The After House
5. In The After House
The match burnt out, and I dropped it. I remember mechanically extinguishing the
glowing end with my heel, and then straightening to such a sense of horror as I
have never felt before or since. I groped for the door; I wanted air, space, the
freedom from lurking death of the open deck.
I had been sleeping with my revolver beside me on the pantry floor. Somehow or
other I got back there and found it. I made an attempt to find the switch for the
cabin lights, and, failing, revolver in hand, I ran into the chart-room and up the
after companionway. Charlie Jones was at the wheel, and by the light of a lantern
I saw that he was bending to the right, peering in at the chartroom window. He
turned when he heard me.
"What's wrong?" he asked. "I heard a yell a minute ago. Turner on the
rampage?" He saw my revolver then, and, letting go the wheel, threw up both his
hands. "Turn that gun away, you fool!"
I could hardly speak. I lowered the revolver and gasped: "Call the captain! Vail's
"Good God!" he said. "Who did it?" He had taken the wheel again, and was
bringing the ship back to her course. I was turning sick and dizzy, and I clutched
at the railing of the companionway.
"I don't know. Where's the captain?"
"The mate's around." He raised his voice. "Mr. Singleton!" he called.
There was no time to lose, I felt. My nausea had left me. I ran forward to where I
could dimly see Singleton looking in my direction.
"Singleton! Quick!" I called. "Bring your revolver."
He stopped and peered in my direction.