"Yes--straight for it. It was something to swim for. I couldn't see any
stars low down because the coast was in the way, and I couldn't see the
land, either. The water was like glass. One might have been swimming in
a confounded thousand-feet deep cistern with no place for scrambling out
anywhere; but what I didn't like was the notion of swimming round and
round like a crazed bullock before I gave out; and as I didn't mean to
go back. . . No. Do you see me being hauled back, stark naked, off one
of these little islands by the scruff of the neck and fighting like a
wild beast? Somebody would have got killed for certain, and I did not
want any of that. So I went on. Then your ladder--"
"Why didn't you hail the ship?" I asked, a little louder.
He touched my shoulder lightly. Lazy footsteps came right over our heads
and stopped. The second mate had crossed from the other side of the poop
and might have been hanging over the rail for all we knew.
"He couldn't hear us talking--could he?" My double breathed into my very
His anxiety was in answer, a sufficient answer, to the question I had
put to him. An answer containing all the difficulty of that situation. I
closed the porthole quietly, to make sure. A louder word might have been