Wrecking Of The Golden Horn
Percy Darrow, unexpected, made his first visit to us the very next evening. He sauntered
in with a Mexican corn-husk cigarette between his lips, carrying a lantern; blew the light
out, and sat down with a careless greeting, as though he had seen us only the day before.
"Hullo, boys," said he, "been busy?"
"How are ye, sir?" replied Handy Solomon. "Good Lord, mates, look at that!"
Our eyes followed the direction of his forefinger. Against the dark blue of the evening
sky to northward glowed a faint phosphorescence, arch-shaped, from which shot, with
pulsating regularity, long shafts of light. They beat almost to the zenith, and back again, a
half dozen times, then the whole illumination disappeared with the suddenness of gas
"Now I wonder what that might be!" marvelled Thrackles.
"Northern lights," hazarded Pulz. "I've seen them almost like that in the Behring Seas."
"Northern lights your eye!" sneered Handy Solomon. "You may have seen them in the
Behring Seas, but never this far south, and in August, and you can, kiss the Book on
"What do you think, sir?" Thrackles inquired of the assistant.
"Devil's fire," replied Percy Darrow briefly. "The island's a little queer. I've noticed it
"Debbil fire," repeated the Nigger.
Darrow turned directly to him.
"Yes, devil's fire; and devils, too, for all I know; and certainly vampires. Did you ever
hear of vampires, Doctor?"
"No," growled the Nigger.
"Well, they are women, wonderful, beautiful women. A man on a long voyage would just
smack his lips to see them. They have shiny grey eyes, and lips red as raspberries. When
you meet them they will talk with you and go home with you. And then when you're
asleep they tear a little hole in your neck with their sharp claws, and they suck the blood
with their red lips. When they aren't women, they take the shape of big bats like birds."
He turned to me with so beautifully casual an air that I wanted to clap him on the back
with the joy of it.