... Rashly,
And praised be rashness for it....
Up from my cabin,
My sea-gown scarf'd about me, in the dark
Groped I to find out them... making so bold,
My fears forgetting manners.

Give me leave: here lies the water; good: here stands the man; good.
Let us know
Our indiscretion sometimes serves us well
... and that should learn us
There's a divinity that shapes our ends
Rough-hew them how we will.—Hamlet.

A SINGLE cry of terror was all that Daireen uttered as she fell back upon her berth. An instant more and she was standing with white lips, and hands that were untrembling as the rigid hand of a dead person. She knew what was to be done as plainly as if she saw everything in a picture. She rushed into the saloon and mounted the companion to the deck. There sat the little group astern just as she had seen them an hour before, only that the doctor had fallen asleep under the influence of one of the less pointed of the major's stories.

“God bless my soul!” cried the major, as the girl clutched the back of his chair.

“Good heavens, Miss Gerald, what is the matter?” said Harwood, leaping to his feet.

She pointed to the white wake of the ship.

“There—there,” she whispered—“a man—drowning—clinging to something—a wreck—I saw him!”

“Dear me! dear me!” said the major, in a tone of relief, and with a breath of a smile.

But the special correspondent had looked into the girl's face. It was his business to understand the difference between dreaming and waking. He was by the side of the officer on watch in a moment. A few words were enough to startle the officer into acquiescence with the demands of the “special.” The unwonted sound of the engine-room telegraph was heard, its tinkle shaking the slumbers of the chief engineer as effectively as if it had been the thunder of an alarum peal.

The stopping of the engine, the blowing off of the steam, and the arrival of the captain upon the deck, were simultaneous occurrences. The officer's reply to his chief as he hurried aft did not seem to be very satisfactory, judging from the manner in which it was received.

But Harwood had left the officer to explain the stoppage of the vessel, and was now kneeling by the side of the chair, back upon which lay the unconscious form of Daireen, while the doctor was forcing some brandy—all that remained in the major's tumbler—between her lips, and a young sailor—the one who had been at the rail in the morning—chafed her pallid hand. The major was scanning the expanse of water by aid of his pilot glass, and the quartermaster who had been steering went to the line of the patent log to haul it in—his first duty at any time on the stopping of the vessel, to prevent the line—the strain being taken off it—fouling with the propeller.

When the steamer is under weigh it is the work of two sailors to take in the eighty fathoms of log-line, otherwise, however, the line is of course quite slack; it was thus rather inexplicable to the quartermaster to find much more resistance to his first haul than if the vessel were going full speed ahead.

“The darned thing's fouled already,” he murmured for his own satisfaction. He could not take in a fathom, so great was the resistance.

“Hang it all, major,” said the captain, “isn't this too bad? Bringing the ship to like this, and—ah, here they come! All the ship's company will be aft in a minute.”

“Rum, my boy, very rum,” muttered the sympathetic major.

“What's the matter, captain?” said one voice.

“Is there any danger?” asked a tremulous second.

“If it's a collision or a leak, don't keep it from us, sir,” came a stern contralto. For in various stages of toilet incompleteness the passengers were crowding out of the cabin.

But before the “unhappy master” could utter a word of reply, the sailor had touched his cap and reported to the third mate:

“Log-line fouled on wreck, sir.”

“By gad!” shouted the major, who was twisting the log-line about, and peering into the water. “By gad, the girl was right! The line has fouled on some wreck, and there is a body made fast to it.”

The captain gave just a single glance in the direction indicated. .

“Stand by gig davits and lower away,” he shouted to the watch, who had of course come aft.

The men ran to where the boat was hanging, and loosened the lines.

“Oh, Heaven preserve us! they are taking to the boats!” cried a female passenger.

“Don't be a fool, my good woman,” said Mrs. Crawford tartly. The major's wife had come on deck in a most marvellous costume, and she was already holding a sal-volatile bottle to Daireen's nose, having made a number of inquiries of Mr. Harwood and the doctor.

All the other passengers had crowded to the ship's side, and were watching the men in the boat cutting at something which had been reached at the end of the log-line. They could see the broken stump of a mast and the cross-trees, but nothing further.

“They have got it into the boat,” said the major, giving the result of his observation through the binocular.

“For Heaven's sake, ladies, go below!” cried the captain. But no one moved.

