As he hung by the ladder, like a resting swimmer, the sea lightning
played about his limbs at every stir; and he appeared in it ghastly,
silvery, fishlike. He remained as mute as a fish, too. He made no motion
to get out of the water, either. It was inconceivable that he should
not attempt to come on board, and strangely troubling to suspect that
perhaps he did not want to. And my first words were prompted by just
that troubled incertitude.
"What's the matter?" I asked in my ordinary tone, speaking down to the
face upturned exactly under mine.
"Cramp," it answered, no louder. Then slightly anxious, "I say, no need
to call anyone."
"I was not going to," I said.
"Are you alone on deck?"
I had somehow the impression that he was on the point of letting go the
ladder to swim away beyond my ken--mysterious as he came. But, for the
moment, this being appearing as if he had risen from the bottom of the
sea (it was certainly the nearest land to the ship) wanted only to know
the time. I told him. And he, down there, tentatively:
"I suppose your captain's turned in?"