea into
phosphorescent whiteness. It ceased, and with the growl of a leaping animal a squall
furiously beset the ship. Soon the great steel body was plunging and heaving in the
billows. It was a gloomy company about the wardroom table. Upon each and all hung an
oppression of spirit. Captain Parkinson came from his cabin and went on deck.
Constitutionally he was a nervous and pessimistic man with a fixed belief in the
conspiracy of events, banded for the undoing of him and his. Blind or dubious conditions
racked his soul, but real danger found him not only prepared, but even eager. Now his
face was a picture of foreboding.
"Parky looks as if Davy Jones was pulling on his string," observed the flippant Ives to his
neighbour.
"Worrying about the schooner. Hope Billy Edwards saw or heard or felt that squall
coming," replied Forsythe, giving expression to the anxiety that all felt.
"He's a good sailor man," said Ives, "and that's a staunch little schooner, by the way she
handled herself."
"Oh, it will be all right," said Carter confidently. "The wind's moderating now."
"But there's no telling how far out of the course this may have blown him."
Barnett came down, dripping.
 
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