He did so, as noiseless as a ghost, and then I rang for the steward,
and facing him boldly, directed him to tidy up my stateroom while I
was having my bath--"and be quick about it." As my tone admitted of
no excuses, he said, "Yes, sir," and ran off to fetch his dustpan and
brushes. I took a bath and did most of my dressing, splashing, and
whistling softly for the steward's edification, while the secret sharer
of my life stood drawn up bolt upright in that little space, his face
looking very sunken in daylight, his eyelids lowered under the stern,
dark line of his eyebrows drawn together by a slight frown.
When I left him there to go back to my room the steward was finishing
dusting. I sent for the mate and engaged him in some insignificant
conversation. It was, as it were, trifling with the terrific character
of his whiskers; but my object was to give him an opportunity for a
good look at my cabin. And then I could at last shut, with a clear
conscience, the door of my stateroom and get my double back into the
recessed part. There was nothing else for it. He had to sit still on a
small folding stool, half smothered by the heavy coats hanging there.
We listened to the steward going into the bathroom out of the saloon,
filling the water bottles there, scrubbing the bath, setting things
to rights, whisk, bang, clatter--out again into the saloon--turn the
key--click. Such was my scheme for keeping my second self invisible.
Nothing better could be contrived under the circumstances. And there
we sat; I at my writing desk ready to appear busy with some papers, he
behind me out of sight of the door. It would not have been prudent to
talk in daytime; and I could not have stood the excitement of that queer
sense of whispering to myself. Now and then, glancing over my shoulder,
I saw him far back there, sitting rigidly on the low stool, his
bare feet close together, his arms folded, his head hanging on his
breast--and perfectly still. Anybody would have taken him for me.