“If you don't want to see the ghastly corpse of a drowned man gnawed by fishes for weeks maybe, you had better go down, ladies,” said the chief officer. Still no one stirred.

The major, who was an observer of nature, smiled and winked sagaciously at the exasperated captain before he said:

“Why should the ladies go down at all? it's a pleasant night, and begad, sir, a group of nightcaps like this isn't to be got together more than once in a lifetime.” Before the gallant officer had finished his sentence the deck was cleared of women; but, of course, the luxury of seeing a dead body lifted from the boat being too great to be missed, the starboard cabin ports had many faces opposite them.

The doctor left Daireen to the care of Mrs. Crawford, saying that she would recover consciousness in a few minutes, and he hastened with a kaross to the top of the boiler, where he had shouted to the men in the boat to carry the body.

The companion-rail having been lowered, it was an easy matter for the four men to take the body on deck and to lay it upon the tiger-skin before the doctor, who rubbed his hands—an expression which the seamen interpreted as meaning satisfaction.

“Gently, my men, raise his head—so—throw the light on his face. By George, he doesn't seem to have suffered from the oysters; there's hope for him yet.”

And the compassionate surgeon began cutting the clothing from the limbs of the body.

“No, don't take the pieces away,” he said to one of the men; “let them remain here Now dry his arms carefully, and we'll try and get some air into his lungs, if they're not already past work.”

But before the doctor had commenced his operations the ship's gig had been hauled up once more to the davits, and the steamer was going ahead at slow speed.

“Keep her at slow until the dawn,” said the captain to the officer on watch. “And let there be a good lookout; there may be others floating upon the wreck. Call me if the doctor brings the body to life.”

The captain did not think it necessary to view the body that had been snatched from the deep. The captain was a compassionate man and full of tender feeling; he was exceedingly glad that he had had it in his power to pick up that body, even with the small probability there was of being able to restore life to its frozen blood; but he would have been much more grateful to Providence had it been so willed that it should have been picked up without the necessity of stopping the engines of the steamer for nearly a quarter of an hour. It was explained to him that Miss Gerald had been the first to see the face of the man upon the wreck, but he could scarcely understand how it was possible for her to have seen it from her cabin. He was also puzzled to know how it was that the log-line had not been carried away so soon as it was entangled in such a large mass of wreck when the steamer was going at full speed. He, however, thought it as well to resume his broken slumbers without waiting to solve either of these puzzling questions.

But the chief officer who was now on watch, when the deck was once more deserted—Daireen having been taken down to her cabin—made the attempt to account for both of these occurrences. He found that the girl's cabin was not far astern of the companion-rail that had been lowered during the day, and he saw that, in the confusion of weighing anchor in the dimness, a large block with its gear which was used in the hauling of the vegetable baskets aboard, had been allowed to hang down the side of the ship between the steps of the rail; and upon the hook of the block, almost touching the water, he found some broken cordage. He knew then that the hook had caught fast in the cordage of the wreck as the steamer went past, and the wreck had swung round until it was just opposite the girl's cabin, when the cordage had given way; not, however, until some of the motion of the ship had been communicated to the wreck so that there was no abrupt strain put on the log-line when it had become entangled. It was all plain to the chief officer, as no doubt it would have been to the captain had he waited to search out the matter.

So soon as the body had been brought aboard the ship all the interest of the passengers seemed to subside, and the doctor was allowed to pursue his experiments of resuscitation without inquiry. The chief officer being engaged at his own business of working out the question of the endurance of the log-line, and keeping a careful lookout for any other portions of wreck, had almost forgotten that the doctor and two of the sailors were applying a series of restoratives to the body of the man who had been detached from the wreck. It was nearly two hours after he had come on watch that one of the sailors—the one who had been kneeling by the side of Daireen—came up to the chief officer presenting Doctor Campion's compliments, with the information that the man was breathing.

In accordance with the captain's instructions, the chief officer knocked at the cabin door and repeated the message.

“Breathing is he?” said the captain rather sleepily. “Very good, Mr. Holden; I'm glad to hear it. Just call me again in case he should relapse.”

The captain had hitherto, in alluding to the man, made use of the neuter pronoun, but now that breath was restored he acknowledged his right to a gender.

“Very good, sir,” replied the officer, closing the door.

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