The After House (Chapter 6, page 1 of 6)


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Chapter 6

The match burnt out, and I dropped it. I remember mechanically
extinguishing the glowing end with my heel, and then straightening
to such a sense of horror as I have never felt before or since. I
groped for the door; I wanted air, space, the freedom from lurking
death of the open deck.

I had been sleeping with my revolver beside me on the pantry floor.
Somehow or other I got back there and found it. I made an attempt
to find the switch for the cabin lights, and, failing, revolver in
hand, I ran into the chart-room and up the after companionway.
Charlie Jones was at the wheel, and by the light of a lantern I saw
that he was bending to the right, peering in at the chartroom window.
He turned when he heard me.

"What's wrong?" he asked. "I heard a yell a minute ago. Turner on
the rampage?" He saw my revolver then, and, letting go the wheel,
threw up both his hands. "Turn that gun away, you fool!"

I could hardly speak. I lowered the revolver and gasped: "Call the
captain! Vail's been murdered!

"Good God!" he said. "Who did it?" He had taken the wheel again,
and was bringing the ship back to her course. I was turning sick
and dizzy, and I clutched at the railing of the companionway.

"I don't know. Where's the captain?"

"The mate's around." He raised his voice. "Mr. Singleton!" he
called.

There was no time to lose, I felt. My nausea had left me. I ran
forward to where I could dimly see Singleton looking in my direction.

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