For some time longer I sat in the cuddy. Had my double vanished as
he had come? But of his coming there was an explanation, whereas his
disappearance would be inexplicable. . . . I went slowly into my dark
room, shut the door, lighted the lamp, and for a time dared not turn
round. When at last I did I saw him standing bolt-upright in the
narrow recessed part. It would not be true to say I had a shock, but an
irresistible doubt of his bodily existence flitted through my mind. Can
it be, I asked myself, that he is not visible to other eyes than mine?
It was like being haunted. Motionless, with a grave face, he raised his
hands slightly at me in a gesture which meant clearly, "Heavens! what
a narrow escape!" Narrow indeed. I think I had come creeping quietly as
near insanity as any man who has not actually gone over the border. That
gesture restrained me, so to speak.
The mate with the terrific whiskers was now putting the ship on the
other tack. In the moment of profound silence which follows upon the
hands going to their stations I heard on the poop his raised voice:
"Hard alee!" and the distant shout of the order repeated on the
main-deck. The sails, in that light breeze, made but a faint fluttering
noise. It ceased. The ship was coming round slowly: I held my breath
in the renewed stillness of expectation; one wouldn't have thought
that there was a single living soul on her decks. A sudden brisk shout,
"Mainsail haul!" broke the spell, and in the noisy cries and rush
overhead of the men running away with the main brace we two, down in my
cabin, came together in our usual position by the bed place.