"Did you hear everything?" were my first words as soon as we took up our
position side by side, leaning over my bed place.
He had. And the proof of it was his earnest whisper, "The man told you
he hardly dared to give the order."
I understood the reference to be to that saving foresail.
"Yes. He was afraid of it being lost in the setting."
"I assure you he never gave the order. He may think he did, but he never
gave it. He stood there with me on the break of the poop after the
main topsail blew away, and whimpered about our last hope--positively
whimpered about it and nothing else--and the night coming on! To hear
one's skipper go on like that in such weather was enough to drive any
fellow out of his mind. It worked me up into a sort of desperation. I
just took it into my own hands and went away from him, boiling, and--But
what's the use telling you? You know! . . . Do you think that if I
had not been pretty fierce with them I should have got the men to do
anything? Not It! The bo's'n perhaps? Perhaps! It wasn't a heavy sea--it
was a sea gone mad! I suppose the end of the world will be something
like that; and a man may have the heart to see it coming once and be
done with it--but to have to face it day after day--I don't blame
anybody. I was precious little better than the rest. Only--I was an
officer of that old coal wagon, anyhow--"