There must have been some glare in the air to interfere with one's
sight, because it was only just before the sun left us that my roaming
eyes made out beyond the highest ridges of the principal islet of the
group something which did away with the solemnity of perfect solitude.
The tide of darkness flowed on swiftly; and with tropical suddenness a
swarm of stars came out above the shadowy earth, while I lingered yet,
my hand resting lightly on my ship's rail as if on the shoulder of a
trusted friend. But, with all that multitude of celestial bodies staring
down at one, the comfort of quiet communion with her was gone for good.
And there were also disturbing sounds by this time--voices, footsteps
forward; the steward flitted along the main-deck, a busily ministering
spirit; a hand bell tinkled urgently under the poop deck....
I found my two officers waiting for me near the supper table, in the
lighted cuddy. We sat down at once, and as I helped the chief mate, I
"Are you aware that there is a ship anchored inside the islands? I saw
her mastheads above the ridge as the sun went down."
He raised sharply his simple face, overcharged by a terrible growth of
whisker, and emitted his usual ejaculations: "Bless my soul, sir! You
don't say so!"