After scoring over my calmness in this graphic way he nodded wisely. If
I had seen the sight, he assured me, I would never forget it as long as
I lived. The weather was too bad to give the corpse a proper sea burial.
So next day at dawn they took it up on the poop, covering its face with
a bit of bunting; he read a short prayer, and then, just as it was, in
its oilskins and long boots, they launched it amongst those mountainous
seas that seemed ready every moment to swallow up the ship herself and
the terrified lives on board of her.
"That reefed foresail saved you," I threw in.
"Under God--it did," he exclaimed fervently. "It was by a special mercy,
I firmly believe, that it stood some of those hurricane squalls."
"It was the setting of that sail which--" I began.
"God's own hand in it," he interrupted me. "Nothing less could have
done it. I don't mind telling you that I hardly dared give the order.
It seemed impossible that we could touch anything without losing it, and
then our last hope would have been gone."
The terror of that gale was on him yet. I let him go on for a bit, then
said, casually--as if returning to a minor subject: